In consultation with the Victorian autism community, Amaze writes policy advice and submissions to state and federal governments to ensure the needs of autistic people and their families are voiced and heard to influence positive systemic change.
Below are the most recent submissions by Amaze that are available for download.
‘Towards a National Autism Strategy – International lessons for Australia’ is a synthesis of the many examples of international jurisdictions that have acted to introduce a national autism strategy.
The paper, authored by Amaze’s Nicole Rees and Tim Long, with valued advice and guidance from Monique Blakemore, offers a summary and analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of several autism strategies.
Amaze strongly supports the development of an Australian National Autism Strategy that sets ambitious goals and dedicated actions to improve the health, wellbeing and lived experience of autistic Australians.
Amaze made a submission calling for a bold and ambitious approach to Victoria’s next disability plan. The next iteration of the plan needs to drive inclusion for people with disability, actively tackle discrimination and include ambitious targets.
Amaze made a comprehensive submission to inform the development of the next National Disability Employment Strategy as part of our ongoing efforts to improve employment prospects for autistic people.
Our submission calls for significant changes to elevate the profile of autism within the next National Disability Employment Strategy, including a recommendation to establish an Autism Employment Taskforce.
Amaze has made a submission to the National Disability Insurance Agency’s consultation on proposed changes to capacity building supports for autistic children.
The changes proposed by the NDIA include:
In our submission, we call upon the NDIA to abandon its plan to place autistic children in discrete “funding levels”, to cap their funding and then reduce it at age seven.
We believe these changes are poorly designed and will have a negative impact on autistic children.
We provide productive and positive suggestions for how parents of younger autistic children can be supported to make informed decisions about which supports are right for them.
It is important that the NDIS works well for autistic children and reducing funding for essential early supports is not the way forward.
Read the submission here.
Amaze has made a submission to the House of Representatives Select Committee to inquire into Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.
The Committee was set up to look into the findings of several recent strategic reviews of the current mental health system.
These reviews include the Productivity Commission Inquiry Report into Mental Health, the Report of the National Suicide Prevention Officer and the Victorian Royal Commission.
The Committee will also take into account the 2019 bushfires, the COVID-19 pandemic and the capacity of the mental health workforce.
Our submission highlights that autism is essential for the mental health sector.
Our recommendations include:
Read the submission here.
The Australian Autism Alliance has made a submission to the NDIA’s consultation on the proposed introduction of “independent” (or functional) assessments which will be used to determine access to the NDIS and the amount of individual plan budgets.
In the submission, we argue against the introduction of these assessments, call for the NDIA’s tender process to be stopped and for any future changes to be co-designed with NDIS participants and their families.
We are very concerned that these assessments, which will have a significant impact on support and budgets for participants, will be conducted in just a few hours by an unknown assessor and will cause unnecessary stress and hardship for autistic people. It is very likely these assessments won’t be accurate, and they are not able to be reviewed under the current proposal.
Amaze wants to make sure your voice is heard by the Australian Parliament, who are separately looking into the NDIA’s plan to use mandatory functional assessments to determine NDIS access and individual plan budgets.
Tell us your story by sending an email to [email protected] if you have been involved in the pilot program of proposed assessments or are a current NDIS participant or parent of a participant and want to share how you feel about these proposed changes.
The Australian Autism Alliance has made a submission to the NDIA’s consultation on a redesigned Early Childhood Early Intervention approach.
There are major changes planned for the NDIS’s early intervention supports, which are currently available to children aged up to six years. In the submission, we support some of the proposed changes and call for the NDIA to pause other parts of the reform.
We think a future Early Childhood Approach should:
Amaze wants to make sure your voice is heard.
Tell us your story by sending an email to [email protected] if you are a current NDIS participant or parent of a participant and want to share how you feel about these proposed changes.
Below, you can read about and download Amaze’s major policy submissions from the last three years.
For earlier submissions, please contact [email protected] or call 03 9657 1600.
Amaze has made a submission to the Inquiry into access to TAFE for learners with disability.
In developing this submission, Amaze together with Yellow Ladybugs, the I CAN Network, Different Journeys and Aspergers Victoria, conducted a detailed survey of autistic people to develop a unique perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of the Victorian TAFE sector, as it relates to autistic learners.
