Guest Speaker

Anita Aherne 

Anita Aherne, a neurodivergent mother and founder of Australia’s first autism directory and neurodiversity hub, “Living on the Spectrum” passionately advocates for inclusive environments and acceptance. Amidst the stress and overwhelm of navigating her diagnosis and her children’s diagnoses, Anita’s journey inspires others. Through advocacy and personal experiences, she empowers parents, educators, and businesses to foster acceptance of neurodiversity and create inclusive environments. The directory she created has become a global platform, providing timely access to information aimed at improving life outcomes for neurodivergent individuals. As a sought-after speaker, she drives positive change by sharing insights globally.

Master of Ceremonies (MC)

James Loveday

James has personal investment in disability services stemming from his lived experience, spending all of his primary school years in special needs units, and only learning to read and write at the age of 13.

Adding to this his twenty years’ experience working in the field of disability in both direct support roles and Business Development, James has become a leader in his field. James is a passionate advocate and educator in person-centred support delivery, and he has worked tirelessly to educate himself and others in appropriate, ethical and sustainable ways to support the individual. James’ experience within the complex behaviour and housing sectors of the disability sector have ensured he has become the go-to person for many in the industry who need a problem solver and someone who has the capacity to think outside the standard box.

James’ innovative and unconventional thinking has made him a stand-out within the sector and through his years working both in direct support roles as well as managing teams and business development he has carved a unique and thoughtful pathway for the sector. Unafraid of challenging long-held standards James is driven to ensuring that PWD are afforded opportunities to engage with the world in ways that allow them to live independently, safely and with dignity.


Daniel Giles OAM 

Daniel is proudly Autistic working tirelessly as an advocate for other Autistic individuals and others with diverse needs. He was diagnosed at the age of 2.5 years, experienced delays in verbal communication and needed assistance with understanding neurotypical social interactions. Daniel’s commenced his education in a special school. With support from his family and many others, Daniel transitioned from special education to mainstream schooling. He then went on to achieve a Bachelor of Graphic Design (Hons). As an adult he lives independently, works part-time as a graphic designer and photographer, and does a range of volunteer work. Daniel has been actively involved in many roles including the Victorian Disability Advisory Council (DHHS), the Accessible Transport Advisory Committee and the V/Line Accessibility Reference Group. He is also passionate about educating the community about being Autistic and mentoring other Autistic Individuals. Daniel has been speaking at professional development events, to health care workers, educators and families since the age of 13 and has a unique ability to give a clear insight of life as an Autistic Individuals, along with strategies that have helped him with his quality of life, enabling him to achieve great things. Daniel was honoured to receive the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2017 for his “Service to Disability and the Community”.

Michelle Risedale – Founder – Kaboose App

Michelle is the visionary force behind Kaboose, an innovative app designed to foster a sense of community for autistic individuals and those embracing neurodiversity. Drawing from her own personal journey and lived experiences, Michelle is a dedicated advocate and volunteer within the autistic community. Witnessing her own son grapple with isolation and disconnection, she was inspired to create a platform that addresses these challenges head-on.

With a solid foundation in People & Culture, Michelle boasts a professional trajectory that spans diverse industries and transcends borders. Her extensive experience culminated in a pivotal role as Chief People Officer within the technology sector, where she recognised the potential to harness her profound expertise and expansive industry network to bring Kaboose to fruition.

Michelle’s commitment goes beyond the creation of an app; it’s a testament to her unwavering determination to bridge the gaps within the neurodiverse community. Through Kaboose, she seeks to build bridges of understanding, companionship, and inclusivity while exemplifying the powerful impact of uniting personal passion with professional acumen.

Michelle is the Founder of Kaboose, an app that supports the building of community for autistics & those who identify as neurodiverse.  

Michelle has lived experience and is an active advocate and volunteer in the autistic community.  Seeing her own son suffer from loneliness and disconnection, she felt compelled to do something.

Additionally, Michelle has a professional background in People & Culture and has worked with teams across countries, and industries. As a Chief People Officer in technology, she saw the opportunity to leverage her expertise and industry connections to bring Kaboose to life.

Keeley' Cause Children's Charity

Keeley Johnson – Founder – Keeley’s Cause

At just 13, Keeley embarked on a mission that would not only change her life but also touch the lives of countless others in the neurodiverse community. Now, at 19, she stands as the proud founder of a charity dedicated to leveraging technology for learning and inclusion. Keeley’s journey from feeling left behind by the educational system to discovering a new path through technology is a testament to her resilience, intelligence, and compassionate vision.

Growing up, Keeley navigated the challenges of being undiagnosed and misunderstood, experiences that fueled her determination to ensure others wouldn’t face the same hurdles. Her advocacy is not just about bringing technology into the hands of those who need it most; it’s about fostering a society that celebrates diversity and practices inclusion at every level.

Keeley’s insights into learning differently, her personal growth in the face of systemic obstacles, and her unwavering commitment to her mission make her a beacon of hope and change. As she looks forward to sharing her journey and vision at the Kaleidoscope event, Keeley extends a warm invitation to everyone as your presence is a step towards a more understanding and inclusive world.

Georgia Andrew

Georgia is a neurodivergence advocate who has worked in the Disability Industry for over 6 years as a support worker, plan manager and community engagement officer. She has recently joined the iCare support team to develop and support the growing NDIS networking industry.

Having received her own diagnosis for Tourettes Syndrome and ADHD at the age of 6, Georgia provides first has experience of navigating education and employment while witnessing the society’s developing acceptance of disability 

Georgia is navigating a space where her disabilities are unrecognised by the NDIS, and looks to provide empowerment and encouragement to those, and their families, who feel like they’re falling through the cracks of a program.

Daryl Giles

Daryl is one of the team from Speaking Insights as is proudly known as “Daniel’s dad”. He is inspired by Daniel’s self-advocacy work. Daryl is in awe of all that Daniel has achieved despite the daily challenges his autism presents to him.

In the Speaking Insights flagship presentation of “From Diagnosis to O.A.M. – A Personal autism Journey, Daryl brings to the discussion insights into the emotional process of coming to terms with your child’s diagnosis, as well as his perspective on strategies surrounding a number of subjects, including: early intervention, inclusion, education, independent living, employment and a parenting approach that supports and extends your child to achieve their best outcomes.

Daryl has always been a calm and focused, hands-on parent, who is willing to do what is needed to achieve the best for his children. Knowing that the research tells us that children have more positive educational outcomes if their parent is involved with their school, he has been a member of several school boards at his children’s schools, including terms as chairperson and deputy chairperson.

Daryl’s passion to share his knowledge and understanding of autism to others is driven by the interactions with families and others that tell him how the Speaking Insights’ journey gives them hope for the future of their loved ones.

Through his Speaking Insights advocacy work, Daryl has connected to many autistic individuals and their families. He fondly refers to these as his ‘Autism Family’. He has also sat on several Q&A panels at autism events and seminars, further sharing his knowledge through these platforms.

Daryl now also works part time for an autism not-for-profit, ‘Different Journeys’, as a Carer Peer Support Officer. In this role, Daryl considers himself “in the place I’m meant to be”.

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