TAWC Talks: The human-animal relationship

Dr. Kirsty Richards, SunPork Group
Autism and Agriculture

Dr. Kirsty Richards is a veterinarian at SunPork Farms and the project leader for Autism and Agriculture. Developed by SunPork Farms and the Autism CRC, Autism and Agriculture is an initiative aimed at employing people on the autism spectrum in full-time jobs in agriculture and creating rewarding careers for them. Kirsty has overseen SunPork’s change in its recruitment system to accommodate autistic employees, who have been identified as having particular skills suited to working in specialist animal care roles.


Mr. Andrew Davis,
CEO, AutismCRC

In his role as Chief Executive Officer, Andrew leads the Autism CRC’s vision to see autistic people empowered to discover and use their diverse strengths and interests.

He drives the whole-of-life approach which is predicated on inclusive research practices and coproduction, to ensure the research provides practical and tangible outputs that benefit the community.

Prior to joining the Autism CRC, Andrew enjoyed a career as a Chief Executive and Company Director working with innovators, managing the development and translation of innovative technologies and programs for application in the engineering, biomedical and social science sectors. For more than 20 years, Andrew has worked in developing and commercialising intellectual property, through licensing or venture financing, translating research outcomes to product, policy and practice.



1. Autism CRC
Autism CRC is the world’s first national cooperative research centre focused on autism across the lifespan. Through a unique collaboration with the autism community, research organisations, industry and government, Autism CRC provides the national capacity of develop and deliver evidence-based policy, programs and resources.



2. The Integrated Employment Success Tool: an evidence-based guide
Developed specifically for employers, this practical workplace manual is free to access and can be used across a variety of work environments to improve employer confidence, employee productivity, job retention and the overall workplace success of autistic people. The Integrated Employment Success Tool provides employers with information about:

  • autism and the strengths of autistic employees
  • the benefits of employing autistic individuals
  • the employment process and important factors for successful employment
  • strategies to implement workplace modifications
  • a range of resources, including editable checklists and templates.



3. Autism and Agriculture program – Evaluation report
The Autism and Agriculture Program was a world-first initiative of SunPork Farms and Autism CRC to employ autistic individuals in piggeries. The program was developed as a pilot which could then be evaluated and modified for use within the agriculture industry.