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The Resources section includes the following:

  • Indigenous Employment Strategy checklist - A checklist to work through the key steps in developing, implementing and evaluating an IES
  • Trouble-shooting guide - A quick reference guide which provides a range of solutions to common issues agencies may be facing around Indigenous employment
  • Agency 'snapshot' report - An agency-level report for reporting progress against Indigenous employment
  • Business area 'snapshot' report - A report to engage senior managers by identifying issues around Indigenous employment at the business area level
  • Useful links and support - A list of websites, publications and support available to assist in your agency's approach to Indigenous employment

Indigenous Employment Strategy checklist

Stage: Planning


  • understand guiding framework (COAG and the National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Economic Participation)
  • link IES to corporate documents, including workforce plan, diversity plan, RAP
  • review employment data and staff surveys to develop understanding of starting point
  • understand the current workplace experience for Indigenous employees
  • investigate which factors impact on Indigenous employment rates in your agency
  • develop agency rationale—what you want to do and why, identify agency target
  • identify tools and initiatives to support your IES
  • develop business case

(Further information is available in the Introduction, and Focus Area 1: Workplace Environment)

Stage: Development


  • identify Agency Champion and agree on role
  • engage Indigenous employees to provide input on issues and assist in developing strategies
  • engage Senior Managers—use snapshot report combined with key messages from Agency Champion
  • engage Line Managers—use snapshot report combined with key messages from Agency Champion and Senior Managers
  • establishing agency working group – include Indigenous employees, HR and Line Managers
  • draft the IES
    • rationale
    • agency challenges
    • agency goals
    • agencies strategies (e.g. attraction, recruitment, workplace environment, career pathways, data quality etc)
    • engage agency staff (via intranet, staff meetings etc) to communicate key messages and commitments
    • develop IES reporting framework with identified performance measures and timeframes

(Further information is available in Focus Area 1: Workplace Environment, Focus Area 2: Attraction and Recruitment, Focus Area 3: Retention, and the Trouble- shooting Guide, Agency 'snapshot' report and Business Area 'snapshot' report in the Resources Section)

Stage: Implementation


  • monitor progress of strategies
  • analyse outcomes of strategies communicate results to key stakeholders, highlighting positive improvements, and areas for continued action
  • feed results into sector-wide reporting (as or if required)
  • review IES and amend on an annual basis

(Information on these actions is available in Focus Area 1: Workplace Environment, Focus Area 2: Attraction and Recruitment, Focus Area 3: Retention, and the Trouble- shooting Guide, Agency 'snapshot' report and Business Area 'snapshot' report in the Resources Section)

Trouble-shooting guide

The following trouble-shooting guide is intended to be used as a quick reference tool, to provide agencies with suggested solutions to address a range of challenges they may be facing. The solutions are a guide only, and may have to be adjusted relative to an agency's business needs.

Issue Causes Possible solutions
Poor corporate commitment Ineffective IES
  • develop IES with key stakeholders, include a clear rationale and strategies which meet agency needs
Unclear goals for Indigenous employment
  • identify agency employment target
  • identify agency goals
Lack of stakeholder involvement
  • identify key stakeholders, including Agency Champion to communicate agency commitments
  • engage with 'snapshot report'
Poor diversity data
  • Improve data quality to support IES rationale and measure progress
Attracting suitable candidates Poor agency reputation
  • understand the workplace experiences of current/ former Indigenous employees and make changes where required
  • promote your agency's role in Indigenous employment. Consider putting the following on your website
    • agency commitment to Indigenous employment outcomes
    • Reconciliation Action Plan
    • Indigenous Employment Strategy
    • Images of Indigenous employees working in your agency
  • use social media to market your agency
Low employee value proposition
  • be clear about what kind of experience applicants will have if they work with your agency. Does your agency offer:
    • a comprehensive training and development program
    • broad experiences across a range of fields, or specialised experiences in a niche area
    • career management with opportunities for promotion
    • an open and inclusive workplace culture
    • family friendly practices and support
Limited links with the Indigenous employment sector
  • make contact with employment providers and educational institutions to understand from where potential applicants can be sourced
  • establish networks with the local Indigenous community to promote public sector employment and job opportunities
Limited initiatives to grow pool of potential applicants for vacant positions

Identify recruitment pathways by:

