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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 November 2021) . . Page.. 3619 ..

workforce. I am glad to see that all members of this place agree that, moving forward, we need to do better in this space. I commend the motion.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Health—autism spectrum disorder

MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (3.30): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes that:

(a) early diagnosis and early interventions are more effective in improving long-term outcomes for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD);

(b) delayed diagnosis has been linked to poor mental health in young people and can result in huge costs to children and young people, their families, and the systems that serve them; and

(c) several factors may influence delayed diagnosis, including:

(i) statistically significant misdiagnosis in females and children from culturally and linguistically diverse background;

(ii) the presence of comorbid disorders;

(iii) failure of detection in the school system;

(iv) failure of detection by health professionals;

(v) lack of awareness by parents; and

(vi) late manifestation of symptoms in “high-functioning” or “mild” cases;

(2) also notes that:

(a) the ACT Government provides free access to ASD screening through the Child Development Service, but only to children who have been referred before age 12;

(b) Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory provide free or subsidised assessments for young people up to age 16, age 18, or even older;

(c) stakeholders report a large increase in low-income Canberra families seeking autism assessments for young people age 12 and above; and

(d) the high cost of private assessments may further delay, or even prevent, diagnosis and interventions for some families; and

(3) calls on the ACT Government to:

(a) increase the likelihood of early diagnosis of ASD by taking steps to increase awareness amongst both parents and professionals; and

(b) extend access for public autism assessments to young people under the age of 18.

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