Building an Indigenous Employment Strategy kit

Last updated: 15 Oct 2011

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Improving employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians is now a responsibility for all agencies across the Commonwealth public sector.

The revised version of Building an Indigenous Employment Strategy–A Starter Kit for Commonwealth Agencies (the Kit) is now available. The Kit was first developed in 2008 to assist in the development of Indigenous Employment Strategies across the Australian Public Service (APS), and has now been expanded to assist all Commonwealth agencies. The Kit has been reviewed and updated by the Australian Public Service Commission in partnership with the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Across the Commonwealth public sector, agencies are at different stages in addressing Indigenous employment issues. An Indigenous Employment Strategy (IES) is an important tool to confirm your agency's commitment, identify the areas to make improvements, and outline actions for moving forward. It is the starting point to bring about the organisational change required to provide meaningful steps to improve Indigenous employment.

Summary

Why an Indigenous employment strategy?

The Kit identifies three focus areas crucial to Indigenous Employment.

These areas include:

  • Workplace Environment
  • Attraction and recruitment
  • Retention

The kit also provides a range of links and resources to assist agencies.

Developing an IES is an opportunity for agencies to address workforce planning and development issues. An IES can be one pillar in a workforce strategy to attract the best people to meet business needs.

An IES can also help agencies build the skills of all of their employees, so that they are more confident and capable in developing and delivering services to the entire Australian community.

Building an Indigenous Employment Strategy kit

Background overview

Key points
  • Improving Indigenous employment is a responsibility for all Commonwealth agencies.
  • Indigenous employment levels have stabilised in the APS over the last few years. However, insufficient progress is being made.
  • Indigenous employees are over-represented at lower level positions, and under-represented at higher level positions.
  • Indigenous people are the fastest growing population in Australia.
  • Meeting the 2015 target is about workforce capability and good people management.

Focus area 1: Workplace environment

Key points
  • Embed your IES as part of your corporate priorities, Human Capital Strategy, Reconciliation Action Plan and Workforce Diversity Plan
  • Understand and utilise the experience of Indigenous employees who are working/have worked in your agency
  • A good IES depends on:
    • a strong rationale
    • workable agency-specific strategies
    • a senior leader to progress initiatives and reinforce agency expectations
    • line manager support to moderate the workplace experience
    • an active Indigenous Employment Coordinator

Focus area 2: Attraction and recruitment

Key points
  • Understand where Indigenous applicants find out about your job opportunities and target advertising effectively.
  • Encourage Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people to apply for positions in your agency.
  • If you promote yourself as an employer of choice to Indigenous Australians, make sure you deliver the promise.
  • Be aware that Indigenous applicants may perform differently at interview due to cultural expectations.

Focus area 3: Retention

Key points
  • Managers play a key role in employee retention and engagement, and should see people management as a key responsibility.
  • A good induction process and supportive workplace contribute to retention.
  • Career pathways and development opportunities are essential for growing and retaining the future workforce.
  • Understanding why Indigenous employees leave your agency will help address negative workplace factors.

Further support for agencies is available through the Indigenous Employment HR Forum and the Indigenous Employment HR Coordinators GovDex website. For more information on these initiatives or advice on your IES contact the Commission's Indigenous Liaison Officer at IndigenousLiaisonOfficer@apsc.gov.au.