Our research provides insights into where and how TAFEs can improve their accessibility, responsiveness and relevance to autistic learners.
The Australian Autism Alliance provided input to the development of a new National Disability Strategy. The current National Disability Strategy is not delivering for autistic people and remains substantially worse than for most other disability and vulnerable population groups.
A National Autism Strategy would create an intentional and coherent approach to shifting the dial on outcomes for autistic people. It would provide an overarching and bi-partisan framework to drive coordinated and mutually reinforcing policy, research, service, and program responses across different domains and jurisdictions. It would cover autistic people across the life course – including through key life transitions – and across the spectrum.
Amaze, through the Australian Autism Alliance co-wrote a submission to the Department of Treasury on the eligibility of people receiving the disability support pension to qualify for the Federal Government’s JobMaker initiative.
In this submission we argue that the eligibility criteria for JobMaker should be expanded to include people who receive the disability support pension, both on grounds of equity and fairness.
The Australian Autism Alliance has released a statement on the Australian Government’s proposal to introduce mandatory NDIA-commissioned assessments in the NDIS.
In its statement, the Alliance has stated they do not support the proposal to introduce NDIA-commissioned assessments.
The Alliance believes that the Australian Government’s proposal will diminish participant choice and control, and disadvantage current and future autistic participants.
Amaze has made a formal submission to the National Disability Insurance Agency and its consultation on reforming the Support Coordination function.
In our submission, we call for a fundamental reset of Support Coordination, as we believe the current system is not delivering on its vision and promise, and as a result does not serve NDIS participants as well as it could.
Amaze’s vision for support coordination would see much greater clarity about the role of a support coordinator, more training for support coordinators, greater access to information about local NDIS supports, and importantly, a greater focus on conflicts of interest.
We thank our community members who provided insight into their experiences and supported the development of this submission.
Amaze has led the consultation and development of the Australian Autism Alliance’s submission to the Inquiry into the services, support and life outcomes for autistic people in Australia.
In the submission, we call for major changes to how the Commonwealth Government funds, organises and supports services for autistic people, with our primary recommendation being for the establishment of a National Autism Strategy.
The submission is titled The Autism Dividend Unleashing the skills, talent and opportunity of Australia’s autistic community, and you can download it here.
The submission would not have been possible without the input of the thousands of members of the autism community who contributed their personal experiences to the most comprehensive survey and report into autistic Australians and their families undertaken outside of the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The voices of 3,884 respondents are reflected in the submission, and we thank each participant for their contribution.
Amaze and the Australian Autism Alliance will continue to push for real and meaningful change at the Federal level.
Amaze responded to the Disability Worker Registration Board of Victoria’s Disability Worker Regulation Scheme proposed registration standards.
It is well documented through recent studies, inquiries and reports that the safety and quality of disability services in Australia and globally is being compromised by poor service coordination and inadequate staff training and resourcing. Disability worker skills and knowledge are fundamental to the provision of high-quality support for autistic people.
In the submission, Amaze details aspects within three recommendations
The Productivity Commission has a track record in assisting government, the private sector and the community sector to navigate seemingly intractable systemic and structural issues. This Inquiry has the potential to make a significant practical contribution to the long-term reform agenda for mental health.
There are many strengths in the Productivity Commission’s Draft Report. However, we are concerned that the draft report does not specifically examine the high level of co-occurring mental health conditions in autistic people, or the impacts this co-occurrence has for access to appropriate mental health diagnosis, services and supports.
The Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is focused on inquiring into NDIS matters, including how the NDIS is being implemented, how well the NDIS is achieving its purpose and NDIS spending.
Inquiry into NDIS Planning
In August 2019, the Committee began an inquiry into NDIS Planning.
The inquiry includes a focus on the experience, expertise and qualifications of planners; the ongoing training and professional development of planners; and participant involvement in planning processes and the efficacy of introducing draft plans.
Amaze’s submission to the Inquiry was informed by the feedback that we have received from our community regarding the NDIS planning process. This led to Amaze making the following recommendations:
Establish clear and consistent eligibility criteria for autistic people, including the creation of robust and evidence-based tools to ensure assessments are autism appropriate and consistent.
