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About Us

How Next Level Collaboration pressed START

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Both Jess and Matt are lifelong gamers, but gaming has meant more than just fun to them. Growing up, a mutual love of video games was also how they connected with their siblings and built relationships with their peers. Whether taking turns on a Super Nintendo to complete levels in Super Mario World or excitedly discussing the latest releases with their friends, gaming was how they built up a sense of belonging with others like them.

As professionals, Jess and Matt worked with many children who shared their passion for gaming and saw how it could support their strengths. When working with a group of school students with diverse needs, Matt realised they shared a common love of gaming and started a lunchtime gaming club to support their engagement at school. It soon became clear that the lunchtime gaming club also provided a space where these students showed collaborative teamwork skills and leadership capabilities that had not been recognised in other contexts. Matt then embarked on his PhD journey to co-develop a program with these students that could teach collaborative teamwork skills and celebrate their diversity through their strength in gaming.

As a speech pathologist, Jess worked with many neurodivergent children who were passionate gamers and used their interest to design fun session activities. After commencing a role at the University of Melbourne, she was introduced to Matt and they came up with the wild idea to start a social enterprise. In consultation with their professional knowledge and Jess’ lived experience of neurodivergence, Jess and Matt worked together to collaboratively refine Matt’s PhD into the program and social enterprise we now know as Next Level Collaboration.