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About the Conference

The Mental Health & Safety Conference is a three day online conference featuring autistic girls & women, gender diverse individuals and allies. Presenters will share stories, insights and information on a range of topics related to safety and co-occurring mental health conditions.
There is an option for attendees to attend the last day in Melbourne, otherwise attendees can continue to watch the livestream online.
This conference is sponsored by the Department of Education and Training Victoria.
The overall aim of the conference is to provide a platform for autistic individuals who can share practical strategies which will support improved mental health, wellbeing and positive autistic identity for autistic girls and gender diverse individuals throughout their schooling years and beyond. The following themes will be discussed:

  • Identifying key mental health risks of autistic girls at school
  • Intersectionality between mental health and gender and sexuality
  • Supporting neurodivergent parents
  • Cyber-safety (including latest technology such as Discord and Tik Tok) covering: the specific risks for autistic girls, an approach for school wellbeing teams and parents to work together to minimise risk, and develop intervention strategies.
  • A peer-to-peer tween/teen session, with autistic teens and young people presenting: covering how to navigate the common challenges autistic girls face at school, including mental health, and also on building a positive autistic identity.

This is an autistic-led conference – with the majority of the speakers being neurodivergent/autistic. Importantly, it will also be focused on increasing the confidence of autistic girls and gender diverse individuals at school especially in self advocacy, safety and good mental health.

What to Expect: Conference Details

This dynamic three day conference will feature a hybrid mix of live-streamed and pre-recorded presentations you can watch in the comfort of your own home. You will gain exclusive access to the virtual foyer, to explore the conference room, chill room and meet the community in the supervised chat room.
What to expect:

  • 10 robust panel discussions featuring a diverse range of autistic girls, women and gender diverse individuals
  • Over 10 individual presentations which will captivate, challenge and inspire
  • All day live discussions and take-home resources
  • Information from our supporters and partners.
  • An option to attend Day 3 in person in Melbourne (Moonee Valley Racecourse)

Once you register, we will arrange your own personal login details, so you can access the conference from your computer, phone or tablet.
You will enter a virtual foyer (just like entering a real conference) and you will be guided to begin watching the scheduled sessions. You will have an opportunity to explore the virtual conference, chill out space, and even enter our chat session to connect and interact with other attendees. Each session will be supervised by a Yellow Ladybugs team member.

For those who purchase the Face to Face/Online Combo ticket, you will be sent further details by email regarding the venue and logistics for attending Day 3 in person in Melbourne.

Online video content will be available for viewing for 30 days after the Conference.

Buy Tickets

Online Ticket : $10
15th- 17th June 2021 : This ticket will give you access to all three days of our virtual conference (including the live streaming on Day 3).

Face to Face / Online Combo Ticket: $65
This ticket will give you access to the face to face portion of the event – to be held on Day 3 (17th June) at Moonee Valley Racecourse in Melbourne. Small takeaway lunch is included in this price. This ticket also gives you full access to all three days of the virtual conference as well.


9 AM

Welcome and Introduction: A quick look at the current issues with mental health, masking/internalised experience for our community

Katie Koullas (She/Her)
9:30 AM

Can we do anything to protect mental health? An excellent panel with professional and lived experience sharing strategies, tips and ideas to protect the mental health of autistic girls at school

Ebony Birch-Hanger (She/Her)
Dani Boucher (She/Her)
Frances Brennan (She/Her)
Mandar Nelson (She/Her)
10:30 AM

Understanding and supporting meltdowns and shutdowns – A trauma informed and respectful autistic led conversation about strategies which may help understand, prevent and support meltdowns/shutdowns at school and home.

Allison Davies (She/Her)
Amanda Buckland (She/Her)
Dannielle Wilson (She/Her)
11:30 AM

Sensory Break

12:00 PM

How can we better understand and support complex behaviour? Why discipline and detention doesn’t work for “challenging behaviours” at school or at home. We are going to challenge your thoughts and flip the lid on this topic the show how connection (over correction) better supports everyone.

Dr Alberto Veloso (He/Him)
1:00 PM


1:30 PM

Supporting neurodivergent parents – A long overdue and much needed discussion on how we can better support and understand autistic and neurodivergent parents- especially when there are competing and sometimes conflicting needs in the family.

