We are thrilled to announce our newest location at the Tonsley Innovation District! Autism SA’s exciting new site is well underway and has ‘topped out’.  Thanks to the support of Renewal SA, the Tonsley Innovation Precinct, and Tonsley Collective that we will be opening a new Southern Hub early next year, located in the vibrant Tonsley precinct – a second state-of-the-art innovative space complementing the already well-established Northern Hub located at Elizabeth.

To celebrate the pinnacle of reaching the highest point of the building commencing, Autism SA held a ‘Topping Out Ceremony. Originally a Nordic custom, a Topping Out Ceremony is performed when a building project reaches its highest point. “In Autism SA’s context, it is a reason to come together to celebrate the building, the land upon which it is being built, its future purpose and the activities and outcomes that will occur within it,” shared Jenny Karavolos in her opening welcome to the small group gathered for the event.

The main focus of the morning’s event was the dedication and planting of a native plant – as a symbolic commitment to Autism SA’s dedication to inclusion and reconciliation. The young plant, a native Grevillea Lavandulacea, was chosen to symbolise social change, inclusion and acceptance of autistic individuals in our society as well as to symbolise the commitment to reconciliation, and the growing and strengthening relationships with Autism SA and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s.

Rosemary Wanganeen, the founding CEO of the Sacred Site Within Healing Centre attended the Topping Out Ceremony, sharing with those gathered a special Welcome to Kaurna Country, and actively participating in the planting of the Grevillea. Rosemary shared that she “likes to use her Welcome to Country to incorporate an educational component …” and that the event itself was “reconciliation in action.”

Autism SA’s newly appointed Chair, Richard Price, and Phil Dautel the Tonsley Precinct Director also attended the event, sharing inspiring and heartfelt words, and participating in the planting ceremony.

The construction of the Southern Hub is the pinnacle of a successful twelve months.  New directors, Chair Richard Price Treasurer Mark Morelli and Dianne Rogowski are very excited about Autism SA’s direction. Richard Price, the CEO of Defence SA and the South Australian Space Industry Centre (SASIC), has worked within the Defence and Public Safety sectors for over 25 years, bringing to Autism SA international experience in leadership, business development and engineering. Richard was voted in as the new Autism SA Chair at the last Annual General Meeting on 27 November 2019.

Mark Morelli is an Advisor and Director at Commercial & Advisory Partners and brings his experience as a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) across many sectors, both in Australia and overseas, to the organisation. Mark has also been Company Secretary and CFO of Territory Generation, the largest gas user in the Northern Territory, and Board Advisor to the Power & Water Corporation.

The most recent board appointment, who also attended the Ceremony at Tonsley, is Dianne Rogowski. Dianne has a long history of diverse senior leadership roles in banking, and past experience as the CEO of the City of Tea Tree Gully. Dianne brings not only her experience and leadership skills to the organisation, but also a strong sense of community through her lived experience.

Jenny Karavolos shares her delight to be working with the new additions to the Board of Directors “The appointment of this calibre of board members to the organisation shows that we are a progressive organisation, embracing the new environment and enables us to continue to be placed to be a strong advocacy voice for autism. Through our state-of-the-art spaces and innovative practices, we are forging the way forward for social change and inclusion for people on the autism spectrum in all walks of life. We welcome Richard, Mark and Dianne to the Autism SA family”.

The little Grevillea plant will be replanted into the roof top sensory garden of the wonderful new building when construction is complete towards the beginning of 2021, where it can be admired and enjoyed by those visiting the building for many years to come.

For media enquiries, please contact Cassie Davy, Marketing and Events Manager on 0437 366 902.