The Dandelion Program has relationships with the Australian Government, SAP, Cornell University, and the Autism Co-operative Research Centre in Australia, Specialisterne and the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre at La Trobe University.
Ian McAdam, managing director, Pacific region, Symantec, said, “Diversity is a core part of Symantec’s corporate values and we are very pleased to be part of the neurodiversity movement through our support for the Dandelion Program. As part of the programme, Symantec will be working closely with its partners in higher education to provide work experience to students on the autism spectrum and leveraging Dandelion Program material through Cornell University.”
Michael Fieldhouse, director – Emerging Businesses & Federal Government and Dandelion Program Executive, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, said, “We are so excited to have partners such as Symantec on board to help promote neurodiversity and assist in removing some barriers for people on the spectrum, to help them achieve sustainable employment, and provide them with skills to achieve careers in areas such as cybersecurity. The Dandelion Program is not only about employment with the ‘autism advantage’, but also focuses on building careers, individual skills, and resilience.”
The programme now employs more than 55 autistic people across the domains of software testing, data analytics, and cyber security. It was initially established with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, the Australian Department of Human Services, and Specialisterne.
A work experience programme known as Dandelion@University gives students on the spectrum an opportunity to obtain work experience and build skills that will enhance their opportunities for employment in the ICT sector.
The programme also uses robotics that assists primary school students on the spectrum in learning times tables and roman numerals. It helps provide hope to children with autism that there will be jobs for them in the future, as people on the spectrum only have employment participation rates of 34%, compared to a disability participation rate of 53% in Australia.