Is the I CAN Network a therapeutic service?

The I CAN Network defines mentoring as a professionally trained mentor (including Autistic mentors) walking with a young person on the Autism Spectrum and having positive conversations themed on optimism, self-acceptance and Autistic pride, social connections and self-confidence. We do not provide therapy, counselling, mental health first aid, support worker services or respite to individuals or families. 

Is the I CAN Network able to come and speak at my school or workplace?

We have grown our movement through storytelling. Since Chris Varney’s and Tim Chan’s respective TEDx presentations in late 2013 (more than 450k combined views to date) the community have overwhelmingly wanted to hear more positive ‘I CAN’ stories of Autistics. We responded to this need by creating a Speakers & Professional Development Agency that today comprises 19 diverse speakers on the Autism Spectrum, parents, teachers and health professionals who together have delivered presentations for-fee in communities, schools, universities/TAFEs, conferences and government meetings.

In our Motivational and Educational presentations, our speakers draw on their lived experience of growing up on the spectrum and take the audience through their journey of “I Can’t to I CAN” and how our society can benefit from a rethink on Autism. These presentations are often delivered to year level assemblies, teacher and educational support staff meetings and to the wider community.

Our Professional Development workshops now offer the community our ‘Quiet Magic Method®’. This method explores ‘flexible communication structures’ with learners on the spectrum. Quiet Magic works to give teachers a thinking framework for how they, and their school, can achieve great results from embracing a student’s Autism. You can request an I CAN Network speaker (including CEO Chris Varney) here.

What do you offer in a workplace?

Our current workplace services can include small group mentoring, content design for internal communication channels, management and staff training focused on how to leverage and effectively work with Autistic employees.

Similarly if your workplace engages or provides service for autistic individuals we are able to conduct sensory audits, inclusive practices and activities, review external communications, develop and design social scripts or stories and provide workplace professional development.

Our workplace services are often tailored to each workplace where we co-design what the final product will look like based on numerous factors that will be discussed during the initial consultancy phase.

Are you registered as an NDIS provider?

We are currently in the process of becoming NDIS registered in which participants may be eligible to use their funding for our camp and mentoring services. At the moment, we can process NDIS funding (or equivalent) if your plan is self managed or if you utilise a financial intermediary service, however we can not process NDIA managed plans until we have completed the NDIS registration.

Please note that if you were successful in receiving NDIS funds that are specifically designed to be spent on I CAN services, the same intake and registration process must be followed. Priority will not be given due to specific funds being allocated. Furthermore, you will be required to enter into a service agreement prior to engaging with I CAN Network activities that are NDIS funded.

What services do you offer children who are not yet of school age?

At the moment, we only offer services for primary and secondary school aged individuals through our mentoring; we also concurrently offer our I CAN Camps for secondary school aged participants (and periodically hold camps for young adults aged 16-20). While we would love to be able to cater for children under primary school age and individuals who are beyond the secondary school/young adults age group, we currently do not have the resources to expand the age groups we support. We hope that we are able to expand our services in the future.

How do I find out if a school has an I CAN program?

Currently the easiest way to enquire whether a school has taken on an I CAN program is to directly enquire with the school you are looking at enrolling or transitioning to. Each year we go through a series of onboarding and renewing, which means that our list is not always finalised before those crucial transition phases. We also must respect that we do not always have permission to advertise the specific schools that are participating in our program.

I’d like to enrol my child at an I CAN school. How can I do that?

We now run I CAN Network mentoring programs in schools in two different states, Victoria and Queensland. The I CAN program is separate from a child’s school enrolment. Enrolling your child in an I CAN school does not automatically guarantee that they will be placed into the I CAN program; this decision is exclusively up to the school, and we have no power over the decision. We encourage you to discuss this with your school principal during the enrolment process. We can provide you with the necessary brochures and information that may encourage your child’s current or future school to consider taking on one of our I CAN programs. For additional information, please contact us at [email protected].

How can I help bring an I CAN program to my child’s school?

As our mentoring programs are for fee, it is vital that the school be an integral part of the process. Our partner schools are responsible for covering the financial cost alongside other non-negotiable aspects that are pertinent to running a mentoring program within a school. If you would like to encourage a school to adopt our program, we would be more than happy to provide you with a brochure that can be passed on. After a school makes contact with us, we will facilitate a co-design meeting if they are keen to proceed to ensure that the program suits the identified students needs. At times, we do encounter schools that may want to adopt the program but due to financial reasons are unable to do so at this time. Our experience has shown that through mechanisms such as school fundraising, private donations or through local organisation support, a program may be supported by different financial means if the school cannot absorb the full cost on its own. If you have further questions, please contact us at [email protected].

Do you currently offer individual mentoring?

In 2019, our focus remains with face-to-face group mentoring in schools and the community, online group mentoring and we are currently exploring further online programs that will enable us to support even more Autistic young people. We are committed to our partnership with Different Journeys in Eastern Melbourne and will continue to provide our mentors to attend their social groups that are held monthly. Currently, it is not feasible to expand beyond these current services and offer individual mentoring on a large scale, as we do not have the organisational capacity.

What is the I CAN Online Mentoring and who can be involved?

Since Term 4 of 2017, we have been offering online group mentoring for Autistic young people in Australia who are preparing for or navigating their early years of high school. These groups meet weekly via a private online video conferencing space in groups of 7-9 students for a period of 6-8 weeks. Each group is led by a pair of seasoned of Autistic mentors, and they guide the participants in exploring common issues such as navigating friendships, managing anxiety and building resilience. These important topics are blended with activities that leverage each participant’s passions and interest. As with all I CAN programs, our online mentoring offers a place where Autistic participants can feel safe, accepted and understood. We hope to grow this program over time to provide opportunities for other age groups.

