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

Professional Profile

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

Professional Profile

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

Professional Profile

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

Professional Profile

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

Professional Profile


For more information on this Round-Table, please contact us on 1300 664 587 or CEO@Professions.org.au.

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

Professional Profile

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

Professional Profile

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

Professional Profile

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

Professional Profile

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 CEO@Professions.org.au.

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 CEO@Professions.org.au. Download the NAIDOC 2021 Poster here to help celebrate NAIDOC Week!

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 OCP@Professions.org.au!

Plotting the Journey to Professionalism for English Teachers

ACoP was invited to present at the 2021 Annual Conference of the English Language Teachers organisation NEAS on the profession’s journey to trust and professionalism.

Trust in and regard for teachers as professionals is high but differs across countries and cultures. Teachers of non-English speaking background students are privileged to join doctors and scientists as the third-most-trusted profession. Titled “Teachers of Speakers of Languages other than English – a Journey to Trust and Professionalism“, the presentation will reflect on how the unique professional journeys of leaders, teachers, practitioners, professionals and students nurture, maintain and merit this privileged position with the speakers taking ACoP’s vantage point and remit of advancing Professions, Professionals and Professionalism.

From a perspective of transformation stimulated by intercultural exchange, ACoP’s Head of Professionalism Dr Ruth Ferraro will speak to her personal observations of her own journey towards trust and professionalism and the transformation that she pinpoints as her ‘brightest’ enlightenment through research on professionals and professionalism.

ACoP President A/Prof Klaus Veil will contribute his remarks from the viewpoint of an organisation celebrating its half-a-century anniversary by designating 2021 as the Year of the Professions. Professionals and Professionalism and tasked by its member associations to enhance community confidence in the Professions, Professionals and Professionalism and guide a transformation whose time has come towards science- and evidence-based policy-making.

Presentation details are at https://NEAS.org.au/conference-event/teachers-of-speakers-of-languages-other-than-english-a-journey-to-trust-and-professionalism/.


For access to the recording of the Presentation, please contact us on 1300 664 587 or at CEO@Professions.org.au.

Micro-Credential Round Table

The role of micro credentialing within the education ecosystem is increasing significant, yet there continues to be no commonly agreed standard within professional association accreditation practices. Many of our member organisations are grappling with the ways in which they might incorporate accredited micro credential programs into their current and future CPD/CPE offerings and how this might in turn attract advanced standing within the education ecosystem.

In order to promote dialogue around this important concept, ACoP is hosting a Round-Table for its Member Organisations on Thursday 29th April 2021 to hear from leaders discuss and debate:
How will Professional Associations address higher-education micro-credential offerings within their current accreditation standards?

The Round Table program is:

Opening, Introductions, Purpose and Rules of the Round-Table
Dr Ash Jones – Head of ACoP Education and Accreditation Portfolio
Professional Profile

Overview of CA-ANZ’s Professional Accounting Micro-Credentialing Journey
Lisa Thomas – General Manager Learning Initiatives, Chartered Accountants Australia NZ
Professional Profile

Professional Practice Credentials: An outcome-based Assessment Approach
Glenn Campbell – CEO, DeakinCo.
Professional Profile

Reverse-Engineering cross-sector Skills Transferability through Micro-Credentialing Initiatives
Dr Simon Eassom – Executive General Manager Education, CPA Australia
Professional Profile

RMIT Digital Credentials: a Case Study in Building Industry-Relevant Digital Certification for Future-Proofing the Professions
Dr Darien Rossiter – Principal Advisor to the DVC Education, RMIT
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Micro-Credentialing Capability in the ICT Industry
Louise Smith – Director Education & Workforce Development, ACS
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The Engineering Credential Journey to Date
Emmanuelle Wintergerst FIEAust CPEng – National Manager Credentials Development, Engineers Australia
Professional Profile

Open Discussion on the Topic

Next Steps and Close


For more information on this Round-Table, please contact us on 1300 664 587 or CEO@Professions.org.au.