Create an Autism and Neurodevelopmental stream to build autism expertise within the NDIS, and offer better planning outcomes and simplify the NDIS process for autistic people and their families.
Increase the professional development, training, guidance and capacity building for NDIS staff, LACs and ECEI staff over the lifetime of their employment.
Ensure all autistic people gain access and have an approved plan within six weeks, with priority given to ECEI participants due to the implications for their development trajectory.
Improve support, enhance transparency and provide greater flexibility for all autistic people, and their families/carers during the pre-planning, planning and review process.
The complaints process must be accessible to all participants (and their families, carers and the broader community).
Stimulate targeted growth in autism services, including early intervention services and particularly for participants who are women, with complex needs, in thin markets and/or in regional and remote areas.
The Committee will prepare a final report on their recommendations. Amaze will provide an update when of date the report will be released when the Committee share this information.
On 26 March 2019, the Victorian Government launched a Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System – the first of its kind in Australia. Amaze, Yellow Ladybugs and Different Journeys have collaborated to ensure autistic voices and needs are represented in this important investigation.
The aim of the Royal Commission is to provide the community with a clear set of actions that will change Victoria’s mental health system and enable Victorians to experience their best mental health.
Informed by academic research, more than 300 responses to our online community consultation survey, and a roundtable discussion with 11 mental health and autism professionals and researchers, the submission clearly demonstrates the urgent need for greater mental health supports for autistic people.
The extensive consultation and research explored many barriers faced by autistic people in accessing and navigating Victoria’s mental health system, including:
We found that knowledge about autism and mental health is increasing within the mental health sector, but it’s not complete or consistent across the sector. Some of the other barriers mental health professionals encounter in supporting autistic people are: a lack of autism training; no easily available information and guidance for supporting autistic people with mental health conditions; and an unsupportive mental health system.
A service model be developed that sets out how the mental health system can provide appropriate support to autistic people. The service model should:
A clinical practice model be developed to support mental health in autistic people generally, and for adolescents and adults more specifically.
The Victorian Government supports research into autism and mental health by:
The Victorian Government works towards eliminating restrictive practices across all service systems and sectors in Victoria, including the mental health system, and advocates for a nationally consistent framework for eliminating restrictive practices.
The Commission will provide an interim report to the Victorian Government in November 2019, and a final report by October 2020.
The Victorian Government has already committed to implementing every recommendation from the Royal Commission.
In October 2017, the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) released its Accessible Housing Options Paper, and sought community feedback to inform the development of a national regulation impact assesment on the costs and benefits of applying a minimum accessibility standard to all new residential dwellings in Australia.
Amaze’s submission welcomed the development of a minimum accessibility standard but emphasized the importance of assessing the accessibility needs of all people with disability, including autistic people. It highlighted some options for exploring how the accessibility needs of autistic people may be met and the costs and benefits associated with meeting these needs.
An Outcomes Report from this inquiry, which will inform the development of the regulatory impact statement, will be released in early 2019. For more information, please see the consultation page at https://www.abcb.gov.au/Resources/Publications/Consultation/Accessible-Housing-Options-Paper
In August 2018, the Commonwealth Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS announced its inquiry into the provision of Assistive Technology (AT) under the NDIS. For NDIS purposes, AT refers to any device, equipment or system that allows a person to perform tasks they may otherwise be unable to do, or increases the ease or safety with which tasks can be performed.
To inform its submission to this inquiry, Amaze conducted a survey to hear the experiences of autistic people, and their families and carers, applying for AT under the NDIS. The survey responses demonstrated the lack of information available to autistic people and their families/carers regarding the types of AT that may be funded by the NDIS, and significant inconsistencies in funding decisions.
Amaze’s submission to the inquiry outlined its survey findings, highlighted common AT needs of autistic people and emphasised the need for a more transparent, consistent and evidence based approach to AT funding for autistic people under the NDIS (including through the development of AT guidelines for autistic participants).
The Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS released its inquiry report titled Provision of AT under the NDIS on 12 December 2018. The report included 8 recommendations to improve the experiences of NDIS participants (and their families/carers) applying for AT under the NDIS, increase access to AT and reduce delays.
In December 2017, the Victorian Parliamentary Economic, Education, Jobs and Skills Committee announced its Inquiry into Career Advice Activities in Victorian Schools.