To date, our focus has been on students in the Years 6 & 7 cohort (finishing primary school/starting high school). However, over the course of 2019, we will be launching programs that cater to a wider age range, from Upper Primary through School Leavers (post-Year 12).

Starting in late February, we will also be running a series of Autistic-led interest groups around specific areas of shared passion (e.g. AFL, Star Wars, Harry Potter, cats).

We typically announce new programs in our I CAN newsletter and on our I CAN Network Facebook page about 3-4 weeks before the start of each new cycle. For further information, please contact us at [email protected].

What is the process for accessing an I CAN camp?

In 2019, we will be holding three camps for young people aged between 12- 15 years old who are in Years/Grades 7-9 (or equivalent). Participants will be able to register their expression on interest via the I CAN website when the form opens up. The exact camp dates and expression of interest form will be advertised via our newsletter and through social media. All participants who fall within the age and grade range can be considered for camp, even if they don’t live locally. Interstate participants are responsible for their own transport and associated costs if offered a spot on camp.

Because we care for the participants’ physical and emotional wellbeing at the camps, the intake process is quite rigorous. Below is a summary of the onboarding process, as this is an arena where we get many questions.

Once the expression of interest forms have been opened, parents/guardians will be asked a series of questions via Google Forms about the potential camp participant. Please be patient with our team and queries about the camp. It is a 8 week process for each camp as our team need to conduct intake calls with those that have expressed interest.. Intake calls can take between 30-60 minutes and for each camp we could be doing up to 60 calls across the afternoon and evening. Please be assured that if you miss a call from our camp staff, they will reach out to you again. All call attempts are tracked in a database to ensure that no prospective participant gets overlooked.

Once an intake call has been completed and you have been notified that your young person has received a place, you will be issued with forms and further information. These might arrive a few weeks after your intake call has taken place, so please exercise patience. Payments and forms need to be received before any person may participate on camp. Our cancellation and refund policy will be made available on the webpage when the expression of interest opens. For additional information, please contact us at [email protected].

How can I get a job with the I CAN Network?

Please refer to our current opportunities page, which is kept up to date with volunteer and paid positions available in I CAN. The role descriptions will outline the process you need to follow to apply for an available position.

Alternatively, if you love what we do and you’re interested in becoming an Ambassador for I CAN (promoting our programs to a wider audience at events, etc.), please contact us at [email protected].

Do you offer internships or work experience program?

Whilst we do recognise the uttermost importance of internships and work experience programs which provide a intense exposure to workplace and further employment opportunities, currently we are not in the position to provide these opportunities due to the remoteness and size of our current team. We will update if this changes in the future.

I need assistance with my assignment or research project, can you help?

We receive a high volume of requests to assist with research and assignments. While we value the contribution that research brings to the community, we currently do not have the required resources to assist in the recruitment of participants or provide information needed for an assignment.

I have a media enquiry or I’d like to share my story with the I CAN Network. Who can I contact?

If you’re a journalist or representative from the media, or if you have a blog, podcast etc. and you’d like to feature the I CAN Network or ask us some questions, please email our Advocacy and Media Manager, Danielle, at [email protected].

We often share stories of “I CAN” moments, little successes and big achievements on our social media channels and our blog, Grapevine. If you have a story that you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us at [email protected].

We live outside of Australia. How can we connect with I CAN services?

Our face-to-face mentoring and online mentoring services are Australia-based. However, we regularly offer Autistic-led webinars around key topics (e.g. helping an Autistic young person build resilience, supporting Autistic learners, building a support network). Some of our webinars are offered for free and are accessible virtually worldwide, while others involve a modest fee (yet still open to worldwide).

Are your programs free?

Most of our program are fee-based so that we can afford to run them over time. We feel very strongly about paying a fair wage to our team members, the majority of whom are Autistic and all of whom go above and beyond to support Autistic young people. Typically, the fees associated with a school-based program are absorbed by the school itself at no extra cost to participating students. Fees for other programs, such as our camps and online mentoring, are covered directly by families. Some are able to use their NDIS funding (see above) to cover costs. We do everything possible to keep costs low, and when feasible, we offer financial assistance or payment plans to families who might not otherwise be able to access our programs due to cost.

May I fundraise for the I CAN Network?

As a not-for-profit, fundraising is a key part of how we continue to offer our services to the community. We enthusiastically welcome any individual, family or workplace to fundraise on behalf of the I CAN Network during any time of the year. In 2015 our team created the ‘AWEgust for AWEtism’ campaign to enable everyday people to crowdfund the achievement of a personal ‘I CAN’ challenge over the month of August. The funds we raised directly support the I CAN Network, especially our work in low socio-economic areas. One of our cornerstone events each August is fielding an I CAN Network team for the iconic City2Surf in Sydney, the world’s largest fundraising race. Outside of our main AWEgust campaign, we have had individuals get their school involved in free dress days or bake sales, donate through one-time or regular monthly giving and hosting events such as trivia nights. If you would like to fundraise for the I CAN Network and need some assistance please feel free to contact [email protected].

I still have questions that weren’t covered in this document. Who do I contact for further information?

Please complete this brief form, and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.

Thank you for your interest in I CAN!


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