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Direct Entry Indigenous APS employees - Share Your story

In their own words, these current Indigenous APS Employees talk about why they chose to work in the APS, what they have learned, gained and contributed so far, and their goals for the future.

The following stories are only just a few examples of the kinds of opportunities and achievements within the Australian Public Service that could be waiting for you.

James

Where are you from/Who’s your mob?:

Born in Darwin, NT

Father’s country: Limingun – Kakadu Mother country: Mutpburra/TjingilliSkin: Japananga

Position:

Program Manager. Indigenous Employment Strategies

Agency:

DHS

Current location:

Canberra

How long have you been working in the APS? What aspects of working in the APS appealed to you?

  • Good work conditions, good pay
  • Career opportunities
  • Permanent job
  • Chance to help others grow
  • Sharing my knowledge

Please describe your current role/ what you enjoy about it:

I manage the Indigenous Mentoring and Buddy program

I like the contact I have with the mentors and it makes me feel good to know that I am part of a process that is helping our Indigenous staff to grow in terms of career progression and retention

How do you feel your experience, skills and personal attributes contribute to your role in the APS?

I use all of my skills in doing my job especially my communication skills, ability to listen and understand what other Indigenous staff is saying to me. As an older man I get to share a bit of my knowledge to those who are willing to communicate

How do you see your experience in the APS contributing to your future career goals?

My skills base is growing which will only enhance my knowledge and wisdom which will assist me to progress into areas of work where I feel I am able to share and be of use especially using my communication and cultural skills.

Based on your personal experience and opinion, what are the key messages that you would hope to send to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about careers in the APS?

  • Great place to work with many opportunities to grow and develop a career
  • DHS is a place that I feel accepted as an Indigenous man and if I put my mind to it I am sure that can achieve anything because there is so much on offer – you have to be in it to win it

Can you describe a time when you had an experience or encounter that inspired you and impacted upon your career direction?

Yes I have met many inspiring people who have guided me, given me insight into life and work which has helped me to become the person I am today. It is these skills that I am seeking to share with others. Not sure where I am heading but I know I want to make a difference and I want to help others.

Would you encourage other Indigenous Australians to apply for jobs in the APS? Why?

Yes I encourage all Indigenous people to apply to the APS. There are so many opportunities to grow and progress a career. It is up to you to think outside the square, believe in yourself because you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

Will

Where are you from/Who’s your mob?:

Born and bred in La Perouse but my mob is Ngemba from Brewarrina and Bourke NSW

Position:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Manager NSW and ACT

Agency:

Australian Bureau of Statistics

Current location:

NSW state office Sydney

How long have you been working in the APS? What aspects of working in the APS appealed to you?

I commenced in 2006 with (the former) DEST in Dubbo with a vision of assisting our mob use education to gain better outcomes across community

Please describe your current role/ what you enjoy about it:

In my current role I get to visit communities and organisation across NSW and the ACT, to return data collected from surveys in a personal and useful way. I assist Aboriginal people to access and used data collected by the ABS, so I am still using education as the key to our future success. I also encourage participation in surveys and Census, by engaging with Aboriginal people and organisations; this ensures a voice for everyone in each community.

Please describe your career pathway, both prior and post to joining the APS:

Before the APS I worked for Country Energy in Dubbo for 5 years in their warehouse, before that when I was still in Sydney I was with ANSETT for 14 years working across all areas of the industry, the most enjoyable part was working with the training team, this rekindled my desire for education and I attended TAFE and gained Business management qualifications as well as becoming a saddle maker (long story)

How do you feel your experience, skills and personal attributes contribute to your role in the APS?

As anyone who knows me will tell you if I have the passion for something then I tend to be over talkative about the possibilities, I believe that when I rediscovered the merits of education I also discovered that this could be a benefit to everyone so I made a decision to follow through and give back whatever I could to our mob

How do you see your experience in the APS contributing to your future career goals?

Hey I am 61 nearly time to hang up the hat and relax, maybe go fishing more?

Would you encourage other Indigenous Australians to apply for jobs in the APS? Why?

I regularly encourage other Aboriginal people to apply because I think that the diversity of roles across the APS is great, It may take a little while but your dream job is there you just need to look to find it.

Anita-Lee

Where are you from/Who’s your mob?

