Action Area 1: Workforce environment and cultural competency 15
Action Area 2: Attraction, Recruitment & Selection Action 19
Action Area 3: Retention and Career Development 26
Action Area 4: Resources, Governance & Reporting 28
1. Purpose of discussion paper 31
2. Strategic approach 32
3. Learnings from information gathering phase 32
4. The business case / rationale for action 36
5. Resourcing the implementation phase 39
The City of Whittlesea recognises the rich Indigenous heritage of this country and acknowledges the Wurundjeri Wilam Clan as the traditional custodians of this place.
“The Aboriginal Employment Pathways Strategy and Action Plan provides a roadmap to foster a culturally appropriate and inclusive workplace, where Aboriginal people choose Council as an employer because they feel welcomed, valued and respected and where there are opportunities for skill and career development in a supportive environment”.
Introduction and Background
The Case for Action
There is a strong social and business case for organisations, including the City of Whittlesea, to take a strategic and sustainable approach to improving employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) people.
National research shows that Aboriginal people sit at the low end of all social indicators including employment, education, health and housing and that this fundamentally impacts on their ability to live fulfilling, healthy and productive lives.
It is now clearly understood that employment is critical to reducing the social, economic and health gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, with employment supporting the economic independence and autonomy of Aboriginal people which in turn helps address long term disadvantage.
However, the rate of Aboriginal Australians’ participation in the workforce is lower, and the unemployment rate higher, than for non-Aboriginal Australians. The City of Whittlesea fares worse, with Aboriginal people in our municipality having a lower labour force participation rate than their counterparts in the wider metropolitan area and non-Aboriginal people, both in and beyond the City of Whittlesea.
The multiple barriers to employment that can exist for Aboriginal people help explain this, including experiences of discrimination in the past (for example in education) and present (when looking for a job and in the workplace*), lower levels of educational attainment, higher rates of ill-health and disability, lower rates of transition from unemployment to employment and lower rates of job retention.
The case for improving the attraction, recruitment and retention of Aboriginal people is further strengthened when we consider the overall decline in the working age population and an Aboriginal population that is growing at a faster rate than the non-Aboriginal population. Given this, there is a need to plan for and achieve a skilled, diverse and dedicated workforce which utilises the unique skills and perspectives of Aboriginal Australians.
At a local level, an increased number of Aboriginal staff will result in our increased capacity to deliver culturally appropriate services to our local, and growing, Aboriginal community, with staff sharing their knowledge and understanding of the specific community needs and aspirations of our Aboriginal residents.
Improved workforce participation for Aboriginal people will also support the realisation of three of our six Future Directions within the ‘Shaping Our Future Whittlesea 2025 Strategic Community Plan’, specifically Inclusive and Engaged Community, Growing our Economy and Health and Wellbeing.
Importantly, it will also assist our organisation to play its role in ‘Closing the Gap’ and overcoming Aboriginal disadvantage through helping to halve the gap in employment outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians by 2018.
The City of Whittlesea has long recognised that we have a key role to play in improving the employment outcomes for Aboriginal people, commencing with our participation in the Indigenous Employment Feasibility Study (along with the Cities of Yarra and Darebin) in 2008. The study and, more recently, the staff consultation as part of the development of our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), identified a high level of interest and enthusiasm among City of Whittlesea staff to proactively employ more Aboriginal people across Council (as at July 2012 we currently employ four Aboriginal people) through the development and implementation of an Aboriginal Employment Pathways Strategy.
Furthermore, our growing Aboriginal community (having increased in size by 33% between 2006 and 2011, taking the number to 1124 or 0.73% of the population10) wants us to show leadership and take brave and bold steps to support Aboriginal people’s right to self-determination. Providing pathways to long-term job opportunities at Council is key to achieving this.
Since the feasibility study, we have been on a journey and our understanding of the benefits of implementing a meaningful and successful Aboriginal Employment Pathways Strategy, and the multi-faceted approach needed, has matured. The Localities Embracing and Accepting Diversity (LEAD) Project has raised our awareness of the impact of racism on Aboriginal people and what Council can do to foster a fair, welcoming and inclusive workplace and community. This, along with the recent development of Council’s first RAP, means the time is now right to progress our efforts.
The Aboriginal Employment Pathways Strategy and Action Plan provides a roadmap to foster a culturally appropriate and inclusive workplace, where Aboriginal people choose Council as an employer because they feel welcomed and valued, are treated fairly and with respect and where there are opportunities for skill and career development in a supportive environment.