Victoria University (VU) and Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) have partnered to help boost the workforce of professionals working with people on the autism spectrum.

The five-year partnership that starts in October will have VU students training in areas such as speech pathology, social work and community services, at TAFE and Higher Education levels, the opportunity to participate in placements, internships and formal employment with Aspect. It will also offer Aspect staff the chance to add to their 50+ years of expertise in education, therapy, assessments and creating inclusive community environments to VU classrooms. Aspect participants will be able to attain a qualification from VU, such as a Certificate I in Work Education or a Certificate I in Transitions Education.

The university’s researchers in health, wellness and sport will also examine opportunities to conduct collaboratively 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.

A new autism service hub will be established at the University’s St Albans Campus.  

NDIS Minister Bill Shorten said the partnership is an excellent example of how to 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 because the better trained disability workers are, the better care they will provide to Australians with disability,” he said.

VU vice-chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker said it 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 as part of the agreement will see VU qualifications offered to members of Aspect and the broader community we serve,” he said.

Aspect CEO Jacqui Borland said it represents an opportunity for participants and staff, and students studying at VU looking to embark on a career working in specialised education or therapy, or who are also autistic. “They will benefit from the insight we can bring to help support them in their studies and how it will develop to better support people on the autism spectrum and their families, both on campus and in the wider community,” she said.

Photo: NDIS Minister Bill Shorten, VU vice-chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker, Aspect CEO Jacqui Borland and local MP Daniel Mulino.