Last month the Australian Public Service Commission’s Indigenous Capability Team travelled with HR Practitioners from multiple departments to the northern-most part of the country – the Torres Strait Islands. The group gained a deeper appreciation of the diversity of the Torres Strait Islands, and the varied experiences of APS employees working on the islands.
The participating departments were:
- Department of Defence
- Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
- National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA)
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
- Department of Human Services (DHS)
- Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA)
The group was welcomed by the Traditional Owners of the Kaurareg Nation and the Torres Strait Regional Authority acting CEO Charlie Kaddy at the Gab Titui Culture Centre.
The work done by public servants across the Torres Strait covers a range of functions, including: protecting Australia from environmental threats such as plant and animal outbreaks entering mainland Australia, DFAT treaty liaison work with PNG, and NDIA officers working to build capacity in the disability support sector. The group followed a busy schedule for the week commencing with Cross-Cultural Immersion Training and a workshop, led by Councillor Gabriel Bani.
The HR practitioners met their Torres Strait region-based employees to have in-depth conversations about their workplace conditions and issues experienced working in a regional location on Thursday Island.
As part of the Torres Strait region engagement, the group also visited two very isolated locations, Saibai and Murray Islands. The group was guided by Rangers from the Torres Strait Regional Authority, Bio Security Officers from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and Border Security Officers from Border Force. In visiting sites of cultural importance, meeting local employees and hearing their stories, the group learned about the challenges and complexity of working life in such a remote location.
The visit has deepened the cultural understanding of all participants and will enable better communication between local staff and their HR teams. The group is committed to exploring ways of better connecting and supporting APS employees across the region and feeding the lessons learnt into broader employment initiatives.
(Image: APS HR Practitioners)