Our program is unique in being conceived and guided by autistic people to ensure we are meeting their needs and collaborating on solutions. We also work with industry partners and other educational institutions to share knowledge and influence policy.

 

Advisory Group

Our Advisory Group consists of members who are diagnosed, or identify, as autistic. Their role is to provide feedback from an autistic perspective on all aspects of our initiatives and programs.

Sandra-Jones 

Professor Sandra Jones

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) - Melbourne

Professor Sandra Jones is the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) at ACU. She provides leadership, advice and support for ACU's community engagement strategy, including strategic frameworks that implement the new measurement of research engagement and impact. Professor Jones was previously the Director of ACU's Centre for Health and Social Research (CHaSR), a research centre focused on social marketing and community-based research.

Sandra has undertaken numerous research projects – in partnership with the autistic community – on the experiences of autistic people and the knowledge and attitudes towards autism in the community; including research that won an Autism CRC Award for Research Translation (2019).

Sandra established and leads Autism at ACU, which aims to improve the attraction, retention and positive outcomes of autistic people in higher education. She is a passionate advocate for the inclusion of autistic people in all aspects of society.

Sandra is herself an autistic woman, and the very proud mother of two autistic adult sons.

Shadia 

Shadia Hancock

Australian Catholic University

Shadia Hancock is currently in their third year studying Bachelor of Speech Pathology at Australian Catholic University. They are proudly autistic, and enjoy sharing their experiences to increase community understanding of autism.

Sebastian Trew 

Sebastian Trew

Australian Catholic University

Sebastian Trew is a researcher at ACU. He researchers with children and young people and families who experience disadvantage and marginalisation. As an autistic staff member and PhD student at ACU he is committed to supporting advocacy and inclusion for autistic people in the university and to broaden people’s understanding and knowledge of autism.

 

Kylie-Anne McLeish

Australian Catholic University Alumni

Kylie-Anne McLeish is the Website Accessibility Officer for Bayside City Council. Her passion is to ensure that anyone, regardless of disability, age or socio-economic status, can access information online.

Jennifer Lowe 

Jennifer Lowe

La Trobe University

Jennifer Lowe is a PhD Candidate whose interdisciplinary research is being conducted in collaboration with the Public Health Palliative Care Unit and Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre at La Trobe University, Melbourne. Jennifer was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Level 1) in 2018, at the age of 30. Her research offers autistic adults an opportunity to share their experiences, perspectives and preferences for palliative care at the end-of-life. Her involvement with the Advisory Group at Australian Catholic University is a welcome opportunity to share her lived experiences as an autistic university student in the hope of helping others.

Beth Radulski 

Beth Radulski

La Trobe University

Beth Radulski is an Autism and Neurodiversity activist, and the first openly Autistic Autism researcher at La Trobe University. She is completing a PhD on Autistic masking—defined as the purposeful concealment of Autistic traits—and the Neurodiversity Movement. Beth is La Trobe’s first Project Officer: Neurodiversity in the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Students, where she uses her research background to increase educational accessibility and acceptance for Neurodiverse students and staff. Her work aims to improve social, educational, and workplace equality for Neurodiverse cohorts, with a focus on reducing the stigma and social drivers which lead Autistic people to conceal their autism status. Beth regularly advocates for Neurodiversity acceptance through public speaking, online articles, and media activism.

Steering Committee

Our Steering Committee provide high-level support, guidance and advice. The Committee represents the program in each of their portfolio areas and works to engage their respective areas to support the activities and resourcing needed.

  • Prof Sandra Jones, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Engagement (Chair)
  • Prof Zlatko Skrbis, Vice Chancellor and President, ACU
  • Fr Anthony Casamento, csma, Vice President
  • Ms Kathryn Blyth, Academic Registrar and Director, Student Administration
  • Dr Austin Wyatt, Research Associate, UNSW; ACU alumnus (Autistic Representative)
  • Dr Chloe Gordon, Research Associate, ACU Engagement
  • Ms Bree Seamer, Autism at Uni Program Coordinator, ACU Engagement

ACU staff

Our staff manage our various projects and initiatives, progress our research and support our students.

