Neurodiversity in the Professions

Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. Who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment?” wrote Harvey Blume in The Atlantic in 1998. Over 20 years later, have we progressed much in leveraging neurologically diverse talent to increase productivity and/or address skills shortages in the professions?

If you want to find out all about ‘neurodiversity’, please join us for a panel discussion on 21 September 2021.

Our expert panel will discuss with you:

  • What is “neurodiversity”?
  • The evidence, what does it tell us?
  • What are the barriers to neurodiversity?
  • How can neurodiverse individuals be the answer to talent scarcity and skills shortages in your profession?
  • Are some professions more predisposed to a neurologically diverse workforce?
  • What opportunities can your organisation leverage to increase productivity by engaging with neurologically diverse talent?

The expert panel will explore these issues with you though the lens of their personal experiences, outline insights from evidence-based data and discuss with you the practical aspects and best practices of recognising and leveraging diverse talent to increase productivity and/or address skills shortages in your profession.

The Panelists are:

Angelina Pillai – ACoP Head of Diversity, Culture and Inclusion

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Mark Solonsch – Head of Insights at Medibank, President of Believe:NeuroDiversity, former Board member of Aspergers Victoria

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David Smith – Autism and neurodiversity employment specialist and advocate, founder of Employ for Ability

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Dr Simon Bury – Postdoctoral research fellow, Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC)

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Dr Jennifer Spoor – Deputy director, MBA Program, La Trobe Business School

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For more information on this Round-Table, please contact us on 1300 664 587 or

Ethical Concerns on Artificial Intelligence

The game-changing promises of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to do things more efficiently, faster and at a lower cost have recently been tempered by concerns. Can these complex, opaque AI systems do more societal harm than economic good?

Artificial Intelligence systems that neglect humans as a core design principle have the potential to challenge ethical decision-making for professionals across all sectors.  We only need to look at the notorious Robodebt debacle, the discourse about Facebook, YouTube, Google, etc. algorithms serving and featuring unsubstantiated COVID-19 information and Queensland Health’s payroll failures in 2010 to become concerned.

Our expert Round-Table on 28 September will explore these aspects and how the ‘Professional in the Loop‘ can offer a safeguard.

Our experts are:

Dr Simon Eassom – ex CPA Australia and ACoP Director

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Prof. Kerryn Butler-Henderson – Director & Researcher Digital Health, RMIT

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Prof. Peter Leonard B.Ec.(Hons) LLM – NSW Govt AI Advisory Committee

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Philip Argy BCom LLB FACS FRI MAICD – Arbitrator, Mediator, Expert Determiner and Barrister

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Dr Julie Strous BVSc PDM GAICD – ACoP Vice-President and Professionalism & Ethics Portfolio Co-Chair

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Questions our experts will discuss with you at the Round Table include:

  • As a society, what should we tolerate in the face of advancing efficiencies and cost saving in business models?
  • How do machines impact human-human versus human-machine interactions in areas of professional advice?
  • Can we guard against error and who is responsible for error in machine-managed information (e.g. in legal decisions)?
  • How do we protect against unexpected consequences in areas such as medicine and law?
  • How do we guard against unplanned and unintended inbuilt bias?
  • What happens to all the people employed in the professional sector whose jobs become automated?

For more information on this Round-Table, please contact us on 1300 664 587 or

Less Blame Shifting – More Listening

In response to the increasingly concerning trend in public statements that appear to undermine the confidence in Australia’s leading vaccination and health advice, ACoP has publicly called for a reset in the current tone of debate.

In a Media Statement distributed widely last week, our Chief Professionalist Prof Deen Sanders OAM expressed concerns that the current tone of debate undermines public confidence in professional and expert advice which may have larger and long-term consequences for our nation’s capacity to respond to change and future crises.

Whether it’s a medical diagnosis, a legal opinion, a building design or advice about vaccine efficacy, professionals will always be driven by the needs of their patient or client and how their advice provides that person with the best benefit (or safety) for them.  Seeking balance between that and wholesale public policy is the domain expertise of government in a civil democratic system. We recognise the significance of that challenge.” said Deen.

The latest example of concern comes from statements surrounding vaccine efficacy and lockdown strategies. Australia’s expert-led response to the COVID-19 pandemic is something to be very proud of but it is important to recognise that on the particular topics of individual vaccines or differing lockdown strategies, expert advice is likely to differ as they consider a risk-based matrix of impacts at either an individual patient level or lockdown strategies at a regional level. The personal, social and/or economic impact of that advice should always be a matter for political leaders, acting on the full range of expertise relevant to their public policy needs. Right now, the needs of our shared community and families demand more of us as experts, as professionals and as civil leaders.

