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autism Tax pays off Nine people on the autism spectrum have secured IT jobs with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) in Brisbane through a new initiative called the Federal Talent Hub program. D eveloped by Specialisterne Australia and supported by EPIC Assist, the program is designed to increase diversity and inclusion within ATO’s workforce. With the successful pilot program now complete in Brisbane, ATO’s Canberra office is set to follow suit. Selecting nine successful candidates from a field of 74 “This program reinforces what’s possible when people with disability are given the opportunity to show what they’re capable of.” “It feels like the playing field is finally level, and this is the first time I’ve felt valued.” EPIC Assist Chief Executive Officer Bill Gamack commended the ATO and Specialisterne for driving diversity and showing leadership in this space. “We’re proud to work with organisations who are supporting applicants took around six weeks, with people on the autism spectrum participants put through their paces to build the career they want and at every turn. The non-traditional acceptance of my diagnosis, and also interview and assessment process found my ‘tribe’ and a place where I was deliberately designed to allow could just be.” candidates to showcase their skills Peter said programs like the and abilities in different ways. At one Federal Talent Hub are so important point, participants were tasked with for people with autism, who may building and programming a LEGO struggle in a workplace setting. Mindstorms robot. Peter Middleton (pictured) “I’ve struggled my whole life to find and keep employment. I had deserve,” Bill said. “This program reinforces what’s possible when people with disability are given the opportunity to show what they’re capable of.” Bill is hopeful that other employers are inspired to follow ATO’s lead and implement similar initiatives in their workplaces. was successful in scoring one of essentially given up (looking for a the roles, and said the experience job), because success at work always possible when disability is viewed has provided him with much more seemed to be an insurmountable not as a deficit, but as a difference. than an exciting new career. challenge,” he said. Difference can be very valuable in a “I was diagnosed with autism “But securing a job through this “The ATO has shown what’s business environment,” Bill said. later in life, at age 44, and found program means my employer is participating in the program to be prepared for my differences, but they things, and the sooner we recognise both challenging and extremely don’t see those differences as a bad the potential of unique perspectives in rewarding,” Peter said. thing. They are also willing to work with a workplace, the better off we’ll all be.” “I came further on my journey of me to resolve any potential obstacles. “There’s not one way of doing autism 35