10 questions with… Rozanna Lilley


report-coverLater today, 18 February, The Hon Linda Burney MP will launch the world’s first report into autism in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The report reveals a lack of support and services, with many families feeling isolated and uncertain about their children’s futures. While autism is likely to be as common in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as other groups, the report reveals that there are fewer tailored services and support available to these families meaning that autism supports fail to be inclusive of the distinctive cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Among the report’s co-authors is Rozanna Lilley, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Educational Studies.  Rozanna’s memoir Do Oysters Get Bored? A Curious Life – where she reflects on family life with a child on the autism spectrum – was shortlisted for a National Biography Award in 2019.

1) In a nutshell, my job is
To conduct qualitative research on autism highlighting the lived experiences of autistic people and their families, especially those who are currently underrepresented in the literature, using my skills as an anthropologist and an author.

2) My definition of success is
Influencing policy to positively impact on the lives of autistic people and their families, and reframing perceptions of autism to highlight capacities and abilities.

3) A person at Macquarie that inspires me is
My Professor (and report co-author) Liz Pellicano, for her commitment to social justice research in the autism field, as well as to research practice that builds the capacity of autistic researchers.

4) This year I want to
Publish more of our research on autism in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, analyse a large set of interviews I have just completed with people all over Australia who donated biological materials to the Australian Autism Biobank, and work on a poetry manuscript.

5) As a kid, I was
Introverted and imaginative.

6) My guilty pleasure is
Reality TV and ice-cream (preferably together)

7) The most important thing Ive learned in the last five years is
To enjoy the process and have confidence in myself.

8) Im happiest when
I’m getting a nature fix.

9) If I had the day off today, you would find me
Spending time with my adult autistic son and retired husband.

12) To me, the best thing about the Macquarie community is…
The many different opportunities it’s offered me over the years, at various stages of my career. During the last 25 years I’ve completed a research fellowship in Hong Kong cinema (1995-1997), a lectureship in anthropology (1998), a second PhD in Early Childhood (2009-2014) and a research fellowship in autism (since 2018) – there’s a whole life story there!





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