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Why We Need A National Autism Strategy

The Federal Government released a draft of the National Autism Strategy earlier this week.

The development of the strategy was first announced back in 2022 and covers key reform areas including access to services, healthcare, education, and employment.

Leading autism researcher at La Trobe University Professor Cheryl Dissanayake says “there are many barriers” to everyday life for autistic Australians.

She joins Sacha Barbour Gatt on this episode of The Briefing to see how this strategy will address these barriers:

According to the Department of Social Services there is a 20-year gap in life expectancy for autistic people compared with the general population.

Autistic people are also more likely to be unemployed, and have a higher risk of becoming homeless.

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“It’s not that autistic people don’t want to engage, but they have difficulty engaging in the usual ways,” Dissanayake says.

At least 200,000 Australians are living with autism, a number experts predict to be much higher due to the costly and time-consuming diagnosis process.

The national strategy is seeking to address accessibility to autism-friendly workplaces, as well as affordable and constructive diagnosis.

“The success of this strategy will lie in all levels of government working together to achieve the outcomes for autistic people,” Dissanayake says.

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