Welcome to the 2021 AASE Victoria: Educating Students with Diverse Learning Needs Symposium, which will be held as a virtual event using the OnAir Virtual Conference Software on Thursday, 21st January 2021. 

The inaugural AASE Victoria: Educating Students with Diverse Learning Needs Symposium aims to provide a smorgasbord of practical professional learning that will positively inform classroom practice across different curriculum and settings. Topics will include Trauma-informed Practice, Working with Allied Health Professionals, Student Well-being, Assessment and Differentiating Curriculum.

This will be an exciting opportunity for educators, academics and allied health professionals who are working with school students of all abilities to share knowledge about professional practice and network with others in their field. 

The Australian Association of Special Education (AASE) has proven to be a leader in providing high quality professional development opportunities for special educators and the AASE Victoria: Educating Students with Diverse Learning Needs Symposium, will be a highlight on the 2021 professional development calendar.


Standard Registration Open
Saturday, 31 October 2020

Cancellation Cut Off Date
Monday, 7 December 2020

Registration Closes 
Thursday, 21 January 2021

We look forward to seeing you virtually in:


AASE Victoria 

Symposium Convenor

AASE is committed to advocating for the provision of quality education for children and young people with special education needs.  For further information on the work of AASE visit www.aase.edu.au

Keynote Speakers

The AASE Victoria Symposium Committee are currently engaging their Keynote Speaker for the Symposium. 
Watch this space for weekly announcements!

Bryan Jeffrey 

Director, MOAT Mental Health Services

Chris Varney

Founder and CEO of I CAN Network

Dr Emily White

Research Fellow
Melbourne School of Education

Vicky Andrews

Speech Pathologist 
Department of Education

Concurrent Speakers

Karen Kyriakou

Educator, Facilitator, Violinist,

Clark Burt

Digital Technologies Teacher
 Victorian Specialist School 

Liz Gosper

Director/Head Coach
Inclusive Sports Training

Charlinda Parsons

Occupational Therapist,
Ready Set Grow

Naomi James

Year 10-12 Coordinator, Victorian Specialist School 

Andy Ding

Art and Technology, 
Art Education Victoria

Prof Pamela Snow

Professor of Cognitive Psychology La Trobe University

Dr Siobhan Merlo

University of Melbourne

Learn more about our speakers

Bryan Jeffrey

The Director of MOAT: Mental Health Services, Bryan Jeffrey is a psychiatric nurse with 25 years of clinical experience in Scotland and Australia supporting young people in Out of Home Care. Bryan develops and delivers education sessions for staff teams focusing on mental illness and challenging behaviour witnessed in the young people in their care. These sessions assist school staff, carers and parents to understand, analyse and respond to the most challenging behaviours, in a caring, compassionate, and effective manner. 

To compliment these training sessions, Bryan also provides a consultancy service for a group of schools, including small staff group PD sessions, classroom observations and feedback to staff regarding challenging behaviours.

Chris Varney

Chris is an Autistic law graduate and a pioneer of Autistic-led service provision in Australia. Chris has a background in children’s rights and youth programs, having been 2009 Australian Youth Representative to the UN and World Vision Australia’s Manager of Youth. Chris founded I CAN Network in 2013 and as Chief Enabling Officer has grown it into Australia’s largest Autistic-led organisation with 38 Autistic staff and 1,500+ students in the program nationally. 

Chris was a 2018 Victorian Australian of the Year Finalist and recipient of the 2017 Supreme Court of Victoria’s Best Achievement in Human Rights Award. Chris also serves as National Patron of the Australian Association for Special Education and is on the Advisory Board of LearningCreates Australia.


Dr Emily White

Emily is a research fellow and sessional lecturer at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, and a teacher practitioner with over fifteen years’ experience in disability-specific and inclusive education. Her research interests include accessible and valid assessment for students with disability, digital literacy, and understanding and supporting the learning of students with vision impairment using teacher expertise and evidence. She is currently working on an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant project exploring self-regulated learning and a project investigating braille learning development. 

Emily lectures on using data to inform teaching for students with disability, and supporting access to learning via technology. Her PhD study investigated the development and validation of measures for assessing and teaching digital literacy for students with disability. At the Statewide Vision Resource Centre, she teaches and provides professional learning, having previously served in curriculum coordination, specialist, itinerant, and classroom roles across a range of settings. 


Karen Kyriakou

Karen Kyriakou’s work as an educator, facilitator, violinist, author, and composer/arranger is underpinned by her passion for music’s unique capacity to unite and inspire. She works broadly in the area of music education, with students from kindergarten to tertiary level. Karen holds a Bachelor of Music Education and a Masters of Music Education. With over 25 years experience in the field, Karen is renowned for her ever-innovative approach to music education. She is in demand as a presenter and workshop facilitator with many of Australia’s leading arts organisations and delivers professional learning seminars to teachers of all levels of skill and experience. 

Karen is a long-time Artist in Residence in schools for children with additional needs. She was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2012 to further her studies in the area of Music and the Deaf. Karen has developed a ‘teaching toolbox’ for making music inclusive for students with disabilities, working with them to perform and create music. A staunch advocate of lifelong learning, Karen regularly presents at industry conferences, championing creative music making and inclusive music education. 


