In May 2015, the department’s Reconciliation Action Plan 2015–2017 (RAP) was granted ‘Elevate’ status by Reconciliation Australia. This positioned the department as a national leader in taking action towards reconciliation, in particular across the public sector. The Department of Human Services is the only department in the Australian Government to have achieved this status level.
The department is currently developing a Reconciliation Action Plan 2018–2021 and is focused on maintaining its ‘Elevate’ status. This process involves reviewing targets under the themes of relationships, respect and opportunities.
Throughout the year the department continued to take action towards meeting the plan’s targets which include:
- increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to five per cent by the end of 2017 (see Employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Part 4.4)
- through procurements, directly spending $11.5 million with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses by 30 June 2018 (see also Procurement initiatives to support small business in Part 5.7).
The department also continued to share experiences and knowledge with other government departments—for example, by holding information sessions on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples recruitment and retention, making Indigenous Cultural Awareness training available, and supporting the trial of the Indigenous Mentoring Program. See also Support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees in Part 4.4 and Indigenous mentoring–helping our new staff settle in at Part 4.6, Management of human resources.
Employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander poeples
The department’s aim is to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to 5 per cent by the end of 2017 which is above the APS target of 3 per cent. As of the end of June 2017, the department had achieved 4.7 per cent representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and is on track to achieve its’ target by December 2017. The result is largely driven by an increase in Indigenous Apprenticeships Program placements.
The department also supported its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff by continuing to implement actions under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employees Plan 2016–17. The plan includes implementing support strategies and career development opportunities. The department consulted with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff across the network who contributed in forums and online about updates to the employee plan.
Let’s take the next step - reﬂecting the people we serve
Every year the department celebrates National Reconciliation week across its Australia-wide network. In 2017 the celebrations acknowledged two milestones in Australian history–the 1967 referendum to remove discrimination against Indigenous Australians in the Constitution and the 1992 Mabo decision in which the High Court recognised traditional land ownership for the first time.
The national event in Canberra showcased work the department is doing to move towards reconciliation, and where it needs to go from there.
Simulcast to offices around the country, the event featured guest speakers and Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander music and dance performances, a collaborative staff artwork (reproduced as the cover of this 2016-17 Annual Report) and a sealed time capsule.
Secretary, Kathryn Campbell said:
‘With a theme of Let’s Take the Next Steps-the department’s award-winning RAP celebrates what we’ve achieved so far and sets out how we’ll take the next steps.
‘It’s our collective responsibility to ensure that one day in the near future, we can say we are truly reconciled.
‘I want to challenge you to welcome the spirit of reconciliation into your own life and to take your own next steps to help ensure reconciliation becomes a reality for everyone.
‘I often say our department is a reflection of the people and communities we serve. This means we’re uniquely placed to be a reconciliation advocate, leading by example.’
Support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees
The department has a number of support and other programs to engage and retain its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce. These programs include:
- the Indigenous Mentoring Program which assigns trained Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff members (251 trained mentors in 2016–17) to help newly recruited Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to ‘navigate’ their way around the department and the APS, and to deal with balancing their responsibilities and obligations to their community and their new workplace (see Indigenous mentoring–helping our new staff settle in at Part 4.6, Management of human resources)
- an Indigenous Buddy Program which also supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to adjust to the new workplace
- the Indigenous Cultural Capability Framework which takes a three-tiered approach to increase and build staff knowledge and awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures
- online Indigenous cultural awareness eLearning training which was accessed by 7,292 staff in 2016–17, and cultural awareness face-to-face training, with 2,147 staff participating in 2016–17
- secondment programs, with six staff completing secondments to Indigenous communities as part of the Jawun Indigenous Community Secondment Program in 2016–17. Additionally, one staff member completed a secondment with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
- continued support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff through local Indigenous Employment Network meetings which provide learning and development opportunities that reflect community-based support mechanisms.
The department assisted in designing a new Emerging Indigenous Executive Leaders Pilot Program. The program is to develop future executive Indigenous leaders in both the public and private sectors.
The Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) is delivering the pilot program. Each participant who successfully completes the program is guaranteed an accredited Certificate in Executive Management Development with credit points that equate to two subjects in the Executive MBA or MBAx Online at the AGSM.