apaga1.jpgAll Party Group on Autism (APGA) (NI Assembly)

The All Party Group on Autism (APGA) emerged from the wider forum of Assembly Autism Ambassadors formed in 2002 at the start of the political lobby for social and legislative change and policy reform for Autism. This grew out of the recommendations of the Task Group on Autism Report (2002) and the deficits within the NI Review of Mental Health and Learning Disability (Bamford) Review (2005).

The transition of the Group to Assembly All Party Group status was marked during Autism Awareness Month (April) in 2008. The membership is made up entirely of Members of the Legislative Assembly from across Northern Ireland and all political parties. Members from the APGA were involved in the signing (at Capitol Hill) of the Memorandum of Understanding on Autism between US Congress and NI Assembly in 2007.

The APGA was established primarily to act as an influencer of government policy on Autism. The Northern Ireland prevalence rates for Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have risen from 1 per 1000 in 2002 (Task Group on Autism Report) to 1 per 50 in 2013 (NHSCT data). The consequent pressure on resources, policy and planning has determined that the role of the APGA must be to:

  • Progress necessary legislation on Autism
  • Advocate for ASD
  • Secure increased funding for ASD services
  • Influence to ensure effective strategic, policy and planning systems for Autism
  • Identify potential new funding sources for ASD
  • Participate in the global Human Rights campaign for Autism
  • Promote cross Atlantic sharing of ASD expertise and research information.

To progress the above aims, the APGA has formed an historic partnership with the US Congress Autism Caucus by signing a Memorandum of Understanding to progress an exchange of research, advice and support. This partnership is further enriched by the newly formed Atlantic Autism Alliance between the Autism Society of America and the Celtic Nations Autism Partnership. This unique collaboration between government and non-profit organizations heralds a new dynamic of generosity and cooperation in the field of disability.

In 2011 APGA gave evidence at a US Congressional Hearing on global issues relating to Autism.

APGA Action Plan:-

  • Develop an exchange programme for Autism between USA and Northern Ireland for Public Representatives, Non Profit Organisations, Health and Education
  • Ensure the ongoing audit of legislative, strategic and policy development across all sectors
  • Promote the role and work of the Celtic Nations Autism Partnership
  • Investigate funding options for ASD service delivery

The APGA Secretariat is provided by Autism NI.

Office Bearers for APGA 2016/2017:

Chairperson: Pam Cameron, DUP

September 2016: The All Party Group on Autism (APGA) at the NI Assembly have responded to the public consultation on the NI Executive’s Draft Programme for Government.

To view their response, please find the document attached below.