Autism and Agriculture

Animal Care Opportunities – South Australia


About Autism and Agriculture

An initiative of SunPork Farms and Autism CRC, Autism and Agriculture aims to employ and develop career paths for adults on the spectrum in specialist animal care roles.  The Program will harness the diverse skills some autistic individuals have in animal care to provide sustainable employment in the agricultural industry and ultimately enhance the welfare of livestock.

The South Australian government has recognised this potential and has generously contributed $150,000 towards the pilot program via the CRC For High Integrity Australian Pork.

Specialisterne Australia is dedicated to assisting people on the autism spectrum to find and retain employment through specialised recruitment, training and support programs. The program team will adapt and apply existing Specialisterne techniques used in the IT sector, to support candidates through the recruitment, employment and evaluation process in the agriculture sector.

About SunPork Farms

SunPork Farms is a wholly Australian-owned, integrated pork production enterprise based on more than 40 years of family farming traditions.  Our business has grown, developed and now brings together 38,500 sows across 34 sites in three states, representing 15% of Australian pork production and supporting rural communities in South Australia.

SunPork Farms is committed to the care and welfare of our pigs and the production of high quality, sustainable, Australian pork.  We believe that the integration of the diverse skills and attributes of people with autism into our business will have far-reaching consequences for SunPork Farms’ animals, its people and their communities.  In particular:

  • Life-changing opportunities for people with autism; and
  • Optimal welfare for livestock.


The Positions

SunPork Farms seeks 4 motivated individuals to join our organisation in Pig Care positions,  in South Australia.

Based at piggeries in the Sheaoak Log and Wasleys regions of South Australia, these are unique positions working directly in the care of our livestock.dsc_0098-2

SunPork Farms is committed to the care and welfare of our pigs and the production of high quality, sustainable, Australian pork.  We believe that people on the autism spectrum with an affinity for animals have specialist skills that will enhance our capabilities.

If you love or have an interest in animals we encourage you to apply.


Reporting to the Unit Manager and supported by a career mentor, your responsibilities may include;

  • Tending to monitoring, routine feeding and care of stock (i.e. the pigs);
  • Assisting sows and piglets with farrowing (birth);
  • Neonatal care of piglets and sows through to weaning;
  • Maintaining a high quality environment for the welfare and well-being of stock;
  • Maintaining piggery facilities and equipment
  • Caring for sick and/or injured stock; and
  • Moving, drafting and weighing stock;
  • Collecting and recording production data;


20150514_105656-2Your animal health career will be developed with on and off-farm training, supported by your career mentor.  SunPork Farms operates a nationally recognised registered training organisation (RTO), through which the development of further skills and qualifications is strongly supported.   Opportunities for career progression are available.

All pigs are housed indoors, creating a comfortable environment for both our animals and workforce.





  • Must have a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum including Asperger Syndrome
  • Must be 17 years or over
  • Must have the right to work in Australia
  • Must be able to attend the entire 3 day workshop phase
  • Must be able to attend the entire 2 week assessment phase, which is paid
  • Capacity to live independently where living in a company residence (Dalby only), or live within an easy daily commute of Sheaoak Log or Wasleys
  • Commitment to upholding the highest levels of animal welfare
  • Commitment to training and professional development
  • Preparedness to work alternate weekends and some public holidays
  • Physically fit and able to cope with the physical demands of the role, which include working with animals and manual handling tasks as listed below;
  • Successful applicants will be required to undertake a medical examination to confirm fitness for work

Positions will involve;

  • Repetitive bending and stooping
  • Repetitive kneeling
  • Frequent twisting
  • Standing and/or walking for extended periods (2 hours at a time)
  • Lifting weights up to 20kg
  • Working in noisy areas (noise level of a garbage truck or tractor from a distance of 10m)
  • Working in areas where the temperature may reach 40 degrees on occasion
  • Verbal communication


Residential and Travel Assistance – South Australia


Applicants for our South Australian positions must live within an easy daily commute of Sheaoak Log or Wasleys.  Assistance with travel to and from work may be available in the form of car-pooling.



How to Apply

Step 1

Complete the online application questionnaire.

Click Here to Complete Online Questionnaire

Step 2

We would like your help to understand a little more about you.

Please choose one of the methods below to provide some extended details about yourself including;

  • Who you are
  • Your experience with animals
  • Why you love or have a special interest in animals
  • Why you think you might be suitable for this position
  • What you think this position might do for you

Please choose from;

  1. 4 photographs with captions (click for example) or
  2. Short video of less than 5 mins (see an example below) or
  3. A short written response (100-300 words)


Please send your response via email along with evidence of a positive ASD or Asperger Syndrome diagnosis i.e. Diagnostic Assessment or a letter from a Treating Medical Practitioner via e-mail to:IMG_2662 (1) (1)



5PM ON 20 JANUARY 2017 at the LATEST!



Selection Process

There are three steps in the application process outlined below. Only successful candidates at each stage will progress to the next stage of the process.

  1. Complete the online application process on this website
  2. Attend a three-day workshop
  3. Attend a two-week training program
  4. Successful candidates notified of employment offer

Three-day workshop overview

  • Day 1:  9am-1pm: (Group 1) Four hour conference-room introduction to piggeries; 1pm-5pm: (Group 2) Four hour conference-room introduction to piggeries.
  • Day 2: 9am-1pm (Group 1) Piggery visit including four hours in piggery, two hours travel (transport and lunch provided)
  • Day 3: (Group 2) Piggery visit including four hours in piggery, two hours travel (transport and lunch provided)

The workshop is designed to measure affinity and aptitude for the position.

Expected dates for workshop

  • February 2017, Sheaoak Log, South Australia

Two-week training program overview

After the workshop, successful candidates will be notified of acceptance to a two-week (Week 1: Tuesday to Thursday, Week 2: Tuesday to Thursday) training program (transport and lunch provided).  If accepted, you will be paid for the 2 week training program.  Candidates must make their own way to Sheaoak Log for the work shop and training periods.  Recommendations and assistance regarding accommodation and other local services will be provided.

Successful candidates notified

After the training program, successful candidates will be notified that they have been offered an animal care position with SunPork Farms.  These positions will be subject to a 6 month probation period.  Candidates not offered a job at this stage will receive notification that their application has not been successful. Specialisterne Australia will meet with unsuccessful candidates after the assessment is complete and work with them to identify other training or employment options.

Key Actions – South Australia

  • Applications open 6 October 2016
  • Applications close 20th January 2017
  • Notification of acceptance to workshop from 21 December 2016
  • Attendance at workshop February 2017
  • Notification of acceptance to 2wk training program February 2017
  • Attendance at training program February 2017
  • Notification of job offer February 2017
  • Start date at SunPork Farms March 2017


For further information please contact Employment Services Manager Jay Hobbs via email or via phone on 04144 08643.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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