Minister for the NDIS Bill Shorten, VC Professor Adam Shoemaker, Aspect CEO Jacqui Borland and local MP Daniel Mulino
Minister for the NDIS Bill Shorten, VC Professor Adam Shoemaker, Aspect CEO Jacqui Borland and local MP Daniel Mulino

Victoria University (VU), Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect), and Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the Honourable Bill Shorten MP, today announced a partnership aimed at boosting the workforce of professionals who support the estimated 1-in-70 Australians on the autism spectrum.

The alliance will see the country’s largest provider of autism-specific services and school programs, Aspect, establish its first major partnership with a university.

The five-year partnership, beginning in October 2022, will offer VU students who are training in areas such as speech pathology, social work, community services – at both the TAFE and Higher Education levels – opportunities to participate in placements, internships, and formal employment with Aspect.

New service hub for St Albans Campus

It will also offer opportunities for Aspect staff to add their 50+ years of expertise in education, therapy, assessments and creating inclusive community environments to VU classrooms.

Central to the alliance will be an opportunity for Aspect participants to participate and attain a recognised qualification from VU – such as a Certificate I in Work Education or a Certificate I in Transition Education – in alignment with Aspect’s aim to provide services that help Autistic people realise their unique potential.

VU researchers in health, wellness and sport will also examine opportunities to conduct collaborative research with Aspect’s Research Centre for Autism Practice (ARCAP) to contribute evidence-based solutions that address the challenges of people on the autism spectrum and their families.

Both VU and Aspect are actively finalising an agreement that will also enable a new autism service hub to be established at the University’s St Albans Campus.

Speaking about the partnership, Minister for the NDIS, the Hon. Bill Shorten said: “This partnership is an excellent example of how we can ensure the future disability workforce is skilled and properly trained.”

“I hope to see more of this kind of collaboration between educational institutions and disability organisations. The better trained disability workers are, the better care they will provide to Australians with disability.”

VU courses will offer job & education pathways

VU Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker said the partnership demonstrates a shared commitment by both VU and Aspect to empower the communities they serve.

“We couldn’t be happier about our new alliance with Aspect, in such a critical area for all of us. We’re particularly excited that part of the agreement will see VU qualifications offered to members of Aspect and the broader community we serve,” he said.

Commenting on the partnership, Aspect CEO Jacqui Borland said:

“This partnership represents an amazing opportunity for our participants and staff, and for students studying at VU who are looking to embark on a career working in specialised education or therapy, or who are Autistic themselves, and will benefit from the insight we can bring to help support them in their studies.

“I am really excited to see how we can further develop our relationship to better support people on the autism spectrum and their families, both on campus and in the wider community,” she said.

Aspect is the latest of VU’s valued industry partnerships. Last month, VU announced a similar partnership agreement with Orygen, Australia’s youth mental health centre of excellence.

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