Services Australia seeking ADHD recruits after outsource cull

By Julian Bajkowski

May 20, 2024

Bill Shorten
Minister for Services Australia Bill Shorten. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

The Australian Public Service’s ongoing structured separation with outsourcing and the labour-hire industry has started to pay diversity dividends at Services Australia, with the welfare behemoth doubling down on its efforts to hire permanent recruits from otherwise marginalised communities.

After a fairly long-running program with industry partners to employ neurodivergent staff, Services Australia last week said it had expanded its “Aurora Neuroinclusion Program” to include people with an ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) diagnosis.

The expansion is a fairly big step in a formal sense because it means one of the Commonwealth’s biggest agencies is now being required to consider candidates with AD/HD put forward by the Aurora Program rather than just defaulting to labour-hire of contingent resources.

It won’t make an immediate difference, but it will open Services Australia’s ranks and executive understanding of neurodivergent employees over time, especially when they become permanently embedded.

Several agencies with a staff requirement for high technical aptitude, advanced problem-solving skills or specialist abilities have long hired or recruited from on the autism spectrum, including Defence, the Australian Signals Directorate and Tax.

Widening the recruitment pool to AD/HD substantially widens this pool because it takes hiring beyond the trope of people deemed sufficiently gifted or talented to land a job.

In terms of the broader labour force, this sets an example to employers more generally, but specifically the Australian Public Service (APS) to be more inclusive and tolerant of people who do not necessarily automatically conform to rigid requirements.

Services Australia’s indefatigable general manager of Aurora, Hank Jongen, said the agency “recognises the strengths, skills and talents people who are neurodivergent can bring to work.”

“Services Australia supports diverse people from all walks of life, so it’s important our workforce matches that diversity,” Jongen said.

“Close to 90 people have joined the agency through Aurora and have since gained unmeasurable personal and professional confidence.”

It’s still not a huge number, but it’s a significant start at a point of renewal. Outsourcers being curtailed means other people need to be found.

“I encourage anyone eligible and interested in a career in the public service to apply,” Jongen said.

A Services Australia staff member identified only as “Emma” said Aurora put her in a non-judgemental workplace and allowed her to thrive at work.

“I didn’t feel that expectation to mask — the program creates a safe space for us to just be ourselves,” Emma said.

Services Australia said positions now being recruited through Aurora included “Intelligence Officer, Program Support Officer, Information Governance Officer, Data Analyst and Technical Information and Knowledge Officer.”

Applications for the Brisbane round of recruitment close on Sunday, June 9.



Allyship from senior leadership crucial for these neurodivergent public servants

About the author
Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments