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Make South Australia A+ on Autism: Dignity for Disability launches autism policy

Dignity for Disability today released a policy to improve the lives of South Australians with autism, anchored by the establishment of a state-wide autism plan.

“South Australians with autism are at the mercy of a system that provides piecemeal support throughout their lifetime,” said d4d Party Leader Kelly Vincent MLC. “This is frustrating for the people with autism and their families – as efforts to study, work and live independently are often foiled by inconsistent service provision.”

Dignity for Disability’s autism policy includes a four-point plan to address these problems:

– Adopt a State-wide Autism Plan (SWAP). “A state autism plan is not a revolutionary idea – Victoria adopted one in 2009, and the South Australian Public Advocate John Brayley supports the idea locally,” said Ms Vincent. “SWAP would revolutionise the lives of South Australians with autism by providing continuous and appropriate care from birth. This would be in stark contrast to the current system which is piecemeal and leaves people high and dry at certain ages.”

– Investigate the need for an Autism Act. “The Social Development Committee should conduct a review into whether an Autism Act similar to that seen in the UK would improve the employment and education prospects of South Australians with autism,” said Ms Vincent.

– Education choices for children with autism. “Dignity for Disability is delighted to see Government support for the proposed Treetop Autism Specific School and a commitment to have another specialised education facility modelled on the AEIOU Centres in Queensland established at Huntfield Heights,” said Ms Vincent. “We want to make sure that no matter which party is in government these schools will still become a reality. We’ll also press for compulsory autism training for all teachers and better support for SSOs in mainstream schools so that students with autism can have effective support in different learning environments, as their individual needs require.”

– Create a transition program for people with disabilities moving from school to work. “Young people with disabilities are under-employed in South Australia,” said Ms Vincent. “We need to better manage the transition out of school and into the workplace so these young people can find the job they’re looking for and keep it. The SA Government should assign caseworkers from the Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology to help young people with disabilities find and attain employment. Funding should also be put towards a mentorship program so that these new employees have support as they negotiate the complexities of work and workplace relations.”