Autism spectrum traineeship program expanded to Canberra

By Stephen Easton

Friday October 9, 2015

The Department of Human Services has made 15 traineeships available specifically to people with autism spectrum disorders in its Canberra offices.

Minister for Human Services Stuart Robert announced today that the Dandelion program, which already runs in Adelaide and Brisbane, would be extended to the capital.

The three-year traineeships are in the department’s ICT Hub, and are being delivered in partnership with Hewlett-Packard Australia and the Specialist People Foundation.

In a statement today, the minister said the program would help young adults with ASD “feel confident and excited about the future” as they entered the workforce. Robert continued:

“We have seen a genuine untapped market in the IT sector through the high quality work our trainees in Adelaide and Brisbane are producing. We are proud to be leading the way in harnessing the skills and abilities of these talented young adults while providing them with full time, rewarding employment.”

Hewlett-Packard’s South Pacific managing director Nick Wilson said Dandelion was “designed to harness the unique skills and abilities of people with ASD” and provide trainees with ongoing support.

Autism Asperger ACT has been promoting the opportunity in Canberra and will stay involved to give extra support to the trainees. CEO Peter Brady said:

“Unfortunately, there are not enough opportunities like this for the number of people in Canberra with ASD, but this is a step in the right direction.”

Thorkil Sonne, founder of the Specialist People Foundation.
Thorkil Sonne

The Specialist People Foundation, from Denmark, has introduced the employment model to 12 countries before Australia. Its founder Thorkil Sonne credited the “positive partnership” between HP Australia and the Department of Human Services for getting it off the ground:

“At Specialist People Foundation we aim to enable one million jobs for people with ASD and similar challenges worldwide and each day we are getting closer to reaching that goal.

“I am also pleased to say La Trobe University is now a research partner and will be assessing the outcomes and benefits of the programme for people with ASD, their families, colleagues and employers.”

To request more information about applying and lodge an expression of interest, prospective candidates must email [email protected] by 5pm EST on October 13.

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