I am pleased that the ACT Legislative Assembly has today become the first parliament in Australia to consider the development of a standalone Strategy to support neurodivergent Canberrans.
Neurodivergent people often experience barriers to accessing appropriate and quality services, supports, education, employment, and broader social inclusion – all through no fault of their own. Sadly, these barriers can lead to poorer health, wellbeing, and other life outcomes in comparison to other people, and this is not good enough.
Our community benefits significantly from supporting and learning from neurodivergent Canberrans. Neurodivergent people deserve better from all levels of government, and I am hopeful that we can move the needle forward through the development of a comprehensive ACT Neurodiversity Strategy and the establishment of a dedicated Office for Neurodiversity.
Both of these measures will complement and interact with the National Autism Strategy (NAS), the ACT Disability Strategy, the ACT Inclusive Education Strategy, and other relevant policies, findings, and recommendations — such as those arising from the Senate Inquiry into ADHD, Senate Select Committee on Autism, and the Disability Royal Commission.
The motion passed today called on the ACT Government to:
- consider developing an ACT Neurodiversity Strategy, in close consultation with neurodivergent Canberrans, their families and carers, and relevant stakeholders, that:
- Upholds the social model of disability and human rights principles; and
- Aligns with NAS, the ACT Disability Strategy, the ACT Inclusive Education Strategy, and other relevant policies.
- consider establishing an Office for Neurodiversity in the ACT Government; and
- report back to the Assembly on these matters by June 2024.
Quotes from stakeholders:
“We welcome and celebrate the forward thinking and commitment for an ACT Neurodiversity Strategy that will enable a whole-of-government coordinated and integrated approach to improving the life outcomes of Autistic people and their families in the ACT,” said Ms Jenny Karavolos, Co-Chair of the Australian Autism Alliance.
“As an Autistic member of the National Autism Strategy Oversight Council and a disability rights advocate, I welcome the potential support that the ACT Neurodiversity Strategy will provide the development & implementation of the National Autism Strategy,” said AW Shim, a neurodivergent person and neurodiversity advocate. “State/territory buy-in will bolster implementation, and an ACT Neurodiversity Strategy will improve outcomes for not only Autistic Australians but also Australians with ADHD, dyslexia, and other co-occurring neurodevelopmental conditions.”