Professor Sanders further publicly encourages all Australians to trust the advice of their professional advisors. “Your experts have trained long and hard to provide you with the best advice for your circumstances. Listen also to the advice of your governments. When governments and professionals respect each other’s role, the community can be confident that we’re all in this together.

Read the full Media Statement here.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact the Office of the Chief Professionalist on 1300 664 587 or at!

NAIDOC Week 2021: How can Professionals help Heal Country?

Each July, NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The theme for 2021 is a call to ‘Heal Country, Heal our Nation!’ As the unifying alliance for Australian professions, ACoP calls on all professionals to acknowledge the significance of indigenous culture in our national heritage and consider how we can actively contribute to Healing Country.

Understanding the Relationship with Country

To understand the importance of Healing Country, we first need to acknowledge that Country is more than just a place for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Country is inseparable from personal, social and cultural identity, and is spoken about as a person or mother figure which is reflected in the spelling of Country with a capital ‘C’. The infusible connection to Country is deeply ingrained in the language and lore of our Indigenous Peoples.

Unfortunately, even in 2021, this relationship is still not widely understood by other Australians who do not consider land as mother, yet a keen observer can identify elements of our history to start to understand. For example, the landmark Mabo case of 1992 where the High Court of Australia refuted the claim of Australia as terra nullius, an uninhabited and therefore vacant land.

“Mabo and others v Queensland (1992) was one of the first cases I read in law school. It left a lasting imprint in my soul as an international student battling my own issues of identity and where I came from. While I wasn’t personally connected to the story behind the story, nor the experiences that drove the motivation and outcomes of Mabo, it had a powerful impact that still resonates with me on many levels nearly 30 years later.”

Angelina Pillai, ACoP’s Head of Diversity, Culture and Inclusion

The Mabo decision was a turning point for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. It confirmed their connection to the land on which they had lived and sustained their livelihoods for centuries before colonisation. It also marked a watershed for the actions of several professions including law, politics, history and education.

A further important step was the Apology that turned a new page in our history by acknowledging the wrongs of the past and envisaging a future that includes all Australians. It also imagined a future with new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

What does Healing Country mean?

NAIDOC Week’s call to ‘Heal Country, Heal our Nation’, means taking action to recognise, protect and maintain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage. It is also about fundamentally changing Australia’s relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to:

  • Embrace the values and culture of our First Nations peoples as integral to our national identity
  • Learn from the ancient wisdom our first peoples have evolved over many thousands of years
  • Resolve the historical injustices of the past that have disadvantaged generations

Healing country is NAIDOC’s invitation to all Australians to help repair the damages of historical events and to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to participate equally in all aspects of life.

How can Professionals play their part to Heal Country?

In ACoP’s 50th year we are focussed on the role of professions to drive evidence-based decisions, expertise and thought leadership to navigate the complex and wicked problems facing humankind – many problems of which we may have had a hand in creating.

“I would like to encourage our member organisations and their professionals to heighten their awareness and reflect on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and where appropriate use this knowledge to take action to Heal Country. With their expertise, integrity, ethics and trustworthiness, professionals are in a unique position to effect change.” 

ACoP President, Associate Professor Klaus Veil

This could start by stepping outside our western ‘patterned instincts’ – as Jeremy Lant describes in The Patterning Instinct – to learn about indigenous culture and values. It might continue with exploring indigenous knowledge to inform the ethics and practice of Australian professionals. For example, traditional land and bushfire management is increasingly being considered by agricultural professionals, landowners and governments.

Positive change will only come about when professionals show leadership through taking responsibility and accountability by considering all sources of knowledge to solve problems that have endured and permeated our economic, legal and social structures.

If you would like more information, please contact us on 1300 664 587 or Download the NAIDOC 2021 Poster here to help celebrate NAIDOC Week!

ACoP Responds to Proposed New TEQSA Fees and Charges

Our submission to the TEQSA ‘Fees and Charges Proposal Consultation Paper’ is based on aggregated responses from our Member Organisations regarding the impacts of cost recovery on their ability to continue delivering quality higher education. While we support the current regulatory environment that evaluates and recognises best practices in the higher education sector, concerns were raised that require further consultation.