I grew up in the Tweed Heads and Gold Coast region. So I have historical links to Bunjalung and Yugambeh with my traditional links being Bidjara in Western QLD.

Position:

Director, Indigenous Services Branch, Indigenous Service Delivery Support Team

Agency:

Department of Human Services

Current location:

Bundaberg, QLD

How long have you been working in the APS? What aspects of working in the APS appealed to you?

I have been with the APS for 24 years and what appealed to me were the career pathways into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service delivery.

I wanted to make a difference in this area and to help our people at the grassroots level. I feel I am in a role that does make a real difference for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Please describe your current role/ what you enjoy about it:

I am currently the Director of the Indigenous Service Delivery Support Team in the Indigenous Service Branch. I enjoy this role because I have the opportunity to contribute to conversations on service delivery improvements that support our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in overcoming disadvantage.

I am able to contribute to the systemic changes required to increase access to the range of services, programs and payments offered by the department. My Aboriginal culture has given me so much and I am now ‘paying it the forward’ through my role within the APS.

What keeps you working within the APS?

I love a challenge and in the APS I experience a range of challenges that keeps me engaged and interested in my work. I have a keen interest in government; in particular the development of policy and seeing it is implemented into service delivery.

Most importantly my commitment and passion in being a voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the APS keeps me connected and engaged within the Public Service.

Please describe your career pathway, both prior and post to joining the APS:

My very first job was picking peas with my Aunt on the Tweed. This was hard work and it was during one of those days when muscle soreness really kicked in. I decided that maybe picking peas was not my career choice and that I needed to explore my future options.

After completing a couple of years at Business College I worked for a local Aboriginal community organisation. This led to taking a temporary contract with the Department of Employment, Education and Training in the Lismore Zone Office. The Zone Manager there supported me to sit the Australian Public Service test in Sydney.

I commenced my APS career as an ASO1 at the Department of Social Security based in Murwillumbah, NSW. I started in the filing range and it was during this time I decided my career aspiration was to become an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Liaison Officer (AILO) at the ASO4 level. To achieve this, I made the decision to learn everything I needed to know about service delivery in a range of positions such as; JET Officer, SNAP Officer, Field Assessor, Assurance of Support Assessor and Counter Assessor.

My hard work paid off and I became the Tweed Heads AILO and for many years serviced the Tweed Heads and Gold Coast region. I then became the Area’s Indigenous Services Unit Coordinator (APS5) followed by a Manager (APS6). I was given the opportunity by my Director to do a 3 month placement with the National Indigenous Services Branch at the APS6 level as a development opportunity. I gladly took up the offer and some 4.5 years later I am still working in the Indigenous Services Branch.

I was promoted to an EL1 and then as an EL2 Director in recent years. I have had the opportunity to undertake some short stints as an acting SES Band 1 which has been a great learning experience, as I got to see the decision making process in action.

How do you feel your experience, skills and personal attributes contribute to your role in the APS?

My career experience has been a challenge and at times not easy, but I would not change my experience one bit. During my APS career I have been supported by my family, my peers and mentors who have this unbelievable belief in what I can achieve. I think every role I have undertaken in the department has given me the experience that I needed to grow as a Leader for my family, community and department. Every National Manager I have worked with has shown me a component of leadership that has informed the way I lead, this has been invaluable.

In terms of skills, I started in the department with a Diploma of Computer Science and Secretary Certificate. Throughout my public service career I accessed a range of certificate qualifications but after being awarded an APS Public Sector Management Scholarship I completed the Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Management and in December 2012, I graduated with a Masters of Public Sector Leadership. Keeping my skills current and going outside of my comfort zone has resulted in some great outcomes.

Balancing family, community and work has had its moments but I stay extremely grounded to where I come from and who I am. I am acutely aware of the sacrifices that have been made to achieve my goals and I am very respectful and grateful for the support I have. I am humble in my approach to family, community and work. I honour my Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture everyday through my leadership style which is based on integrity, honesty, truth and respect.

Based on your personal experience and opinion, what are three key messages that you would hope to send to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about careers in the APS?

  • Remember who you are, where you come from and honour this every day in your interactions with others.
  • Have a career goal and strive to go beyond it.
  • Keep learning new skills, take yourself out of your comfort zone, have a go.

Would you encourage other Indigenous Australians to apply for jobs in the APS? Why?

I would strongly encourage any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander to apply for an Australian Public Service position. If you want a career that offers mobility, challenges, skilling and an avenue to contribution to community then the APS is an employer I would definitely recommend.

Bianca

Where are you from/Who’s your mob?

I was born in Armidale (NSW) and it was here that I commenced my education. We moved to Newcastle and I completed my primary school education and went on to gain my HSC at Cessnock High School. My dad’s family from Holland (mother’s side) and white Australian’s (father’s side). My mum’s mob comes from Moree (Kamilaroi clan) on her father’s side and Kempsey (Dainggatti clan) on her mother’s side. My nan (mum’s mother) grew up around Newcastle and then Armidale after her mother died. As a young Aboriginal woman I strongly identify with the Moree (Kamilaroi clan) side of my family heritage.

Position:

Team Leader – Global Feedback Unit

Agency:

Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP)

Current location:

Melbourne VIC

How long have you been working in the APS? What aspects of working in the APS appealed to you?

In 2008 I commenced an APS traineeship with the ATO and have remained in the Public Service since then.

A key aspect that appealed to me is the job security and then work/life balance that the APS provides to its employees.

However since joining the APS I’ve found what holds the greatest appeal for me is that the APS in genuine in their commitment to provide support, direction and opportunities to its Indigenous staff and dedicated to positioning themselves as an employer of choice for Indigenous people. The APS also encourage Indigenous staff to achieve all they can rather than just stay in an Entry Level Position; they provide the training and support to enable their staff to further their career path.

Please describe your current role/ what you enjoy about it:

Currently I’m a team leader overseeing ten staff (10) that are responsible for DIBP’s complaints handling process.

The most enjoyable part of the role for me is that it is a constant challenge and a great opportunity for me to grow both personally as well as professionally.

Also being able to support my staff and then in turn give them development opportunities. To be able to provide this support is the most rewarding part of the job.

What keeps you working within the APS?

Every day is different and presents new opportunities and challenges along with the fact that I can see how government policy as well as the actions I take can have a really positive impact on people’s lives and the broader community.

Also as a first time mother I really appreciate that the APS offers flexible working arrangement and conditions that allow me always have my family as my first priority without have to sacrifice my career.

Please describe your career pathway, both prior and post to joining the APS:

During my final year of schooling I have very little direction about what career path I wanted to take or what I was hoping to achieve. I stumbled across the Indigenous traineeships the APSC offered and was successful in securing a role with the ATO.

I remained at the ATO for 3.5 years and during that time I still didn’t have a clear career pathway however I found that putting my hand up for every opportunity allowed me work in variety of roles as well as provide me with the necessary skills and experience to be successful in securing a promotion 18 months after I completed my traineeship.

In 2011 I was again promoted and transferred to the DIBP where I was part of a new unit that centralised the way the Department collected allegation relating to Immigration and Citizenship fraud.

I then took 9 month leave to have my first child and upon my return to work in March 2013 I joined the Global Feedback Unit (GFU) as a Complaints Handling Officer and in September 2013 I stepped into the Team Leader role for the GFU.

Since then I have moved across to the National Allegations and Assessments Team in the Department and work as an allegations officer where I conduct assessments of serious and complex allegations and refer them to our investigations teams to ensure the integrity of the programs run by DIBP.

How do you feel your experience, skills and personal attributes contribute to your role in the APS?

Being from, and identifying with, a minority cultural group I am able to empathise and engage with a wide range of colleagues and clients which is particularly relevant in my role at Immigration because on a daily basis I deal with people from a wide range of cultural backgrounds.

The support and training along with my own personal experience has allowed me to be confident to express my views and opinion to champion better outcomes for my business area.

Based on your personal experience and opinion, what are three key messages that you would hope to send to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about careers in the APS?

Don’t hold back. Don’t not try, take the steps and see where the APS can take you. There can be no better platform to commence your career, the options are open to you, just be strong and take the step.

It doesn’t matter that, at first, you don’t know what you want to do or where you want to be, when you get here there will be so many doors that you can try and eventually you will find something that you will love doing, someone you can help.

The rewards you receive for doing a good job is not just your achievement, it the achievement of all your family and your community. Working in the APS closes the gap between the Indigenous community’s perception of government departments and we need more Indigenous staff in the APS to make those changes, so the rewards are twofold, you get a great job and you get to help your community at the same time.

