AFP to provide meaningful employment opportunities to Autistic individuals

The two-year traineeship program is managed by DXC Technology with Untapped Talent, who oversees the selection, recruitment and support of trainees for AFP roles.

This Neurodiversity Awareness Week, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) is shining a light on one of its brightest neurodiverse minds, Matt Crowley, a trainee from the AFP’s Dandelion Program.

The Dandelion Program connects talented neurodivergent people, specifically Autistic individuals, with meaningful employment opportunities while combatting skill shortages and creating more inclusive workplaces.

The two-year traineeship program is managed by DXC Technology with Untapped Talent, who oversees the selection, recruitment and support of trainees for AFP roles.

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The AFP’s Covert and Technical Operations (CTO) branch brought on six trainees, including Matt, under the Program in July last year as a way to boost the technical capabilities of the agency and harness the unique talents of neurodiverse individuals.

Prior to commencing the program, Matt had struggled to find meaningful work which challenged him and allowed him to pursue his passion for IT. 

Matt said the program was all about unlocking ‘untapped talent’, which meant finding people who had talent that wasn’t being used because they were unable to network themselves into the appropriate roles.

“One of the great parts about the program is that during the recruitment process, I was assessed on my aptitude for IT, which is completely unlike other jobs in the industry which rule you out immediately if you don’t have a relevant qualification.”

In nine short months, Matt’s dedication and willingness to learn has led him to become a valuable software developer to the CTO branch.

Image: Dandelion Group Shot Landscape – Matt centre shot (Source: AFP)

“I came in with only a little bit of experience in programming and software which I learnt through school, but I’ve learnt the majority of my skills through on the job training. This job has also allowed me to prove to myself just how capable I really am.”

Matt adds: “In my last job, I was working eight hours a week and thought that I didn’t have it in me to take on any additional hours. I’m now up to working 30 hours a week, and while it can still be tiring at times, coming into work is so worth it and I feel motivated each day to come in.

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“My team has been so supportive and understanding and technical trainer used to be in the Dandelion Program, so it’s been great to have a mentor with lived experience that can relate to me on a deeper level.

“Beyond the team, AFP has been such a welcoming environment and has allowed us to just be us.

“This week for Neurodiversity Awareness Week we held a week-long Mario Kart challenge where we invited people from across the agency to come and compete with us.

“It was a great way to meet new people and show other members what we’re all about.”

As part of the Program, the trainees also have a dedicated Neurodiversity Consultant, Martina, who assists them with relevant skills to help them adapt to the work environment.

“Having Martina around has made a real difference to us and she’s really helped us through some major challenges, which may have otherwise been overlooked by people.”

“For example, fragranced soap really bothers me, Martina took the initiative to get this changed noting the negative impact it was having on my work life.

“While it might seem like a tiny issue to most, the effort that she went to to get this changed for me made such a big difference to me and really highlighted how supported and cared for in the program.

The AFP plans to open the Dandelion Program to more commands across the AFP later this year.

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