Representation on DSS Expert Reference Group

The Government is creating an Expert Reference Group in relation to its implementation of a National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Following is some of the initial correspondence.

Questions in A4's email were unanswered so A4's Unanswered Questions Policy takes effect. This means that A4 should interpret the response negatively. Therefore, we understand the lack of answers in the response to means that DSS and the Minister expect that A4, the Disability Representative Organisation for autistic people — people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) — listed on the DSS website, cannot properly represent or advise appropriately on ASD diagnosis. And that their intention is to exclude the voice of autistic people, their families and associates. The original letter (see below) to the Autism Alliance specifically refers to the Australian Autism Alliance as being/having a network "in particular with specific service providers".

A4 Convenor

Subject: RE: omission of autism DRO from your Expert Reference Group [SEC=OFFICIAL]
Date: Fri, 28 Aug 2020 03:37:40 +0000
From: Autism Policy <>
To: Bob Buckley (A4 Convenor) <>
CC: Minister <>, WEBSDANE, Mike <>

Dear Mr Buckley,

In response to your email below to Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Social Services, the Department of Social Services (DSS) recommended the professional and autism associations outlined for proposed membership in the DRAFT Expert Reference Group (ERG) Terms of Reference to form the ERG and enable focussed work.

The ERG will primarily be engaging with professions involved in the assessment and diagnosis of autism to support the national implementation of the Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Australia (the Guideline).

Autism Alliance was invited to nominate a representative on the basis that it partners with a number of autism associations, including A4. The expectation of a nominated representative is that they consult widely and bring representative views to inform the implementation of the Guideline across health professions.

The Guideline has already received wide endorsement and approval by the National Health and Medical Research Council and emphasises the importance of listening to individuals and their families.

DSS will also develop an approach to evaluating the implementation of the Guideline, including outcomes for people on the autism spectrum, their families and carers. 

We welcome your insights and interest and will ensure that we consult broadly with you and other autism associations.




Sarah Hawke

Participant Outcomes Branch
Department of Social Services

Phone number : (02)            | Mobile: 04         

Email :                



Executive Assistant:                       

P: (02)           E:                                 

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From: Bob Buckley (A4 Convenor) <>
Sent: Thursday, 27 August 2020 5:43 PM
To: Minister <>
Cc: Autism Policy <>
Subject: omission of autism DRO from your Expert Reference Group


Dear Minister Senator The Hon. Anne Ruston

Your recent letter (Ref: MS19-001385) says that you are establishing an Expert Reference Group to support implementation of  the National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Australia (the Guideline).

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia is the only autism-related organisation listed on the DSS web page that lists National disability representative organisations. The "Draft in Confidence" document titled Expert Reference Group – Implementation of the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Australia omits Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia from its "Proposed Membership".

Do you intent that Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia is omitted from your Expert Reference Group? If so, why?


Bob Buckley
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

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