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The Telethon Kids Institute Aspire Award consists of two (2) $5,000 grants awarded to Telethon Kids Institute staff member to assist in their professional development by funding attendance at an international conference. Award recipients have up to 3 years to use the funds.

2020 Telethon Kids Institute Aspire Award Winners, Dr Gail Alvares and Ms Bec Nguyen

Two of Telethon Kids Institute’s best and brightest will attend international conferences, when it is safe to do so, to promote the incredible research and digital health initiatives being undertaken in Western Australia.

Autism researcher Dr Gail Alvares and digital health professional Ms Bec Nguyen are the recipients of the Telethon Kids Institute Aspire Award, which is coordinated by Business Events Perth and supported by the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Business Events Perth’s Aspire Awards sponsor local academics, researchers and health professionals to attend (and often present at) a relevant international conference in their discipline, to further their professional development.   

Now in its 21st year, the Aspire Awards, has sponsored hundreds of Western Australian academics and researchers to attend conferences.

Business Events Perth Chief Executive Officer Gareth Martin said this was the fifth year Business Events Perth and the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre was sponsoring Telethon Kids Institute staff members to attend an international conference.  

“These awards provide Western Australian paediatric research and development professionals with the opportunity to showcase their work and connect with experts in their field,” Mr Martin said.

“Attending business events like international conferences, help experts like Dr Alvares and Ms Nguyen collaborate and exchange knowledge with others in their field and also showcase the expertise of Western Australia on an international stage.”

With a research vision to reduce mental health disabilities for children diagnosed on the autism spectrum, Dr Alvares received an Aspire Award for her research  in developing an early anxiety intervention program for young children on the autism spectrum, who are at an excessively high risk of developing a mental health condition, particularly depression and anxiety.

“As medical researchers, we have limited funding opportunities for essential travel needed to highlight our research to colleagues at national or international meetings and events. It is a privilege to be one of the 2020 recipients of the Aspire awards, which will be used to present our internationally leading West Australian autism research,” said Dr Alvares.

Ms Nguyen received the second of the two awards for her work in developing several smartphone apps, including Bright Tomorrows, which provides brain building activities for children aged zero to five years; CyFi Space, an app for young people with cystic fibrosis; and a new cyber safety app that will provide parents and carers with the knowledge, skills and support to help their children thrive in a digital world.

“I am so honoured to be one of the 2020 recipients of the Aspire award and be given the opportunity to attend the world-leading South by South West (SXSW) Conference with thousands of like-minded people from around the world,” said Miss Nguyen.

“To meet and connect directly with influential tech experts and innovators on an international stage will raise my global profile, helping to contribute to the success of Western Australia’s digital health projects through sharing of knowledge, expertise and collaboration.”

Telethon Kids Institute Deputy Director (Research) Associate Professor Catherine Elliott said the Aspire Awards helped open opportunities and strengthen relationships between researchers, which was vital to the Institute’s work and success.  

“At Telethon Kids, we believe it’s important for researchers to build their networks and collaborate with others, because in doing so we can achieve the best outcomes for children and families relying on our research,” said Associate Professor Elliott. Dr Alvares intends to use the award to attend the International Society for Autism Research Annual Meeting and the Australasian Society for Autism Research Biennial Meeting, while Miss Nguyen will attend the eSafety Conference and the South by South West Conference (SXSW).