Labor unveils minister for autism

The Malinauskas Government has appointed an inaugural “Assistant Minister for Autism” and flagged the creation of a new advisory body to guide government policies affecting the autism community.

Aug 15, 2022, updated Aug 15, 2022
Emily Bourke. Photo Tony Lewis/InDaily

Emily Bourke. Photo Tony Lewis/InDaily

The state government this morning announced the appointment of Upper House MLC Emily Bourke as South Australia’s first Assistant Minister for Autism.

Bourke, a first-term MLC who already holds the role of Assistant Minister to the Premier, will be responsible for delivering Labor’s autism election commitments in conjunction with the ministers for education and human services.

The state government said the appointment is a national first.

Bourke will also be tasked with establishing an “Autism Education Advisory Group” comprised of people with autism, parents with lived experience, unions, experts and community stakeholders.

The advisory body will ensure new policies impacting people with autism undergo “extensive and meaningful consultation”, the state government said.

Premier Peter Malinauskas said he “could not be happier that Emily Bourke has taken this role”.

“I have heard from many South Australians that the time has come for a dedicated effort from Government to make autism a priority,” he said in a statement.

“That is why we have created this new role.

“We have made major commitments with the aim of implementing a whole-of-government autism inclusion strategy, starting with our schools.

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“Emily will be a dedicated Assistant Minister for Autism and a strong advocate for the Autism community.”

We’ve appointed the country’s first ever Assistant Minister for Autism – @emsbourke.

The time has come for a dedicated effort from Government to make autism a priority.

That is why we have created this new role.

— Peter Malinauskas (@PMalinauskasMP) August 14, 2022

Labor’s election commitments on autism include spending $4m this financial year to appoint an autism lead teacher in every public primary school.

It also includes a commitment to develop a “State Autism Strategy” to operate alongside the State Disability Plan.

Bourke said she does not have lived experience with autism, which is why the autism advisory body is being established.

“I am a mother of three, so I know that every parent and caregiver wants their child to reach their individual potential,” she said in a statement.

“But I do not have lived experience with Autism. That’s why I will establish the Autism Education Advisory Group and work with the Autism community to consult, to reform, and to make change.”

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