The Future Leaders Program is Australia’s first holistic leadership capacity-building program for autistic adults. It is designed to empower autistic adults with leadership potential who want to make a positive impact in their communities.
Future Leaders has been co-designed and delivered by autistic adults.
In 2019, 5 out of our 7 Project Team members are autistic themselves.
The Future Leaders have the opportunity to further develop their leadership skills through a series of training and development initiatives including:
- completing online training modules (July to September)
- attending a 3.5-day/3 night residential workshop in Sydney (3-6 October)
- undertaking a 50 hour voluntary placement with a community or corporate organisation (October to December)
- being mentored by an autistic leader or Project Team member (October to early 2020)
- being part of a community of emerging and established autistic leaders who learn from, encourage and support each other
Future Leaders first started in 2013 with the current format first offered in 2018. If you like, you can read more about the history of the program.
Apply to become a Future Leader
If you are, or know of, an emerging autistic leader who would like to be involved in as future program, please click the link below to learn more.
Applications for our 2019 intake closed on Monday 13 May.
“Future Leaders was my introduction to the world of advocacy and the opportunities that exist for autistic adults to be leaders and to have an influence.”
Future Leaders prompted Jac, a registered psychologist, to pursue a career in autism research. Since joining the program, Jac has completed a PhD through the Autism CRC and is now working as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Macquarie University. Jac has published a number of academic journal articles and spoken at a range of conferences.
Jac has also become established as an autistic advocate, and is a member of the Autism CRC’s Data Access Committee, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network of Australia and New Zealand (ASAN-AuNZ)’s executive committee, and Aspect’s LGBTQIA+ and Autism advisory committee.
Be part of a success story
For organisations who provide placements for Future Leaders, the program presents an opportunity to open up a new way of thinking about their business and helps to broaden accessibility and better engage with customers and employees. Placement organisations have the opportunity to discover and leverage the strengths of neurodiversity and to foster inclusive environments.
Are you interested in helping to empower emerging autistic leaders to build and develop skills to improve their communities? Organisations and businesses (small or large) can be part of a success story by providing an opportunity for a Future Leader to complete a 50-hour volunteer placement.
Building on previous success
- The first Future Leaders Program was a small pilot program that allowed 23 autistic adults, aged 18 to 30, to better engage with and participate in the 2013 Asia Pacific Autism Conference in Adelaide. It also included 8 mentors who were autistic adults over 30 years of age.
- 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 a voluntary placement.
- In 2018, 14 autistic adults aged 25-40 from across Australia completed the newly expanded program.
- Autism CRC and Aspect are collaborating together to offer the program in 2019 and 2020.
- This year applications are open to autistic adults aged 18 and over from all across Australia.
Our 2018 program
In 2018 a newly revised and expanded Future Leaders program was developed and run by Autism CRC. The 2018 program included 14 autistic adults aged 25-40 from across Australia. The program was co-designed and developed by autistic adults, for autistic adults. Five of the eight project team members were established autistic leaders.
A three-day residential workshop was held in Brisbane and created an environment for people to share and learn from each other’s experiences. More formal sessions covered leadership-related topics such as community mindedness, identity, goal setting and media training.
Future Leaders also undertook volunteer placements to further develop and apply their leadership skills. Our 14 Future Leaders graduated from the program in November 2018.
- News article: Future Leaders Program 2018 helping to develop Autistic Pride
- News article: Congratulations to our Future Leaders 2018 graduates
- 2013 Future Leaders Program evaluation
- Autistic leadership recognised by Westpac Social Change Fellowship
- News article: Changing the autism conversation
Future Leaders Project Officer
Autism Spectrum Australia
02 8868 8515
(Please note that Ainslie is part-time, but will respond to your query as soon as she can)
Autism Spectrum Australia is the major sponsor of Future Leaders. The Sylvia Rodger Academy was established by Autism CRC, an initiative of the Australian Government.