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Specialisterne Champions Change in The National Strategy for Autism

The National Strategy for Autism is an important initiative of the Australian Government, which aims to cover key reform areas such as access to services, healthcare, education and employment.

The strategy hopes to create a more coordinated, national approach supporting autistic people at each stage of life. 

Recently, the draft strategy was open for public comment. Specialisterne Australia is pleased to have provided a response focused on two key areas of the strategy: social and economic inclusion. 

Here is a summary of what we’ve said in our submission. 

Reinvent the Recruitment Process to Improve Social Inclusion

Current recruitment practices are exclusive and do not allow for full participation of autistic adults in the workforce, consequently negatively impacting social inclusion through lack of income and opportunities to connect with people on a daily basis. 

Many autistic individuals  report that they shut down during traditional interviews, or have faced discrimination from employers who discover they are autistic during the recruitment process. 

Yet it is not complex to fix the inequitable recruitment system. Job adverts can be redesigned with simple and clear language. Practical assessments that align with job roles can provide better insight into a candidate’s ability than traditional interviews alone. It can also be helpful to establish support networks for neurodivergent employees and train managers on neurodiversity inclusion. 

Specialisterne’s neuro-inclusive recruitment programs help to bridge the gap between employers and neurodivergent employees who may struggle to fully participate in the job market. Our alternative recruitment programs often foster the development of interpersonal relationships and networking opportunities, which particularly benefit neurodivergent candidates to feel more socially included. 

Here are just a couple of the many comments that autistic people have made about our programs: 

“I have found the recruitment processes through Specialisterne safe and inclusive. I felt like I could be myself while showing potential employers my skills and who I am as a person. This is an opportunity I will never take for granted.”

“I have learnt about different roles and myself as a person through Specialisterne’s recruitment processes. I would often struggle in interviews and traditional recruitment processes. Specialisterne made the process efficient and inclusive, while being professional at the same time.”

Empower Autistic Entrepreneurs to Succeed

We believe that autistic people are underrepresented in entrepreneurship and welcome government investment in the development of an autistic-friendly environment (both in person and online) that supports autistic entrepreneurs, enabling them to thrive and work toward successful self-employment.  

We found in a recent survey and workshop that we facilitated that autistic entrepreneurs: 

  • face challenges accessing autism-friendly work opportunities 

  • desire to be connected and networked with their neurodiverse community

  • are seeking access to self-employment prospects 

  • are looking for autism-friendly resources that nurture their entrepreneurial talents.

Autistic entrepreneurs identified the importance of investment in the development of autistic-led responses that support entrepreneurs in areas including business planning, legal obligations, finance, insurance, government requirements, marketing, confidence, psychological support, mentoring and networking.

By empowering autistic entrepreneurs with the tools and knowledge to succeed, we help them take control of their lives, be financially independent and have a better standard of living. 

Elevate the Role of Coaching to Boost Economic Inclusion

Specialisterne Australia offers tailored Neurodiversity Assistant Coaching which includes: 

  • Workplace Enablement Coaching with either a neurodivergent coach or a coach with deep lived experience of autism and neurodiversity. 

  • Peer supports and a buddy system through the development of a moderated network of autistic individuals.

  • Monthly webinars and moderated online discussions tailored to meet the support needs of autistic employees, along with employer-focused forums.

This type of coaching is an alternative to the neurotypical employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), as in our experience, EAPs don’t always meet the specific needs of autistic employees.. 

 Our coaching program helps to tackle three main issues: 

  • Support of employees who might be afraid to disclose. 

  • Support of managers are often afraid to ask for help.

  • Assistance to employers who do not have the information they need to deliver support to the right people. 

In Summary

Our submission recommends greater investment that enables employers to discover, and benefit from, the unique skills, capabilities and contributions that autistic people can bring to the workplace. 

Without this investment, we would continue to see the exclusion of autistic adults from full economic and social participation within Australia. 

We look forward to the finalisation of the National Autism Strategy and the opportunity to enable autistic people who are seeking employment, career progression, entrepreneurial expansion and fulfilment of a social and economic nature.



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