Can you describe a time when you had an experience or encounter that inspired you and impacted upon your career direction?

There was an article written and published online in a National newspaper about myself as well as other APS employees that called into question my Aboriginality as well as my qualifications.

This article had a deep impact on me as well as my family after reading it I was ready to walk away from the career that I had built for myself. After speaking with my mother and grandmother I realised that by doing this I would just be admitting defeat and letting down not just myself but everyone that had come before me and that we fought so hard to ensure that I as an Aboriginal woman I had the rights and opportunities that I worked for, this was not an entitled, it is a civil liberty that we fought for and just like all other Australians we should enjoy and reap the fruits of our hard work.

My families experience really inspired me to continue with my career and made me more determined to succeed. Since then my career direction has been more focus on supporting other Indigenous employees. I have been doing this by mentoring other Indigenous trainees and I am actively involved in the Indigenous Employees Network here at Immigration and focusing on creating opportunities and a support network for not only current employees but the local community as well.

Would you encourage other Indigenous Australians to apply for jobs in the APS? Why?

I would definitely encourage other Indigenous Australians to join the APS. It’s a place where you are supported the whole way through your career by an employer who is endeavouring to understand and find solutions to the issues effecting Indigenous employees. It’s also a place where you can have a varied career path in almost any field that can change as you or your interest do while still having the security of one employer.

Stephanie

Where are you from/Who’s your mob?

I am from the Great Southern in Western Australia - Noongar country. My family connections are the Minang, Wiilman, & Goreng Tribes.

Position:

Deputy Regional Manager

Agency:

Aboriginal Hostels Ltd

Current location:

Perth WA

How long have you been working in the APS? What aspects of working in the APS appealed to you?

I have been working in the APS for 2 years

I enjoy the benefits and opportunities that are made available to us and as well the professionalism of the organisation.

Please describe your current role/ what you enjoy about it:

My role entails that I am responsible for the effective and efficient operations of the hostels within AHL Western Australia working under the direction of the Regional Manager. I am also responsible for providing leadership and direction to all of our staff and manage all aspects of the WHS and Infrastructure and Assets within our region.

I absolutely love my job. It has enabled me to work with people from diverse backgrounds and travel around the state to visit our various hostels. I love being able to work alongside our people and being part of the process of providing accommodation to them is very important to me as we aim to provide safe, secure and homely environment during their stay.

Please describe your career pathway, both prior and post to joining the APS:

I have always wanted to make a difference with our people and I became involved in employment so that I could help them pursue their dreams through encouraging and empowerment as they sought meaningful employment. This led to me delivering mentoring sessions within job networks but I then pursued higher and became a Site Manager of a Job Network. Change of pace a few years later and I then was offered an opportunity to work in Hostels. I had never worked for the APS before as I had always been predominately working in the private sector although a short stint in State Government.

Working in Hostels has enabled me to seek great opportunities and I would like to pursue further training opportunities in WHS and government auditing. I hope that this will be fulfilled within the near future.

How do you see your experience in the APS contributing to your future career goals?

The APS is allowing me to work and gain experience in senior management and is enabling me to assist our people by working with them for the benefit of community and housing.

Based on your personal experience and opinion, what are three key messages that you would hope to send to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about careers in the APS?

  1. The APS has benefits for employees and their families and is a rewarding career choice
  2. The APS holds high core values and principles
  3. The APS has diverse roles in the sector to which enables career growth and expansion and travel opportunities throughout all of Australia

Can you describe a time when you had an experience or encounter that inspired you and impacted upon your career direction?

I have been fortunate to meet many diverse people working at AHL but one experience that stood out was when I met a sick man whom was early 20’s. He said that as he is thousands of kms away from his home, AHL had made his stay very enjoyable as they were his family as he had none here. He said they made a difference on the days where he wished he was home as they cheered him up. He said he wouldn’t want to stay anywhere else. From this moment I felt like where I was making was making a difference and that I was a part of the team that made an impact not only on his life but others.

Would you encourage other Indigenous Australians to apply for jobs in the APS? Why?

Yes I would and I would tell them that Indigenous Australians have so many opportunities now that allow them to apply for positions within every government department in Australia. I would encourage them to pursue their dreams to aim high and that we all can make a difference in our community and with this if we do well then others will follow in our footsteps.