Senate debates

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Statements by Senators

South Australia: Assistant Minister for Autism

1:42 pm

Photo of Marielle SmithMarielle Smith (SA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My home state—the great and mighty state of South Australia—is well known for its firsts. Of course, we were the first state to grant women the right to vote, we were the first to legalise trade unions and we were the first to elect a town council—perhaps a lesser-known fact.

Today I want to acknowledge another amazing first from South Australia in the appointment of Australia's first minister with responsibility for autism in Emily Bourke. My good friend the Hon. Emily Bourke MLC will be taking up this role and she is already hard at work in South Australia, establishing the Autism Education Advisory Group and overseeing the appointment of autism lead teachers in public primary schools. Her appointment is a demonstration of the commitment by our state government to establish a whole-of-government vision to support neurodiverse Australians. I have had families approach me since this announcement who finally feel seen and feel better supported. One parent wrote to me saying that, after her child with autism had had a tough few weeks, the announcement had brought her and her partner to tears. This is a nation-leading change and yet another example of the power of reforming Labor governments—Labor governments which can rewrite history in a positive way and pave a fairer path for all, but especially for our children.

I wish Assistant Minister Emily Bourke every success in her new role, and I wholeheartedly congratulate our state Labor government for putting South Australians with autism at the heart of their ambitious policy agenda.