The Sylvia Rodger Academy was officially launched at a special Autism CRC event on Thursday 1 November at the Institute of Social Sciences Research, University of Queensland.
An initiative of the Autism CRC, the Sylvia Rodger Academy will deliver nationwide programs aimed at empowering autistic adults to contribute to policy and practice impacting upon their lives. The Academy will also work to build the inclusive capacity of the broader community to recognise and engage the strengths of those on the autism spectrum.
Co-designed and developed with autistic adults, the Academy will deliver three programs:
- Research: the Research Program will upskill autistic adults and autism researchers to work together as peers in research. This will build off the achievements of our Autism CRC Research Academy and help to ensure that what is being researched, and the way it is being researched, is both relevant to and appropriate for the autistic community.
- Future Leaders: the Future Leaders Program is Australia’s first holistic leadership capacity building program for autistic adults. It will continue to empower people on the spectrum with leadership potential to build and develop their skills.
- Governance: this will be the world’s first training program in corporate governance for autistic adults, enabling leadership in decision making in the autism and autistic community, and broader contributions to the general corporate environment.
The Academy is named in honour of the late Emeritus Professor Sylvia Rodger AM, founding CEO of Autism CRC. Sylvia's contribution, both nationally and internationally, to autism practice and research was outstanding. She often reflected that Autism CRC was her dream come true with its high-quality, end-user focused, collaborative research program disseminated and implemented by service providers and policy makers.
Sylvia changed culture, creating an inclusive research environment that enabled people on the spectrum to influence research and encourage researchers to work together. She co-founded the Autism CRC Research Academy and in 2015 the autistic participants unanimously agreed to give Sylvia the title “Honorary Research Academy Member” in recognition of her work, openness and willingness to dive into autistic culture, thinking and humour.
Julianne Higgins, a Research Academy member, shared her last message to Sylvia with us. “Dear Sylvia, just like to let you know that working with you has dramatically changed my life in the best of ways. Love Julianne.” Another Academy member declared, “She was our tribe.”
Future plans for the Sylvia Rodger Academy, see a Future Leaders Program and a Governance Program to both run in 2019, with a Research Program and a Future Leaders Program to run in 2020. More information about these upcoming programs will be provided as it becomes available.