The Department of Human Services, together with HP Australia and Specialist People Foundation have expanded their acclaimed Dandelion program to Brisbane, giving young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder access to a career in the IT sector.
Minister for Human Services Senator the Hon Marise Payne said 13 people have this week commenced a three year traineeship with the department where they will work as software test analysts.
“I am excited to see this highly successful programme, first launched at our Adelaide IT Hub earlier this year, now being extended to Brisbane,” Minister Payne said.
“We are very impressed with the quality of the work produced by our Adelaide trainees, as well as their personal and professional growth. They have told us their confidence has never been so high.”
“We have seen the benefits of this programme for the individuals through their higher earning capacity and reduced reliance on carers, for business through productive and committed employees, and for government by lowering welfare dependency and increasing participation."
As a result of the program, the department and HP Australia are partnering with La Trobe University to establish a research programme to understand the social impacts of the Specialist People Foundation employment model for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
HP South Pacific Managing Director Nick Wilson said the program is designed to harness the unique skills and abilities of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, while providing them with ongoing support.
“This collaboration is a great example of how the public, private and non-profit sector can work together to make a difference to people’s lives,” Mr Wilson said.
“The recruitment and induction processes have been tailored to enable the applicants to demonstrate their strengths in a supportive environment.
“The success of the programme in Australia and overseas has already been recognised through a recent invitation from the United Nations to talk about the programme in New York for World Autism Awareness Day.
“In June, the Dandelion program was also recognised for delivering innovation and productivity in IT.”
Specialist People Foundation Founder Thorkil Sonne said he first visited Australia six years ago, and has since been inundated with requests for assistance to provide people with Autism Spectrum Disorder meaningful work.
“Finally, the right opportunity came along in Adelaide and I am so proud to see the Dandelion program being implemented in another Australian state,” Mr Sonne said.
“At Specialist People Foundation we aim to enable one million jobs for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder and similar challenges worldwide, and thanks to organisations like the Department of Human Services and HP Australia we are getting closer to reaching that goal.”
Skye Dexin who commenced his traineeship says the recruitment process was comfortable because it showcased his skills so he didn’t have to discuss them.
“This job means there are organisations that are willing to give equal chances to people, despite their differences,” Mr Dexin said.
“It demonstrates to me, my family and the world there is value and potential in those of us on the autism spectrum and that is really exciting.”