About us


Board Members

Katie Koullas
Founder
Chief Inspiration Officer

Katie believes in "being the change you want to see in the world – Ghandi" and decided there was a very strong need to change the current support for autistic girls (Aspergers). Katie has a strong background in Marketing, Event Management and Branding and currently teaches Event Management.

Katie is a busy mum to two children, with her daughter, Mia, inspiring the creation of Yellow Ladybugs, after her diagnosis of Aspergers.

John Koullas
Board Member
Technology & Web

John is passionate about supporting the Yellow Ladybugs as his daughter was recently diagnosed with Aspergers. John is keen to offer his IT talents to the team, and has generously spent many hours developing the Yellow Ladybugs website, which provides an easy and efficient way for our members to register their interest and RSVP for events.

John is a highly sought after software & web developer for some of Australia's leading companies, proud father of 2 and a Geelong Football Club tragic.

Natalie Galvin
Treasurer & secretary

Natalie has over 15 years' experience working as an IT professional in the banking and finance sector but recently changed focus in her career to allow her to be more flexible around the needs of her family. She is the Yellow Ladybugs Company Secretary and Treasurer and is responsible for taking care of all the important “behind the scenes” operational tasks.

She is a proud mother of two children on the Autism Spectrum and speaking from experience she believes that “boys on the Spectrum are generally more outwardly obvious with their symptoms whereas I believe that far too many girls fly under the radar as they become experts internalising or repressing their symptoms as a way of trying to fit in. I'm passionate about changing the gender bias and educating the community on the differences when it comes diagnosing girls on the Spectrum”.


Advisory Panel

Monique Blakemore
Autistic Females Rights Advisor

Monique Blakemore brings to the Yellow Ladybugs a wealth of knowledge, passion and experience, having long championed for the rights of autistic mothers and women. Recently she had the opportunity to address the UN in Geneva, the issues autistic women face. Monique recently returned from the UK having founded Autism Women Matter, an advocacy organisation which notably collaborated with the Cambridge University for the 'Autism and Motherhood' research project, the first of it's kind worldwide. Monique's accomplishments in the field of advocacy for autistic women's rights is extensive and inspirational, with highlights including her role as committee member for the UNICEF Global Taskforce on Leadership & mentoring For Children and Young Women With Disabilities, being on the management team of Autism Asperger Advocacy Australia, and having influence on the UK autism strategy Think Autism, which now recognises diagnostic challenges for women and girls in England..

Monique joins the Yellow Ladybugs advisory panel to ensure the rights of autistic girls and women are met in Australia.

Monique's focus has been on the diagnosis challenges and rights of autistic parents. Monique has:

  • Initiated and compiled a 2013 survey on autistic women that was submitted to Department of Health in their consultation process for the Autism Strategy Review
  • Been an expert consultant for the National Autistic Society professional training module 'Autism and Safeguarding'
  • Published an article as National Autistic Society 'Ask Autism Consultant' titled 'Implications of having more than one child with autism on families and professionals working with them'
  • Met with organisations including The Association of Directors Adult Social Services, charities and government throughout advocacy for inclusion in statutory guidance
  • Her survey work was recently published in a book on autistic women and girls.

Monique is a mentor for an autistic led advocacy group and holds positions within Autism Women Matter and Autism Asperger Advocacy Australia (A4) as well as UNICEF (UN Convention On The Rights Of The Child) Task Force on Leadership & Mentoring of Children and Young Women with Disabilities with the Global Partnership on Children with Disabilities (GPcwd).

Monique Blakemore Work Internationally

Monique Blakemore adopts a rights bearing approach to her advocacy work for women and girls that are autistic, have an autism spectrum condition. Alongside raising two children that are autistic Since November 2014 Monique has internationally advocated for women:

