letter to Senator Fifield, Assistant Minister responsible for disability services and supports

Dear Senator Fifield

The following raises concerns about the likely and imminent demise of crucial services for children with autism. I understand that the contracts for the Autism Advisers (funded as part of the Commonwealth Government's Helping Children with Autism package) in South Australia and in the Australian Capital Territory have not been renewed. As a result of the NDIS, the Autism Adviser service in these regions will cease soon unless those contracts are renewed.

I spoke yesterday with officials in the NDIA. They say that the Autism Adviser service is not a responsibility of the NDIA.

I understand that the Department of Social Security believes responsibility for the Autism Adviser service and its funding in the NDIS trial sites is with (or has been transferred to) the NDIA.

In the transition to the NDIS, the Autism Adviser service is being dumped into a bureaucratic black hole. If the Autism Adviser service ceases, many children with autism will not have access to essential information at the critical time, that is just after their child is diagnosed with autism. These people will be worse off with the introduction of the NDIS which is contrary to commitments from successive Governments.

I urge you to address the Autism Adviser contracts for the NDIS trial sites immediately.

Today is International Autism Awareness Day. As Convenor of the national grassroots organisation for people affected by autism, I reiterate my request to meet with you as I hope to help your own autism awareness. I am concerned that autism may be one of the largest disability types (if not the largest specific disability) in the NDIS, yet autism is not even mentioned in the NDIS quarterly reporting so far. I am concerned that there has be so little consultation and planning relating to the need of people with autism in the NDIS; and, while there are numerous positive examples, I am also concerned by very negative reports I have received from the NDIS trial sites about some people with autism experiencing major difficulties with the NDIS planning process.

Bob Buckley
A4 Convenor