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"I really believe that everyone is 'a different brilliant' and we should appreciate those differences. It means different skills, ways of thinking and personalities that can be amazing, beautiful and truly brilliant if we recognise and support that."

Matthew started his career with Aspect in 2015 as a Support Worker with Aspect Adult Community Services. Since then he has managed a team as a Regional Coordinator and undertaken project work with the Quality team to ensure Aspect process and practices met NDIS requirements. This experience has led Matthew to his most recent role as Project Officer, Autism Friendly Australia.

Prior to starting with Aspect, Matthew worked in retail. "After working in retail for many years, I was ready for a change and I knew I wanted to be in a role where I could connect with people. While I was working in retail I met a customer with intellectual disabilities and we actually became friends; she would come in every day and we'd have lunch together. It became the best part of my day. I quickly realised I wanted a career where I could spend time with people."

The experience working directly with people on the autism spectrum, collaborating with other Aspect departments and being involved in inclusion projects such as the Disability Action and Inclusion Plan has provided Matthew with the knowledge and skills needed for his role with Aspect Practice.

“For me personally I think just the learning experience of the different opportunities and how to apply them in different ways, and then be able to find a role that I can utilise them all at once.”

Aspect Practice is a national initiative that is committed to improving the lives of people on the autism spectrum across Australia, combining evidence-informed practice, thinking and knowledge. As part of the Aspect Practice team, Autism Friendly Australia works with businesses and organisations nationally to build inclusive communities for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Matthew has also had the opportunity to develop content for the Aspect Comprehensive Approach (ACA), an organisation-wide approach to support people on the autism spectrum, their family and carers. The ACA encapsulates more than 50 years of Aspect's expertise in providing services to children, young people and adults on the autism spectrum. At the centre of the ACA is the Five Point Star which helps staff to learn about and understand autism.

Throughout his time with Aspect, Matt has seen the organisation evolve. “I think also just seeing things change and grow, for instance, autistic people being included in the development of their own plans, programs, roles and environments. I think even with the Five Point Star and the ACA, we now have the development of really good practice, evidence-based solutions. We haven’t always had a comprehensive approach.”

"The biggest takeaway that I've had from my roles is that people are really capable. It's actually the barriers in the social and physical environment that stop us from achieving our goals and being meaningfully involved. Again, that attitude of trying to remove barriers rather than changing a person or questioning their intentions, that's my biggest learning at the moment.”