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University of Wollongong joins Autism CRC

Partnership aims to deliver positive change to lives of people on the autism spectrum

The University of Wollongong (UOW) has joined the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC) and will contribute to its efforts to translate research into real, positive benefits for people on the autism spectrum.

A world first collaboration between the autism community, researchers, industry and government, Autism CRC was established in 2013. It takes a whole-of-life approach to autism, from diagnosis and the early years, through the school years and into adult life. The Autism CRC aims to produce evidence-based, practical outcomes that improve the lives of people on the autism spectrum and their families.

Dr Amanda Webster, a Senior Lecturer in Autism and Inclusive Education in the School of Education, will co-ordinate UOW’s collaborations with the Autism CRC.

“I am delighted the University is becoming a participant in the Autism CRC,” Dr Webster said.

“This puts UOW researchers into a network of people across Australia who are focused on developing new knowledge and solutions through autism research, and on disseminating and utilising this information to create meaningful supports and services for individuals on the autism spectrum.

“Being a participant in the Autism CRC provides a forum for UOW to engage with a network of autism researchers, professionals, and the greater autism community and opens up opportunities for research and community collaborations and partnerships.

“As well as focusing on the advancement of research that will facilitate meaningful change in the lives of individuals on the spectrum, the Autism CRC is committed to participatory and inclusive practice in which the autism community and families are seen as a valuable voice in identifying priorities and undertaking research that has the most relevance for their lives.

“Likewise, at UOW we’re committed to bridging the research-to-practice gap. We believe it’s really important to engage with people on the spectrum to make sure we address the things that are important to them and that will make their lives better, rather than what we as non-autistic people think will make their lives better.”

UOW joins more than 50 other organisations in Autism CRC, including national and international academic institutions, service providers, government bodies and commercial enterprises.

Autism CRC Chief Executive Officer Andrew Davis said he was very pleased to welcome UOW as an Autism CRC Participant.

“The work we do at Autism CRC is only possible thanks to the support of our participant organisations and partners. The collaborative environment within a cooperative research centre gives us the scale needed to have real transformational impact for the autistic and autism communities through our research programs, and the translation of the outputs to practice. We are thrilled to have the University of Wollongong as part of our participant network,” he said.

“We are also pleased to continue our association with Dr Amanda Webster, who has been a contributor to our work, particularly focusing on improving educational practices and environments during the school years. Amanda appreciates the benefits to research that are provided by the collaborative framework of the CRC Program model. Importantly, Amanda and other members of the team are also advocates for the mission and values of Autism CRC, which drive how our research is conducted.”

Before moving into academia, Dr Webster was a school leader and behaviour analyst and has worked with children and adults on the autism spectrum and their families for more than 30 years. Her research focus now is on building inclusive communities, environments and strategies that empower individuals on the autism spectrum to learn and exercise self-determination as agents in their own lives.

Dr Webster anticipates that participation in Autism CRC will bring opportunities for UOW researchers across the disciplines.

“Although our current team is comprised of researchers from Education, Psychology and Social Work, we really want to embrace a broader approach and believe that this is an area that involves many disciplines and individuals. For some the interest is professional, whereas others initially have a personal connection,” Dr Webster said.

“I'd love to see a number of faculties and research disciplines involved. For example, I would love to see us work with medicine to address the needs of families and issues of individuals with comorbid diagnoses. Engineering is another area with exciting potential because of the critical role of technology in the lives of individuals on the autism spectrum, and media and communications are also critical because many people have inaccurate perceptions of autism and of individuals on the autism spectrum.

“Most importantly our involvement with the Autism CRC will link us with a network of researchers and individuals who are committed to inclusive engagement with the autistic community and to developing teaching and research initiatives that result in meaningful impact for the autism community.”


Autism CRC’s vision is to see autistic people empowered to discover and use their diverse strengths and interests. Its mission is to motivate, facilitate and translate collaborative autism research across the life span, underpinned by inclusive practices. Its programs take a whole-of-life view from diagnosis and the early years, through the school years and into adult life.

It is committed to inclusive research practices and coproduction of outcomes with those on the spectrum and their families to ensure its research provides practical and tangible outputs that benefit the community.