Amaze’s submission welcomed the inquiry and highlighted the poor career advice activities and employment outcomes for autistic people in Australia. It demonstrated that career advice activities in Victorian schools lack consistency and co-ordination, and often fail to meet the needs of autistic students. It also demonstrated that inadequate career advice activities are contributing to poor post-school outcomes and experiences.
Amaze recommended that the Victorian Government develop, implement and fund a Post-School Transitions Policy for autistic students (ideally as a component of an updated State Autism Plan). Amaze’s submission was informed by a survey of young autistic people and their families/carers it conducted for the purpose of this inquiry.
In August 2018, the Committee released its report titled Inquiry into career advice activities in Victorian schools. The report found that career development is not currently meeting the needs of Victorian students. It made a number of recommendations to build a whole of school approach to career advice activities and build the capacity of schools and career development services to better meet the needs of all students (including students with disabilities).
The report highlighted a number of Amaze’s concerns, which informed its associated findings.
The Victorian government tabled its response to the inquiry on 21 February 2019. It supported in full or in principle all recommendations made by the Committee. It announced a suite of initiatives to improve quality and access to career development services in Victorian schools, and outlined commitments to increase students’ workplace exposure and raise the profile of vocational education and training.
It also committed to addressing the needs of students experiencing disadvantage, noting that in 2018 it developed additional resources to support the career education and work readiness of students with a disability (including teaching and learning resources, professional learning for career practitioners and teachers, and seminars for parents and carers).
In October 2017, Amaze provided a submission to the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism’s (‘Autism CRC’) draft national guideline for community consultation, The diagnostic process for children, adolescents and adults referred for assessment of autism spectrum disorder in Australia.
Amaze’s submission welcomed the guideline’s development, highlighting the poor experiences to date of many autistic people and their families/carers when seeking to access an autism diagnosis. It made a number of recommendations to support the development of an evidence based guideline capable of supporting reliable and accessible diagnostic, and functional and support needs assessments. It also highlighted important considerations relating to autistic women and autistic people who experience co-occurring conditions, including mental health conditions.
In October 2018, Autism CRC (with funding from the National Disability Insurance Agency) announced its final National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Australia. Amaze welcomed the guideline which will create greater consistency in diagnostic practices across Australia and ensure access to timely and reliable diagnostic, and functional and support needs assessments.
The new guideline can be accessed via Autism CRC’s website.
In November 2017, the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS launched inquiry into the provision of services under the NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention Approach.
Amaze’s submission supported the development of an ECEI pathway for accessing the NDIS. However, it raised concerns regarding the data used by the NDIA in 2016 to project the likely numbers of autistic children entering the scheme through the NDIS ECEI pathway. It highlighted the need for ECEI Access Partners build autism specific expertise and use of a functional assessment tool better suited to measuring the support needs of young autistic people.
It also demonstrated the need for more consistent and accessible information for families/carers of children entering the ECEI pathway, and a more consistent and evidence based approach to planning and funding of supports. The issue of workforce shortages, particularly in rural areas was also addressed.
To inform its submission, Amaze conducted a survey of parents/cares of ECEI participants about their NDIS ECEI experiences.
Amaze’s submission and parent/carer surveyed informed a number of findings and recommendations by the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS, in its final report titled Provision of services under the NDIS ECEI Approach (December 2017).
In particular, the report recommended that a new functional assessment tool be developed for autistic children. It also highlighted Amaze’s concerns regarding the autism understanding and inconsistent approaches to planning, as well as workforce shortages, influencing conclusions and recommendations in relation to these matters.
In 2017, the Productivity Commission reviewed the costs of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). It released its Issues Paper in February 2017, and responses to its Issues Paper helped shape its Position Paper (June 2017) and subsequent Final Report (October 2017).
The Productivity Commission’s review examined the sustainability of scheme costs, cost pressures faced by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and other stakeholders, obligations across jurisdictions and the intersection between mainstream and disability services.
Amaze’s submissions to the Issues Paper and Position Paper highlighted the cost benefits of ensuring the NDIS meets the needs of autistic people and their families, including through an evidence based approach to access and planning, the use of appropriate assessment tools, ensuring access to clear and accessible information for autistic people, investment in peer networks and pre-planning support, autism training and guidance for planners, and providing clear guidance regarding the intersection between mainstream and disability supports. It also recommended that KPIs on Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) partners, which ensure less than 50% of ECEI participants are referred for access to NDIS, be removed.