  • engaging with universities or other educational institutions to find students
  • establishing a scholarship to encourage people into a particular field of study
  • identifying the core skills and experiences you require, and providing a targeted program to upskill to specialised roles
  • considering alternative pathways into the agency which can be complemented with training applicants to be 'skill' or 'qualification' ready
  • grow your own talent by identifying existing employees to fill future vacancies (gain promotions), providing career development, training and acting opportunities.
  • considering cadetships, traineeships (including school-based trainees)
  • consider the use of APS Indigenous Pathways Programs and opportunities to implement internal centralised recruitment models
Recruiting Indigenous employees Onerous application requirements
  • streamline the recruitment process
  • use behavioural indicators in selection criteria rather than capability descriptions
  • provide standardised advice on what to expect during the recruitment process
  • ensure cultural competency during recruitment process
Short application open times
  • extend application open times in recognition that Indigenous people often communicate employment opportunities via 'word of mouth'
Ineffective advertising
  • understand where and how you can reach the largest number of potential applicants
  • include the tag line 'Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people are encouraged to apply' in your advertising, where applicable46
  • consider increasing the use of quarantined positions within an agency, use of Special Measures provisions and Identified Positions
Retaining Indigenous employees Non-supportive practices
  • develop an Indigenous Employment Strategy
  • use an Agency Champion to promote Indigenous employment
  • evaluate your IES and suggest changes or new ideas to overcome issues—fellow IECs or agency HR areas may have some ideas for you
  • communicate with all stakeholders on the value and benefits of supporting Indigenous employment
  • gather feedback from Indigenous employees on their workplace experiences, to better inform strategies
Culture of bullying and harassment
  • embark on a process to bring about positive cultural change, including the use of resources, training and a statement from the Agency Head
  • ensure all employees are aware of what is considered to be bullying and harassment, the processes for dealing with issues and what the consequences are
Lack of support for Indigenous employees
  • use an Agency Champion to promote Indigenous employment
  • establish staff networks for Indigenous staff within your agency, or portfolio
  • allow staff to attend Indigenous events and networks in the public sector
Low levels of cultural awareness and competency
  • embark on a process to bring about positive cultural change, including the use of resources, training and a statement from the agency head.
Poor managers – low staff engagement and managing for performance
  • include KPIs around people management in performance agreements
  • provide managers with resources and access to training to improve people management outcomes
  • engage with 'snapshot report'
Poor induction process
  • develop a comprehensive induction process at both the team and agency level
Limited/no support for career management
  • encourage managers to hold ongoing discussions with their employees around developing and managing their careers
  • ensure managers are aware of programs they are able to utilise to provide career opportunities
Limited/ no career development
  • strengthen links between performance agreements and learning and development plans to ensure meaningful opportunities can be accessed
  • encourage managers to hold ongoing discussions with their employees around developing and managing their careers

46 Where applicable, agencies must comply with the Guidelines on Non-Campaign Recruitment Advertising, available at http://www.finance.gov.au/advertising/index.html.

Agency 'snapshot' report

Purpose: This report is designed to assist agencies to track their progress against Indigenous employment, and identify issues which can inform ongoing actions.

Target by 2015

To meet their target of [insert], [insert agency name] will need to increase current ongoing staffing levels by [insert number] Indigenous employees (this requires the retention of all current Indigenous staff). This equates to an additional [insert number] ongoing Indigenous employees each year (from 2010).

Representation over time

The following table shows that [insert agency name] needs to [insert high level action, e.g, improve recruitment, improve separation rates etc)

[Agency] (30 June YYYY) YYYY 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005
Staff (ongoing)              
Indigenous percentage   % % % % % %
Indigenous engagements (total engagements)              
Indigenous transfers to agency              
Indigenous separations              
Indigenous transfers from agency              
No data percentage   % % % % % %
APS average   2.2% 2.2% 2.2% 2.2% 2.2% 2.4%
Staff (non-ongoing)              
Non-ongoing Indigenous employees              
Indigenous percentage (ongoing and non-ongoing)   % % % % % %

The following table has been developed to summarise the different strategies you can utilise to reach your Indigenous employment target in regards to recruitment.

Provider Recruitment program 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Total
APSC programs Graduate              
DEEWR programs IAGDP              
Agency specific Graduate              
Work experience              
School to work program              
Pre-recruitment course              
Bulk round recruitment              
Special Measures              
Identified Positions              
  Standard recruitment process              
Yearly sub-totals                
Yearly impact planned recruitment will have on target of [X] new ongoing positions                

Indigenous separations by Classification*

Classification Trainee Grad APS 1 APS 2 APS 3 APS 4 APS 5 APS 6 EL 1 EL 2 SES
Number in YYYY/YY                      
Number in 2010/11                      
Number in 2009/10                      
Number in 2008/09                      
Number in 2007/08                      

*Non-APS agencies can substitute relevant classifications.

Indigenous representation by Classification (at 30 June YYYY)

Classification Trainee Grad APS 1 APS 2 APS 3 APS 4 APS 5 APS 6 EL 1 EL 2 SES
Number of Indigenous in YYYY                      
Number of Indigenous in YYYY                      

Age profile of Indigenous employees (at 30 June YYYY)

Age group Under 20 20–24 25–29 30–34 35–39 40–44 45–49 50–54 55–59 60+

Employment opportunities by geographic location (optional)

Where agencies provide employment opportunities across a number of regions, it may be beneficial to capture data by geographic location including, how many positions have been filled, and the number filled by Indigenous employees.

