Media release: Australian first employment model for people with Autism

Marise PayneSenator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Human Services –  In an Australian-first 11 people with Autism Spectrum Disorder have begun traineeships designed to harness their unique abilities at the Department of Human Services in Adelaide.

Minister for Human Services Senator the Hon Marise Payne together with representatives from Specialist People Foundation and HP Australia visited the Department of Human Services ICT Hub in Adelaide to meet the new trainees as they begin their new careers.

Minister Payne said she was proud to see the department working with the private and not-for-profit sector to provide skilled employment opportunities for people with ASD through the ‘Dandelion’ program.

“We are excited to bring this opportunity to Adelaide and our ICT Hub is the perfect workplace to engage the trainees whose precise attention to detail and ability to systematically process information are very well suited to working in an ICT testing environment,” Minister Payne said.

“The 11 trainees are working with our testing teams to ensure the department’s IT products and services meet the needs of the millions of Australians we assist every day.

“Through the three-year program the trainees have a unique opportunity to gain valuable work skills in an environment that enables them to perform their roles effectively while being supported by people who understand their abilities.

HP South Pacific Managing Director Nick Wilson said throughout the recruitment and induction stages the trainees demonstrated a unique blend of talent, passion and skills that will add a positive dimension to HP Australia’s workforce.

“HP Australia is looking forward to seeing the trainees grow personally and professionally in ways that will enrich and reward them beyond their new employment,” Mr Wilson said.

“The Dandelion program aligns strongly with HP’s global Living Progress program, the company’s commitment to bringing people and technology together to benefit the wider society.”

The name of the program is derived from the Dandelion logo for Danish organisation Specialist People Foundation, whose aim is to shift the focus from disability to ability, creating employment opportunities for people with ASD.

The Dandelion employment concept aims to provide 1 million jobs to people with autism and similar challenges worldwide and has already been successfully implemented in 12 countries.

Specialist People Foundation Founder Thorkil Sonne said the organisation is immensely proud of the program and the way the trainees have embraced their new work environment.

“These trainees are pioneers and through their work they are demonstrating the value for employers to recruit talent among people with ASD in Australia,” Mr Sonne said.

“Since I first visited Australia six years ago I have received countless requests from families affected by ASD to bring the employment model here to create meaningful employment prospects.

“Finally, the right opportunity has come along with DHS and HP Australia.

“This collaboration has been outstanding and sets the example for the public, private and non-profit sector to make a difference in how society regards people with ASD and similar challenges.

“It is great to be in Adelaide and see firsthand the wonderful results of the program, and this is just the beginning.”

Source: Media release:  Australian Government Department of Human Services: Media release: Australian first employment model for people with Autism