Autism researcher a finalist for WA’s Australian of the Year

A Telethon Kids Institute autism researcher who has transformed clinical support for children on the spectrum is among four nominees for Western Australia’s 2023 Australian of the Year.

Professor Andrew Whitehouse (Angela Wright Bennett Professor of Autism Research at Telethon Kids and UWA, and Director of CliniKids) led the development of the first Australian guidelines for the diagnosis and, more recently, the support of autistic children.

These landmark documents have created major policy reforms and higher standards of clinical support for the nearly 2% of the Australian population who have an autism diagnosis, and Professor Whitehouse is one of 16 Western Australians – four in each category – named today as nominees for WA’s Local Hero, Young Australian, Senior Australian or Australian of the Year.

“Thanks to Andrew’s commitment and transformative work, Australians living with autism can now receive better, safe and effective therapies,” the National Australia Day Council program said.

The four category winners from WA will be announced at a special ceremony on Monday, 14 November. They will then join the other state and territory recipients as finalists for the national awards announcement in January 2023.

Professor Whitehouse also led an international research program that has transformed thinking around how and when autism supports can be delivered, discovering the first evidence that a parent-led therapy applied very early in life could significantly reduce the disability experienced by babies displaying the early signs of autism.

The results have prompted a worldwide move towards providing therapies several years earlier than previous clinical practice – ensuring that children on the autism spectrum and their families receive optimal support at the earliest opportunity.

Professor Whitehouse’s 60 Second Science autism research video series has had more than two million views, and he has written more than 70 articles for The Conversation in a bid to improve scientific knowledge about child development and transform community perceptions about autism.

His work has been recognised via multiple awards, including a 2017 Eureka Prize, and in 2021 he was named the youngest-ever Fellow of the prestigious Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards visit