A trial program will employ autistic Canberrans while providing researchers with an understanding of how work can affect their lives and independence.
The project, which is to be launched in October, will be funded by the Department of Human Services. Autistic adults with work with Hewlett-Packard as software testers.
Latrobe University's autism research centre director, Cheryl Dissanayake, said academics would monitor the participants to improve their understanding of autism.
"We have been brought in as the research partners for this project as there is very little research on adults with autism as the majority is based on children," she said.
"What we do know is that about half of adults with autism are employed and most of those are usually underemployed."
As part of the collaboration – called the Dandelion Project – the Danish Specialist People Foundation will select and assess autistic Canberrans who are then hired by Hewlett-Packard to work as software testers.
The trial program is under way in Adelaide and more than 10 people have been employed since January.
Ms Dissanayake said it was crucial the research be used to increase employment opportunities for adults with autism.
"Employment reduces reliance on government funding and increases the tax base," she said. "This is a win not only for the person with autism but also their families, their employers and the community at large."
Foundation founder Thorkil Sonne said she was delighted to work on the program in Australia.
"Employers will, in the coming years, have a fantastic opportunity to get access to [an] untapped pool of talented people with autism," she said.
"Hewlett-Packard and DHS have seen the potential and are leading the way in Australia."
Ms Dissanayake said the program was initiated by Hewlett-Packard and autistic Canberrans would be employed as software testers in co-operation with the DHS.
"We have three years of funding so what we want to do is extend this beyond the software testing program to understand what helps participants succeed and whether it can be extended to other industries," she said.
"We will be focusing on what employment means for these people and how it impacts upon their families and colleagues."
Latrobe University vice-chancellor John Dewar said he was proud the university was undertaking research on social issues such as autism, disability and employment."
"We see this research partnership as informing game-changing public policy as we transition to the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme)," he said.
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