National Autism Strategy

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Consultations to develop the Strategy will begin later this year.

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Oversight Council members announced

Minister for Social Services the Hon Amanda Rishworth MP with members of the National Autism Strategy Oversight Council
Minister for Social Services the Hon Amanda Rishworth MP with members of the National Autism Strategy Oversight Council

Minister for Social Services the Hon Amanda Rishworth MP recently announced the first face-to-face meeting of the National Autism Strategy’s Oversight Council in Canberra.

Council members were selected through an open expression of interest (EOI) process, which closed in March. The EOI was conducted by Disability Representative Organisations and sought nominations from the autistic community and sector, and research and professional sector.

The Council will guide the development of the Strategy and includes 8 autistic community and sector members (including an autistic co-chair), 2 research and professional sector members and 6 Australian Government members (including a co-chair).

Congratulations to the following selected members on their appointment:

  • Autistic Co-Chair of the Council, Mrs Clare Gibellini
  • Mr Andrew Pfeiffer (Autistic community and sector member)
  • Andrew Shim (Autistic community and sector member)
  • Ms Heidi La Paglia Reid (Autistic community and sector member)
  • Ms Jenny Karavolos (Autistic community and sector member)
  • Mr Nicholas Glover (Autistic community and sector member)
  • Renay Barker-Mulholland (Autistic community and sector member)
  • Mr Sebastian Langdon-Macmillan (Autistic community and sector member)
  • Associate Professor Josephine Barbaro (Research and professional sector member)
  • Mrs Victoria Gottliebsen (Research and professional sector member)
  • Along with 6 Australian Government representatives including: 
    • Co-chair, Mr Luke Mansfield – Department of Social Services
    • Ms Dannie Edmonds – Department of Education, 
    • Mr Simon Cotterell – Department of Health and Aged Care, 
    • Ms Erin Rule – Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, 
    • Dr Sam Bennett – National Disability Insurance Agency and 
    • Ms Genevieve Quilty – Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The Oversight Council met for the first time face-to-face on 17 May 2023. The Council will be supported by Working Groups that will consider 4 key areas:

  1. Social inclusion
  2. Economic inclusion
  3. Diagnosis, supports and services
  4. Health and mental health (National Roadmap to Improve the Health and Mental Health of Autistic People). 

Membership of the first three Working Groups is under consideration and announcements are expected soon.

Additional funding committed for National Autism Strategy

The Australian Government has committed additional funds to develop the National Autism Strategy and the National Roadmap to target health and mental health outcomes for autistic people.

In the recent Budget, the Government committed $4.9 million towards the development of the National Autism Strategy. It includes:

  • $3.7 million in 2023-24 to undertake consultation and research for the National Autism Strategy
  • $1.2 million over two years from 2023-24 for development of the National Roadmap to improve health and mental outcomes for people with autism (Phase 2 and 3). The Roadmap focuses on addressing the serious health and mental health inequities faced by autistic people and will be developed in close coordination with the Strategy.

This funding makes sure we are developing an evidence-based National Autism Strategy that is designed with autistic people, their families and carers.

It is in addition to the $5.3 million provided in the October 2022-23 Budget through the Better Support for People with Disability package. This included an initial $1 million towards developing the National Autism Strategy and $2 million to the Autism Cooperative Research Centre to continue its autism research and provide advice to support development of the Strategy.

Read more about the measures announced in the 2023 Budget to support people with autism.

What is the National Autism Strategy?

In 2022 the Australian Government announced the development of a National Autism Strategy.

The Strategy will be for all autistic Australians. It will cover key reform areas including access to services, healthcare, education and employment. It will help to guide a more coordinated, national approach supporting autistic people at each stage of life.

The Strategy will be informed by:

  • autistic people
  • their families and carers
  • the autism sector
  • researchers.

The Government is partnering with the Autism CRC to prepare a co-design approach to develop the Strategy. More information on how people can be involved in this process will be available soon.

If you’re interested in being involved in development of a National Autism Strategy, you can email

How will the National Autism Strategy be developed?

There will be an Oversight Council who will guide the development of the Strategy. The Council will include an autistic co-chair and members from the autism community, sector representatives, researchers and relevant Australian Government departments. The Oversight Council was announced in May 2023.

It is important that we listen carefully to autistic people about what is happening and what they want and need from a national strategy.

Autistic people, their families and carers will be invited to help develop the Strategy. A consultation process is expected to start in the second half of 2023.

Findings and recommendations from the Senate Select Committee on Autism final report will also be considered as part of the development of the Strategy.

Why is the National Autism Strategy important?

There is a growing number of Australians on the autism spectrum and with other neurodevelopmental conditions. For many autistic people life outcomes in education, vocation, health and family functioning continue are worse than they should be.

There is a 20-year gap in life expectancy compared with the general population.

Autistic people are also around 7 times more likely to be unemployed than people without disability, and they have a higher risk of homelessness.

People within the autistic community have called for a dedicated National Autism Strategy.

A National Autism Strategy will improve life outcomes for all autistic people in Australia. It will provide, for the first time, a coordinated national approach to services and supports for autistic Australians and their families.

The National Autism Strategy will sit alongside Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-2031.

Statement on language:

The Australian Government acknowledges that people use different words to talk about autism, and that each person will have a way of talking about autism and about themselves that they like best. Some people in the autistic community like to say ‘autistic person’ (identity-first language), some like to say ‘person with autism’ (person-first language), and some are fine with using either.

The Australian Government is using identity-first language to talk about the National Autism Strategy. This means that we will usually use the term autistic person or autistic people.

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