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Internship for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder benefits IT industry

Media release

Curtin University’s Autism Academy for Software Quality Assurance (AASQA) and the Australian Computer Society (ACS) have developed Australia’s first information technology internship designed for people with autism.

Bankwest is the first organisation to partner with AASQA and the ACS Foundation and is providing employment opportunities for three young men with autism.

AASQA Deputy Director, Curtin’s Associate Professor Tele Tan, said an industry approach was needed to ensure younger people with autism were given the chance to gain fulfilling employment while filling gaps in the Australian information and communications technology industry.

“AASQA’s mission is to enable individuals with autism to leverage their unique skills through training, educating and mentoring programs, so as to create pathways to valued, long-term employment,” Associate Professor Tan said.

“People on the autism spectrum tend to be very detail focused and have highly developed problem solving skills which is beneficial when testing software, as a keen eye and patience is needed.

“AASQA has also set up procedures for educating employers on how to understand and care for staff with autism, enabling optimum job design processes and assisting in long term employee retention.”

Bankwest Head of Solution Engineering and AASQA Board member, Mr Sean Langton, said the internship allowed people with autism to be given the opportunity, space and tools to innovate and develop their careers.

“As a Board member of the AASQA, I can tell you that this program – Australia’s first specialist work integrated learning scholarship for undergraduates with autism – is incredibly important for our community and the economy,” Mr Langton said.

“For me, it’s about making sure we don’t exclude people who are well-qualified to do the work and it’s perfectly aligned with the Federal Government’s productivity and innovation agenda, which is gathering steam nationwide.”

Interns Michael New, Nicholas Johnson and Tim McDonald are responsible for testing software within the Bankwest Enterprise Services division.

The internships are offered for a period of three months and Michael New said the job suited him perfectly.

“I’m working on a project to automate a testing procedure that would normally involve a lot of manual testing, which can be quite time consuming. By automating this process, human error can be mitigated as well as time and manpower,” Mr New said.

“I like that I’m not suffocated by a small cubicle. Instead I share a table with my fellow team members.”

AASQA will be officially launched by Governor of Western Australia the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AO on Wednesday 6 April and media are invited to attend the launch.

AASQA launch:

Time: 5:30pm – 7:30pm

Date: Wednesday 6 April 2016

Location: Curtin University Bentley, Level 2, Building 216

Parking: Complimentary parking is available in carpark D3 after 4.30pm, with entry off Beazley Ave.

Media opportunities at the launch: Interview and photo opportunities are available with both Curtin and Bankwest representatives after the official launch.

RSVP: Please email your attendance to events@curtin.edu.au.