Department of Health

Rise program

Rise is a recruitment program that aims to provide people on the autism spectrum with sustainable and meaningful employment options.

About the Rise program

Established by the former Victorian Department of Health and Human Services in 2017, the program foregoes the traditional recruitment process, and instead uses half-day Discovery Days to recruit people with autism to demonstrate their strengths and role-related capabilities. They serve as an introduction to the department, work environment and teams, as well as enabling candidates to obtain a hands-on experience of the types of activities that they could potentially be asked to undertake if offered an internship.

"Traditional recruitment processes can make it difficult for people on the autism spectrum to enter the workplace. In addition, a poor understanding of autism and a lack of support for autistic employees can create barriers to maintaining employment." – Chris Hofmann.

People on the spectrum have consistently been under-represented in the workforce due to stigma and the difficulties they may face in navigating traditional recruitment systems.

The Rise program aims to:

  • Remove barriers to recruitment
  • Evaluate the impact of participation in the program on the health and wellbeing of people with autism
  • Identify organisational factors contributing to the perceived effectiveness of the program
  • Identify barriers and enablers informing future implementation.

Recruitment and support framework

The Rise Recruitment and Support Framework provides an alternative approach to the recruitment process, letting job candidates show their role-related skills and personal strengths over an extended recruitment period, and provides the opportunity to demonstrate their fitness for a role.

The specialised assessment has also removed the need for participants to undergo an interview, with assessment of the individual focusing on their application to the role via a half-day Discovery Day.

The framework across five key stages:

  1. Promote – initial promotion of the Rise program will occur on a public-facing website or portal account. It will include comprehensive information about the opportunities in the Rise team and the environment in which the team operates.
  2. Learn – this stage provides candidates with an opportunity to learn more about the role, the environment, and the government as an employer. This also helps the Rise management team learn more about the candidate’s skills and whether they might be a good fit for the role. This stage has 2 components:
    1. an online application form
    2. a half-day onsite introduction to the working environment (Discovery Day).
  3. Internship – this stage offers candidates full exposure to the role. There are 2 paid internship components in the program. The first is a 2-week Internship Stage One. This is followed by a 4-week Internship Stage Two for successful candidates who are interested in continuing and who meet goals set together in Internship Stage One.
  4. Offer and onboarding – this stage involves offering the successful candidates roles within the organisation and getting them started in the workplace.
  5. Ongoing support – is an extension of the support offered during the internship stage and is available to both employees and their management teams throughout the employment lifecycle.

Start your career in the public service

The Rise program is focused on people on the autism spectrum.

If you are interested in starting a career in the Victorian public service, and finding out more about any open roles, register your interest by emailing

Our recruitment process is non-traditional. It focuses on introducing you to the work at a pace suited to you, and from there we can determine if the role is a good fit for you.

What we can offer you

The Department of Health promotes diversity and equal opportunity in employment and we are committed to building a diverse workforce and creating a culturally safe and inclusive workplace.

What it’s like working on the Rise program

People who have been part of a team or who work individually have positive things to say about the program.

Rachel's story

“After completing a Bachelor of Communication at university, I found it difficult to obtain even an entry level role largely due to my shyness in interacting with peers and teachers which limited my opportunity to network.

As a result, I had minimal work experience which was also a barrier to finding a job.

I was recruited as a Records Officer in late 2019 as part of the Rise program pilot which followed a three-week assessment process. This was before the introduction of the Rise Recruitment and Support Framework which now follows half-day Discovery Days which serve as an introduction to the department, worksite, team, and role.

I have since been promoted to a delegator role.

Whilst I am excited to have experienced such career progression but look forward to further stepping into other roles and beyond – as my career goal is to work in an actual communications role one day – although I acknowledge it’s as a result of the Rise program that I have been able to get a foot into the workplace.”

Thomas’ story

Thomas Quine is employed in the Department of Health where he supports a range of activities to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. In 2023, Thomas undertook a secondment with the Victorian Public Sector Commission, working on a project focused on improving economic participation in the public sector for autistic people.

Prior to obtaining work with the Victorian public service, Thomas experienced a lengthy period of unemployment and described this experience as feeling as though his life was ‘on pause.’ Thomas says he had significant difficulty in finding work and that one of the biggest barriers for him was the job interview process.

Traditional job interviews can be problematic for many autistic people as interviews typically assess a candidate’s ‘soft’ skills with interview performance relying heavily on a candidate’s communication skills and relationship building with unfamiliar people. For many people, traditional job interviews do not allow them to demonstrate their capabilities and strengths.

At 31 years of age, Thomas was diagnosed and shortly after this, he found work via the Rise program, an autism employment initiative at the Department of Health which provides an alternate pathway to common recruitment practices. This gave him the start that he needed and enabled Thomas to contribute his knowledge, skills and insights to his role and also to his broader advocacy work focussed on improving inclusive work practices across the public sector. Thomas says that finding work has given him a sense of purpose and the financial autonomy to ‘unpause and start living my life.’

An important aspect to Thomas’ career is his work in autism advocacy through the Autism Success Network (ASN). The ASN is one of several disability employee networks within the Victorian public sector and provides opportunities for collaboration, support and sharing of resources across Victorian government departments. However, without having had the initial employment opportunity, Tom’s critically important work in making workplaces better for autistic people, would not have been possible.

As the Chair of the ASN, Thomas says a key focus of his role is supporting public sector leaders in creating inclusive and respectful workplaces. He says public sector leaders are driving change and demonstrating their commitment to increased employment outcomes for autistic people by consulting with autism advocates when making decisions that affect autistic people.

How we support staff

The department strives to create a pleasant work environment for its employees, and Rise program staff are no exception.

Reasonable adjustments such as noise cancelling headphones and adjustable lighting are accommodated for staff members with sensory sensitivities, and desks and seating arrangements can be adjusted to make working in the office as comfortable as possible.

All neurodiverse staff members (and their manager and team) can access the Neurodiverse Confidence Services (NCS) panel which supports positive workplace experiences for neurodiverse employees through counselling and coaching support at work.

Register your interest

We recognise that people on the autism spectrum face barriers to employment and so may have experienced an inconsistent employment history. However, if you have a CV and would like to send it to us, please email the document as a Word or PDF file to

Reviewed 09 January 2024


Contact Us

For more information about the Rise program or to ask a question, email:

Rise program

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