Key Indigenous Census/Survey results

What are the key issues from the APS Indigenous Employees Census that are relevant to your agency (eg retention initiatives, job satisfaction). If Census results aren't available for your agency, have internal agency surveys been conducted?

Summary of progress towards the target and achievement of strategic improvements

Provide statements and information to demonstrate progress and achievement towards target and strategy implementation. This may include the following:

  1. Policies and strategies that are in place to support achieving the targets.
  2. Demonstration projects, pilots or new initiatives which would fill the gap.
  3. An improvement in data quality to monitor progress towards the public sector Indigenous employment target through: increased voluntary disclosure of diversity data by Indigenous employees; and enhanced reporting arrangements

Business Area 'snapshot' report

Purpose: This report is designed to assist in engaging senior managers, by identifying issues around Indigenous employment at the group level. Agencies are encouraged to adapt the report to meet their needs. The Australian Public Service Commission can provide assistance in identifying strategies to address challenges.

Indigenous employment in: [insert agency name]

Commonwealth target: Increase Indigenous representation to 2.7% by 2015.

Agency target: Increase Indigenous representation to [insert percentage] by 2015. This equates to an additional [insert number] ongoing Indigenous employees each year (from 2011)

Agency level: Representation over time

  2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
Indigenous Employees                    

Group level: Recruitment

  2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
Number of positions advertised                
Number of Indigenous applicants                
Number of appointments                
Number of Indigenous appointments                

Group snapshot: Key indicators

  [Year] [Year] [Year]
Number of Indigenous employees      
Support and development activities      
Number of separations      
Reasons for separation      

Key challenges for Group: [insert challenges which could include attracting applicants with the right skill sets, improving workplace culture, improving people management, etc]

Key strategies for Group: [insert key actions which could include linking to the Indigenous employment sector, addressing cultural competency, reinforcing senior management commitment etc.]

Useful links and support


Circular 2010/4: Revision of Special Measures and Identified Positions www.apsc.gov.au/circulars/circular104.htm.

National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Economic Participation

Workplace environment

Respect: Promoting a Culture Free from Harassment and Bullying in the APS

Attraction and recruitment

Behavioural indicators, examples of individual profiles (e.g. APS 6) are available at www.apsc.gov.au/ils/.

Better, Faster: Streamlining Recruitment in the APS

Guidelines on Non-Campaign Recruitment Advertising, available at



Indigenous Australian Government Development Program

Indigenous APS Employees Network (IAPSEN) www.apsc.gov.au/iapsen/

Leading productive people: A manager's seven steps to success

Centre for Leadership and Learning,

Indigenous cultures

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies www.aiatsis.gov.au/.

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations

Reconciliation Australia www.reconciliation.org.au/.

Support from the Commission

The Commission has developed, and continues to develop, a range of products and services to support Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people to gain APS employment, and help agencies to employ and retain Indigenous employees.

Objective 1—Facilitating Pathways to Employment

  • Indigenous graduate and cadetship programs are targeted to attract and support Indigenous university students and graduates to a variety of APS agencies, across a range of disciplines.
  • The APS Indigenous Traineeship Program which runs over 12 months, and is designed to prepare participants for a career with the APS.
  • The publications Cracking the Code and Getting a Job provide advice on how to apply for jobs, address selection criteria, and what to expect during the interview process.

Objective 2—Development of existing Indigenous employees' skills and career pathways

  • Career Trek is a series of professional development workshops specifically designed for APS 1–6, with EL employees able to attend as well. The Career Trek workshops are delivered across Australia, including in most capital cities and remote areas at no cost to the participants in APS agencies.
  • The Commission has implemented some targeted development opportunities for EL employees. Contact the Indigenous Liaison Officer to discuss these opportunities.

Objective 3—Increased retention of existing Indigenous employees

  • An annual national conference for Indigenous APS employees to share experiences, celebrate successes and develop strategies for staying and succeeding in the APS environment.
  • Indigenous APS Employees Network (IAPSEN) is an integral part of the APS Strategy by providing opportunities for Indigenous APS employees to share experiences, network and support one another.
  • The second Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander census was undertaken in 2009 to gain greater insight into Indigenous Australians' experience of employment in the APS.

Objective 4—Support for employers

  • An APS Indigenous Liaison Officer has been appointed within the Commission to provide advice to agencies and Indigenous people on a range of Indigenous employment issues.
  • The Commission will coordinate the Indigenous HR Forum with the support of a working group of participating agencies. The forum is designed to provide a mechanism to communicate initiatives that will help attract, recruit, develop and retain Indigenous employees.

To support all four objectives the Commission has established an Indigenous Governance Network to operate as an informal reference group that can be consulted on issues relating to the implementation of the APS Strategy. The network consists of all Indigenous SES officers with experience in, and understanding of, the issues confronting Indigenous employees in the agency workplaces.

Further information about current initiatives is available on the Commission's website.

Last reviewed: 
7 June 2018