News/Announcements

Covid-19 Vaccination

Good afternoon

I’m pleased to share with you some material that you are welcome to share with your members in all states and territories. The material is designed to encourage people with disability and NDIS participants to book in and receive their vaccination as soon as possible. It also highlights the eligibility criteria for all vaccines. It’s not new information – the information is already available online if you know where to look – but I hope that pulling it together in a single place with a particular focus on the options available for people with disability will make it a little less overwhelming.

ABC: debate over controversial treatment for autism

The report at https://www.abc.net.au/radio/adelaide/programs/worldtoday/debate-over-controversial-treatment-for-autism/13532176 is one-sided. It fails to speak to qualified or registered clinicians in Applied Behaviour Analysis. It is well known that any early intervention approach for autism does not suit all autistic children, but getting views from clinicians on one side of the debate is biased. 

Submission: Autism, disability, and the National Disability Employment Strategy

derelict boat on sand at low tide

post-school employment boat awaits a rising tide of Autistic school-leavers

A4 made a late submission in response to DSS's consultation on a National Disability Employment Strategy.

Basically, A4 felt that DSS's proposed holistic strategy to address disability employment over the next decade is the same as it was for the last decade: it's the same strategy expecting a different result. Rather thank acting on what they "think" might work, some of the 10 years could be used to determine reliably what does work for the various parts of the disability sector, then implement working approaches more widely.

creating trust in the NDIA is about more than the so-called Independent Assessments

Minister Reynolds has the NDIA and disability representatives working on rebuilding trust. The NDIA and some parts of the disability sector seem to think this is just about recent conduct.

For the autism sector, there are deeper issues from the outset.

Here is a letter from  A4 to the Minister briefly describing some of the history and issues.

NDIS FOI 21/22-0100 - misinformation and untruths

The NDIA did not respond to a number of A4's concerns. Issues of particular concern were:

  • "misinformation and untruths" from the NDIA's CEO to NDIS participants about the assessment tools that were planned for functional assessment of autistic NDIS participants for the so-called Independent Assessments, and
  • inexpert and misguided advice from the NDIA's Independent Advisory Council (IAC) about early intervention for autistic children.

The NDIA did not respond to A4 about its concerns.

Coalition government’s ongoing war on autistic Australians

Dear Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds,

Subject: Government’s ongoing war on autistic Australian

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4) deplores media reports (see Annex below) saying that “The Minister responsible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme has blamed an uptick of Australia’s aged, autistic and obese people for the ‘unsustainable’ rising costs of the service”. Your government’s war on autism is unacceptable. We complained about it before and were ignored

Aged autistic people are one of the smallest subgroups in the NDIS: there were just 125 of them in June 2021, just 0.8% of 14K+ NDIS participants in that age group. While their funding level is higher than average for the NDIS, we doubt the numbers in this very small group will increase significantly for some time. We have not found NDIA reporting on obesity; we doubt the NDIS even has reliable data on obesity of NDIS participants. 

FOI 20/21-0660 and FOI 20/21-0835 - NDIA keeps its records with Schrödinger's cat

The NDIA claims in its Participant Service Charter that it wants to be "transparent". However, it avoids making public communication and decisions about some key issues. For example, the following show that it does not want its records about commentary from a disability representative organisation (DRO) on advice it received from its IAC released.

NDIS sustainability - letter to the PM

The Hon. Scott Morrison MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

 

Dear Prime Minister Morrison,

There are numerous reports in the media that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has seen the average cost of individual support packages increase by at least 12% per year since 2017. These include:

NDIA early intervention funding models: just make it up

A4 received the following response to a Freedom of Information request. This response is alarming because it shows the NDIA just made up the criteria and amounts for its 4 levels of early intervention support for autistic children in its consultation paper (see links below).

It says "the research and evidence used to calculate funding amounts listed in the consultation paper were informed by the Autism CRC early intervention report", but the Autism CRC's early intervention report contains none of that information. There are no severity levels or funding amounts mentioned ... unless the NDIA also inserted sections in to a copy of the report (as they apparently did with the Tune Review).

diagnoses and advice for autistic children

Subject: Fwd: diagnoses and advice for autistic children
Date: Sat, 9 Jan 2021 12:35:56 +1100
From: Bob Buckley (A4 Convenor) <convenor@a4.org.au>
To: Minister.Hunt@health.gov.au
CC: Chris.Bowen.MP@aph.gov.au, Senator Jordon Steele-John <senator.steele-john@aph.gov.au>, The Hon. Linda Burney MP <Linda.Burney.MP@aph.gov.au>, The Hon. Mr. Shorten MP <Bill.Shorten.MP@aph.gov.au>, The Hon Stuart Robert MP <stuart.robert.mp@aph.gov.au>

