Closing the Gap - APS Indigenous Employment Strategy

Closing the Gap - APS Indigenous Employment Strategy

Australian Public Service Commission

Key Elements

The Australian Government will provide $6.0 million over three years to improve the representation of Indigenous Australians in the Australian Public Service (APS).

Through the APS Indigenous Employment Strategy (the Strategy), the Australian Public Service Commission (the Commission) will:

  • foster workplaces that support Indigenous employees to improve their retention rate and workplace satisfaction, and enhance the skills of APS managers in managing Indigenous employees;
  • position the APS as an employer of choice for Indigenous Australians;
  • provide more accessible pathways to employment through whole-of-government recruitment and targeted placement programs for graduates, cadets, and entry level trainees;
  • grow Indigenous talent via customised learning and development and secondment and mobility programs (Career Trek, Horizons and the Indigenous Scholarship Fund), and through support for Indigenous employee networks around the country; and
  • inform directions through facilitating the review and evaluation of the Strategy and providing support for the development and implementation of strategic whole-of-government initiatives.

Increasing Indigenous representation in employment and reducing the overall level of disadvantage among Indigenous Australians is an integral part of the Government’s agenda to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The employment of Indigenous Australians has been the subject of careful consideration by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) which, under the Indigenous Economic Development National Partnership, has set a 2.6 per cent target of Indigenous employment across the public sector by 2015. At 30 June 2008, Indigenous employees represented 2.1 per cent of all ongoing APS staff.


The Strategy was implemented in 2005. An evaluation was conducted in 2007/08 which concluded that the Strategy had been successful in helping to stabilise Indigenous employment in the APS, and that it should be continued and extended to build on established momentum.

Meeting the COAG target will require coordinated leadership across the APS, and a whole-of-Government approach to providing specialist recruitment and retention programs.

The extension of the Strategy continues the initiatives that have been developed over the previous four years. Targeted recruitment programs, run under the Commission’s Pathways to Employment initiative, provide cost-effective opportunities for all APS agencies to recruit and train Indigenous staff. The current centralised recruitment programs for Indigenous graduates and trainees may be expanded to include Indigenous employees at the APS 5/6 classification.

Through the Commission’s Career Trek program, targeted vocational training is delivered nationally to enable Indigenous employees to progress within the APS. Training initiatives for Indigenous staff will be continued and extended to reach regional and remote areas.

Access to higher education will be enhanced through the scholarship program, allowing Indigenous managers to be competitive at a more senior level. APS agencies will continue to be encouraged to engage and support Indigenous Australians, as well as to appreciate the diversity and respect the culture of all APS employees.


The continuation of the Strategy is to be implemented as of 1 July 2009. All initiatives are to be delivered by the Commission in collaboration with other APS agencies.

Total Government Funding

$6.0 million over 3 years

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