From 14 year old girls championing diversity on their local beaches, to innovative programs run by some of Australia’s biggest banks to support diversity in the workplace, last night’s 2018 Recognition Awards run by Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) provided the perfect showcase for the talents and extraordinary abilities of a community that is often isolated and misunderstood.
Over 100 people, including the Hon. Scott Farrow MLC and John Doyle (from Roy and HG fame), attended the evening which saw six awards presented to people, families, carers, professionals and corporations whose efforts, skills or projects highlighted or addressed issues facing the autism community.
“The 2018 Recognition Awards aim to celebrate the incredible achievements happening within our autism community,” Aspect’s CEO, Adrian Ford, said. “Whether it’s providing inspiration, support or addressing significant issues, the awards celebrate our diversity, creativity and resilience.
“This year we saw extraordinary people overcoming incredibly personal hurdles to become advocates for themselves and others.
“People like Nathan (Uluru) Phillips who identifies as an Aboriginal, transgender man in a small regional community, and who wasn’t diagnosed with autism until late in life.
“Prior to 2016 he lived in situations where his behaviour, anxiety and stress went unnoticed and unsupported, but since moving out of home Nathan has gone on to achieved incredible things in such a short period of time, and is now a passionate advocate for people in similar situations to himself,” Mr Ford said.
“And Dane Waites, who competed in the Dublin 2003 Special Olympics winning a Bronze medal, who recently completed a run across Australia from Perth to Pambula to raise awareness and funds for people on the autism spectrum.
“Running the equivalent of a marathon every day, Dane shared his message of awareness, understanding and acceptance of autism from Perth to Pambula, meeting every challenge with his huge, contagious smile and raising over $120,000.”
Mr Ford went on to say that the night, which was filled with extraordinary achievements, also saw a clear theme emerge.
“Three out of six award recipients were people or organisations working to improve employment prospects for people on the autism spectrum,” Mr Ford said.
“Many people on the autism spectrum struggle with the transition into paid employment, so these types of initiatives are incredible important for our community.
“Representatives of SunPork Farms, Commonwealth Bank and the ANZ all took home awards for programs that encourage and support people on the autism spectrum in their workforce.
“Many organisations talk about the importance of diversity in the workplace but still hold very limited views of what diversity actually looks like.
“The types of programs we have heard about at last night’s awards are breaking new ground and creating new and innovative ways to think about diversity in the workplace.
“I am proud to say that Aspect is leading the way with diversity in the workplace, with a mentoring program offering guidance and advice to assist adults on the spectrum move into the world of work with ease and confidence, training for employers to understand the contribution employees on the autism spectrum can make to your workplace and a recruitment support service.
“I would like to see a different brilliant in every workforce – where the strengths and interests of people on the spectrum in every organisation are celebrated,” Mr Ford said.
Now in their 12th year, the Autism Spectrum Australia Recognition Awards celebrate extraordinary people in the autism community.
The 2018 Recognition Award recipients include: