NSW program aims to bring job seekers with autism into public service

By Shannon Jenkins

Thursday February 20, 2020

The New South Wales Public Service Commission has launched a pilot initiative designed to bring autistic and neurodiverse talents into state government agencies.

A partnership between the state government and the not-for-profit enterprise Specialisterne Australia, the Tailored Talent Program aims to address skill shortages in hard-to-fill public service roles such as cyber-security, software testing, data analytics, and coding.

Commission director of disability employment Gail Le Bransky said recruiting neurodiverse talents is part of the state’s commitment to foster a diverse public sector cohort.

“Not only is this about driving an inclusive and diverse workforce, but we also know that tapping into the unique talents of people on the autism spectrum can bring about real business benefits, as well as contributing positively to our culture,” she said.

Eight government agencies are taking part in the program — which launched this month — with a total of 15 roles available. The roles are expected to be filled by May.

Specialisterne Australia CEO Julie Robertson praised NSW for working to provide an inclusive pathway into the public service, noting that traditional recruitment processes continue to fail autistic adults.

“We need to acknowledge that current business cultures and recruitment practices are inadequate and are not inclusive of autistic and neurodiverse adults. In Australia the unemployment rate of autistic adults is six times higher than the general unemployment rate,” she said.

“Autistic and neurodiverse individuals have so much to offer the workplace, and employers more broadly, for those who are willing to think differently about how they recruit people into their business. It’s encouraging that the NSW Public Service Commission recognise this and are adopting inclusive hiring practices across the NSW public sector.”

Roughly 1 in 59 people in Australia are on the Autism Spectrum. Nearly 60% of working-aged autistic adults living in Australia are unemployed.

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