A report from out going Chair Geraldine Robertson who is retiring from the Board. Many thanks for your tireless work Geraldine. We know you are still working hard behind the scenes.

Geraldine writes: We are proud to be attracting the attention of organisations as credible and strong advocates.

Alliance – We have continued to be an active member of the Australian Autism Alliance.  This year’s high point was that the manifesto was delivered. 

After much discussion and negotiation, the four priorities that ASAN considered most important were taken up as the core of the manifesto.  In particular, we were able to back up Jordan Steele-John’s campaign for a Royal Commission and were with him just prior to the vote. This was identified as the number 1 priority in our member survey.

NDIS – Began negotiations with Ndis on improving access times for children. This was successful and work is being done on implementation strategies.  Autism Advisors will now be utilised by the NDIA, and there is funding for an interim payment.

Thanks to Hayley Clapham, who developed the NDIS survey, and to all who responded.  The data from that has been used in several Advocacy events and publications.

Katharine is a vital part of the NDIS advisory group. Her knowledge of government systems and lived experience has greatly strengthened the efficacy of that group.

The next big project with regard to the NDIS is in supporting adults- the acting CEO and the Chair of the NDIA have read the research on mortality and ASAN’s Q and A completed for the CRC.

More improvements to the NDIS will happen soon.

Government – Canberra trip: We met with 24 members of parliament and the federal department of social services and department of education in Canberra earlier this year.  In addition to presenting the Alliance’s Manifesto, we now have a Parliamentary Friends of Autism group – this has been developed from a cross-section of political parties.  This means that in the future when we lobby, we have known supporters to help.

All this has been achieved through our membership with the Australian Autism Alliance, showing the value of one strong voice for autism, but ASAN played a central role, providing professional expertise, lived experience and data that informed the process.

Autism CRC – ASAN continue to have a good relationship with the CRC, providing advice, helping to guide and deliver the Future Leaders program, and also collaborating on a number of research projects that we feel are relevant and important for our membership.

In addition to this, Geraldine is on the executive of The Australian Autism Research Council, setting research priorities for the coming year, and Katharine is a board member.

Other news:
It is worth mentioning that we are now a registered charity attracting tax deductable donations.  This will be invaluable in developing the scope of our advocacy, and will support work to be done into the future.

We had one resignation from the board this year – Rachael Biggs, who resigned to focus on her other commitments closer to home

On a lighter note, we adopted a new logo this year, designed by a member, and using the concept and colouring of the original ASAN logo.

Our members continue to be involved in many areas of support, advocacy and activism.  Just a sample of these include:

  • Providing training for parents, teachers and health professionals
  • Disability arts projects,
  • Reviewing research proposals for their relevance to the Autistic community
  • Reviewing and creating autism specific resources.
  • Women with Disabilities Australia Virtual Centre project Developing DAIPs for local councils,
  • Research and other project advisory groups
  • Health council SA
  • Uni Union representation,
  • Developing supports for LGBTQIA people
  • and quite a number of ASAN members presented at the APAC conference in Singapore this year.

Special mentions to members Tori Haar, for winning the Westpac Social Change Fellowship, as well as for developing and running the Future Leaders program, and to Jac den Houting, who was awarded her PhD this year, and presented at the Montreal INSAR conference.