  • Facilitating representation of an autistic speaker for AWM at the Beijing 20+ Review Meeting held at the United Nations, Geneva with collaboration on speech preparation of AWM advocacy goals and achievements
  • Speaker at the World Human Rights Forum in Marakech, Morrocco and wrote the speech for an autistic colleague to present in the representation of AWM advocacy goals and achievements
  • Colloborated with international advocacy group on written submission and attended the High Level conference at United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) 'Rethinking Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality in 2015 and Beyond' at Paris, France
  • Attended the UNESCO Connecting the Dots: Options for Future Action conference on UNESCO's internet study on access, free expression, privacy and ethics. Orally contributed at the 'Freedom Of Expression' break out session and through collaboration with international advocacy colleagues two goals were met including disability friendly terminology adopted in regards to hate speech.
  • Her submission 'Autistic Women Access to Medicines' was orally presented at The Social Forum of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva at the event titled '“Access to medicines in the context of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, including best practices in this regard”.
  • Attended the General Day Of Discussion on the Rights To Inclusive Education, 13th Session, Committee on Rights of Persons With Disabilities and orally contributed to general discussion at the break out session 'The Right To Education of Women & Girls With Disabilities'
  • Nominated to the UNICEF (UN Convention On The Rights Of The Child) Task Force on Leadership & Mentoring of Children and Young Women with Disabilities with the Global Partnership on Children with Disabilities (GPcwd)
  • Author of Human Rights Violation's Against Parents That Are Autistic, Have an Autism Spectrum Condition' report for the United Kingdom Human Rights Committee
  • Wrote submission to Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities draft General Comment on Article 6 on women
  • Spoke at International Conference, Volunteerism for Social Transformation at United Nations, Geneva
  • Facilitated a meeting with autistic representatives from England, France and Scotland alongside researcher from Cambridge University with the Committee of the Convention of The Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) at the United Nations, Geneva
  • Presented on autistic women, their needs and rights violations at Casablanca, Morocco at the International Book Exhibition
  • Invited to Brussels, Belgium to participate at the European Union (EU) Pillars for Social Justice conference representating autistic perspectives.

Ambassadors

Penny Robinson
Ambassador

Penny, our newest Ambassador for our Yellow Ladybugs. Penny says, "I am really looking forward to joining the Yellow Ladybugs as an ambassador and advisor. I know what it is like growing up thinking no one thought the same as me, and I wish I had the opportunity to meet with other girls on the spectrum. It would have made school so much easier, knowing there was a group of girls that knew what I was going through." Penny belongs to the The I Can Network which encourages young people on the autism spectrum to support each other and think positively with the mantra: I CAN! Penny has a Master of Bio Statistics and lectures at Monash University. Penny also presented at the 2015 Asia-Pacific Autism Conference.

Students with autism worried about discrimination at university
Jeanette Purkis
Ambassador

Jeanette Purkis is a talented author, public speaker and passionate Autism advocate who has a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome. Jeanette is looking forward to joining the Yellow Ladybugs, to help young autistic girls connect in a safe and supportive environment. Watch Jeanette in action below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqdGb4TraFk
Elise Muller
Ambassador

Elise, who has Asperger Syndrome, is an amazing woman, and has recently been honoured at the 2015 Autism Sepctrum Australia awards. Elise was recently featured in the media, sharing some inspirational words "To all the young people on the spectrum I say to you - you are not aliens in this world but rather wholesome members of society. "You are intelligent and strong despite what people may say; and I challenge you to push past the times of hardship, embrace the gifts of the spectrum and be the best version of you."

For the full article, click here
Sian Wilson
Posthumous Ambassador

Sian is being inducted into our Yellow Ladybug community as a very special Posthumous Ambassador.

Sian was a loving, sweet young girl who was diagnosed with Autism at 4 years old. Tragically, Sian passed away from an asthma attack in May 2012, aged 5 and 1/2. Sian's mother reached out to the Yellow Ladybugs as she knew Sian would have wanted to help other little girls like her.

When Sian was in kindergarten, she was only invited to two parties. Sian's mum said that parents knew that she was different and may have thought she was too much work. It broke her family's heart. However, when Sian transitioned to primary school at St. Charles Borromeo in Templestowe, she was so excited to drive through the gate each morning, as the children there were truly accepting of her. She had a lovely teacher and two beautiful aids (the school called them 'Angels'), looking after her.

In Sian's memory, the school created a gorgeous mosaic rainbow and seat in front of the sandpit - her favorite place, and named it "Sian's Rainbow"". In turn, her family established 'The Sian Wilson Friendship Award' for two Grade 6 students each year, who have, throughout their years at school, shown the qualities of friendship and respect to all students and staff.

We take this moment to honor Sian's memory, and support her families vision to recognize the qualities of friendship and respect to all.


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