Amaze’s submission was informed by a community survey it conducted on NDIS experiences for the purpose of the inquiry.
The Productivity Commission released its Final Report in October 2017. It highlighted a number of findings from Amaze’s community survey and agreed that there is an urgent need for better autism understanding among planners and LAC’s, as well as improved transparency, communication and pre-planning support. It also agreed that the KPI on ECEI partners should be removed.
More broadly it found that while NDIS costs were generally on track, some cost pressures and likely workforce shortages are emerging. It found that the quality of plans and the planning process have been comprised at the expense of quantity/transition targets. It also highlighted the need for clearer guidance on the intersection between mainstream and disability supports, and jurisdictional/governments obligations.
In June 2017, the Commonwealth Government released its NDIS Code of Conduct Discussion Paper to seek community input into the development of a new NDIS Code of Conduct (Code) for NDIS providers (including people employed or otherwise engaged by NDIS providers).
Amaze’s submission supported the development of the new Code to ensure the safe and ethical delivery of high quality services and supports to people with disability. It also highlighted the importance of the Code and complaints process being accessible to autistic people.
The new National Disability Insurance Scheme (Code of Conduct) Rules 2018 were published 17 May 2018. The new NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission also commenced rolling out its operation in July 2018, with a key function of overseeing the implementation of the Code and associated Practice Standards. For more information, see the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission website at https://www.ndiscommission.gov.au/ .
Amaze will also continue to monitor implementation of the Code and its accessibility for autistic people.
In November 2016, the Senate Community Affairs References Committee (SCARC) was asked by the Senate to inquire and report on the delivery of outcomes under the National Disability Strategy 2010 – 2020, to build inclusive and accessible communities. When considering the delivery of outcomes, Amaze’s submission encouraged the SCARC to consider whether progress had been made toward building inclusive and accessible communities for autistic people.
Amaze’s submission highlighted the range of environment barriers autistic people can face when seeking to access their community, as well as robust evidence that a building’s design or modification can improve access and participation for autistic people.
It urged the SCARC to review the extent to which existing building codes and design guidelines support access for autistic people and consider actions that could be taken by governments, planners and community organizations to improve accessibility.
In November 2017, the SCARC released its report titled Delivery of outcomes under the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 to build inclusive and accessible communities. The report acknowledged Amaze’s submission and the importance of inclusive and accessible communities for autistic people.
While the report did not make any recommendations specific to improving outcomes for autistic people, it did make made a range of recommendations to improve the oversight, implementation, co-ordination and data collection/monitoring of the National Disability Strategy, including the establishment of an Office of Disability Strategy.
In May 2016, the Victorian State Parliament’s Family and Community Development Committee launched an Inquiry into services for people with autism spectrum disorder. Its terms of reference included, but were not limited to the prevalence of autism in Victoria, the availability and adequacy of services for autistic people and the social and economic consequences of failing to provide adequate services.
Amaze’s submission was informed by robust evidence and the 500 responses it received to its survey of autistic people and their families, regarding the issues they were facing and how they wanted them to be addressed. The submission provided detailed evidence and recommendations in relation to early intervention, education, employment, NDIS transition, restrictive interventions and the economic cost of autism.
In June 2017, the Family and Community Development Committee released its Inquiry into services for people with autism spectrum disorder – Final Report. The report was significantly informed by Amaze’s submission and contained 101 recommendations to create a more inclusive and supportive Victoria for autistic people, including a recommendation that the Victorian government develop a new State Autism Plan.
In December 2017, the Victorian government released its Response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into services for people with autism spectrum disorder. In its response, the government committed to developing a new State Autism Plan and a public education campaign. It also included some commitments to increase support for autistic children in the early years and school, develop a responsive workforce, create inclusive sport and recreation opportunities, provide more support for rural and regional communities and support autistic women and girls.
To date, the State Autism Plan has not been released.
Amaze is continuing to advocate to the Victorian government for the release of the State Autism Plan and the adoption of all 101 recommendations from the inquiry.