Mrs Olga Tennison
1928 - 2021

We are deeply saddened to announce the death of our benefactor and friend, Mrs Olga Tennison, who passed away yesterday, a few months short of her 93rd birthday.
Olga has had a profound impact on the lives of autistic people and their families with the establishment of the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre at La Trobe University which would not have been possible without her significant private donations.  Olga was an intelligent, impressive and inspirational woman. She was also a woman of unwavering faith and unmediated graciousness with a focus on the good she could do in the world. Her voice, as someone with a close personal experience of autism, gave her determination and an authenticity to speak on behalf of the Centre and promote its work, of which she remained very proud.
Olga lived a life without extravagance so that the money she and her husband accrued over a lifetime could be put to use in a significant, lasting and meaningful way. She leaves a legacy of giving and service, and long commitment to autism research.
She will be remembered always - may she rest in peace.

The Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC) is Australia's first centre dedicated to autism research. It has a strong focus on research translation through the development of evidence-based tools, and collaborates with other autism research centres and institutes both in Australia and internationally.

OTARC is situated in the School of Psychology and Public Health within the College of Science, Health and Engineering (SHE) at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia.

Download our Strategic Plan 2019

Annual Reports

The Health Complaints Act

OTARC complies with The Health Complaints Act, 1 February 2017.  The Act applies to Health Service Providers, and establishes the office of the Health Complaints Commission, who is empowered to handle complaints about health services provided by any organisation or person in Victoria, including both registered and non-registered providers. OTARC is a non-registered provider.

Code of Conduct Obligations:
  • Provide safe and ethical healthcare;
  • Obtain consent for treatment;
  • Take care to protect consumers from infection;
  • Minimise harm and act appropriately if something goes wrong;
  • Report concerns about other practitioners;
  • Keep appropriate records and comply with privacy laws;
  • Be covered by insurance;
  • Display information about the National Code of Conduct and making a complaint.
Must not:
  • Mislead consumers about their products, services or qualifications;
  • Put consumers at risk due to any psychical or mental health problems;
  • Practice under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • Make false claims about curing serious illnesses such as cancer;
  • Exploit consumers financially; Have inappropriate relationships with consumers;
  • Discourage consumers from seeking other healthcare or refuse to cooperate with other practitioners if they do.
Complaints Process

If you are not satisfied with our service, please contact us.  We take complaints seriously and aim to resolve them quickly and fairly.

If you remain dissatisfied with our response, you may contact the Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC).  The HCC responds to complaints about health services and the handling of health information in Victoria.  Their service is free, confidential and impartial.  To lodge a complaint with the HCC:

Fill out a complaint form online at www.hcc.vic.gov.au or

Phone 1300 582 113 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday to discuss your complaint.


Student Placements

These depend on the availability of suitable staff to supervise the student. If staff are available, the following criteria apply:

  1. Priority is given to La Trobe University students on Work-Integrated Learning placements
  2. A minimum of 6 weeks’ notice is required
  3. Students must demonstrate a prior interest in the autism field
  4. Students must hold a valid Volunteer Working with Children Check
  5. OTARC accepts a maximum of two students per calendar year

Please note: Unfortunately we are unable to offer work experience for secondary school students.

Studying with OTARC

OTARC is a Research Centre within La Trobe University. We do not accept direct applications for study. If you wish to study with OTARC, you must first apply and be accepted by La Trobe University.



Honours in Psychology


Higher Degree by Research


Working with OTARC

Available positions are usually advertised via the La Trobe jobs site


Some entry-level research assistant positions have been filled from our volunteers.

Register to volunteer


Promotion Requests

Event, product or service

This covers requests for promotion of:

  1. Commercially available products and services
  2. Support services/events offered by grassroots or non-profit groups (e.g. support groups or programs run by parents)
  3. Events where attendees have to purchase tickets to attend

As an Australian research centre with a focus on evidence-based supports, OTARC will only consider promoting products and services with a base of solid scientific evidence.

For us to consider your promotion request, please ensure it meets all of the following criteria:

  1. Organisation or individual is located within Australia
  2. Organisation offering the service is a grassroots, advocacy, support or other non-profit organisation
  3. Product or service has a solid evidence base
  4. Product or service targets individuals, support services or families of those with autism, or closely related field

Recruitment for a research study

Studies must have their institution’s Ethics Committee’s approval to recruit.

OTARC prioritises requests for publicising research study recruitment as follows:

  1. Research studies conducted by OTARC researchers and higher degree students
  2. Research studies from other participating institutions in the Autism CRC
  3. Other research studies that align with OTARC’s research program

Please note: we do not publicise recruitment requests from undergraduate students (including Honours).