A motion to form a Select Committee on Autism is expected to pass the Senate later today.
The terms of reference were developed by Centre Alliance Senator, Stirling Griff, in conjunction with members of the Australian Autism Alliance.
The wide-ranging inquiry will look at issues including approaches to diagnosis, the availability and appropriateness of services including in health and mental health, education and employment, the adequacy of the NDIS, and the prevalence of misdiagnosis and any gender bias in assessment and services.
Senator Griff was motivated to propose the inquiry after learning that friends were forced to take their young autistic son to the US to access the appropriate level of therapy he needed.
If approved by the Senate as anticipated, the Select Committee on Autism will hold hearings around Australia and will deliver its final report in 2021.
“We hope the findings of the inquiry will act as a road map for this and future Federal Governments to vastly improve the access to services and the life outcomes of autistic people,” Senator Griff said.
“We really want to hear from families and autistic people themselves about how we can better deliver on the services and opportunities they need," he said.
“Most of us will know someone with autism – a child, friend, cousin. It touches so many lives and the challenges faced by autistic people and their families can be unique and deserve to be given due consideration.
“We expect any findings of the Select Committee on Autism will complement the development of the next National Disability Strategy and the work of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability which reports in 2022.”
Australian Autism Alliance co-chairs, Terry Burke and Paul Micallef, said: “Life outcomes for autistic people in education, employment and health are well below that of other people with disability.
“The establishment of a Select Committee on Autism will provide an opportunity for the Government to understand the barriers faced by autistic people and to inform public policy to address the needs of autistic people and their families,” they said.
The inquiry's Terms of Reference are published in today’s Senate notice paper and can be supplied on request.