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Learning and development

Career and development opportunities improve retention rates for all employees. As well as promoting the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees in general career development opportunities, agencies may wish to offer Indigenous-specific pathways for career advancement. A range of initiatives are used by agencies to equip Indigenous employees to progress their careers at the same rate as their non-Indigenous colleagues.

Current initiatives

Australian Public Service Commission

The Australian Public Service Commission offers a wide range of learning and development opportunities:

  • The APSC online induction program seeks to ensure that new starters in the APS are equipped with a broad understanding of the Australian Government and the roles and responsibilities of the APS. This can complement effective agency induction.
  • The APSC established the Centre for Leadership, Learning and Development to improve leadership development and talent management across the APS and enhance core and management skills.

The APS Leadership and Core Skills Strategy identifies and prioritises the APS's learning and development investment. Regularly refreshed, the strategy identifies the skills required for the APS institution to perform its role supporting government and citizens to the highest standard.

The strategy is organised around three skills categories:

  • Leadership practice . The leadership practice of engaging people to make progress on challenges, to innovate, collaborate and more towards a new vision of the future is critical for the APS. Effective leadership anticipate future change, enabling organisations and people to proactively manage change before circumstances force change upon them.
  • Management expertise . Specific management expertise is required to support the APS to improve efficiency, effectiveness and productivity. Developing business-oriented and people management expertise will provide an important opportunity to realise productivity and efficiency gains. This includes specific expertise in areas such as planning and managing change, designing business models, purchasing services, program evaluation and organisational design.
  • Core and foundation skills . Today's APS requires employees who are responsive to the business environment and who have the knowledge and skills to:
    • operate within the frameworks and values expected of the APS
    • understand and support government processes
    • collaborate within and across teams and agencies to solve problems
    • apply effective public sector professional skills to deliver public value.

Today's APS also requires employees with the foundational skills to operate successfully in the workplace.

The full set of capabilities and skills identified for development are available in the strategy. Upcoming development opportunities are advertised in the APSC's Learning and Development Calendar. Agencies also offer opportunities to participate in leadership, management and core skills development through agency learning and development calendars.

The APSC's Graduate events series is an avenue for APS graduates to build their knowledge of current APS issues and establish strong networks amongst their graduate colleagues from other departments and agencies.

The four events in the series provide valuable insight into the APS and its senior managers in an interactive and entertaining manner.

The APS Wide Events Series is a new stream that has been designed by the APSC for all levels of staff across the APS. These events are thematically based with a range of key focus areas including leadership skills, innovation, communication, cultural change and diversity. The events feature prominent speakers who have a depth and wealth of experience across a myriad of careers in the public and private sectors.

How the APSC can assist other agencies

  • The APSC induction program is available for download on Govdex. To apply to join the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy Govdex community please email diversity [at] apsc.gov.au.
  • The APSC's learning and development courses can be offered to any Commonwealth entity on a fee for service basis. More information about the learning and development opportunities currently on offer is available on the APSC's website.
  • Employees from any Commonwealth entity can participate in the networking events offered by the APSC. Information about upcoming events is available on the APSC website.

Department of Defence

The Department of Defence is committed to retaining and developing its Indigenous members from when they first join the organisation right throughout their careers by:

  • refining Indigenous careers and talent management and creating flexible career paths throughout the Defence APS
  • increasing the Indigenous cultural competence and awareness of all Defence personnel
  • improving the promotion of career pathways in the Defence APS.

Defence achieves this by offering a range of support and development programs, Indigenous-specific training opportunities, and special provisions for its Indigenous employees. This includes:

  • Explicit provisions in the Defence Enterprise Collective Agreement enabling Indigenous members to participate in cultural activities during NAIDOC week and other ceremonial events.
  • Certificate IV in Indigenous Leadership—a course designed to develop the capacity of Indigenous people in order to take on leadership and senior roles in communities, workplaces, organisations and within the family unit. The first course commenced in May 2015 and 23 individuals graduated in August 2015.
  • An induction program for Defence Indigenous trainees and supervisors that assists supervisors in their role in developing and supporting Indigenous staff, and provides trainees with a better insight into APS and ADF employment in Defence. This initiative has contributed to Defence's low Indigenous separation rate.

Defence can assist other agencies by:

  • Offering the Certificate IV in Indigenous Leadership to participants from other government agencies across the Commonwealth on a fee-for-service basis.
  • Sharing its induction program for trainees and supervisors with other agencies. Defence's induction program is available on Govdex. To apply to join the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy Govdex community, please email diversity [at] apsc.gov.au.

Department of Social Services

The Department of Social Services designates places for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff on relevant ongoing training and development programs. Placements are promoted through the Department's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Network.

How DSS can assist other agencies:

  • The Department can help agencies identify appropriate opportunities to support staff learning and development. For more information, please email capability.development [at] dss.gov.au.

Department of the Environment

The Department of the Environment employs an APS 6 Indigenous Development Coordinator to oversight the implementation of the Department's Indigenous Employment and Capability Strategy, support the Indigenous Staff Networks, provide advice and represent the Department's interests in relation to Indigenous employment issues.

Environment has an Indigenous Employment and Capability Strategy which aims to identify what being an 'employer of choice' means for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and translating these perspectives into a practical set of achievable initiatives.

Environment is strengthening its focus on retaining Indigenous employees by providing access to professional and career development opportunities and creating an inclusive workplace that values, respects and develops employee competence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. Specific activities to support this focus include:

  • Continuing the annual Kevin McLeod Awards, which fund professional development opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and projects supporting reconciliation.
  • Tailoring cultural awareness development to draw on local cultural knowledge and to support specific business requirements.
  • Recognising the outstanding contributions of employees to promoting Indigenous values and initiatives through annual NAIDOC Awards.
  • Internal placements for Indigenous employees to broaden experience and skills development.

Environment offers enhanced study support provisions to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees who may apply for up to 150 hours of study leave per semester and will cover fees for approved study activities.

Environment has comprehensive Indigenous Engagement Guidelines which build upon and improve consistency and coordination of engagement across the department. It includes principles, policies, procedures and practices. The package includes:

  • policies for 'Welcome to Country' and 'Acknowledgement of Country',
  • use of Indigenous Interpreters and Translators
  • cultural protocols when visiting communities.

How Environment can assist other agencies:

  • Environment can share with agencies information and lessons learned from its Indigenous Development Coordinator role, and can provide assistance to agencies considering establishing a position of this kind.
  • Environment can make its Indigenous Employment and Capability Strategy available to agencies on request. For more information please email indigenous.development [at] environment.gov.au.
  • Environment can help agencies identify appropriate opportunities to support staff learning and development. For more information, please email capability.development [at] dss.gov.au.
  • Environment can share with other agencies information on initiatives to support the development and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. For more information, please email indigenous.development [at] environment.gov.au.

Commonwealth agencies can subscribe to the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy GovDex site for more information about these initiatives. Email diversity [at] apsc.gov.au to subscribe.

Last reviewed: 
17 May 2018