The history of ASfAR begins with a focused research forum hosted by the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC) in April 2009, which brought together leading autism researchers from Australasia. Its aim in doing so was to identify and fortify current research strengths in Australia and New Zealand, to develop and plan future research directions, and to forge new Australasian autism research collaborations. This highly successful forum resulted in the formation of the Australasian Autism Research Collaboration (AARC), which worked over two years to establish the member-based Australasian Society for Autism Research (ASfAR).
The inaugural meeting of ASfAR took place on 10th September 2011, at the conclusion of the Asia Pacific Autism Conference in Perth, WA. Delegates from across the Asia Pacific Region attended this meeting, which opened the call for members (student, full, affiliate, organizational and international members).
The first research conference of this fledgling society took place in December 2012 at Macquarie University, Sydney, successfully convened by Dr Jon Brock. The second conference was held in Melbourne at La Trobe University, convened by the co-Chair of ASfAR (2011 – current), Professor Cheryl Dissanayake. Professor Deb Keen served as Chair of the ASfAR interim committee and Professor Katrina Williams served as Chair of its first Executive Committee.
In four short years, ASfAR has grown to a membership of over 300 members with representation across Australia and the Asia Pacific Region. The next ASfAR research conference will be held in December, 2016. Expression of Interest is currently being sought for hosting this meeting. Dr Trevor Clark is the current President (formerly Chair) of ASfAR with Professor Cheryl Dissanayake as Vice-President (formerly co-Chair).