Sandra-Jones 

Professor Sandra Jones

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) - Melbourne

Professor Sandra Jones is the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) at ACU. She provides leadership, advice and support for ACU's community engagement strategy, including strategic frameworks that implement the new measurement of research engagement and impact. Professor Jones was previously the Director of ACU's Centre for Health and Social Research (CHaSR), a research centre focused on social marketing and community-based research.

Sandra has undertaken numerous research projects – in partnership with the autistic community – on the experiences of autistic people and the knowledge and attitudes towards autism in the community; including research that won an Autism CRC Award for Research Translation (2019).

Sandra established and leads Autism at ACU, which aims to improve the attraction, retention and positive outcomes of autistic people in higher education. She is a passionate advocate for the inclusion of autistic people in all aspects of society.

Sandra is herself an autistic woman, and the very proud mother of two autistic adult sons.

 

Bree-Seamer 

Bree Seamer

Autism at Uni Program Coordinator - Ballarat

Bree joined the Autism at Uni team in late 2019. Whilst she does not have a lived experience with Autism, she has a Bachelor of Applied Science and an extensive background in working with people who have a disability, facilitating advisory committees, promoting, and coordinating community engagement activities and is a strong advocate for equity.

 

Dr Chloe Gordon 

Dr Chloe Gordon

Research Associate, ACU Engagement - Melbourne

My involvement with autism research began in 2019 when I oversaw a team conducting research on the experiences of autistic university students to inform ACU’s Autism at Uni program. I am currently (in 2020-21) supervising two Masters of Psychology (Educational and Developmental) and two Occupational Therapy Honours students on research projects in the autism field. I also had involvement in starting up and coordinating the pilot mentoring program for autistic students on the ACU Melbourne campus, and I am a member of the Autism at ACU Steering Committee. In 2020 I also supervised three fourth year Occupational Therapy students as they designed sensory maps for the Melbourne and North Sydney ACU campuses. In addition, I have been involved in research with the Australian Autism Alliance and Amaze, exploring community understanding of, and attitudes towards, autism, and the experiences of autistic people. While this is a relatively new research field for me, it aligns closely with my broader interests in research and initiatives that support and enhance young people’s health and wellbeing. It has been a privilege to work alongside some very talented autistic people when designing and implementing the above projects, and to be involved in projects that aim to have real-world impact.

Research partners

We partner with organisations to conduct research into public understanding and acceptance of autism and autistic people’s lived experiences to help develop resources and practices that enable autistic people to thrive by focusing upon strengths and identifying inclusive approaches.

The Australian Autism Alliance is a pioneering network of organisations seeking to add unique value to the lives of people on the autism spectrum in Australia. It brings together autistic people, their parents and carers, service providers and researchers. 

Learn more

Amaze is the peak body for autistic people and their supporters in Victoria. Amaze builds autism understanding in the community, influences policy change for autistic people and their families/supporters, and provides independent, credible information and resources to individuals, families, professionals, government and the wider community.

Learn more

Collaborators

We are grateful to the many individuals and organisations who have provided advice and support in the development of Autism at ACU.

Debbie Hindle is Coordinator of SPEERMENT (Specialist Peer Mentor Program) at the University of Tasmania. She helped create, implement and continues to develop this unique initiative at The University of Tasmania for students with autism to be mentored by peers. 

Learn more

Autism Actually is an Autistic-led consultancy and mentoring business based in Victoria, Australia. They aim to educate on Autism and Neurodiversity.

Learn more

I CAN Network employs Autistic adults to deliver mentoring programs, insights and professional development workshops in schools, workplaces and online. Together they prove what Autistics CAN do.

Learn more

For more information, please contact us

Send email

You might also like...

Engagement and impact

ACU research engages communities, government, industry and the not-for-profit-sector to create real and sustainable impacts on the health, wellbeing and prosperity of all people.

Learn more

Our mission and values

Everything we do is led by our mission and our values. Discover our commitment to the pursuit of knowledge, the dignity of the human person, and the common good.

Discover our mission

Ethics and integrity

Our researchers understand they hold a privileged position; their work has great potential to benefit individuals and society. As such, we have a duty to conduct research to the highest standards.

Learn more

Disability support

If you are a student with a diagnosed health condition, disability, learning disability, or have carer responsibilities that may impact your studies, we can give you the support you need.

Learn more

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs