Joint Ministerial and COSLA Foreword
In 2011 the Scottish Strategy for Autism was published and the then Minister for Public Health, Michael Matheson, and Councillor Douglas Yates at COSLA stated our commitment to improving the lives of autistic people in Scotland. We believe significant strides have been taken towards realising the strategy's vision in the intervening seven years, but we know challenges remain and that much work is still to be done. Much has changed in Scotland since 2011, not least the introduction of health and social care integration and the establishment of the new bodies called Integration Authorities. These new bodies bring health and social care services into new local single structures which have responsibility for planning and making decisions about how best to meet the needs of their local population, using the combined resources available. This requires close working with professionals and local communities to deliver sustainable new models of care and support that are focused on improving outcomes for people.
Our commitment to the strategy's vision is undiminished. To gather the views on its final phase, we undertook an engagement exercise in which more than 1,200 people participated through either our online questionnaire or engagement events. This engagement helped to inform this updated set of priorities, which we hope will take us closer to our vision for all autistic people living in Scotland.
Staff education, training and development remain at the heart of the Scottish Strategy for Autism. We are committed to supporting the on-going implementation of the Optimising Outcomes framework, led by NHS Education for Scotland, and will work with the Scottish Social Services Council to improve understanding of autism across the social care workforce. This activity complements Integration Authorities delivery of autism services and support. Of course, all Integration Authorities have developed autism action plans to improve local services, and we will continue to support their implementation.
It is important that autistic people and their families are understood and welcomed within their own communities and supported to be as independent and active as they wish to be. That is why we have committed to supporting national autism public awareness campaigns.
Autistic people contribute much to Scottish society and with the right support many could contribute much more. We want to recognise this contribution. We are delighted therefore to announce the development of new national autism awards, which will highlight and promote the successes of autistic people in Scotland and recognise innovation and best practice in autism services.
In 2011 we said the realisation of the Scottish Strategy for Autism's vision will require concerted effort across all sectors and by all those involved. This remains the case. Only through collaboration will we be able to truly improve the lives of autistic people and create the kind of Scotland we all want to see and live in – a fairer Scotland, a more equal Scotland, a Scotland for everyone.