Operations Manager: Katharine Annear (pron. they/them, she/her) 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.
Project Officer: Tammy McGowan (pron. she/her) was late diagnosed Autistic, ADHD and Specific Learning Disabilities. Tammy lives in South Australia with her husband and 2 dogs. Tammy is an experienced Coordinator and Trainer with a history of working in the community services sector. Tammy is passionate about disability advocacy, social inclusion, trauma informed and person-centered practice. Tammy is a graduate of the Autism CRC Sylvia Roger Academy Future Leaders program and the Autism CRC Sylvia Roger Academy Governance program. Tammy is a member of the Purple Orange Co-design Council and is the trauma informed expert for the Your Story Disability Legal Support Advisory Group.
Chairperson: Joanne Dacombe (pron. she/her) from New Zealand (originally English born) was diagnosed as Autistic in 2012. She is married with 2 children including an autistic adult son and a dog (blue heeler cross) named Muki (moo-key).
She is passionate about the UNCRPD and the NZ Disability Strategy as well as inclusive education.
She serves as the autistic representative for Autism NZ, a partner of Autism CRC. She has previously served as secretary for the Autism Spectrum Kiwis (ASK) Trust – a NZ autistic led organisation supporting autistics, and serves on the board Disabled Person’s Assembly as well as a new organisation My Life, My Voice –both disabled led organisations working for disabled people.
She is keen to see disabled people from all walks of life increase in their capacity and capability to have a good life of their choosing with the right support.
Autistic Autism Researcher
Jess Harrison is an autistic autism researcher who was diagnosed while studying psychology. After finding her tribe, she learned how stigma had contributed to the exclusion, underemployment, and discrimination of autistic people. This prompted Jess to focus her love for research on work designed to improve the treatment of autistic and neurodivergent people.
Jess is completing her PhD on Empathy in Autism and has had her work published in scientific journals and presented at international conferences. She advocates for autism research that is rigorous, participatory, accessible to neurodivergent participants, and designed to improve the lives of autistic and neurodivergent people. Outside of research, Jess has worked with her university to adapt and facilitate A-Skills, USQ’s program for autistic university students.
As part of the disability, chronic illness, and LGBTIQA+ communities, Jess understands the role of intersectionality in advocacy for the autistic community.
Jess’ complex illnesses (inc. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome; EDS), led to significant self-advocacy experience in the healthcare and disability sectors. Jess knows that EDS is disproportionately common among autistic people, and it grieves her to think of how many others are suffering undiagnosed and without appropriate care. She hopes to pursue further training so she can conduct cross-disciplinary research (psychological and medical) on EDS in autism to improve diagnostic practices, management, and quality of life.
Envisioning a world where young people belong, live fulfilling lives, and realise their potential. Elise Muller is widely regarded as one of Australia’s leading change-makers in Autism.
With lived experience of Autism and mental health, a proud First Nation Australian, and part of the LGBTQIA+ community, and elite athlete in mainstream sport, Elise’s unique, multifaceted insight is an authentic lens on inclusion, diversity, and awareness.
Elise is inspiring and enabling the world to better understand, and embrace people who think, and are different.
Elise is a well sought International Speaker and Consultant for creating inclusion, awareness, and accessibility.
Elise is the founder of Active Support, a social enterprise organisation for people with disability who are at risk.
Elise is also a dual elite athlete, and has used her platform as a player for the Western Bulldogs and more recently Essendon FC to become AFL’s First Disability Ambassador.