Launch of OTARC Strategic Plan 2018-2028
When the Olga Tennison Research Austism Research Centre (OTARC) turned 10 last year, this significant milestone was cause for celebration – and also for reflection, as the team began mapping out the direction of the next ten years, building on the recommendations from the Centre’s review in 2017.
The resulting new strategic plan for 2018-2028 was unveiled at a special launch event held at the Melbourne Campus on Thursday 31 January. Attendees and special guests included La Trobe’s Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar; former La Trobe University Chancellor Dr Sylvia Walton AO, who currently chairs the OTARC Advisory Committee; current Chancellor Professor Richard Larkins; and Mrs Olga Tennison, for whom the Centre is named in honour of her generosity and ongoing support of autism research.
As part of the new strategic direction, an Olga Tennison Chair in Autism Research has been created, with Professor Cheryl Dissanayake, OTARC’s founding Director, appointed to this position.
Chancellor Professor Richard Larkins, Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar and OTARC Chair Dr Sylvia Walton congratulate Professor Cheryl Dissanayake on her appointment as the inaugural Chair of Autism Research.
The event also marked the launch of the inaugural Sylvia Walton Honours Scholarship. The inaugural recipient, yet to be determined, will be an honours student with autism who will undertake autism research at the Centre. From 2020 onwards, this scholarship will be awarded to two recipients.
Professor Cheryl Dissanayake announces the Sylvia Walton Honours scholarships.
Dr Sylvia Walton has funded two Honours scholarships for autistic students to study at La Trobe.
“We are very excited to announce this inaugural scholarship, and the Centre thanks Dr Sylvia Walton and her husband, Mr Robin Walton, for their generosity in recognising and supporting autistic researchers,” said Cheryl Dissanayake, OTARC Director and Chair in Autism Research. Embedded into our strategic plan is the importance of specifically building autistic research talent and we can only do this by involving autistic researchers directly in this important research work. There is a saying – ‘Nothing about us, without us,’ – and by involving autistic researchers directly into our research, everyone benefits.”
“Our vision is for a world where people living with autism thrive, and it is exciting to share our strategic plan which outlines how we intend to lead high-quality scientific research and innovation in order to enrich the lives of autistic people and their families.”