Future Leaders: Empowering autistic adults to explore and develop their leadership skills and networks to positively impact their communities

Future Leaders Program


2022 Future Leaders: Community Projects Program

The Future Leaders Program is Australia’s first holistic leadership capacity-building program for autistic adults. It is designed to empower autistic adults to explore and develop their leadership skills and networks to positively impact their communities. Our Programs are designed by and for autistic people.

Autism CRC's Sylvia Rodger Academy and Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) have partnered to offer the program in 2019, 2020, 2021* and 2022.

The 2022 Future Leaders: Community Projects Program is for those who have an idea that will make a positive impact in their community. The Program offers knowledge, skills and access to support and expertise to help you turn your idea into an achievable project.

Applications now closed

Applications for the 2022 Future Leaders Program have now closed.

To learn more about the selection process, eligibility criteria and read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) click the How to apply button. 

How to apply

Who should apply to be a 2022 Future Leader, and what does it involve?

This Program is for autistic adults who live in Australia, and

  • have an idea that will make a positive impact in their community,
  • need to develop their knowledge and skills, or access support and expertise to turn their idea into an achievable community-based project (see the FAQ titled 'What do you mean by 'a community-based project'?' for more information), and;
  • want to develop an understanding of leadership and leadership skills.

The Program requires you to:

  • complete 5 interactive online training modules on leadership, with 5 online sessions (April to June 2022)
  • attending a 3.5-day/3-night residential workshop in a capital city (July 2022)
  • complete a practical component including mentoring and upskilling by autistic leaders to develop, and possibly begin delivering, your community project (50+ hours, July to November 2022)
  • be part of a community of emerging and established autistic leaders who learn from, encourage and support each other; and
  • provide feedback on the Program.

Future Leaders are required to participate in all of the activities listed above.

More information about each of these activities can be found in our Applicant Information Pack.

There is no cost to participate in the Program, and travel and accommodation expenses for the residential workshop will be covered.

Future Leader graduate thoughts about the Program

Case studies


“I don’t usually take risks, but through the program I could try new things in a supported way. Participating in Future Leaders enabled me to see how much I can achieve.”

Read Zoe's story


“I learned a lot about myself in the program, it helped me understand my strengths and weaknesses and what areas to focus on. Before, I felt like I was adrift.”

Read Kirk's story

View more case studies


If you like, you can read more about the history of the program. You can also watch some short videos of our 2018 Future Leaders graduates sharing their thoughts about the program.

Our team

Future Leaders is both by and for autistic adults and will be delivered by autistic leaders and consultants. The Program is co-ordinated by:

  • Tammy McGowan, who is the Project Officer for the 2022 Future Leaders: Community Projects Program. Tammy was a graduate of the Sylvia Rodger Academy Future Leaders and Governance Program in 2019. Tammy is an autistic person who is passionate about encouraging and supporting their peers.
  • Olivia (Liv) Gatfield, who is the Executive Officer for Autism CRC’s Sylvia Rodger Academy. Liv is dedicated to empowering autistic people and works with autistic adults to co-develop and co-deliver the Programs offered by the Sylvia Rodger Academy.

Future Leaders is also overseen by a Project Executive comprising of members from both the Sylvia Rodger Academy and Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect).

The members of this Executive are Jacqui Borland (Aspect CEO), Tom Tutton (Aspect National Executive Manager Aspect Practice), Ainslie Robinson (Aspect Working in Partnership Officer and Project Officer for Future Leaders 2019 and 2020), Tammy McGowan and Liv Gatfield.


Future Leaders first started in 2013, with an expanded program offered in 2018, 2019 and 2020. If you like, you can read more about the history of the program below or watch some short videos from our 2018 graduates.

  • In 2013, Future Leaders brought together 23 autistic young people aged 18 to 30 who attended the Asia Pacific Autism Conference and received mentoring and exclusive training sessions.
  • In 2016, Autism CRC conducted an evaluation of the 2013 program. This involved interviewing some of the graduates and mentors.
  • After completing the evaluation, Autism CRC started working with autistic leaders to develop an expanded program which includes new features like online modules and practical experience.
  • The 2018 Program included 14 autistic adults aged 25 to 40 from across Australia. For more information, you can read the 2018 evaluation report.
  • In 2019, the Program was opened to include adults of all ages and included 15 autistic adults aged 18 to 60 years and was delivered in partnership for the first time with Aspect. For more information, you can read the 2019 evaluation report.
  • In 2020, the Program included 15 autistic adults aged 18 to 60 years and was delivered completely online for the first time in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Autism CRC and Aspect have collaborated together since 2018 to deliver the Future Leaders Program, offering the program in 2019, 2020 and 2022.
  • For 2022, we are adapting the Program to best suit those who have an idea on how to make a positive community-based change and would like to develop their idea into a community project.
  • This year, applications are open to autistic adults aged 18 and over from across Australia.

Further reading


Olivia Gatfield 
Executive Officer
Sylvia Rodger Academy

T: 07 3377 0602  M: 0411 094 346 
E: ogatfield@autismcrc.com.au 

Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) is the major sponsor of Future Leaders. The Sylvia Rodger Academy is an initiative of Autism CRC, which receives funding from the Australian Government.