The concept of cost recovery policies as pursued by the current Government and reflected in the TEQSA ‘Fees and Charges Proposal’ was not an issue taken up. Instead, ACoP advocates for proportionate cost recovery and, after a careful analysis of the Consultation Paper, found that the proposed fees and charges would present issues regarding both the quantum of charges and their timing.

Our submission argued against the proposed implementation in 2022, as it does not take into account the impacts of COVID-19. This timing might also have the unintended consequence of forcing providers to cease offering accredited courses, which provide high quality, niche education that currently ensures curriculum currency for graduates to be work- and professional-practice ready.

ACoP also argued strongly for a reconsideration of the January 2022 commencement date given that financially prudent organisations would have already set and formally approved their budgets.

ACoP’s submission also noted that many of our Member Organisations are not-for-profits and accreditors already subject to regulation by multiple agencies and jurisdictions, resulting in duplication (at least) of compliance activity. We therefore asked for consideration of a model of cost recovery that reflects their unique, special and valued activities.

ACoP, on behalf of its Member Organisations, asked for further consultation to consider the best commencement date of the proposed changes and a fees introduction on an incremental scale over a 5-year period.

Our submission received broad and strong endorsement from our Member Organisations and the ACoP Education and Accreditation Committee.

Read ACoP’s Submission to TEQSA here.

International Consultant’s Day: Thursday 3rd June 2021

Many of our Member Organisations have special events where they promote their profession to the public. ACoP is delighted to join our Member Organisation Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) in celebrating International Consultants Day 2021.

International Consultant’s Day is celebrated on the first Thursday of June each year – in 2021 this is Thursday, June 03. It is a time for us to celebrate!
We are a global profession, some 60,000 strong, with over 8,000 of us accredited as Certified Management Consultants – THE global standard in management consulting that shows our dedication to consulting as a profession.
With 50 Institutes covering over 60 countries, and our Global Institute ICMCI providing virtual services everywhere else in the world, this is truly a global profession.
With our Common Body of Knowledge, and our Code of Conduct and Ethics, we have reciprocity of our CMC certification everywhere in the world. That alone is something to celebrate.
In addition, we have breakthrough programs, such as our Global Directory for CMCs, the global rollout of ISO 20700:2017, and a range of professional development programs for management consultants at all levels of experience together with collaboration programs that link all of our Institutes to each other, these are the hallmarks of a thriving profession.
“ICMCI and its member Institutes are the leaders in the development of management consulting as a profession that drives social and economic success – congratulations! And let’s take a moment to celebrate our profession and the work that we do.” – Dwight Mihalicz FCMC, Chair ICMCI

International Council of Management Consulting Institutes

IMC National President and Board Chair Steve Turner MIMC CMC agrees. “IMC Australia, a founding member of the ICMCI, is recognised as the professional institute representing the profession and all management consultants in Australia. Our mission is to promote excellence and standards in the management consulting profession and to improve the knowledge and skill of management consultants.

Empowering Diversity through Consultancy

The Australian Council of Professions (ACoP) supports broad-based diversity and inclusion as one of its key policy and advocacy areas and is delighted that one of our member organisations, the Institute of Management Consultants, is leading the charge with a Women in Consulting webinar.

As the unifying alliance of Professional Associations, we raise the awareness of these issues across our professional members whilst highlighting ways in which diversity, culture and inclusion strategies are being addressed across professions and workplaces.

2021 marks ACoP’s 50th anniversary and our “Year of the Professions, Professionals and Professionalism“. The issue of gender parity has never been more important and the role that professionals play in enabling change is incredibly critical. So, in conjunction with International Consultants Day on Thursday, 3 June, ACoP is pleased to support the Institute of Management Consultants’ upcoming ‘Women in Consulting’ Webinar which aims to discuss the career journeys of a number of management consultants, exploring how they have navigated their way through their career and learning from their experiences.

L to R: Deborah Archbold, Dianne Semmens, Dr Monique Beedles & Catherine Lee

“ACoP’s broad-based diversity policy and advocacy area focuses on meaningful and actionable outcomes. Acknowledging professional women leading the way in their chosen field and celebrating their vital contribution in the professions and professionalism signals our commitment to engendering women’s issues across our communities and workplaces.” says ACoP Head of Diversity, Culture and Inclusion Angelina Pillai. 

