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Indigenous mentoring programs are designed to support new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees as they 'navigate' their way around their agencies and the broader Commonwealth Public Service, as well as addressing the delicate balance between the responsibilities and obligations Indigenous employees have to their community and their employer.

Current initiatives

Department of Social Services

The Department of Social Services is developing a mentoring framework to support the career development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff. Under the framework, staff will have access to mentoring, professional coaching, and culturally appropriate career planning tools and guidelines.

How DSS can assist other agencies:

  • DSS can share its mentoring framework with other agencies once developed. For more information, please email IndigenousWorkforce [at] dss.gov.au.

Department of Education and Training

The Department of Education and Training uses internal knowledge sharing mechanisms, including formal and informal mentoring relationships and job shadowing days with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and non-Indigenous employees.

How Education can assist other agencies

Education can share with other agencies lessons learned from its shadowing activity. For more information, please email Diversity [at] education.gov.au.

Australian Taxation Office

Improving the social outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a priority for the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The ATO recognises the importance of recruiting and retaining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as part of that program of work. The ATO is committed to improving the quality of, and access to, programs and services for its Indigenous employees, including by:

  • providing Indigenous employees with access to mentors to assist with career development;
  • providing Indigenous liaison officers to support all Indigenous employees and their managers by assisting with career planning, management of work performance issues, and cultural assistance; and
  • promoting workplace flexibility to support employees to achieve a balance between work commitments and cultural responsibilities.

The ATO Indigenous mentoring program involves both non Indigenous and Indigenous managers from APS 6 and above providing face-to-face or remote mentoring to Indigenous employees. These mentors are trained by an external provider on how to mentor Indigenous employees.

How the ATO can assist other agencies:

  • Managers from other agencies can participate in the ATO's mentor training program (paying the relevant program costs) to assist them to develop mentoring opportunities and capabilities in their own agency.
  • The ATO can share information on the role of our Indigenous liaison officer.

For more information, please email indigenousliaisonofficer [at] ato.gov.au.

Department of Human Services

The Department of Human Services has 201 qualified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mentors working across Australia in remote, urban and rural locations. Mentors share their professional and personal skills, and support other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff through change. Mentors may assist in reducing feelings of isolation, and helping balance community and cultural responsibilities with employment in the public service. Mentors complete formal training in over the phone, group and face-to-face mentoring, in partnership with an external training provider. 

The Department also provides new Indigenous employees with an Indigenous Buddy to adjust to their workplace. This friendly connection aims to be informal and short term.

How DHS can assist other agencies:

  • DHS is exploring opportunities to deliver its mentor training and/or programme to other agencies.
  • DHS can provide advice to other agencies on how to establish an Indigenous Buddy Program.

For more information, please email GMPEOPLECAPABILITY [at] humanservices.gov.au.

Attorney-General's Departmen

The Attorney-General's Department offers a mentoring program for all entry level employees that couples trainees, cadets and graduates with experienced staff to share professional and personal skills and experiences.The mentoring relationship is based on encouragement, constructive comments, openness, mutual trust, respect and a willingness to learn and share

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: 
12 June 2018