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Indigenous Graduate Pathway - Agency Guidelines

Program Overview

The 2020 Indigenous Graduate Pathway (IGP) is delivered on behalf of participating APS and Commonwealth agencies. It is a key program within the suite of initiatives delivered by the Australian Public Service Commission (the Commission) under the APS Indigenous Employment Programs Memorandum of Understanding 2016-2019 (the MOU).

The Commission delivers a targeted, centrally coordinated and culturally safe, end-to-end recruitment process consistent with the Public Service Act 1999 and Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 2016-2019 (Commissioner’s Directions). Participating agencies are provided with a pool of eligible candidates who have undergone a rigorous assessment process and have been found suitable for employment as a graduate at the APS 3 and APS 4 classifications.

Program Benefits

The program offers:

  • targeted marketing to Indigenous graduates
  • a robust, inclusive and culturally safe assessment methodology
  • cost-effective centralised assessment model
  • access to assessment reports for suitable candidates
  • an increased profile of the Commonwealth as an employer of choice within the Indigenous community
  • culturally appropriate guidance and support for program managers.


These guidelines provide agencies with information to support the recruitment of Indigenous employees through the IGP. They also outline the Commission’s roles and responsibilities in supporting participants on commencement and throughout their respective programmes.

By nominating to participate in the program, agencies understand and agree to all information outlined in these guidelines including their role and responsibilities.

Key recruitment milestones

1 March 2019 - Agency information session – program information

7 March 2019 - Agency Intention to Recruit & Confirmation of Agency Profile due

12 March 2019 - Applications open

2 April 2019 - Applications close

3–5 April 2019 - Initial Eligibility Screening

8–12 April 2019 - Online Testing

15–18 April 2019 - Shortlisting

20–24 May 2019 - Assessment centre

3–7 June 2019 - Validation Interview

11–14 June 2019 - Reporting

15 July 2019 - Assessment reports released to participating agencies

July 2019 - Offers of employment

August 2019 - Merit pool made available to all agencies


Roles and Responsibilities

The Commission

The role of the Commission is to deliver a targeted, centrally coordinated and culturally safe end-to-end recruitment process inclusive of marketing, assessment and candidate support.

Key responsibilities of the Commission include:

  1. Delivering a targeted marketing campaign attracting eligible Indigenous graduates to apply
  2. Undertaking a robust and culturally safe assessment, using contemporary assessment methods
  3. Providing culturally appropriate candidate care throughout the recruitment process
  4. Facilitating offers of employment from participating agencies to successful candidates
  5. Hosting networking events, which include an annual event celebrating the success of program participants.

The Commission will seek to confirm eligibility of applicants for the program, requesting confirmation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander heritage in accordance with the tiered approach outlined within the Indigenous Recruitment Guide. 

The Commission also provides guidance and support for participating agencies throughout the program; with additional services and initiatives also available under the MOU.

Participating Agencies

The role of participating agencies is to allocate and fill graduate vacancies using the merit pool from the program. Agencies also participate in the delivery of the program through various activities. Key responsibilities of participating agencies include:

  1. Allocating a number of ongoing vacancies within the agency’s graduate development program
  2. Providing information and participating in recruitment events and activities
  3. Reviewing assessment reports and making offers of employment to suitable candidates
  4. Undertaking the onboarding and recruitment of the graduate/s into the agency.

Following the recruitment process, agencies are responsible for the selected graduates as ongoing employees of their agency. Further information on how agencies contribute to the process is available under Program Delivery.

Costs to Agencies

The delivery of the program is funded under the MOU. There are no further costs to agencies for participation in the recruitment process; however there may be incidental costs associated with some activities. The following activities may incur a cost to the agency:

  • Participation at assessment centres: includes agency staff travel and accommodation, and materials for the meet and greet.
  • Graduate attendance at annual event: includes travel and accommodation of graduates located outside of Canberra.

Agency participation in these activities adds value to the program for both the agency and graduates. It is recommended that agencies account for these costs to support recruitment and retention outcomes.

Program Delivery

Intention to recruit

The Commission invites agencies to participate in the 2020 Indigenous Graduate Pathway recruitment program. This includes a briefing session and collation of agencies requirements for graduate candidates.

Agency Information Session
Meet: 1 March 2019
The session covers key information about the program, including assessment methodology, agency role and details of program delivery.
Note: the attending representative should be the nominated key contact for the program.

Intention to Recruit
Due: 7 March 2019
Agencies will be invited to participate in the program by submitting an Intention to Recruit Form. The form collects key information, including the details of the positions allocated and the details of key contact people within your agency.
Note: it is important that this information is accurate to ensure program marketing reflects positions available.


The Commission’s marketing strategy targets potential candidates and includes flexibility to target particular regions where positions are available. A wide variety of marketing and promotional strategies will be used to advertise the Program, including but not limited to online marketing, social media, university outreach and Indigenous specific media.

