New plan boosts Indigenous Australians in senior public sector roles

A new plan will attempt to boost the number of Indigenous Australians who hold senior positions throughout the Commonwealth public sector as part of the federal government’s efforts to strengthen and diversify the nation’s policy making. A five-year strategy, designed to strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment and participation in the public service, will be released ahead of a draft national agreement on Closing the Gap.

Indigenous organisations will meet with the federal government on Friday to continue negotiations to take back responsibility for improving health and education outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders under a proposed new agreement. Just one person who identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, Letitia Hope, currently holds a position at deputy secretary level within the Commonwealth public sector.

Ms Hope, the deputy chief executive officer of operations and delivery in the National Indigenous Australians Agency, told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald the decisions government agencies make would only be improved with a greater number of Indigenous Australians in policy-making position.

“While of course I am immensely proud of my career, I am sad I am the only one at my level,” Ms Hope said.

“People can’t be what they can’t see…. the vast amount of lived experience of Indigenous Australians would be such a value asset to the public sector.”

New draft targets in a national agreement employment and eduction levels for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce participation will aim for 65 per cent of youth to be in employment, education or training by 2028.

It will also aim for 60 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25-64 years to employed by 2028.

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Ben Morton, said the Commonwealth had its own contribution to make by aiming to increase, advance and retain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees in the public sector.

He said by building a talent “pipeline”, through direct recruitment and professional development, it would strengthen and retain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation at all levels throughout the Commonwealth public sector.

“We want to see more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander senior leaders in the Commonwealth,” Mr Morton said.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Author: Kirsi Seppänen