Barriers to people with autism are barriers to us all: Submission to the Select Committee on Autism

29 January 2021

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) is pleased to make this submission to the Select Committee on Autism’s Inquiry into the Services, Support and Life Outcomes for People with autism in Australia and the associated need for a National Autism Strategy.

PWDA welcomes the Committee’s reference to the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD) and many of its principles in the Terms of Reference. As Australia has signed and ratified the CPRD, any strategy concerning people with autism must be based on its principles. The CPRD’s principles are:

  • Respect for inherent dignity and individual autonomy, including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons
  • Non-discrimination
  • Full and effective participation and inclusion in society • Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity
  • Equality of opportunity
  • Accessibility
  • Equality between men and women
  • Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.

The CPRD captures the ‘social model’ of disability, in which the social setting, communication and attitudinal environment around impairment are challenged. Within this paradigm, a person’s impairment does not need to be cured or normalised, but rather accepted as diversity, with support provided as needed. Further, it is the social, economic, cultural, and environmental settings that need to change and adapt to enable all people with disability to participate and contribute.