Allison Davies (She/Her)
Dannielle Wilson (She/Her)
Mandar Nelson (She/Her)
2:30 PM

Autistic mother and daughter chat – An intimate discussion and look into the world of autistic mothers and daughters – and how important it is to work together to support each other's mental health and to prioritise self care.

Summer Farrelly (She/Her)
Cynthia Farrelly (She/Her)
Mel Spencer (She/Her)
Lana Wheatfill (She/Her)
9 AM


9:30 AM

Hannah Gadsby: Join us for a candid and entertaining conversation with comedian Hannah Gadsby, on what it was like growing up without an autism diagnosis and the impact this had on her mental health and safety. Joining Hannah, will be Yellow Ladybugs ambassador and fellow autist (and comedian) Hannah Arbuthnott, who will compare their experience growing up at a time and place where he received earlier acceptance and support, and the different - or similar? - journeys they have encountered along the way.

10:30 AM

Intersection between mental health, gender and sexuality. This discussion will highlight the importance of self acceptance, positive autistic, gender and sexual identity and the link to wellbeing and good mental health.

Clem Bastow (She/They)
Shadia Hancock (They/Them)
Hannah Arbuthnott (They/He)
Dr. Wenn Lawson (He/Him)
11:30 AM

Sensory Break

12:00 PM

Complex mental health issues– A discussion with autistic individuals with lived experience of co-occurring complex mental health issues and strategies and tips to support you or your loved one.

Ginny Grant (She/Her)
Chloe Hayden (She/Her)
Amelia Berthold (She/Her)

Content Warning: This session will be covering complex mental health issues that may be triggering for some individuals

1:00 PM


1:30 PM

What to do when facing a mental health crisis: Advice and support from autistic individuals with lived and professional experience including topics such as suicidal ideation/ self harm, safety plans for school and home.

Amanda Buckland - Autistic Pride Mumma (She/Her)
Gilly Mckeown (She/Her)
Dani Boucher (She/Her)

Content Warning: This session will be covering complex mental health issues that may be triggering for some individuals

2:30 PM

Navigating technology and socials safely An autistic led conversation on the specific risks for autistic girls, tips for schools and parents (and teens/tweens) to work together to minimise risk.

Jess Rowlings (She/Her)
Chloe Hayden (She/Her)
Madeleine Ryan (She/Her)
3:30 PM

Sensory Break

5:00 PM

Teen Talk – A teen/tween friendly conversation with well known young autistic advocates talking about how they have worked towards building a positive identity, and providing tips for our tweens and teens.

Summer Farrelly (She/Her)
Chloe Hayden (She/Her)
Shadia Hancock (They/Them)
9:45 AM

Welcome & Introduction: Today is all about hearing direct from the source – an all autistic line-up, with stories covering a range of topics including mental health, safety, and strategies to help our current and future generations of autistic girls, women and gender diverse individuals – not to be missed. Includes Welcome to Country (details tbc)

Katie Koullas (She/Her)

9:55 AM

Dannielle Wilson (She/Her) - Neurodivergent Culture

The missing link in education. Danielle will also share her thoughts on ‘How to keep your own head above water while your dependents are drowning too’.

10:20 AM

Ebony Birch-Hanger (She/Her) – Supporting Mental Health - Resilience or survival: emerging from episodes of depression and anxiety

Resilience or survival: emerging from episodes of depression and anxiety
Do Autistic individuals really have the ability to ‘bounce back’ or adapt in the face of adversity? Can we learn to be resilient, or will we only ever just survive? Hear about the importance of acceptance, knowing who you are and developing internal happiness.

11:00 AM

Sensory Break

11:15 AM

Amanda Buckland (She/Her) - Autistic Burnount

A powerful and enlightening talk for high masking autistic or neuro-questioning parents who support their neurodivergent family.

11:40 AM

Jessie Aiton (She/Her) - The story of the Lost Girl

The little girl with big dreams, who contorted herself to fit everyone else. This story focuses on the Littlest Lost Girl, the one who resides inside, deep down, under the rubble. Over time, Jessie, the big Lost Girl, has used her autism diagnosis to sift through the rubble and excavate the little girl who was, in fact, there the whole time. This story focuses on identity and clicking back into place after a life time of searching for a sense of self.

