The Victoria’s Autism Plan builds on their Absolutely everyone: state disability plan. It incorporates commitments to remove specific barriers faced by people in the autistic community. The plan is based on feedback from a parliamentary inquiry into the needs of autistic people and their families. Building helpful attitudes toward autistic people is a key element of Victoria’s Autism Plan.
The document begins with personal stories, which is pleasing to see because they are more revealing than statistics or diagnoses. It sets the tone for the rest of the document and acknowledges additional barriers faced by the autistic community.
A note on language
The term Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is no longer the preferred term. Language is influential in changing community attitudes so choosing the right terms is important. Individuals and advocacy bodies were asked which term they thought should be used in the plan. There was general agreement that the term “autistic people” should be used. An important point – ask people what terms they prefer.
Key points in the plan
The parliamentary inquiry found that autistic people experience social isolation, and difficulty accessing health and other public services. Specific barriers included:
- lack of community understanding
- accessing education that meets their needs
- exclusion from employment opportunities
- limited access to supports and services
- additional barriers to inclusion for autistic people with intersecting identities
The commitments in this plan relate to the key areas in the state disability plan: inclusive communities; health housing and wellbeing; fairness and safety; and contributing lives. The plan has more detail on each commitment and useful case studies illustrate success stories.
Although there is greater community awareness of autism, community attitudes remain the biggest barrier to inclusion in social and economic life. Many autistic people avoid environmental barriers such as crowds, noise and light levels. Worrying how people will treat them or respond to them adds to social isolation.
There are four ways to access the plan on the website: Full version in PDF, Easy English Version in PDF, a text version in Word, and an Auslan summary. Or you can download the full PDF version, Victorian Autism Plan.