Celebrating 27 years of the A-Team

01 April 2022

Eleni and Alex, together with their team, have been providing an accessible, timely and accurate service for over 27 years. It started way back in 1995, with SA Pathology and Autism SA partnering to create employment for adults on the Autism spectrum, and it continues with success.

“My special group is called the A-Team, which is known as the Autism Team” Eleni says proudly.

Their work is an integral part of the organisation's delivery of service, organising lab material ready for samples. Eleni explains that “over the decades there have been jobs that come and go, like VTMs, media filtering jobs, chlamydia kits, heat-sealing, dry heating etc. In the last couple of years, we even packed some COVID-19 kits”.

A handwritten quote takes pride of place on the wall of the busy lab where the A-Team work:
“The meaning of life is just a matter of attitude. It’s the way that we make it up to be.”
- Eleni

Eleni is a natural leader - her interests lie in the supernatural, she is always pondering the meaning of dreams, the human spirit, and the importance of the environment.

Heepsy, one of the team’s support workers, says that "Eleni is such a caring person. She cares deeply with her whole heart for the environment, for people, for animals and about doing the best job possible. It is this genuine care and attention to producing quality work that makes her such a valued worker here and has seen her lead her A-Team in this area, picking up any little mistake or anything forgotten, as well as making sure all those she works with are okay.”

Eleni’s many years of experience in the workplace have also shown her that even if you make a mistake, it’s fixable, and with both the support staff and SA Pathology staff being so understandable, she has leant valuable problem solving skills.

Alex is known for his friendly vivacious manner, greeting his colleagues with a big "hello", and it's appreciated. The gesture radiates positivity throughout the building and is often responded to with a wave and smile. Alex explains that he "likes doing the pipette tips and working with Eleni and my supervisor Rebecca.”

When asked about Alex’s strengths, Heepsy says that “Alex is a very important member of the team who works extremely well with his hands, which many of the jobs here requires. He brings up lots of interesting conversations, which he shares with us all.”

“He loves to say hello to people, which is a beautiful quality, but you find there are people who think maybe ‘who’s this person saying hello?’ and so they just walk past. This sometimes makes Alex upset as he is unable to see that not everyone is comfortable to respond. But what has helped, is that the staff here, who may have never been exposed to people on the spectrum, little-by-little, have become more comfortable with stopping and having a chat.”

“It’s a learning process for everyone, and that’s the beauty of integration in the workplace.”

SA Pathology provides a safe working environment, where people can become independent, have choices, earn wages, and develop friendships. Having a neurodiverse workforce allows for a focus on an individual's abilities, not disabilities, giving purpose and tools to succeed.

Eleni is proud of her success, saying “I’ve won some awards, such as the ‘10 Years of Service’ award and the ‘Pride of Workmanship’ award. I hope that my colleagues will win some awards of their own.”

“If I happen to leave work for good or retire when I get older, I’d like to encourage one of the young adults on the Autism spectrum to take over my spot.”

Thank you, Eleni, and Alex, for your 27 years of service, and to the rest of the A-Team, for your contributions to SA Pathology.

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