Neurodiversity & Employment Symposium 31 May 2019


Dyslexia, ADHD & Autism


31st May 2019, 9am to 5pm


Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, 578 Royal Esplanade, Manly QLD


About the event….

Thriving Now is hosting its inaugural Neurodiversity and Employment Symposium, promoting a positive and productive focus on the strengths that neurodiverse individuals can offer the workplace.

The goal of this symposium is to inform, enlighten and educate attendees from a variety of perspectives. Those of neurodiverse individuals with lived experience of navigating the employment realm, to professional insights and research-based evidence on the benefits of employing and supporting neurodivergent thinkers in the workplace.

This symposium is an invaluable opportunity to understand how employing a neurodiverse workforce will create a more inclusive and diverse team, bringing diversity of thought and knowledge, plus, collectively opening up new pathways for both employer and employee in attaining successful and productive futures.



About the Speakers

Jay Hobbs – Director of Thriving Now

Jay Hobbs is a psychologist and co-creator of Thriving Now based in Brisbane, Australia. Jay has worked with neurodiverse individuals (Dyslexia, ADHD, Autism) and their families for over fifteen years in both Australia and the UK. Jay worked as an Employment Services Manager at Specialisterne, has a Master of Professional Psychology and currently works with Dr. Michelle Garnett and Prof. Tony Attwood. Jay has worked on large employment programs with corporate clients such as HP, SAP and SunPork Farms. Jay is passionate about working with neurodivergent people, particularly in the areas of psychology, education and employment.

Professor Tony Attwood

Professor Tony Attwood PhD is an internationally recognised clinical psychologist, educator, and author and co-creator of Thriving Now. Recently featured on ABC’s Australian Story, Tony is one of the world’s foremost authorities on autism. His book Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals is an international best seller and seminal in the field.

Dr Michelle Garnett

Dr Michelle Garnett PhD is a clinical psychologist and co-creator of Thriving Now and Founder and Director of Minds & Hearts, a clinic specialising in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Michelle has co-authored four books on ASD, including three books with Tony. Her most recent book, Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism, was co-authored with Barb Cook and 14 other women on the Spectrum.


Barb Cook – Spectrum Women/Thriving Now

Formally identified on the autism spectrum along with ADHD and phonological dyslexia at age 40, Barb is editor and co-author of the internationally acclaimed book Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism, and editor in chief of Spectrum Women Magazine. Barb is an internationally recognised speaker and writer and was awarded a Special Commendation in the 2017 Autism Queensland Creative Futures Awards by the Queensland Governor. Barb is also currently studying a Master of Autism (Education and Employment) and Research Assistant at the University of Wollongong, Employment Services Manager at Thriving Now and provides consulting, workplace assessments and mentoring services for the neurodiverse community. Barb recently keynoted and panel participant for a special event “A Woman’s Voice: Understanding Autistic Needs” for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM) in Washington DC, USA,

Bill Gamack – Epic Assist

Chief Executive Officer – EPIC Assist. An accountant by trade, Bill’s career has taken him around the world. He has worked at a major accounting firm in Australia and England, held senior management positions across a range of industries, and spent 7 years in the Middle East.

Bill’s family ties with disability inspire a sustained interest and stake in the disability employment services sector. After connecting with EPIC in Brisbane in 2010, Bill identified a strong shared value system and joined the EPIC Board, before taking on the role of CEO in 2014. Bill is passionate about raising society’s expectations around disability, and believes everyone has the right to work.

Shae Wissell – Dear Dyslexic 

Shae Wissell is a passionate dyslexic advocate. She is a qualified Speech Pathologist with a master’s degree in Public Health and Health Administration. Over the last 13 years, Shae has worked extensively in the health sector as a clinician and manager. She has worked on major Federal and State health projects, within the Not-For-Profit and Community sector and more recently has been working and connecting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Communities to improve their access to health care services.

Through her work as a speech pathologist, public health practitioner and her own personal experiences of having dyslexia, she developed a passion for supporting people with learning disabilities. In 2015, Shae established the Dear Dyslexic Foundation where she is the CEO and Managing Director. Shae is also a Doctoral Candidate researching the social and emotional wellbeing of those with dyslexia in the workplace and how they can be better supported through improved HR practices. 

Yenn Purkis – Author

Yenn Purkis is an author, presenter, autism advocate and community leader. Yenn is the author of six published books on elements of autism and has contributed to a large number of journals, books and websites. Yenn is a presenter and facilitator and regularly gives keynote presentations including at the 2013 TEDx Canberra conference. Yenn is a member of a number of committees and reference groups and is has a number of awards for leadership in the community, including the 2016 ACT Volunteer of the Year.


Jemima Hutton – Dyslexia Demystified

Jemima is a diagnosed dyslexic student who is currently studying Provisional Entry Medicine at the University of Queensland. She has been assessed as being in the lowest 2% for reading with her eyes, however she received an ATAR of 99.3 for her secondary school studies including two perfect scores. Jemima was Dux of her school and also ironically received the English Prize for being the top student even though she only ever read the books with her ears, using assistive technology at 3 times normal speed.

After taking a gap year, Jemima started her own company called Dyslexia Demystified  to support and empower young people with dyslexia. She has presented keynotes to students, teachers and parents at more than 50 different schools around Victoria and Queensland and made her international debut in Japan at the Asia Pacific Dyslexia Festival in 2018. In order to reach more young people like herself and build an online community of proud dyslexics, Jemima started a YouTube Channel, which she hopes will grow to be the largest online support platform for dyslexic young people.

Vicky Little – Specialisterne

Vicky is the National Manager – Quality and Practice at Specialisterne Australia based in Sydney. Vicky is a passionate disability consultant, trainer and mentor with over 13 years’ experience in the field of autism employment in Australia and the UK. Her experience includes establishing and delivering autism specific recruitment programs, mentoring autistic individuals to training employers and higher education institutes and establishing NSW’s first autism specific employment service, Aspect Capable. Vicky is passionate about enabling employers to tap into the skills and strengths of autistic individuals and empowering workplaces to embrace inclusion and neurodiversity.

Will Wheeler – The Dyslexic Evolution 

Will is the Managing Director of based in Australia.

He is passionate about helping dyslexic people find their full potential in their careers/businesses, while helping them grow into outstanding leaders who will inspire and help others on to greatness.

Will is proud to say that he is dyslexic and knows what true potential people with dyslexia bring to the world. That’s why he works closely with people with different learning styles and helps them to learn the leadership skills to achieve great things in life and their careers.

Katie Small

Katie recently graduated with a double degree in Media and Communication and Human Services. She was diagnosed with dyslexia as an 8 year old but a further assessment at 15 years showed a severe level of dyslexia as well as dysgraphia and visual sensory issues. Katie’s passion is to change the system for those individuals who have learning difficulties, and wants to do this through systemic changes and better understanding. Katie believes that tailoring education for all is the key to helping people with these difficulties. She is currently working at the Department of Child Safety, enabling her to try to work from the ground up in creating better assistance for children in the system, particularly those who are at largest risk of disengaging with education, not only due to their environment but also the potential learning difficulties they most have shown.

Will Attwood

Will was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome during a three-year sentence in prison, and has written the book, Asperger’s Syndrome and Jail : A Survival Guide, to help people with Asperger’s cope with prison, and to provide better understanding for the professionals who work with them.

Additional information

Please Select Ticket Type

General Admission, Neurodiverse Individuals