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"Four years to get a diagnosis": CWA calls for immediate action on ADHD and autism in regional NSW

Western Plains App

Luke Williams

12 May 2024, 3:40 AM

"Four years to get a diagnosis": CWA calls for immediate action on ADHD and autism in regional NSWA diagnosis shouldn't take so long. IMAGE: APM Personnel

The Country Women’s Association of NSW have passed a motion at its annual State Conference for the Federal Government to urgently do more on ADHD diagnosis and treatment in regional and remote communities.

The CWA’s annual State Conference came to a close in Coffs Harbour on Friday May 10, with its members endorsing more than 25 motions across sectors such as health, law and order, education, transport and the environment.

Among its motions were that the “Federal Government adoption of the recommendations made by the Senate Inquiry into the barriers to consistent, timely and best practice assessment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and support services for children, adolescents and adults with ADHD and/or autism.

“A lack of access to medical services means it is taking up to four years to get treatment. By then it is often too late and the situation has become out of hand” explained Joy Beames President of CWA NSW to the Western Plains App.

“We heard many stories at the conference about kids not being picked up by the system for years because it has really delayed their whole development”.

Over one million—or an estimated one in 20—Australians have ADHD, with Federal Government figures showing ADHD is more prevalent in rural and remote areas.

The motion comes as The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care issued warning people with intellectual disabilities, autism, dementia and other neurodevelopmental conditions are being overprescribed psychotropic medicines,.

Dr Carolyn Hullick, chief medical officers said there was “limited evidence they were effective for behavioural issues in people with cognitive disability or impairment”.

number of Australians 
living with ADHD 
In childhood, 
ADHD is 3 times 
more common 
in boys 
of people continue 
to experience 
ADHD in adulthood

Image: brainfoundation.org.au

The Senate Report released in 2023 found that 'limited availability and long wait times for healthcare professionals to diagnose, and provided medication and other supports to people with ADHD, lack of services in the public health system, especially for adults with ADHD and insufficient services in rural, regional and remote areas'.

The Senate's “Assessment and Support Services for People ADHD” report made 15 recommendations including “reviewing eviewing bulk billing incentives to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for diagnosis and ongoing support, shared care models, telehealth, and improving access in rural, regional and remote areas


CWA Conference Winds Up

About 700 members attended this year’s conference and State President Joy Beames said the diversity in the motions once again across a broad range of issues.

Image: ABC.

“Health has remained a big focus for branches, with numerous motions endorsed by delegates that seek to improve access to services for regional, rural and remote residents and enhance the recruitment of health professionals to these communities,” Ms Beames said.

Some of the other motions carried at this year’s conference include advocacy on:

  • Urgent action around bush fire mitigation and management of government-controlled land
  • A transparent, publicly-available water ownership register and the mandating of the registration of elected Members’ interest and foreign investment in water
  • The provision of adequate funding for licensed teachers to provide swimming and water safety skills lessons to primary school students
  • Funding support or rental subsidies for educators working in early childhood centres in remote, rural and regional locations.


The motions endorsed this week will now be taken forward and form the basis of CWA of NSW lobbying efforts in the immediate future.