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Are we doing enough to help those with conditions such as autism and OCD to find work?

September 11, 2018

 The ABC’s Employable Me series helped raise awareness about the discrimination faced by those with conditions such as autism and OCD who are looking for work. The show was a hit and challenged misconceptions around those living with neuro-diverse conditions.


In April, ABC Television ran a thought-provoking series that challenged Australia’s perception of hiring people living with neuro-diverse conditions. The result of the show, Employable Me, was ground-breaking and posed a number of questions for those working in recruitment.


Producer Jenni Wilks (pictured right) told The Brief the series followed a number of Australians with neuro-diverse conditions such as autism, Tourette Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).


The series utilised the skills of a number of experts to help identify the hidden talents these jobseekers have to match them with jobs where those skills are needed.


This included harnessing the attention to detail a jobseeker with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder might have, or the deep well of knowledge jobseekers with autism can develop.


“The premise of the series was to challenge misconceptions and myths about people who are neuro-diverse and the enormous contribution they can make to the workplace,” Wilks explained.


“We worked closely with two experts; an academic researcher from the University of Sydney and a psychologist with unique expertise working with people with autism.


“They did a number of psychometric tests and assessments with the participants which focused on identifying their often hidden skills and talents. One participant’s test revealed he is in the top two per cent of the population for memory.


“Not only was this a huge boost to the participant’s self-esteem, it also indicated very clearly to the audience the often untapped potential of someone with a neuro-diverse mind.”


Employable Me was inspired by a BBC docu-series and Wilks explained the same team of producers at Northern Pictures who made the acclaimed Changing Minds Series 1 and 2 Demystifying Mental Illness were called in to help.


Wilks said “casting” for the series was done to ensure the wide spectrum of autism and other neuro- diverse conditions were represented and included both male and female participants, and jobseekers of different age groups.


The director and producers also worked closely with autism support organisations, experts, disability employment organisations and community and social groups.

Employable Me series director Cian O’Clery explained that when the search for jobseekers with neuro- diverse conditions began, they found they were hearing the same story time and again during the 12 months they filmed the series.


“We were looking for people with neuro-diverse conditions who wanted a job but were struggling to find one and the people we spoke to really wanted to work, but weren’t being given a chance,” O’Clery said.


“They felt that their disability was something employers couldn’t see beyond, and they were being rejected over and over again.”