Autism Spectrum Australia

Congratulations to the 2017 Recognition Award Recipients

  • Posted: Fri, 28/04/2017 - 9:56am

Aspect marked the end of Autism Awareness Month with a special event, celebrating individuals within the autism community at the Autism Spectrum Australia Recognition Awards. The event was attended by 100 guests from across the country including The Honourable Ray Williams MP, Minister for Disability Service, who opened the ceremony. 

“The Autism Spectrum Australia Recognition Awards are a wonderful opportunity to recognise the achievements of individuals on the spectrum, parents, carers, professionals, businesses and volunteers who are working hard to make Australia more autism-friendly. Congratulations to everyone who has worked hard to support the autism community” said Minister Williams. 

Adrian Ford, CEO of Aspect said, “The awards showcase the brilliance of our community, as we recognise some of the incredible talents and achievements of our nominees. Congratulations to all nominees for your contribution to the autism community and to those who are recipients of awards.”


The 2017 Award Recipients 

David Foster Appreciation Award (for volunteer service) an award for someone who has demonstrated exceptional commitment to volunteering by helping with ongoing activities or special projects in the autism community

Jo Abbott has been volunteering her time and skills for many years. She has been described as a quiet achiever who dedicates her life to helping people with autism. In addition to working full time, she has taken on a number of volunteering roles, including assisting with community events and performances, but it is her work with the Special Olympics Dancers group in Sydney which has been most notable.

Having co-founded the group, Jo is now the volunteer administrator and co-ordinator and has since raised more than $1.3M for the Special Olympics. She has devoted endless hours to making all the costumes for this group of ten Special Olympics Dancers for over 12 years.

Above and Beyond Award an award given to inspirational role models who have made a significant contribution to the autism community.

Richard and Yasmin Keating have gone to extraordinary lengths to support their local autism – specific school. They have worked tirelessly to organise, and build an array of major works for the school, including building new classrooms, playgrounds and gardens to the value of approximately $250,000.

“We wish for autism to be recognised and accepted. Our aim in Albury is to support the Aspect Riverina School to provide a great autism specific school for our community, we would be at a great loss without them. We wish for our son, and all kids on the autism spectrum to be at their best potential.” said the Keatings.

Active members of the Parents and Friends committee, they are committed to providing students at Aspect Riverina school the best opportunities, and have ensured students on the spectrum are able to participate in weekly rock climbing activities and have an accessible bike path.

Above and Beyond Award (Joint recipient)

Kristi Devetak is the Head Teacher Support at Kotara High School. She is a highly respected and regarded teacher who has supported students with Autism for over fifteen years. In 2016 Kristi established this new faculty with three classes - Autism, Multicategorical Class and Hearing Support. Kristi has developed programs, protocols, policies and procedures to support the successful transition and advancement for students at KHS.

Kristi has single-handedly made a difference to the lives of many young people on the spectrum. Kristi has been working with people on the spectrum for over 15 years and in this time, has made an impression on everyone she works with. Working directly with students, supporting families, improving community access and securing funds and vital equipment for people on the spectrum, she regularly goes above and beyond to help her students.

Advancement Award; an award given to projects that demonstrate leading practice elements, successes and positive outcomes for the autism community

Professor Andrew Whitehouse is committed to sharing knowledge of autism and has been breaking down the barriers between researchers into autism and the autism community as a whole.

Andrew is the Head of the Autism Research Team at the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth.

Through his series of videos and online supports, the nominee is providing a great service to families, professionals, students, and the general public - ensuring that information about autism is presented accurately and supported by research.

These videos are also simultaneously raising awareness about autism, busting myths and misconceptions and increasing acceptance and understanding amongst the general public.

Parent/Carer of the Year Award; an award for someone who has made a significant contribution in increasing awareness or understanding of autism

Misa Alexander has done some incredible work in raising awareness of autism, especially amongst young children. Recognising that understanding was the key to acceptance, her goal was to create a children’s book that would change children’s views on disabilities by featuring a child on the autism spectrum as the main character. After a successful crowdsourcing campaign, this book is now published and has started conversations about autism in countless households and schools around Australia, Canada and the UK. 

Misa wants to ensure that not only her son, but all children on the autism spectrum grow up in an inclusive society.

Inspiration Award for Individual Achievement (Youth Category) for young people who are an inspiration to others on the autism spectrum in any area of endeavour

Maggie Khan has been committed to making a difference from a very young age, and has led a number of community activities. From chopping off her hair for a teenager with cancer, to fundraising for iPads, giving public speeches on hard-hitting subjects such as climate change and domestic violence, and campaigning for better equipment for local schools. Her generosity is far reaching – helping those in her own school as well as those overseas, and the online community by creating Youtube videos. She is now mentoring her young brother and assisting him in community projects. Maggie is a young lady with a very big heart, who uses her own personal experiences to help others.

Inspiration Award for Individual Achievement (Adult Category) for people who an inspiration to others on the autism spectrum in any area of endeavour

Penny Robinson has a strong passion for advocacy. She is committed to spreading a message of positivity by focusing on strengths and skills, to lead to a more positive and inclusive society. She actively supports women on the spectrum through the Yellow Ladybugs program, and sends a lot of time to helping, guiding and mentoring others. A founding member of the I CAN Network, she lives and breathes positivity - determined to educate others, change minds and attitudes, so that everybody on the spectrum feels empowered to do what the CAN, not what they CAN’T.

Congratulations to the 2017 Recognition Award Recipients