Free Support And Assessments For Autism, ADHD

Australian Greens

The ACT Greens have today announced they will deliver a Centre for Neurodivergence to provide free support to neurodivergent Canberrans, including those with ADHD and autism, should the Greens be re-elected later this year.

“The ACT Greens want every Canberran to live a full and happy life, which means ensuring that everyone has access to the support and services they need,” said recontesting Member for Murrumbidgee Emma Davidson, ACT Greens spokesperson on disability.

“However, we know that most people who are neurodivergent are waiting months, if not years, to get a diagnosis and the support they need to live their lives to the fullest.

“This can be particularly challenging for parents and carers who are left feeling isolated and helpless as they are trying to navigate this new and complex space with their child.

“That’s why the ACT Greens want to establish a dedicated centre that provides free information and support to neurodivergent people and their families,” Ms Davidson said.

“The Centre for Neurodivergence will take a strengths-based approach – celebrating and supporting the beautiful diversity of how our minds and bodies work. It will also look at the community around the individual and provide support to their family, friends and workplaces in order to better understand neurodivergence.

“At the moment, our systems of support for health care, education, employment, and social connections are built around neurotypical assumptions. Many people living in the ACT are neurodivergent, or know someone who is neurodivergent, yet our systems don’t support them and only change once someone has a diagnosis.

“This means people go without the right support to excel in their lives, or may be adults before they connect with the right supports for their needs. We also know that there are many neurodivergent people who may not need or choose to go down the diagnosis pathway, who would still benefit from support.

“Our Centre for Neurodivergence is a first in Australia and will provide a range of support for people when they ask for it – not only after they have a diagnosis.”

The Centre will provide free services and support such as:

  • Assessment and diagnosis for people of all ages
  • Early intervention allied health supports such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling, with or without a diagnosis
  • Space for peer groups to meet
  • Improved access to GP, psychology, and psychiatry services
  • Information and resources for neurodivergent people, including those with autism or ADHD, their families and friends, carers, educators from early childhood through to tertiary education, and employers.

ACT Greens MLA Laura Nuttall, who is recontesting her seat in Brindabella, outlined the need for such a facility from her personal lived experience with neurodivergence.

“This would have been an absolute game changer for me when I was pursuing an ADHD diagnosis,” said Miss Nuttall.

“Getting support for ADHD is such an involved and often discouraging, exhausting process.

“We’re at a point where you can’t really get much support from allied health professionals before an official diagnosis, and for many people an official diagnosis is cost-prohibitive, takes ages and is ironically hugely taxing on your executive function. That doesn’t help when chances are, the reason you’re seeking help is because you need help right now.

“I realised I probably had ADHD a couple of years back when it started to interfere with my work, study and life. At the time I was under rental duress, but because I really did need the help, I went through the months of waiting, forked out roughly $600 and had some personally challenging discussions to be told that I did in fact have ADHD and could finally start getting help.

“This system we’re proposing, that provides support before you even need to go through the diagnosis process, means people get help straight away, and I’m so excited that the Greens would make that happen in the ACT,” said Miss Nuttall.

Ms Davidson said that the changes to the NDIS for psychosocial support mean that we will see more people left without the basic services they need to live a good life.

“The ACT Greens plan will help people access support sooner, without diagnosis and address future needs that arise from NDIS reforms and the Disability Royal Commission recommendations,” said Ms Davidson.

The Centre’s physical design and service model will be co-designed with people with lived experience of neurodivergence, carers, healthcare professionals, educators of neurodivergent students, academic researchers, and community advocates. It will be a fit-for-purpose building which will be easily accessible by bus or light rail.

The ACT Greens estimate this initiative will have a capital expenditure cost of approximately $15 million to establish a purpose-built space, and an additional $5 million per year for staff such as psychiatrists, psychologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, counsellors and peer workers.

The Centre for Neurodivergence is part of the ACT Greens commitment to delivering innovative health services across Canberra that support the person as a whole, rather than just their medical diagnosis. Read the details of our plan at https://greens.org.au/act/policies/disability.

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