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chris varney 

“Growing up, I benefited from a network of parents, teachers and friends who embraced my Autistic strengths and anxieties and encouraged me to say ‘I CAN’. Founding an organisation in their name was the best way I could express my gratitude.”
“Employing so many Autistic people is truly the most rewarding thing I have ever done professionally.” 

Chris, Founder and Chief Enabler I CAN Network


Chris is an Autistic law graduate and a pioneer of Autistic-led service provision in Australia.

Chris has a background in children’s rights and youth programs, having been 2009 Australian Youth Representative to the UN and World Vision Australia’s Manager of Youth.

Chris founded I CAN Network in 2013 and as Chief Enabling Officer has grown it into Australia’s largest Autistic-led organisation with over 70 Autistic staff and 2,000+ young people in the program nationally.

Chris was a 2018 Victorian Australian of the Year Finalist and recipient of the 2017 Supreme Court of Victoria’s Best Achievement in Human Rights Award. He also serves as National Patron of the Australian Association for Special Education and is the Chairperson of the Victorian Disability Advisory Council. Chris married his wife Karen in 2019 and is a proud father to son, George. 


“I built I CAN Network to be a demonstration of what Autistic people can achieve. We deliver group mentoring programs in schools and in online settings. We also share our insights in professional development workshops and consultancy projects. We are driven by a vision to create a world that benefits from embracing Autism – Together our purpose is to prove what Autistics CAN do.” – Chris Varney

AWETISM 22 - Chris Opening


In a school professional development workshop I CAN Founder/ CEO Chris Varney explores how school staff can empower Autistic/ neurodivergent learners. The content will offer practical strategies on leveraging student interests and giving students little responsibilities to bring down anxiety levels and maximise engagement with school. Chris weaves throughout the strategies some personal stories and insights from I CAN Network’s Autistic-led mentoring programs. 

Chris Varney



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