Wanted: Meaningful employment for Autistic people

Participation in the workforce is important for social inclusion and economic independence, but many people on the autism spectrum face barriers to finding and keeping a job.

The Disability Royal Commission is investigating the mistreatment of people with disability in all contexts and settings, including workplaces, with a recent public hearing looking at Australian Disability Enterprises.

On Friday 29 April, join Your Story Disability Legal Support for a conversation about autism, employment and the Disability Royal Commission with two proud Autistic women, Elise Muller and Tammy McGowan.

Elise is a successful Indigenous elite athlete and autism advocate on the autism spectrum, whose achievements include becoming AFL’s first Disability Ambassador Player and founding Active Support, a social enterprise for at-risk people with disability.

Tammy is Autistic and has raised two Autistic children. She is project officer at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the peak body for autistic self-advocacy in Australia and New Zealand, and the South Australian representative on the Your Story Advisory Group.

Tammy and Elise will share their views on what needs to change to address high unemployment rates and improve the experiences of Autistic people in the workplace.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows the unemployment rate for people living with autism in 2018 was 34.1 percent – more than three times the rate for people with disability (10.3 percent) and almost eight times the rate of people without disability (4.6 percent).

Employers were the third most common source of discrimination for the one in 10 people with disability who reported experiencing it.

The lunchtime webinar will be facilitated by Your Story lawyers, Hiran Lecamwasam and Mikele Prestia, who will talk about the free supports available for Autistic people and other members of the disability community to share their stories and ideas for change with the Disability Royal Commission.

This free online event will include Auslan interpreters and live captions. You can join using Zoom or Facebook. Please visit the Eventbrite page to register.

Date and time: Friday 29 April from 12:30— 1:30pm AEST
Location: You can join using Zoom or Facebook
Cost: Free
Register: Please visit Eventbrite to register

Meet the speakers

Elise Muller

Elise is a successful Indigenous elite athlete and Autism Advocate on the Autism Spectrum. Diagnosed with Autism at the age of 12 and battling severe anxiety, Elise quickly learnt that her brain worked differently.

Experiencing relentless bullying from her peers, and teachers misunderstanding Elise's Autism, perceiving it as a burden, Elise too learnt to resent her Autism for the reason why she didn't belong, and didn't have friends. Desperate to be accepted, Elise moved schools seven times and fell into severe depression, questioning if they had a place in this world.

Fast-forward to 25 years of age, Elise has amassed a plethora of impressive achievements. She has co-created the world's first person-first Autism course with Torrens University. In 2018, Elise was invited to meet with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Princess Meghan, in recognition of her impact on inclusion of disability in sport.

Despite being clumsy and struggling with both poor fine and gross motor skills, Elise engaged her Autism strength of hyper-focus to play in the Women's National Premier League, representing Victoria twice (soccer), and making the Australian Indigenous national football team 'The Woomeras' (AFL).

Experiencing both the challenges of being Autistic as well as utilising her Autistic strengths, Elise had a successful VFLW season playing for the Western Bulldogs, being awarded 'Best on Ground' in only her third game. Elise has used her sporting platform as another opportunity to create awareness and inclusion by becoming the first ever AFL Disability Ambassador Player.

Elise has used her experience to advocate and revolutionise the way we approach people with Autism and other differences, since completing high school to mentor over 500 young people to understand and embrace their identity and overcome anxiety to achieve their goals.

Elise is a sought-after public speaker around the globe. Her ability to speak about her experience living with Autism and offer powerful insight and sustainable inclusion strategies has made a profound impact, shifting the way Australia perceives and includes people with disability. In 2019, she was awarded the National Disability Leadership Social Impact award and the Victorian Disability Emerging Leader Award.

Elise has changed the way thousands of educators, coaches, parents, and individuals approach disability. Her inspiring story and infectious energy inspires a complete culture-shift from 'can't' to 'can.'

Elise truly is a trailblazer for disability awareness and inclusion in sport and schools.

Tammy McGowan

Tammy is Autistic and has raised two Autistic children. She is project officer at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the peak body for autistic self-advocacy in Australia and New Zealand, and a member of the Your Story Advisory Group.

Based in South Australia, Tammy is an experienced coordinator and trainer who has a 14-year history working in the community services sector, with a focus on disability advocacy, social inclusion and trauma informed and person-centred practice.

Tammy has worked within the South Australian education department and in the alternative care, disability and homelessness sectors supporting individuals and groups who have been negatively impacted by trauma, neglect, poverty and social isolation. Tammy brings experience and advice in relation to trauma-informed practice.

Tammy is a recent graduate of the Autism CRC Sylvia Rodger Academy Future Leaders program and the Autism CRC Sylvia Rodger Academy Governance program. She is also project officer for Autism CRC Sylvia Rodger Academy, a Maven for Scope Global and a board member of The Autistic Realm Australia.

Hiran Lecamwasam

Hiran grew up and currently resides in Adelaide, South Australia. He holds a Bachelor of Laws/Health Sciences double degree from the University of Adelaide, and has also completed a Graduate Certificate in Disability Studies.

After graduating in 2016, Hiran worked as a lawyer at a private law firm in Adelaide before joining the Legal Services Commission of South Australia as a Legal Adviser. In this role he provided legal advice to a broad cross section of the community, particularly focusing on civil, family and criminal law matters.

Hiran joined Your Story Disability Legal Support in May 2021 and is passionate about helping individuals to share their experiences with the Disability Royal Commission.

Mikele Prestia

Mikele is a lawyer and freelance writer from Adelaide, South Australia. He has undergraduate degrees in Law and Journalism and a Masters of Creative Writing.

After graduating in 2018, Mikele worked in a pro bono capacity in human rights matters with Julian Burnside QC while studying his masters. He now works as a lawyer in the civil section at the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement in Adelaide.

Mikele joined Your Story Disability Legal Support in July 2021.