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APS confirms commitment to employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Media release

More than 160 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees from the Australian Public Service and the broader Commonwealth public sector attended the Third National Indigenous Australian Public Service Employees’ Conference that concluded today in Melbourne.

The annual conference, organised by the Australian Public Service Commission in partnership with the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, forms an important element of the ‘Closing the Gap’ agenda, by demonstrating the Commonwealth’s practical commitment to reducing Indigenous economic disadvantage, specifically through the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. At June 2009 the APS alone employed over 3100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in ongoing roles.

In his keynote address, the Hon. Gary Gray AO MP, Special Minister of State for Public Service and Integrity noted that

Employment shapes our lives. It gives us purpose and means, and this gives us dignity. Being employed leads to improved wealth and asset creation for families and communities, which in turn has a positive influence on the health and education of children. Finding ways to increase the economic participation of the Indigenous working age population is a priority for this government.

Deputy Public Service Commissioner, Carmel McGregor, highlighted that the employment of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in the APS is not only about social justice.

Diversity is an important component of any workforce, and particularly the APS. Diversity is about representing the experiences, backgrounds, and lives of all Australians. It is about bringing understanding, respect and appreciation into the workplace. Indigenous people are a big part of that.

The Commission’s Indigenous Liaison Officer, Gerrit Wanganeen, described the public sector as a rewarding place to work, noting that

Through a career in the APS, you have the opportunity to work for organisations that offer job security, work-life balance and that respect your Indigenous heritage. The public service provides stimulating and diverse types of work which can impact on all parts of Australian society not just Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Conference speakers included eminent Indigenous community leaders and professionals, including Warren Mundine, CEO of NTSCORP Ltd, and Kerry Arabena, co-chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, as well as senior Indigenous and non-Indigenous public sector leaders.

The conference supports the Indigenous employment targets set by the Council of Australian Governments and more specifically the Commonwealth target of 2.7% Indigenous employment by 2015. The conference is a key consultation mechanism with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public servants. The outcomes of the conference are used to inform the Commission and other APS agencies when developing Indigenous employment and retention strategies.

For further information please contact Sherryn Bellis on 0429 045 601 or sherryn.bellis [at] apsc.gov.au