[Sub ID 4790] Customised Employment Model (CE) (The University of Melbourne)

Submission ID: 4790
Organisation name: The University of Melbourne
Contact name: Prof Keith R McVilly
State: VIC
Contact email: keith.mcvilly@unimelb.edu.au
Contact number: 0383445366

Which priority group of the Try, Test and Learn Fund does your idea support?
Young students at risk of long-term unemployment

What need or issue are you trying to address?
Based upon Australian population statistics (2014) and the estimated rates of autism in the population (Baio, 2014), there are approximately 270,000 people with autism of working age in Australia. Further, people with autism face challenges which continue post-education with the transition into work (Hayward, McVilly, & Stokes, in press; Aspect, 2013; Baldwin et al., 2014; Gal et al., 2015; Lorenz et al., 2016; Cookson, 2009).

In addition, research demonstrates that young people with autism without an intellectual disability, i.e., those with high autistic traits (HATs), are less likely than those without autism to achieve post-secondary education, especially women (Hayward et al., in press). Additionally, individuals with HATs struggle to obtain and maintain employment (Griffith et al., 2012, Hurlbutt & Chalmers, 200, Müller et al., 2003).

However, little is known about women with HATs, as most research focuses on men. To inform policy and practice, we undertook research to ascertain the barriers and enablers to workforce entry and sustained participation of people with HATs. From our research, together with others, we know that the support needs of women and men with HATs’, to enable them to find and maintain meaningful employment, are specific and need to be addressed to prevent under- and unemployment.

What is your idea?
We propose developing and evaluating a pilot program, based on research and adapted from the US, the Customised Employment (CE) model, adopted as the employment model of choice in the American Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Using this, we will address the needs of young people with HATs to support them to gain and sustain meaningful employment.

The pilot program will be the basis of a full suite of supports and services, including resources for individuals with HATs and mainstream employment agencies in the wider community. There will be education and training for employment service providers (ESPs) to support people with HATs, and resources to assist employers to make the reasonable adjustments necessary for those with HATs to sustain employment.

The program will address four core groups: people with HATs, employers, colleagues/co-workers, and ESPs. For each audience the content will differ, however, broadly it will cover: the experience of autism and its impact on women and men, how to become an inclusive workplace/ESP, and tailored “smart” support for women and men with autism to survive and thrive in a typical work environment via development of a mobile phone application.