Confirmation of Agency Profile
Due: 7 March 2019
Agencies are required to confirm their agency profile. This information is collated and published as an information booklet for candidates. It is also used to promote the program and participating agencies throughout the marketing campaign.


A formal assessment will be conducted to identify suitable candidates through a robust and culturally safe process, using contemporary assessment methods. Assessment centres will be held in Canberra. Further information about the process is available under Assessment Methodology.

Yarning Circle: Group Interviews
Held: 20–24 May 2019
Agencies will be invited to nominate representatives from their agency to participate as an interview panel member. Panel members will undergo assessor training and attend the nominated assessment centre.

Meet and Greet
Held: 20–24 May 2019
Hosted at the assessment centres, prospective employers will meet with candidates to discuss the graduate opportunities available. Each agency will meet with each candidate for a period of 5 minutes.
Candidates will rotate through every agency on the day as directed by members of the Indigenous Capability Team. This is an opportunity for agencies to meet candidates and promote their agency as an employer.


The Commission will facilitate the offers of employment process, to ensure a fair and equitable process for all employing agencies and candidates. The Commission will maintain candidate engagement throughout the offers process in an effort to reduce the risk of confusion or misunderstandings.

The offer of employment process is as follows:

  1. The assessment report and candidate information is released to employing agencies.
  2. Agencies will consider the entire pool of candidates and identify candidate/s they intend to make a formal offer of employment to. Agencies may contact candidates during this time for informal discussions and to determine suitability, however no formal offers are to be made.
  3. Agencies advise the Commission of the formal offer/s of employment they wish to make to a limit of ten candidates. All offers made must be formal, however can be conditional to account for agency requirements such as security clearances.
  4. The Commission advises candidates of the employment offer/s. Candidates will receive a maximum of three offers in the first round.
  5. Candidates consider all offers of employment and advise the Commission of their decision to accept or decline the offers. This information will be forwarded to agencies.
  6. A second round of offers will be held if necessary.
  7. Following the offers period, the Commission will work with agencies to facilitate the placement of any remaining candidates.

Merit list shared
Released: August 2019
In accordance with the Commissioner’s Directions, the merit list will be made available to all APS agencies following the offers period. Agencies will be able to engage candidates remaining on the merit list for other vacant positions with similar capabilities assessed through the program.

Further details on the offers process, including key dates, will be provided to employing agencies following the assessment centre. The Commission will maintain contact with candidates and agencies to assist in meeting required timeframes.


All subsequent recruitment and onboarding actions after an offer has been accepted, including terms and conditions of employment such as salary, probation, security clearance and leave provisions are the responsibility of the employing agency.

Agency feedback
Meet: August 2019
Agencies are invited to provide feedback to inform the program evaluation. An agency feedback survey will be circulated for completion, along with opportunity for feedback discussions.

Confirmation of graduate commencements
Due: February 2020
Agencies are required to confirm the details of the Indigenous graduates who commence at their agency.

Annual graduate event
Held: March 2020
This is an opportunity for celebration and networking across the APS. Both commencing and completing Indigenous graduates are encouraged to participate in this event.


Further details, including key dates, will be provided to employing agencies following the offers process.

Assessment Methodology

The Commission delivers a robust and culturally safe merit selection process, using contemporary research based methodology. The objective of the process is to determine the suitability of candidates for a graduate role in the Australian Public Service. The capabilities and characteristics to be assessed have been developed with reference to the APS Work Level Standards at the APS3 and APS4 classification, the APS Framework for High Potential and central factors common across agency graduate development programs.

Capabilities and Characteristics

Candidates are assessed on the following capabilities and characteristics:

  1. Communication
    • General verbal ability
    • Clarity of written and oral communication
    • Ability to adapt to audience
    • Negotiation skills
  2. Conceptual & Analytical
    • Problem solving
    • Organisational skills
    • Numerical reasoning
    • Adaptability & learning orientation
  3. Working with others
    • Emotional intelligence
    • Propensity to lead
    • Collaboration
  4. Aspiration & Engagement
    • Motivation
    • Career aspiration
    • Alignment with APS culture and values

Eligible candidates must also be:

  • An Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person: as per the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 these positions are restricted to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.
  • A university graduate: have completed, at minimum, a three-year undergraduate degree at AQF level 7 or above in the last five years prior to January of the year of intake.

Assessment Process

Candidates are required to complete the following activities:

  1. Application: candidates are required to submit a CV, academic transcript and confirmation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Heritage.
  2. Core Skills Test: shortlisted candidates will be invited to complete online core skills tests.
  3. Referee Reports: candidates will be required to submit two written referee reports.
  4. Assessment Centre: candidates will be assessed in a group interview and participate in a meet-and-greet session with agencies.
  5. Validation Interview: candidates will be invited to a validation interview, conducted via video or teleconference, and will consist of questions based on the outcomes of assessment activities, along with academic transcripts and resumes.


Last reviewed: 
3 October 2019