Chair: Geraldine Robertson
Geraldine Robertson is a parent, carer, professional and has an ASD diagnosis herself. At present, her main interest is developing a deep understanding of NDIS supports for adults who do not have plans. Geraldine has supported autistic students from Early Learning to University level in matters such as life transitions, workplace support, work experience, IEP meetings, growth coaching, social skills development and daily living skills. Geraldine is currently a mentor for the Autism CRC Future Leaders program. She also has an interest in Mindfulness meditation as a means of overcoming fears and managing anxiety and depression. Geraldine is currently engaged in systemic advocacy as Chair of Autism Tasmania, an ASAN representative for the Australian Autism Alliance. She is a member of the Tasmanian Autism Advisory Board and is currently involved in developing an organisation to empower Tasmanian disability voices.
Operations Manager: Katharine Annear is an Autistic person – diagnosed with autism later in life. They live in Adelaide, South Australia. Through their advocacy work Katharine is committed to establishing high quality dynamic and responsive systems for people with disability. They have held management and quality roles within disability services and has held and holds several key roles in not for profit organisations.
Holding a Master of Disability Studies, Katharine works in the disability field and lectures part-time at Flinders University. They travel overseas regularly to foster and maintain links with the international disability community and gain knowledge on contemporary approaches to global disability issues.
Kathy Isaacs (pron. she/her) is an Autistic woman, living in Melbourne with her family husband and 2 neurodivergent kids. She qualified as a registered nurse, worked in palliative care for over a decade, and completed a Masters degree in 2014. Diagnosed with Autism and then with ADHD as an adult, she now supports a home-schooling 13yo while running a support service to help other Autistic adults navigate the healthcare system safely and effectively (Access Health Autism – www.accesshealthautism.com.au), using her health background and both lived and learned understanding of Autism. She has also turned her interest in writing and research, and in simplifying academic concepts to Autism-related topics, and blogs at https://bungyheart.wordpress.com/.
Leeann has had many careers ranging from Industrial Electrician to Youth Worker and a dozen other weirdly unrelated things in between. Leeann has a Cert 3 in Community Services Work, Bachelor of Health Science (Health Education/Health Promotion stream), Diploma in Electricity, Advanced Diploma in Transpersonal Art Therapy and is currently studying a Bachelor of Disability and Developmental Education.
Leeann was diagnosed as Autistic at the age of 38 and is the single parent of three children several who are also autistic. The lived experience of being autistic and a carer of autistic children has been integral in shaping the focus of Leeann’s future goals. Living in South Australia Leeann is a Senior Coordinator of activities and previous board member of Asperlutely Autsome and works in several of the groups regular life skills programs. Leeann is also a Student Representative for Students with Disabilities at Flinders University as well as a Student Ambassador. Leeann was co-opted onto the board of ASAN AUNZ in May 2018 as Treasurer and remains in this role into this new term.
Jac den Houting
Jac is a registered Psychologist with unique experience in their field; they spent five years as a prison Psychologist with Queensland Corrective Services, and four years as an Occupational Psychologist with the Queensland Police Service. In 2015, Jac was awarded an Autism CRC scholarship to complete their PhD through the Autism Centre of Excellence at Griffith University. In 2018, Jac took up a role as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Macquarie University in Sydney, working alongside Professor Liz Pellicano.
Jac was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at 25 and is proudly Autistic and queer. Jac quickly became established as a strong advocate for the Autistic community, with advocacy interests including: Autistic mental health; Autistic sexuality and gender identity; Neurodiversity and intersectionality; and autism in the criminal justice system.
Jac was a participant in the inaugural Future Leaders Program at the 2013 Asia Pacific Autism Conference. They are the Autistic representative on the Autism CRC’s Data Access Committee, have a number of published academic articles, and have presented at a range of conferences including the 2017 Asia Pacific Autism Conference.
Tony Langdon is a 50 year old autistic man from Bendigo, Victoria, diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 1992. He is one of the first autistic gay men to come out on the Internet back in the mid 1990s and started posting his experiences with gay autistic sexuality on the web in 1996. His original writings can be seen at http://firstgayaspie.com. Tony’s interest in self advocacy comes from a lifetime of finding his way in the world with few role models or guides. He is active in his local autism community and is working on being a mentor and advocate for autistics in his area, and has an interest in systemic advocacy. Tony is a volunteer firefighter with the Country Fire Authority and is a keen sportsman. Some of his other interests include Amateur Radio, computers, electronics and science fiction.
Joanne Dacombe from New Zealand (originally English born) was diagnosed as Autistic in 2012. She is married with an autistic adult son.
Passionate about the UNCRPD and the NZ Disability Strategy.
She serves as the autistic representative for Autism NZ, a partner of Autism CRC. She is secretary for the Autism Spectrum Kiwis (ASK) Trust – a NZ autistic led organisation supporting autistics, and serves on the board of the Manaaki Ability Trust that provides vocational services for people with disabilities aged between 16-65 years.
She is currently advocating in the following areas in NZ:
Ministry of Social Development: Currently WiNZ (NZ’s equivalent of Centrelink) is under major review. She is part of a forum providing co-design of practical changes required that impact on autistics and their families who attend WiNZ offices nationally.
Ministry of Education: Attends attend various forums as an autistic adult, makes submissions on pieces of legislation that will impact autistic children. Networks with those on review panels for various education reforms to ensure autistic views are considered. Contributed to the updates to the Autism Action Plan. She is passionate about inclusive education – properly funded and resourced to meet the needs of neurodivergent students. To this end she is connected with Education for All and VIPS – Equity in Education advocating for a better deal for autistic students and their families. Organisations she has been connected with have lobbied against restraint and seclusion in NZ.
Ministry of Health (MoH): Working behind the scenes with the New Zealand Ministry of Health Disability Support Services (DSS) System Transformation (similar to NDIS) in terms of working and virtual testing groups, and communication strategy. Has previously served as an autistic representative (and as an autistic parent) on the MoH DSS Consumer Consortium a government consumer reference group giving advice to the Ministry of Health. This is a prototype programme and will roll out in one region in October.
Rachael has a lived experience of Autism Lvl 2 with co-morbidities with mental health… Rachael has three children aged 10, 6 and 4, one of which is diagnosed on the spectrum. Rachael’s career at time of diagnosis aged 30 was a Trainer and Assessor for Disability/Aged Care Support Workers, an irony which should give example to the level of masking in women and its costs on mental health to function with a society. Because of diagnosis, Rachael was able to access the now defunct WANDIS (Western Australian Trial of the National Disability Scheme) and the eventual introduction of the NDIS, supports of which were not traditionally supported by the Disability Support Systems of Australia for adults on the autism spectrum. Rachael is a member of the only group within Western Australian that represents and works on a model of peer support PA5 – The Perth Autism and Asperger’s Association. of the only group within Western Australian that represents and works on a model of peer support. Rachael is an advocate for access to diagnosis for the missing girls and women with Autism Spectrum Disorder with effective, timely, choice and control delivered through the NDIS. Rachael believes she learnt more as being a part of the disability community than previously working for it which to her shows the importance of Autistic voices being heard through organisations such as ASAN.