ACoP joins Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration

The Australian federal Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs The Hon Alex Hawke MP has invited the Australian Council of Professions to serve on his Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration (MACSM).

The purpose of this Ministerial Advisory Council is to provide advice to the Minister on Australia’s temporary and permanent skilled migration programs and associated matters. MACSM is a tripartite body, comprising of industry, unions, State and Territory government representatives and any other members nominated by the Minister.

MACSM advises the Minister on:

  • policy settings to optimise the contribution of skilled migration to Australia’s economy, including in regional Australia, and in attracting the best and the brightest
  • the size and composition of Australia’s temporary and permanent skilled migration programs
  • skill shortages in the labour market which cannot be met from the domestic labour force and domestic training and education programs
  • opportunities to reduce regulatory burdens and costs on Australian businesses seeking to access visa programs to fill genuine skilled vacancies
  • policies to ensure that Australian workers are afforded priority in the labour market
  • the role of State and Territory governments in skilled and business migration
  • the adequacy of regulatory powers of the Department of Home Affairs to ensure integrity and detect and prevent practices which are inconsistent with the intent of the programs
  • strategies to ensure Australia’s migration programs contribute to Australia’s security, prosperity and economic recovery post COVID-19.

At the MACSM’s initial meeting, we found that ACoP was the only stakeholder representing the professions. We therefore were able to put forward views that we had collated from our member organisations and that would otherwise .


If you would like more information on our participation in MACSM, please contact us on 1300 664 587 or CEO@Professions.org.au.

ACoP delivers Invited Workshop on Ethics in Data Analytics

In its Year of the Professions, Professionals and Professionalism, the Australian Council of Professions was invited to deliver a Professionalism and Ethics Workshop at the Health Informatics and Knowledge Management Conference (HIKM 2021) within the 2021 Australasian Computer Science Week (ASCW).

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing upsurges and urgencies in collecting and analysing health data, the issue of managing and using this data in a professional and ethical manner arises. It is necessary to both comply with current privacy legislation and to maintain the public’s confidence and willingness to provide information. The Workshop explored these questions and posited suitable strategies that support these collection requirements while maintaining ethical and professional standards.

Key discussion points were:

  • New health data collection requirements due to COVID-19
  • New types of data collected due to COVID-19
  • New uses of the collected data
  • Issues posed by these new requirements, types and uses of health data
  • Overview of applicable existing legislation and regulations
  • Overview of applicable ethical and professional best practices

Hosted by the University of Otago, New Zealand, the Workshop was well-attended and the topical discussions were lively and very interactive. The Workshop presenters ACoP President Klaus Veil and ACoP Head of the Professionalism Portfolio Dr Ruth Ferraro outlined a number of practical ethical problem situations and answered the many questions from the audience.

Workshop details are at www.ACSW.org.au/events/2021-hikm-practical-ethical-and-professional-considerations-in-health-data-analytics-tutorial.

For access to the recording of the Workshop, please contact us on 1300 664 587 or at CEO@Professions.org.au.

2021 – Professions, Professionals and Professionalism

2020 saw unprecedented challenges for Australians and their institutions. Faced with an unknown virus pandemic, the public and governments trusted the Chief Medical/Health Officers as professionals providing science-based, ethical and responsible thought-leadership and advice to survive this threat to lives and livelihoods.

We are celebrating our 50-year anniversary by declaring 2021 as the “Year of the Professions, Professionals and Professionalism“.  We will use our anniversary to engage with the broader community and public to advocate for the purpose and value of the professions, professionals and professionalism.
With our member organisations we will plan, coordinate and convene events large and small throughout 2021 that will exemplify the value of the professions, their professionals and professionalism.  We will also be working with exemplars of various professions to champion the importance of individuals and governments following the evidence-based advice of professionals in difficult times which includes leveraging the profile that the Chief Medical/Health Officers have gained over the last 10 months in the public eye as trusted advisers and leaders in the pandemic.

Activities have included:

For more information on the Year of the Professions, Professionals and Professionalism, please contact us on 1300 664 587 or CEO@Professions.org.au!