Applicant Information



Applications for the Future Leaders 2019 program have now CLOSED.

Future Leaders is a holistic program designed to empower autistic adults with leadership potential who want to make a positive impact in their communities.

Importantly, the program is designed by, and for autistic people. This creates a community of peers who learn from, empower and encourage one another to pursue their goals and be a positive influence.  

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.

Please see below for some short videos of our 2018 Future Leaders graduates sharing their thoughts about the program.

What does Future Leaders involve?

Future Leaders will have the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and experience by:

  • 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 are required to participate in all of the activities listed above. More information about each of the 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 workshop will be covered. 

The program does not currently have funding for any travel (i.e. taxi or bus fare) required for your voluntary placement so you will need to arrange and pay for this yourself. The placement would generally take place in your home town or city unless no local placement is available. 



To be eligible to apply for the 2019 Future Leaders Program an applicant must:

  • be an autistic adult;
  • be aged 18 or older (no upper age limit) on 1 July 2019;
  • live in Australia;
  • be willing and available to participate in all of the program activities, and;
  • have an interest in both
    • making a positive difference in their community, and;
    • exploring and developing their leadership potential.

Application and selection process

Applications for our 2019 program are currently closed

There are 3 parts to the application, which all need to be submitted by the closing date. 

  • Part A is an online form that will ask you questions about who you are and some of your experience. 
  • Part B are a series of selection questions that can be answered through your choice of an online form, PowerPoint presentation or video.
  • Part C is a series of marketing questions and a declaration, which will be completed at the end of the online form. 

Important things to know:

  • Applications closed on Monday 13 May 2019.
  • You will get an email confirming that we’ve received your application.
  • After the closing date, all of the applications will be considered by a selection panel. Most of the members of this panel will be autistic adults.
  • You will find out if you are offered a place in the program by email between Monday 1 July and Friday 5 July 2019.
  • We expect there will be approximately 15 places in this year’s program. It is very likely we will receive more than 15 applications so not everyone who applies will be offered a place
  • We hope the number of places will increase in future years (2020 and beyond).


  • Future Leaders first started in 2013 and brought together 23 autistic young people aged 18-30 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 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 team 

Future Leaders is delivered both by and for autistic adults. In 2019, 6 of our 7 Project Team members are autistic themselves. 

  • Geraldine Robertson, Malcolm Mayfield and Wenn Lawson are all well-respected and highly experienced autistic leaders. They were all mentors for the original Future Leaders in 2013 and have reprised their involvement as Project Team members and mentors.
  • Tori Haar was one of the young autistic leaders to participate in the 2013 Future Leaders Program, and was the Project Coordinator for the 2018 intake. In 2019 she has been appointed as Chair of the Project Team.
  • Jon Martin was the convenor of the 2013 Asia Pacific Autism Conference which was the birthplace of Future Leaders. He’s not autistic himself, but has a long history of seeking to include and amplify autistic voices and perspectives.
  • Rochelle Johnson and Ainslie Robinson are both autistic women who are passionate about encouraging and equipping their peers. Rochelle is continuing in her role as a Project Team Member and mentor for this year’s program, while Ainslie has been appointed as the Project Officer for Future Leaders 2019. 

Future Leaders is also overseen by a Management Committee comprising nominees from both Autism CRC and Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect). 

The members of this committee are Adrian Ford (Aspect CEO), Jacqui Borland (Aspect Deputy CEO), Karletta Abianac (2018 Future Leader), Judy Brewer (Autism CRC Board Director), Olivia Gatfield (Autism CRC Senior Research Officer) and Tori Haar (Project Team Chair).


Frequently Asked Questions

Below you can find answers to some of the other questions you may have about the program. Please also read the Applicant Information Pack to see if the answer to your questions is there.

If you have a question that isn’t answered in the FAQs below or in the Applicant Information Pack, please email our Project Officer, Ainslie. Please note that Ainslie is part time and will take 2-3 business days to respond to your email.

We are looking for autistic people who are motivated to make a positive change in their communities and interested in exploring and develop their leadership skills to help them to do so. This means we aren’t looking for a set amount of leadership experience.

The selection questions will give you the opportunity to demonstrate your interest and potential as an emerging autistic leader.

Please note that the current program has been designed for emerging or future leaders, it is not targeted at those with a significant amount of existing experience and/or knowledge in this area.

No, you can’t submit an application on someone else’s behalf.

However, you are welcome to tell someone you think they should apply. You can also help them with their application if they want you to.

You are welcome to get a friend, support person or family member to help you complete your application.

Examples of ways people might help are by filming or interviewing you, or helping you to write your responses.

If someone helps you, it is important that you know about and agree with everything that is being said in your application.

No. Unfortunately, we are not able to offer our 2019 program internationally.
Future Leaders is a program for autistic adults. You will need to wait until next year to apply.

The expanded program is significantly different from the program that was offered in 2013. This means that Future Leaders 2013 graduates are eligible to apply for this year’s program, however 2018 graduates, who have already completed the expanded program, are not.

Yes, you are eligible to apply on the same basis as other applicants. This means your suitability for this program will be assessed using the information you provide in your application.
If your application is successful, you will need to complete another online form. This will ask you to tell us things like who we should contact in an emergency and what your dietary and accessibility needs are.

There won’t be any interviews.

We will only ask more questions during the application process (by email) if something in your application is unclear.

The workshop will be held in Sydney. The exact venue for the workshop is still being determined, but it will be in a suburban location rather than the middle of the city.
Placement decisions will be based on a number of different factors including:
  • which organisations have offered to host Future Leaders placements
  • where you live
  • the skills and experiences you shared in your application
  • what we know about your goals and interests from your application
  • what we think will be a good opportunity for you to learn and grow
No, this is not an employment program. It is also not linked to any specific leadership positions.
No, however on completion you will become a graduate of the Future Leaders Program and a member of the Sylvia Rodger Academy.
Yes. You are welcome to apply again.
Unfortunately, not. We expect to receive lots of applications and won’t be to give specific feedback about why an individual application was not successful this year.

No. We consider attending the workshop to be an essential part of the Future Leaders experience.

If you won’t available to attend this year’s workshop we would encourage you to apply next year.

No. The voluntary placement is intended to give you access to new experiences and opportunities.

There will some flexibility around how you complete the placement. Personal circumstances such as your current employment and caring responsibilities will be considered.


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.