Clark Burt

Clark is currently the Digital Technologies teacher at a Victorian Specialist School, a school for students with mild intellectual disabilities. He is a former lecturer and tutor at The University of Melbourne, RMIT, and Federation University. Clark is also undertaking his PhD at the University of Melbourne in using computer-assisted instruction to teach vocabulary to students with mild intellectual disabilities.

Originally a computer programmer, Clark has been teaching in Secondary, Tertiary, and now Special schools since 2004. He has worked with the Victorian Department of Education and Training developing a catalogue of inclusive software technologies for teachers and the Digital Technologies curriculum for levels A – D.  He is a committee member of both Australian Association of Special Education (AASE) Victoria and Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria (DLTV). 


Liz Gosper

Liz has approximately 90 athletes with an intellectual disability in my coaching business. It started out as an extension of my previous role as a Fitness Teacher at a Victorian specialist school.

The goal was to increase fitness and skills to participate in triathlons and duathlons. Over time IST became involved in state and national sporting organisations competing in ID classification in swimming, xc running, road cycling, track cycling and track and field.

At least 30 have competed for Victoria and 12 for Australia Virtus teams.

Many others are learning the skills to be adept at swimming and cycling.

She employees many expert coaches who have special needs training backgrounds. Some of the older athletes are “buddies” for the younger ones.


Charlinda Parsons

Charlinda Parsons is a passionate OT who has worked in the area of paediatrics for the past 23 years.  She has worked within the areas of Early Intervention, Special Schooling, Private Practice and Community Health.   

Charlinda’s experience includes working with children with Autism, Cerebral palsy, developmental delay, and complex multiple diagnoses.   Charlinda works closely with mainstream and specialist school settings.  She strongly believes that best outcomes for children are achieved through collaboration and teamwork with teachers, parents, and other allied health practitioners.


Naomi James

Naomi is currently the STEP Coordinator for the Year 10 – 12 program at a Victorian Specialist School. She has previously taught Foundation VCAL at a Specialist School  to Year 11 and 12 students for 10 years.  

She has collaborated with colleagues to write a number of VCAL Foundation modules and has a good knowledge of delivering VCAL at the Foundation level to students with a mild intellectual disability.


Andy Ding

Our presenter, Hau Ong teaches art at Berendale School, a school for students with an intellectual disability. Having worked in both mainstream and specialist settings, Hau Ong has a wealth and breadth of experience in leading an art program in schools and teaching art to students with disabilities. He believes that all children and young people can enjoy and achieve their personal best in the arts through accessing a learning community, where their interests, skills and artistic voice can be nurtured. 

As the Secretary for Art Education Victoria, Hau Ong is dedicated to the networking and professional development of art educators. 



Prof Pamela Snow

Pamela Snow is Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the School of Education at the Bendigo campus of La Trobe University. She is a speech-language pathologist and registered psychologist and has taught a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate education and health professionals. Her research has been funded by nationally competitive schemes and concerns the role of language and literacy skills as academic and mental health protective factors in childhood and adolescence. 

She has conducted research on the needs of high-risk groups such as youth offenders, children and adolescents in the state care system and flexible education systems, as well as research advancing evidence in the language-to-literacy transition in the early years of school. With her colleague, Associate Professor Tanya Serry, Pamela established The Science of Language and Reading (SOLAR) Lab in the School of Education at La Trobe University in 2020.


Vicky Andrews

Vicky is a Speech Pathologist with over 30 years experience in the diagnosis and treatment of communication impairments in children from 12 months of age through to young adulthood.  She has extensive experience working with children and young adults who have communication disorders that have arisen from neurogenic, acquired or developmental causes including working with children with trauma background.  

Vicky has worked with the early intervention, community health, education settings: both mainstream and specialist as well as in private practice.  Vicky is also currently an Intermediary for the Dept of Justice and Community Safety and in that role assists those in the police and legal professions interact with communication impaired and vulnerable witnesses.  


Dr Siobhan Merlo

Dr Siobhan Merlo is a lecturer in the Learning Intervention team at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and is an experienced Psychologist and Learning Intervention Teacher who has been working in the field for over twenty years. 

She obtained her PhD from the University of New South Wales in the area of Cognitive Load Theory in 2005, and has worked extensively with students exhibiting specific and pervasive learning difficulties, social-emotional and behavioural difficulties. In her practice, she utilises a variety of evidence-based strategies including neuroscientific technology-based approaches to accelerate learning.



All registration fees are inclusive of GST and are shown in Australian Dollars.  All registrations include access to all sessions held on Thursday, 21st January. Online registration will remain open until Thursday 21 January 2021. All prices are quoted in Australian dollars and are inclusive of 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST).


       Member - $295


        Non Member - $345





Symposium Date
Thursday, 21 January 2021

Early Bird Registration Closes                        Friday, 30 October 2020

Cancellation Cut Off Date
Monday, 7 December 2020

Registration Closes
Friday, 18 December 2020


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