Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability

Pathways15: Collective of Chronically Ill, Neurodiverse, Impaired or Disabled (candid) Students at La Trobe. Making University More Supportive, Because We Can, So We Did

Kathy Wilton, Laena D'Alton and Lyndel Kennedy, Latrobe University

This PowerPoint and multimedia presentation will discuss the impetus behind, the focus of and the resources required for the development of a peer support group for ChronicAlly ill, NeuroDiverse, Impaired or Disabled (CANDID) students at La Trobe University. The presentation will focus on:

  • Why the group was formed
  • The vision of the group
  • How was it developed during offsite learning
  • What maintains it
  • What are the costs and benefits?

The presenters will outline their roles within CANDID, and the planning, development and projected outcomes of the group. This will include anecdotal information about how CANDID supports individuals' mental health and wellbeing across a diverse range of conditions and abilities: what we know is making a difference, and what students have found helpful. We will share some of the students’ stories via multimedia vignettes.

Given that this initiative began during the first Victorian lockdown, while universities were undergoing strategic restructuring, we will discuss how it was initiated, promoted to students and took flight during this time of rapid change.


Kathy Wilton has been a practitioner in the Disability field for 30 years. She recently joined The Equity and Diversity team at La Trobe as a Senior Disability Advisor. Kathy has a passion for providing proactive strength based support to the individuals she works with. She has a B.A. in Social Science, a Graduate Diploma in Special Education and a Diploma in Coaching Mentoring and Leadership.

Laena D’Alton is a PhD candidate in chemistry at the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science. Her project is on developing low-cost disease diagnostics. She is also a communications assistant in La Trobe’s College of Science, Health and Engineering, where she helps tells stories about research, teaching, staff and students to a diverse audience. Laena lives with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and fibromyalgia.

Lyndel Kennedy is a PhD candidate within La Trobe’s Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre and a parent of neurodiverse young adults. Her research focuses on factors contributing to higher education success for neurodiverse students. She has worked at Aspergers Victoria for over 12 years, holding various positions including president, board advisor, and support group leader. She currently coordinates their Events and Young Adults Group. Lyndel has delivered over 40 presentations, including at the 2016 Aspect Autism in Education Conference and the 2014 Victorian Autism Conference. Her book, 'The Hidden Diffability: Discovering Aspergers' (2012) examines lived experiences in the Australian context via 15 case studies.