Autism & Agriculture
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Autism and Agriculture is a world-first initiative of SunPork Farms to employ autistic adults with a high attention to detail in specialist animal care roles.
SunPork Farms has completed a customised recruitment process in Queensland and has offered seven autistic adults full-time positions with the company. They will commence work in January 2017.
Recruitment continues in South Australia where we are seeking at least four more full-time autistic employees to commence work in March 2017.
For feedback from our recent graduates, please see the link below:
The Autism and Agriculture Pilot Program involves the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism, Specialisterne Australia and Epic Assist Australia. The South Australian Government, via the CRC for High Integrity Australian Pork, has generously committed $150,000 towards this initiative. Corporate partners including Boehringer Ingelheim have also made significant financial contributions.
Collectively the pilot represents a financial commitment by SunPork Farms, the Autism CRC and Specialisterne exceeding $800,000. Goals of the program include;
- To identify and employ the diverse skills and talents of adults with autism in animal care
- To develop innovative solutions that continue to provide optimal welfare for livestock
- To build capacity within the agricultural sector to employ adults with autism
An evaluation of the Autism and Agriculture pilot program by Curtin University, on behalf of the Autism CRC, will provide recommendations to the wider agriculture industry to extend the employment model and animal welfare strategy across Australia and the world.
SunPork Farms recognises that by employing autistic adults and providing an appropriate working environment that the human resource standards for the entire business are enhanced.
All autistic adults employed will be paid in full by SunPork Farms in accordance with relevant awards and enterprise agreements that may be in place for the agreed positions. SunPork Farms view these positions as long term, full-time positions and when the pilot is complete we expect that regular recruitment processes will be undertaken to further increase the number of autistic animal carers on our farms.
Autism affects more than 1% of the population. Adults with autism are often unemployed, underemployed and socially disadvantaged despite having the necessary skills required. Skilled employment can be difficult to find and hard to retain. Traditional recruitment practices such as a job interview can cause distress and are poorly suited to otherwise capable employees. Workplace understanding and support is often poor.
In 2015 United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, joined by business leaders from Microsoft, SAP and Towers Watson, among others, launched a Call to Action inviting businesses to make concrete commitments to employ adults with autism, supporting the creation of equitable employment for autistics and a workforce that better reflects the general population.
Consistent with the UN Call to Action, SunPork Farms recognises that some adults with autism possess unique empathy for animals. We also believe that there are many aspects of our animal work that align with other attributes of individuals with some forms of autism: an exceptional ability to focus and pay attention to detail, and finding comfort in repetitive activities. Furthermore, many individuals with autism struggle with social interaction and perform well on solitary tasks.
Working with SunPork Farms
SunPork Farms is a wholly Australian-owned, integrated pork production enterprise based on more than 40 years of family farming.