Launch of new resources by Autism Cooperative Research Centre

I'd like to start by acknowledging we meet on the lands of the Kaurna people and pay my respects to elder's past, present and emerging.

I would also like to acknowledge my ministerial colleague and very good friend, Emily Bourke, the South Australian Assistant Minister for Autism. I would just like to take a moment to talk about the great work that Emily has done here in South Australia.

I think it is really fitting that we are launching these practical resources here in South Australia because this has been a real focus of Emily's work since she stepped into this role. How do we actually change mainstream service systems to be much more inclusive of autistic people and autistic children?

I’d like to recognise her work, and as a direct result of her work, I'm really pleased that the Australian Government has partnered with the South Australian Government for an early intervention program, focused from nine to eighteen months, looking for signs of developmental delay, then looking at how we best support those very little children.

I need to say that what we've been learning out of that, is that it is not about changing the child. It is about putting the right support around that child, the right environment around that child to ensure that child can thrive.

That is such an important part of that trial that we're doing here in South Australia and a really important message that comes out of these refreshed best practice guidelines. I'll get to those in a minute.

I'd like to thank Autism CRC, the CEO Andrew Davis, and his team for the work that they've been doing and also recognise the Daphne Street Childcare and Specialist Learning Centre. Just speaking very briefly to the staff here, I can see that attitude of an inclusive early learning environment where all Australian children get the opportunity to get an early learning education, but also get the best start in life.

Thriving in inclusive environments is certainly something that I've been very focused on as the Minister for Social Services, and primarily responsible for inclusion of people with disability outside the NDIS.

That is why a lot of my focus has been on our work developing the National Autism Strategy. The Draft National Autism Strategy is now out for consultation and it's really where we've been bringing together lived experience, and also evidence-based research to chart a positive and inclusive future, from the Australian Government's perspective, for autistic people. As I said it is out for consultation and we will continue to refine that.

Through the autism strategy consultations, the goals of autistic people emerged. They told us what was important to them - stronger supports and services and greater social and economic inclusion.

And if you think about that, that's not surprising. That's what we all want. We all want a society and a community that includes us and ensures that we have the opportunity to thrive.

And that's why I think these best practice guidelines, which have been refreshed and revised, are so important. They have taken the lived experience of people, autistic people's lived experience and incorporated that with the evidence of best practice and refreshed those guidelines.

But importantly, the practical resources that we're launching today, are so important. When I go around and speak with people in mainstream services, whether that's in education, whether that's in health, what they are really yearning for and wanting is those practical resources to help them best support autistic children - and that is what these resources do. They really take what are very well-developed guidelines and bring them to life. That is such an important part of how we make sure that we get inclusion right across all of our services.

Also, one of the areas that really struck me, is that these resources are available for parents as well. To ensure that they are able to have an active role in ensuring that the sorts of supports and services that their child gets are in line with what is best practice. That is very empowering and important for parents as well.

I would just like to say congratulations to all of those that have played a role in developing these resources and refreshing the guidelines.

We know that as more research happens, as more work happens, we will need to be continually on the front foot and making sure that we're able to translate it, which I know that Autism CRC does very well, and bring to life much of that research into our society and community.

So that autistic people and autistic children get the best possible opportunity to thrive.

Thank you very much for having me today.