Dear members of the Select Committee on Autism
When I appeared before you recently, you asked about a National Autism Strategy. Please disregard the answer I provided at the time.
Since that time, the Department of Social Services (DSS) and Services Australia:
- had senior officials appear before the Community Affairs Committee, and
- released a Position Paper on its National Disability Strategy.
These events both show DSS to be no longer fit-for-purpose.
DSS's attitudes to people with disability and their associates are inappropriate. DSS's senior officials readily accepted a simplistic computerised process that suggests a huge proportion of the most vulnerable Australians had "rorted" welfare and social services programs. Apparently, this is what senior officials expected to find and they did not question such a result. Nor do they care that their methods were illegal.
DSS's current culture cannot deliver an appropriate National Disability Strategy. This agency can have no role in policy and programs that autistic Australians depend on.
Attached is A4's response to DSS's extremely disappointing Position Paper on a NDS. The Position Paper shows that A4's concerns about DSS's conduct and culture are completely justified.
A4 now supports the Australian Autism Alliance's call for a separate National Autism Plan. We expect that development of a National Autism Plan would be via a process of co-design with the autistic community and would not involve DSS or related government agencies.
Convenor, Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4)
Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia, known as A4, is the national grassroots organisation advocating for autistic people, their families, carers and associates. A4 is internet based so that Australians anywhere can participate.
Note for politicians and bureaucrats – Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia's policy on unanswered questions is available at https://a4.org.au/node/1419.