IMC’s Executive Officer Christine Cox agrees. “International Consultants Day is a wonderful opportunity for our profession to celebrate our achievements and successes and we are delighted to be showcasing the experience of four of our women members to highlight the contributions that management consultants make to social and economic success.”

More than a Word – Reconciliation takes Action

The Australian Council of Professions supports the reconciliation process with First Nations Peoples and in National Reconciliation Week 2021 calls on its member organisations and their professionals to be exemplars of truth-telling, accountability and responsibility. 

ACOP supports National Reconciliation Week 2021

In its 50th year as the unifying alliance of Professional Associations and celebrating 2021 as the “Year of the Professions, Professionals and Professionalism“, ACoP believes professionals have a core role in taking impactful action to progress the reconciliation journey with and for all Australians. ACoP is committed to supporting Reconciliation Australia’s 20-point Action Plan for Reconciliation in 2021 and will consider the recommended actions in all its decision-making processes.

ACoP Head of Diversity, Culture and Inclusion, Angelina Pillai, says, “ACoP’s broad-based diversity policy and advocacy area focuses on enabling tangible outcomes. As professionals, we often know what the issues and problems are in our communities or workplaces, but perhaps lack the confidence, knowledge or the tools to be able to take concrete action. Reconciliation Australia’s 20-point action plan provides simple yet meaningful guidance in which professionals can be respectful advocates of change.  From making reconciliation part of your workplace culture or consciously calling out racism, there are multiple ways in which each and every one of us can play an important and powerful part in fostering cultural inclusion now and into the future.”

This Reconciliation is a prerequisite to ethically and responsibly exploring all sources of knowledge – including the ancient wisdom of indigenous Australians – to solve current day problems. In doing this, professionals can show leadership in the process of reconciliation.

ACoP President Klaus Veil adds “The principles underpinning a just and equitable Australia that reaches its best potential and those of a professional giving best advice have similar roots. The work on our ‘Integrated Continuous Learning Strategy for a Fair and Prosperous Australia‘ that we started in November 2019 and our Professionalism and Ethics advocacy both resonate well with the 20-point Action Plan.”

If you would like more information, please contact us on 1300 664 587 or

Chief Professionalist Round Table

The last 12 months have seen unprecedented challenges for Australia and a driving question has been “Who can we trust?“.  Many professionals have stepped-up to that challenge and shown that science-based, deeply considered expert guidance helps us successfully navigate the threats to our lives and livelihoods.  Our Chief Professionalist Round-Table will start a nuanced conversation about halting the trust-erosion and redefining the authority and value of professional advice.

Prof Deen Sanders OAM

Following repeated requests to elevate professions by seeking to influence the policy and decision making environment in Australia, our Board in mid-2020 commenced planning the “Year of the Professions, Professionals and Professionalism” initiative, which seeks to champion the importance of individuals and governments following the evidence-based advice of professionals in difficult times.  One path to achieving this in a technologically advanced, sophisticated and humane society is to always demonstrate trustworthiness by decision- and policy-making based on science, evidence and ethics.  Professionals who display the highest levels of professionalism supported by their professional associations will ultimately allow our society to honour that trust.

We have now further stepped-up to this challenge with the creation of innovative role of the Chief Professionalist. Our Chief Professionalist Round-Table on 13 May 2021 will enable our members and guests to discuss these challenges with our inaugural ACoP Chief Professionalist Prof Deen Sanders OAM and the experts in our newly-created Office of the Chief Professionalist:

  • Tanya Stephens BVSc MSc (IAWEL) MANZCVS FRCVS – Expert in ethics research, etc.
  • Philip N Argy BCom LLB FACS FRI – Barrister and Expert jn business cases for professionalism and ethics, etc.
  • Angelina Pillai BA (International Politics) Grad Cert (Harvard) FAIM – ACoP Head of Diversity, Culture and Inclusion

The Round-Table will be facilitated by our Head of Professionalism and Ethics Dr Ruth Ferraro PhD Fellow ARPI GAICD.

Our Round-Table breaks new ground through conversations that explore which aspirations and possibilities for halting the trust-erosion and redefining the authority and value of professional advice Deen and the Experts can assist with .” said ACoP President A/Prof Klaus Veil. “We are keen to hear from our Member Organisations the challenges and maybe even ‘pain-points’ that their profession and its professionals have experienced during and coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

For more information on the Chief Professionalist Round-Table, please contact the Office of the Chief Professionalist on 1300 664 587 or at!