Our history

OTARC was established in 2008 as a joint initiative of La Trobe University and Autism Victoria (now trading as Amaze) with Professor Cheryl Dissanayake as the inaugural Director. The establishment of OTARC was made possible with private donations from the late Mrs Olga Tennison OAM and matching funds from La Trobe University. The Centre is named in acknowledgement of Mrs Tennison's generosity.

Key achievements 2008 to 2018

  • Development of effective early identification strategies and tools to facilitate earlier diagnoses of children.
  • Establishment of Australia’s first Early Assessment Clinic for Autism so that children can be diagnosed prior to 3 years of age. (Funding for this centre ceased in 2015.)
  • Joint establishment of the Margot Prior Autism Intervention Centre, that delivers evidence-based early intervention to pre-school children.
  • Enhanced collaboration between autism researchers nationally through supporting the formation of the Australasian Society for Autism Research (ASfAR).
  • The development of an autism-specific undergraduate subject at La Trobe University to educate students about autism, called PSY3ASD – Understanding and Support for Autism.
  • Increasing knowledge and capacity of researchers and health professionals. Global knowledge transfer on evidence-based practice in early identification and intervention
  • Essential participant in the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism.

OTARC Annual Reports

Annual Reports from 2012 to 2020 are available as PDFs here.