Autism NI welcomes passing of Autism Bill
Bill sponsor Pam Cameron MLA, Hannah Armstrong (8) and Autism NI CEO Kerry Boyd at Stormont celebrating the passing of the Autism Amendment Bill on Monday.
Autism NI, Northern Ireland’s main autism charity, has welcomed the Autism Amendment Bill which was passed last week (Monday 7 March 2022) at the NI Assembly with unanimous cross-party support.
The new Private Member’s Bill sponsored by Pam Cameron MLA, is the most comprehensive piece of single disability legislation within the United Kingdom.
Some of the changes that the Bill will introduce will be the creation of an autism information service and a cross departmental autism training strategy. There will also be a requirement for the Department of Health to make provision for a regionally consistent adult autism service and early intervention service throughout Northern Ireland.
Bill sponsor Pam Cameron MLA.
Pam Cameron MLA commented after the evening debate:
“As Chair of the All Party Group on Autism, I know that autistic children and adults are currently facing huge challenges accessing pre and post diagnosis support, with provision varying drastically within each Health Trust area.
“The new legislation will end this postcode lottery by strengthening the current Autism Act (NI) and introducing an independent scrutiny mechanism to drive forward regionally consistent autism services.
“I carefully considered the views of autistic adults, families and the wider autism community when developing this new legislation which I am confident will deliver better outcomes for everyone.”
CEO of Autism NI, Kerry Boyd said:
“After years of lobbying for better services, I am delighted that this Bill was passed with support from all political parties. Autism NI has worked extremely hard to ensure that the content of the Bill reflected the needs of our autism community here.
“The last few months have been very stressful as we were unsure whether there was enough time left within this current mandate for the Bill to be passed, so I am very relieved and grateful for the victory. It is time for person-centred autism support services to be delivered, which are easily accessible from childhood right through to adulthood.”
The moment MLAs at Stormont passed the autism amendment bill - and the round of applause that followed.
Shelley Armstrong, parent to seven-year-old Hannah Armstrong responded to the Bill’s passing, saying:
“Autistic people are a vibrant part of society and deserve to have the same rights, support services and opportunities as every other person in Northern Ireland.
“I am glad that this Bill will finally address the many issues that so many of our autism community face on a daily basis.
“As a mother of autistic children, I am hopeful that this will be the start of ‘real’ change through better support services and opportunities for them.”
For more information on Autism NI, please visit: