News by Region

Statement of Concern – COVID-19: Human rights, disability and ethical decision-making

Media Release

Internationally recognised Australian experts in the areas of human rights, bioethics and disability, have today released a Statement of Concern to emphasise key human rights principles and standards that need to underpin ethical decision-making in the context of disability and the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 should not herald rollback in rights for people with autism: UN chief

United Nations logo

The rights of persons with autism must be taken into account in efforts to address the COVID-19 coronavirus: “a public health crisis unlike any other in our lifetimes”, the UN Secretary-General said on Thursday.

António Guterres’s appeal came in his message for World Autism Awareness Day, observed annually on 2 April.

Australian dad begs to have his son returned after child agencies put him in a home when they mistook his autism for signs of abuse

Tita Smith

An Australian dad is pleading for help after his son was taken by child protection services because his autism was mistaken as a sign of psychological abuse.  

Conrad and Katya den Hertog lost their son Martin, now seven, to Dutch authorities during a night-time raid of their home in Amsterdam in February 2018.  

Increase Disability Support Pension now to deal with COVID-19

a jumble of logos from national disability peak bodies

Media Release

People with disability who receive the Disability Support Pension (DSP) urgently need access to the increased Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight, consistent with the Jobseeker Payment and other payments recently announced.

People with disability who are in receipt of DSP are experiencing and facing additional, unforeseen costs in this time of crisis, which is causing significant levels of distress and anxiety, and only serving to further entrench DSP recipients into poverty.

U.K. government faces lawsuit over mistreatment of autistic people

Following a series of scandals in the United Kingdom over people with autism being held against their will and mistreated in hospitals, a watchdog group has issued a legal challenge to the government.

The incidents highlight that the entire system of care for people on the spectrum is in need of an overhaul, the challengers say.

Kalgoorlie-Boulder mother forced to ‘parade’ daughter for disability support application

Indiana Lysaght

Demeaning, degrading and disgusting is how a Kalgoorlie-Boulder mother has described her recent experience with Centrelink.

Despite a lifetime with a diagnosed disability, Jo Russell said she had to parade her daughter “like a monkey” during a disability support application.

Megan Russell was diagnosed with autism and an intellectual disability when she was two years old, which has left her in the full-time care of her mother

Tasmanian mother of children with autism faces continuing ban from school grounds

Annah Fromberg

One month into the school year, Melinda Walkden's two children, who have autism, are yet to start primary school.

Key points

  • Melinda Walkden was issued with a trespass order in 2018 over claims she abused her daughter's teachers
  • Her autistic daughter had been put in an open cardboard box enclosure in her classroom in 2017
  • The Education Department wants to transfer her two children to a new school but won't lift the trespass order

Jae says 'don't judge, be curious' when you meet an autistic person

Jae says being autistic you learn to cope with environments but this often needed greater understanding. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Melanie Whelan

THERE are bad days when Jae cannot leave the house because the prospect of navigating changing public transport to get to Melbourne is too much. Not to mention the bright, fluorescent lights in VLine carriages.

Jae is among the 40 per cent of austistic Australians who say they sometimes do not leave the house due to the prospect of being subject to discriminatory behaviour.

Construction starts for Canberra’s first autism hub

aeiou logo

CONSTRUCTION begins this week for a $3.5 million world-class autism hub in Garran.

The sod turning ceremony for the AEIOU Garran Centre for Autism will be held tomorrow (February 26) to mark the beginning of construction for the early intervention facility supported, through capital funding, by the John James Foundation.

The centre will be the first of its kind in Canberra and will provide early intervention for about 40 children per year. It will also have the capacity for research and training.

Anxiety in autistic children – why rates are so high

Keren MacLennan, University of Reading

Many aspects of the world can be overwhelming for autistic children, so it is unsurprising that dealing with the challenging impact of anxiety has become a daily struggle for many autistic children and their families. In fact, autistic children are twice as likely to develop anxiety than non-autistic children. Not only this, but around 40% are diagnosed with at least one anxiety disorder, with the most common being specific phobia, which is an extreme fear of a particular place, object, animal, person or situation.

Many autistic people carry this disabling anxiety into adulthood, which can negatively affect their future prospects and quality of life. Because of this, autism researchers have made it a priority to understand why autistic children are much more at risk of developing anxiety and what can be done to prevent it.

NSW program aims to bring job seekers with autism into public service

Shannon Jenkins

The New South Wales Public Service Commission has launched a pilot initiative designed to bring autistic and neurodiverse talents into state government agencies.

A partnership between the state government and the not-for-profit enterprise Specialisterne Australia, the Tailored Talent Program aims to address skill shortages in hard-to-fill public service roles such as cyber-security, software testing, data analytics, and coding.

What People Think They Know About Autism Bears Little Relation To Their Actual Knowledge

Dan Carney

One of the most well-known psychological biases is the Dunning-Kruger effect: the tendency for individuals less skilled or knowledgeable in a particular area to overestimate their own performance. Now, a team of researchers from Miami University, Ohio, have offered the most robust evidence yet that this may apply to knowledge about autism — that what people think they know about the condition may not be that closely related to what they actually know.

Victoria Launches Australia’s First Autism Campaign

The Andrews Labor Government has established Australia’s first social behaviour change campaign to promote better understanding and inclusion of autistic people.

Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan today launched the new $2.8 million public education campaign Change Your Reactions with Amaze CEO Fiona Sharkie.

Change Your Reactions encourages Victorians to recognise some of the challenges that autistic people face and to understand the impacts of community actions and reactions.

Report: We look after our own mob

World first research report on Australia's First Peoples experiences of autism

Positive Partnerships is proud to have collaborated with Macquarie University on a new research report titled 'We Look After Our Own Mob: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Experiences of Autism'. On Tuesday 18th February this report was launched at the State Library of New South Wales by the Honourable Linda Burney MP, NSW Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians.

The report shares dialogue and insights from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families on how they feel about the state of autism-related services in their communities, as well as what changes are needed to enable autistic children to feel secure, safe and supported at school. Focus too is placed on how we can all best honour the rights of autistic children to maintain authentic connection to their culture and community.

Submission to Disability Royal Commission on Education of autistic students

On 3/2/2020, A4 sent its belated submission responding to the Disability Royal Commission's (DRC) Issues Paper on Education of students with disability. The submission was due in December, but A4 has limited resources to do this type of work. Hopefully, the DRC will consider A4's submission.

The submission makes the following suggestions to the Royal Commission.

Repetitive behaviors and ‘stimming’ in autism, explained


Restricted interests and repetitive behaviors constitute one of two criteria that define autism in the diagnostic manual for psychiatry.

But this domain encompasses a wide range of traits that may appear in a variety of combinations, and with different severity, among people with autism. Here, we describe the changing understanding of the importance of repetitive behaviors in autism, and the movement for their acceptance.

Intelligence, behavior shape adulthood for people with autism

Just two factors assessed in childhood predict how well people with autism will function as adults, according to a new study: intelligence quotient (IQ) and behavioral problems such as hyperactivity1.

The ability to predict adult outcomes could enable clinicians to offer autistic children targeted treatments early in life and improve their chances of a better life — to a point.


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