The Hon Paul Fletcher MP
The Hon Sarah Henderson MP
Minister for Families and Social Services
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Dear the Hon P. Fletcher MP and the Hon S. Henderson MP
Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia, known as A4, is alarmed at the news, in your recent media release
The Liberal National Government has commissioned peak organisation Early Childhood Intervention Australia (ECIA) to deliver the first national early intervention blueprint for young children with disability or developmental delay.
The NDIS based its existing ECEI Approach on ECEI's guidelines: this is not the "first". Unfortunately, ECEI's so-called Best Practice Guidelines in Early Childhood Intervention are not best, or even good, practice for autistic children. ECIA's seven key principles that are central to their approach do not address (are contrary to) the needs of autistic children; ECIA's approach is not evidence-based in relation to autistic children. A result of the NDIS adopting ECIA's guidelines for children generally (including autistic children) is increasing numbers of AAT reviews of early intervention plans for autistic NDIS participants.
So A4 does not understand why you (or the NDIS?) chose to do the same thing apparently expecting a different outcome.
A4 is disappointed that again the Government did not consult (excluded) the ASD community about its plans to develop another blueprint/approach to early intervention for autistic children. We suspect that autistic participants may be more that 50% of participants aged 0-6 years, though NDIS reporting makes this difficult or impossible to discern. It makes no sense to avoid engaging with the ASD community over this issue.
Cc: Mr Robert De Luca, Dr Helen Nugent, Senator Carol Brown, The Hon Linda Burney MP, Senator Jordon Steele-John.
A4 received a letter from the Minister on 18/4/2019 (see link below).
The letter indicates that:
Autism is the largest primary disability among NDIS participants aged 0 to 6 years, accounting for just under 35 per cent of all participants in this age group.
The letter tells us that "NDIS reporting information is made available in quarterly reports" but an age breakdown of neither the number nor percentage of autistic participants is provided in quarterly reports published by the NDIS.
The NDIS says it expects ECIA will "consult" with various interested parties. The NDIS did not consult ASD stakeholders when setting up this project. A4 is keen to see whether new "guidelines" from ECIA improve access to evidence-based early intervention for autistic children.
Notably, the Government did not acknowledge A4's concerns raised in the letter.