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Harrier partners with Autism West to deliver innovative new assessment tool and employer training program

12 November 2019: Leading total talent business Harrier Talent Solutions has partnered with community charity Autism West, to develop an innovative online assessment tool and employer training framework to help make Australian workplaces more autism friendly.

During a recent interview by WA Business News, Louise Sheehy, CEO of Autism West and Kate Beattie, Group Head of Marketing at Harrier, identified a shared interest in ensuring better employment outcomes for people with autism.

There are 157,000 people with autism of working age in Australia and they face significant disadvantage due to unemployment and underemployment compared to the rest of the population.  Louise said “People with autism are three times less likely to find employment than people with a disability, which can be attributed to persistent stereotypes and a lack of understanding. Our newly developed framework will help businesses better understand and address those issues.”

Each person with autism has unique strengths, often relating to communication, executive functioning, memory, sensory processing, unique patterns of behaviour and attention to detail.  Despite this, Kate says, approaches to supporting people with autism to gain employment are often too narrowly focused: “I feel very strongly that autism employment programs and initiatives that are limited to entry-level positions or roles in STEM are missing the mark.  I know Australian employers can do better than this, and I’m excited that Harrier’s new partnership with Autism West will be part of the solution.”

Autism West’s online assessment tool is offered free of charge and will help employers understand where they can improve across key areas including the physical workplace environment, policies and processes, approaches to hiring and support for line managers.  Professor Lyn Beazley AO, Western Australia’s Chief Scientist 2006-2013, has a keen interest in the field of autism and believes that the assessment is a valuable starting point for businesses, she said: “It’s really exciting to see a practical tool to help employers gain an understanding of the adjustments needed to support neurodiverse people to succeed in the workplace.”

The online diagnostic tool is complemented by a comprehensive training program to help employers create or improve their neurodiversity strategies.  Louise said: “As a community organisation, Autism West has consulted widely on the development of the program to ensure positive outcomes for people with autism.  By helping employers to adopt a strength-based approach, we hope to give people with autism and other neurological differences access to a broader range of career opportunities with truly supportive and inclusive workplaces.”

Commenting on the initiative, CEO of Harrier, Kelly Quirk said: “Harrier is incredibly proud to partner with Autism West to help reduce the barriers preventing people with autism from having equal opportunity to meaningful work. Creating more inclusive, autism friendly workplaces should be a core focus of any diversity strategy and we look forward to working with those businesses that are keen to progress at Autism West’s education and training forums.”

You can find out more about autism and get your free recruitment toolkit in Harrier’s The Neurodiversity Advantage whitepaper here and register your interest in training and education forums here.

About Harrier Talent Solutions

Harrier Talent Solutions (HTS), part of the Harrier Group, is an award-winning total talent business.  HTS is an experienced talent partner, blending our deep understanding of the skills, industries and geographies unique to this region with unmatched global knowledge and expertise.

HTS supports customers across Australia and Asia Pacific with outsourced talent solutions, recruitment projects and talent and technology consulting. We pride ourselves on the quality of our people and our services, working in partnership with our clients to deliver innovative, agile solutions that transform human capital.

About Autism West

Autism West is a bold, innovative community organisation tearing down social barriers for people on the spectrum. Together we engage, challenge, inform, develop and expand new skills and thinking – and create exciting opportunities for corporates and the community to join in. Our mission is to provide unique quality opportunities for people on the autism spectrum to develop and display their strengths, capacity and contributions to the world around them.

Autism West sees our community through a different lens where there is no box to think outside of. We advocate for a strong, connected and diverse society. Through its social groups, services, research partnerships and community events, Autism West breaks down social barriers and creates a world where autism forms part of our community’s rich fabric.  

Media Contacts

Kate Beattie
Group Head of Marketing

Helene Hansen
Partnerships & Events Manager
Autism West