Specialist autism diagnostic service for at-risk young people

SA Gov

A first-of-its-kind service is underway from this month to provide autism assessments to South Australians who are at at-risk.

Funding of approximately $800,000 to June 2026 will support a free assessment and diagnostic service focused on young people who have exceptional needs, live in at-risk households or are connected with the youth justice system. It is the first time a dedicated service will be available to these groups in South Australia.

Following an open tender process to identify providers with the capacity and skill to help these groups of young people, the Department of Human Services will work with Autism SA, Solasta Wellbeing and Connect Disability Services to deliver the service.

Where a diagnosis is confirmed, the three organisations will support the department to provide appropriate referrals and services which could include access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme or other supports. As with any neurological developmental difference or condition, early identification is an essential first step to accessing effective supports while contributing to a sense of belonging and identity.

For those who are not diagnosed, a report confirming this along with any recommendations including avenues for further investigation will be provided.

The service will be offered across the state so people in Adelaide and rural and regional areas can access it.

The new service builds on a recent separate announcement of a $330,000 tender for a program prioritising students at risk of disengaging from education and with the flexibility to be delivered on school sites.

In addition to the two new services focused on at-risk young people, other pathways for assessment can be found on the Office for Autism website.

As put by Nat Cook

Our work to support the Autism and Autistic communities includes more help with assessment and diagnosis, appointing Australia’s first Assistant Minister for Autism, establishing the Office for Autism and rolling out Autism Inclusion Teachers in public schools. We recently launched an Autism Inclusion Charter for state government agencies and we’re finalising work on the state’s first Autism Strategy.

This new service means we are targeting public support to young people who need it most and will benefit the greatest benefits from faster assessments. These include young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, who may have complex needs or risk factors, or face barriers to accessing appropriate supports.

Not only does a diagnosis provide someone with greater clarity for the way they experience and respond to life, it also means government can better address their specific needs and help link them to supports and services.

Everybody benefits when our community is more inclusive, understands each other’s circumstances and people get access to supports that meet their needs.

As put by Emily Bourke

The need to improve access to an autism assessment and diagnosis has been made clear by the community through the development of the state’s first Autism Strategy.

For many Autistic South Australians, receiving a diagnosis is an important step in not only finding effective supports, but also in finding a greater sense of belonging and identity.

This new program run by the Department of Human Services will help streamline this process for some of the state’s most at risk by removing barriers like costs and waitlists and builds on the Malinauskas Labor Government’s recent announcement of providing autism assessments on school sites.

This World Autism Month we have much to celebrate here in SA in becoming a world leader for autism inclusion.

/Public News. View in full here.