12:05 PM

Mandar Nelson (She/Her) – We are Golden

A special session all about developing your autistic pride – Mandar says “Being a third generation autistic & adhd dyad, and charged with raising two members of the next generation, I have to be even louder & prouder of it. How can expect them to be proud of who they are, if I’m not? The existing medical model considers autism as a pervasive neurological disorder - a broken version of normal - but we are NOT normal. We are not beige. We are golden. We think, act, and feel in different ways, and if Autistic people are not just *allowed* to be our authentic selves, but actively encouraged to be, then the strengths we have can shine through. And I want our children to shine bright, so that THEIR story gets written differently to mine.”

12:30 PM


1:15 PM

Wenn (Mum) & Daughter Chat: A candid, engaging and memorable conversation between the highly respected and known Dr Wenn Lawson and daughter Katy Reid on their mental health journeys, autistic identity and advice they have for neurodivergent families – this is a first for them and not to be missed.

Dr. Wenn Lawson (He/Him)

Katy Reid (She/Her)

2:00 PM


Frequently Asked Questions


15th June at 9.00am (AEST). The conference will go for three days, and end on 17th June 2021.
Good question. It is actually a mixture of both. We wanted to make this conference available to as many people as possible, so all three days will be available online. There is also an option to attend the third day face to face in Melbourne (COVID restrictions dependant), but an additional ticket will need to be purchased. Don’t worry, this face to face event will be live streamed, for our online viewers as well.
We need to pay for the venue, and also passing on the cost of the take away lunch each person will receive.
Please contact us at info@yellowladybugs.com.au and we can arrange support.
You do not need a Zoom account to attend the conference. Click on the links provided to you once you have registered to access the program you would like to attend.
Content will be available for those who have registered for up to one month after the conference (i.e available to watch on demand until the 15th July 2021). But the interactive portion (i.e the chat portion/Q&A will not be available).
You will need an email address, access to the internet and a device - e.g. smart phone, tablet or computer.
Your conference login will be the email address you used when purchasing your ticket on Eventbrite. We will use that email address to send you a confirmation email with your login details. It is important to note that emails are used to create the conference login and therefore need to be unique for each registration.
Most panel / presentations will be pre recorded, and therefore questions will not be able to be answered directly. However, this platform provides a chat function while watching the presentations, and we will try and have as many speakers available on the day to answer questions in the chat platform. A Yellow Ladybugs member will be there to moderate, and answer any questions in the chat platform as well.
Yes, you will be able to access this event worldwide. Please note the schedule is in AEST.
The conversations will be centred around quite triggering content, including Eating disorders, self harm, suicidal ideation etc. We suggest having a good support network available, should any of the content trigger you. You can also reach out to a number of online and telephone support systems including Lifeline on 13 11 14 or for a more comprehensive list of services click here:
As an autistic led organisation, we pledge to amplify autistic voices, and believe this is paramount in furthering our understanding of mental health and the intersection with autistic lived experience.
Yes. And your $10 booking fee is going directly toward the payment of all our speakers. We are grateful to be in a position to subsidise this fee with sponsorship and want to ensure our autistic speakers are paid, valued and respected for their time and contribution.
However, after the live viewings are complete, each video will be available for available to view ‘on demand’ for 30 days.
Yes, whilst this conference recognises that most autistic girls are likely to be attending school in a traditional mainstream school setting, we believe that the focus on mental health and safety is relevant for all autistic young people, across all types of schooling/education environments. Our autistic speakers come from a diverse range of schooling experiences, including those who were home-schooled or participated in distance education. Although many of the strategies discussed during the conference will focus specifically on supporting autistic girls who are attending school in a traditional sense, these strategies are also transferable to everyday life, and can be adapted to the particular needs of individuals.
Yellow Ladybugs has a particular focus on supporting autistic girls, women and gender diverse autistic individuals. We know that due to prevailing stereotypes and the gender bias in the current diagnostic tools, autistic girls and women are often missed. This is particularly the case for the many autistic girls and women (along with many gender diverse autistic individuals and some autistic cis-males) who have a more ‘internalised’ autistic presentation and whose needs are often hidden due to their ability to mask.
Whilst the theme of this conference comes under the umbrella of supporting autistic girls at school, we know that the content of the presentations will be relevant to autistic individuals of all genders including cis-female, cis-male, trans and non-binary, transfeminine, transmasculine, genderqueer, and other marginalised genders . Our speakers have a diverse range of gender identities, and we would encourage all our attendees to draw fully on this wide spectrum of experiences.