MP David Littleproud, Autism CRC CEO Andrew Davis, Assistant Minister for disability services Jane Prentice, Kirsty Thomas from SunPork and CEO of SunPork Robert van Barneveld.
MP David Littleproud, Autism CRC CEO Andrew Davis, Assistant Minister for disability services Jane Prentice, Kirsty Thomas from SunPork and CEO of SunPork Robert van Barneveld. Sam Flanagan

Bringing home the bacon

SUNPORK Farms and Autism CRC have joined forces to create Autism and Agriculture, a partnership aimed at employing and developing career paths for adults who have the condition.

Sixteen individuals have been hired nationwide by SunPork in the world-first initiative, seven of which are based at the companies Tong Park Piggery outside Warra.

Dr Robert van Barneveld, CEO of SunPork, just returned from addressing the United Nations in the U.S about the program.

"Businesses talk about diversity and innovation all the time; we have both and these employees are the catalyst for that,” Dr van Barneveld said.

SunPork's recruitment process was specifically tailored to the needs of people with autism, taking out the often nerve-racking resume and interview stages.

Jane Prentice, the Assistant Minister for Social and Disability Services, said the scheme was ground breaking and is hopeful other companies follow their lead.

"The important lesson out of today is the barriers of people with autsim is broken down; they make great employees, they're keen to learn, they're loyal and a great asset to your company,” Mrs Prentice said.

"A recent study showed that Australia ranks 21 out of 29 countries in terms of employment for people with disabilities, and that's an embarrassment.

"If that was our ranking in a sport there would be a national outcry.”


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