Dear The Hon G. Hunt MP

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4) recently sent this letter to the organisations below. We are very concerned about delayed diagnosis of autistic children and the consequent long-term detriment this brings for them, their families and the community generally.

rejecting autistic children - NDIS response is especially unhelpful

Subject: Re: NDIS rejecting autistic children
Date: Sat, 9 Jan 2021 11:25:08 +1100
From: Bob Buckley (A4 Convenor) <convenor@a4.org.au>
To: The Hon Stuart Robert MP <stuart.robert.mp@aph.gov.au>, MINISTERIAL <MINISTERIAL@ndis.gov.au>
CC: Hughes, Hollie (Senator) <senator.hughes@aph.gov.au>, senator.griff@aph.gov.au, The Hon. Mr. Shorten MP <Bill.Shorten.MP@aph.gov.au>, Milton.Dick.MP@aph.gov.au, Senator Jordon Steele-John <senator.steele-john@aph.gov.au>, Committee, Autism (SEN) <autism.sen@aph.gov.au>, Senator Carol Brown <senator.carol.brown@aph.gov.au>, Committee, NDIS (SEN) <ndis.sen@aph.gov.au>, senator.siewert@aph.gov.au

Dear Minister

I received the attached response from the NDIS (MC20-002360) on 8/1/2021. The response, from the NDIS on your behalf, refuses to answer legitimate questions (see below) on, or to provide essential information about, the NDIS recognising formal diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder made by state agencies.

letter of protest about ignoring autism and misinformation from the Health Department

Subject: letter of protest about ignoring autism and misinformation from the Health Department
Date: Thu, 7 Jan 2021 17:21:35 +1100
From: Bob Buckley (A4 Convenor) <convenor@a4.org.au>
To: Minister.Hunt@health.gov.au
CC: Chris.Bowen.MP@aph.gov.au, Senator Jordon Steele-John <senator.steele-john@aph.gov.au>

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives, Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Minister The Hon Greg Hunt MP

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia, known as A4, wrote to you on 11/8/2020 and again on 1/11/2020.

Our initial letter expressed concern that while the Health Department created a "National roadmap for improving the health of Australians with intellectual disability", this "roadmap"  does not address, consider or even recognise the needs of autistic Australians with mental illness.

diagnoses and advice for autistic children

Subject: diagnoses and advice for autistic children
Date: Thu, 7 Jan 2021 08:54:00 +1100
From: Bob Buckley (A4 Convenor) <convenor@a4.org.au>
To: racp@racp.edu.au, paediatrics@markdesouza.net, racgp@racgp.org.au

Dear sir/madam

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia, known as A4, represents and advocates for autistic Australians, their families and associates. Autistic Australians are people who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

We are concerned that diagnoses and advice autistic children currently get in Australia are often delayed, or are for "developmental delay" instead of ASD.

letter to Prime Minister about inappropriate response from Health Department

Previously, A4 wrote to the Prime Minister about an incident where police were called to a school and a young student was handcuffed. The Prime Minister did not respond.

A4 received a response (MC20-042016) from the federal Health Department to its letter to the Prime Minister.

FoI response from PM&C

A4 sent a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on 24/11/2020

The Department sent its response on 24/12/2020 - see links to the documents below.

Basically, the documents show how little regard the Government has for members of the community, especially the more vulnerable members of the community. The Government's goal was to provide the most minimal response to issues and concerns raised.

PMC FOI/2020/274 - Freedom of information

Subject: Re: FOI/2020/274 - Freedom of information - request for advice concerning your request [SEC=OFFICIAL]
Date: Tue, 15 Dec 2020 15:28:24 +1100
From: Bob Buckley (A4 Convenor) <convenor@a4.org.au>
To: FOI <FOI@pmc.gov.au>

Dear madam/sir

I'm sorry but my email system put the email below into my spam folder. I only found it today when I had a call from your section looking for a response.

I indicated on the telephone that while I received a letter from The Hon Ben Morton MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the response did not address the single question asked in out letter. As our original letter highlighted our Unanswered Questions Policy, we are bound to interpret the lack of response accordingly (see https://a4.org.au/node/2288).

belated response from Health representative

A4 wrote to The Hon G. Hunt MP, Minister for Health, on 11/8/2020 about mental health support for autistic Australians. Having not received a reply, A4 wrote again on the 1/11/2020 (see A4's email to the Minister).

A4 received an  email on 8/12/2020 (at 6.22pm) that contained a PDF file of a letter (reference MC20-033766) dated 28/9/2020 (see below). It seems to have taken over 2 months to email this letter to A4.

The letter claims:

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