AUStism 2021 – Meet Our Speakers
Radio host, author and autism mum. Chloe, along with husband (rugby league legend) Mat Rogers, are the founders of 4ASD Kids – a charity committed to sponsoring kids with autism into early intervention programs. In 2012 Chloe published her first book ‘Living with Max’ where they share their journey of discovery with their autistic son, Max. Following “going public” about their family’s experience with autism – and the overwhelming support thereafter – Chloe decided to use her profile to really make a difference to the lives of autism families.
Film director, author and autism mum, Jocelyn is known primarily for her huge successes on the big screen with titles such as Proof, How To Make An American Quilt, and The Dressmaker counted as feathers in her cap. However her greatest challenge and achievement is mum to four kids, two of which are on the autism spectrum.
Journalist, TV presenter and autism mum, Jo is regularly seen on the Today Show, and her articles and opinions read on numerous digital channels including 9Honey, nine.com.au and Mamamia. With two of her three children on the autism spectrum, Jo draws on her family’s experience to raise awareness and understanding to life as an autism family.
Autism advocate, author, speaker and keen motorcyclist, Barb was diagnosed on the autism spectrum at age 40. She founded ‘Spectrum Women Magazine’ in 2016, and later co-authored ‘Spectrum Women – Walking to the beat of autism’ in 2018. She has an extensive history in advocacy work dedicated to supporting fellow neurodiverse peers. Her unique personal insights coupled with her humourous personality captivate audiences wherever she presents, leaving all with “a sense of optimism that Barb imparts to those she connects with”.
Richard & Randa Habelrih
Son and mum duo and founders of Autism MATES – a school based, peer-led program promoting social inclusion and leadership that tackles the isolation and bullying issues that many kids on the spectrum face in mainstream schools. With the message that “inclusion is more powerful than awareness”, these two have made real change to the social landscape within primary and secondary schools and through to higher education and support services.
Tim & Judy Sharp
Tim Sharp is an internationally acclaimed artist and the creator of Laser Beak Man. Tim’s artwork has been produced into an award nominated off-Broadway Play, which made its Australian debut in 2017. Laser Beak Man has his own 8-episode animated TV series screening on ABC3TV, a world first for someone living with autism. Tim has also been a finalist for Young Australian of the Year and now he is a keynote speaker.When Tim was born in 1988 Judy quickly realised he wasn’t like other babies his age. Yet it wasn’t until the day after his 3rd birthday she was told Tim has Autism and there was very little hope for his progress or development. But Judy never gave up and discovered she was able to open a door and communicate with Tim through drawing, a discovery that changed their lives forever.
Together, Tim and Judy’s story is one of hope, unconditional love and the power of family.
Mark is an autistic advocate who appeared in the highly popular ABC series Love on the Spectrum. He is the middle sibling in the family and lives in a cabin adjacent to his parents on the Central Coast of NSW. Mark worked part time at the Halekulani Bowling Club, which he enjoyed, until the pandemic started. After months of job searching he now works part time at McDonalds. Bateau Bay. Mark’s interests and hobbies include dinosaurs, Paleontology, reading books, movies, Godzilla and Giant Monsters, video games, walking, bike riding and going to the gym. He joined Love on the Spectrum because he wanted to show the world what a wonderful, caring and compassionate man he is and that he is capable of having a partner of his own. Mark gained an enormous amount of confidence through his experience and hopes that he will have more opportunities to practice his social skills and show his peers on the spectrum that they can have a relationship.
Jodi Rodgers is a qualified sexologist, counsellor and special education teacher. She has worked within the education and community sectors in both Australia and internationally and has extensive experience working with people with intellectual disability and people on the spectrum. Jodi established her private practice, Birds and Bees Pty Ltd, after 25 years of working within the education, disability and sexuality fields. Birds and Bees specialises in delivering counselling services and workshops for people with a disability with focus on sexuality, sexual health and relationships, as well as delivering trainings for parents, carers and professionals to raise the community’s capacity in this sometimes-tricky area.
Karina has a dynamic track record working in both the independent sector as Head of Production, Creative Producer and Writer/Director, as well as within the national broadcaster as Commissioning Editor and Head of Factual for ABC TV. Karina has been a key creative and executive on break out series such as Go Back to Where You Came From, Redesign My Brain, Luke Warm Sex, Changing Minds, Employable Me and Love on the Spectrum. Her role as Head of Factual at Northern Pictures has allowed her to oversee content creation for broadcast television, as well as director her own films. The crux of her creative work is to create change, truth tell and find unlikely heroes who challenge our perceptions.
Michael Whelan - Host
Associate Professor Michael Whelan is an academic, writer, musician and autism advocate. In addition to his memoir, The Other Country: A Father’s Journey with Autism which was published by Pan Macmillan in 2008, Michael also wrote the documentary film What are you doing? This educational film for school audiences on the topic of social inclusion and autism was distributed to every school in Australia and was screened at the United Nations in New York as part of World Autism Day activities in April, 2013. In 2014 Michael joined Autism Queensland where he developed and commenced delivery of Studio G, a post-school transition program for young people with autism which is based upon skill development in animation, game development and music technology. Michael is now an Associate Professor in Music in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology where his research is focused upon post-school transition for young people on the autism spectrum.