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Jay Hobbs and Zach Zaborny with a piglet

Australian first autism pilot project gains national attention

A number of people on the Autism Spectrum have begun their journey into the workforce with the unlikeliest of friends by their side: pigs and piglets in need of care.

EPIC Assist (EPIC) has been working closely with Specialisterne Australia, Autism CRC and SunPork Farms to support people with autism as they commence new careers at SunPork Farms.

SunPork Farms is the first organisation to participate in the Australian first initiative called Autism and Agriculture, designed to develop career paths for adults on the spectrum in specialist animal care roles. To date, seven staff members have commenced employment at SunPork Farms in Queensland, and a second wave of candidates will commence in South Australia in early 2017. 

EPIC’s Disability Liaison Officer Zach Zaborny recently spent three weeks on the ground in Dalby, Queensland to help provide support to new recruits during training and orientation. As a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, Zach has a unique perspective about the challenges of finding employment on the spectrum. 

“I enjoyed sharing my personal experiences and insights relating to employment on the spectrum with applicants and SunPork staff, to help everyone have a better understanding of what it’s like to be employed and on the spectrum,” said Zach. 

Zach is delighted to see that this new project is generating positive community interest.

“The team from Channel 10’s The Project were onsite during the first wave of the project, and it’s great to see this fantastic initiative gaining momentum and interest on a national scale,” said Zach.

“These types of projects are making a great difference in people’s lives. We met and worked with many applicants that would have otherwise been hard-pressed to gain employment traditionally.”

Watch the full story that featured on The Project here.