Op-ed: Services Australia’s Aurora Neurodiversity Program is a spectrum of opportunity

By Services Australia

Sunday September 13, 2020

Cameron and Dannielle. Image: Services Australia

Just recently, 11 new staff members with autism joined Services Australia in a new pilot employment program that is already showing some great results.

The Aurora Neurodiversity Program, developed in partnership with Specialisterne Australia, helps people with autism find meaningful work in the Australian Public Service by matching their unique skills and talents to specialist roles.

Cameron, one of the new recruits based in Brisbane, shares his experience of the recruitment and assessment process and his first impressions of the program.


Just a few years ago, Cameron wasn’t sure whether he would be able to find a full-time job, or be part of a team doing meaningful work.

Today, Cameron is an Operational Intelligence Analyst at Services Australia in Brisbane. He is one of 11 new recruits for the Aurora Neurodiversity Program.

Cameron is one of many Australians with autism who have encountered barriers to gaining full-time employment. In fact, only 38% of working age Australians with autism are employed, with an unemployment rate 8 times higher compared to people without a disability.

One of the major challenges people with autism face when it comes to finding work is the recruitment process itself. Many are often at a disadvantage in traditional recruitment processes, and many people apply for hundreds of jobs without making it past the interview stage.

Services Australia’s Aurora Neurodiversity Program, in partnership with Specialisterne Australia, is helping to bridge this gap with a unique recruitment, support and development approach.

The program puts candidates through a four-week recruitment process, which allows them time to showcase their skills and talents.

Cameron said he felt supported throughout the training and assessment program, and enjoyed the opportunity to interact and share experiences with other candidates.

“It’s nice going into this new job confident I’ve shown my employer what I’m capable of and how I interact with others,” Cameron said.

“I’ve struggled with a bit of imposter syndrome in the past, but after the thorough training and assessment program, I really felt I could demonstrate who I am and what I could do. I don’t feel as though I have to try and prove myself, I’m ready to just get in and learn the work.

“It has been such a challenging but fun process. I’ve felt like I can really contribute, even within a couple of weeks of starting.”

Cameron and his fellow recruits are already proving their worth at Services Australia.

Dannielle Mills, Cameron’s manager, said she has been impressed by the talent coming out of the program.

“Everyone who has joined us as part of the program is already making their mark,” Dannielle said.

“Cameron has fit into this team seamlessly and is already contributing. He has such a great attention to detail, he works to an exceptional standard and he delivers quality all the time.

“I couldn’t be more pleased to have him in the team”.

Having found an organisation which not only accepts but celebrates people with autism, Cameron is now looking forward to other opportunities at Services Australia, with plans to join the National Graduate Program in the future.

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