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In 2016, the population of Aboriginal Victorians was 47,000 – almost double the 2001 population.
Around 1% of people on Victorian Government boards identify as Aboriginal. While this is roughly in line with the proportion of Aboriginal Victorians in the general population, it means many boards lack the knowledge, insights and experience to ensure the needs and views of Aboriginal Victorians are reflected in their decisions and advice.
When Aboriginal people are not represented on government boards, they are excluded from significant opportunities to design and shape strategic policy and program directions. This means the unique and valuable knowledge and perspectives that Aboriginal people bring are missed entirely. Such perspectives are inherent to achieving better outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians.
The Victorian Government is committed to self-determination as a guiding principle in Aboriginal affairs. This should reflect in representation of Aboriginal people on government boards. To truly support self-determination, Aboriginal people should be represented on both ‘mainstream’ boards and those with specific mandates for Aboriginal affairs. This is because all areas of policy impact Aboriginal Victorians.
Victoria’s nation-leading work to advance treaty and truth requires new thinking and ways of working.
Don’t just consider Aboriginal people for Aboriginal specific boards. Aboriginal people should be considered for all board appointments.
Ensure your board is culturally safe and able to support Aboriginal members. Do you know where you can access information regarding who the Traditional Owners are and local Aboriginal history? Do you understand the ongoing impact of past government policies and practices on Aboriginal people? See resources below.
Whenever possible, include lived experience or professional experience and practical knowledge. Focus on what the person in the role will be doing and the skills they will need rather than on formal qualifications, if these are not mandatory requirements of a role.
Do not rely solely on formal interview approaches. Consider one-on-one discussion or a combination of less structured discussions and interviews.
Provide support to applicants before the interview. For example, provide clear instructions about access to the building, the selection process and interview format and panel members. Consider providing interview questions prior to the interview to ensure all candidates have the opportunity to present their best case. Consider offering Aboriginal candidates to bring a support person.
Include an Aboriginal person on the selection panel. However, note that providing a culturally safe recruitment process is a collective responsibility, and should not fall solely on Aboriginal panel members.
Note that there may be gender specific protocol and sensitivities that need to be considered for cultural reasons, and relevant adjustments made. For example, including an Aboriginal man on the selection panel for Aboriginal male candidates and an Aboriginal woman on the panel for Aboriginal female candidates.
Ensure panel members have completed cultural safety training and the interview is culturally safe. Ensure the interview space is welcoming and an acknowledgement of Country is undertaken before any formal interview process. Consider providing interview questions prior to the interview to ensure all candidates have the opportunity to present their best case. Consider offering Aboriginal candidates to bring a support person.
Be aware that there could be differences in communication styles and ensure the recruitment process (e.g. interview format, timing) does not prejudice such differences. For example:
- Silence might be longer for some Aboriginal people and some may provide less eye contact.
- Be aware that, for some Aboriginal people, self-advocating or “talking yourself up” may be more challenging due to social and cultural norms.
- Some Aboriginal applicants may be inclined to speak more in terms of team or group outcomes rather than personal achievements.
- Appreciate that Aboriginal cultural protocols may differ between individuals, communities and regions. There is no formula or set rule however you should actively provide information and sensitively offer assistance wherever possible.
Appreciate that Aboriginal cultural protocols may differ between individuals, communities and regions. There is no formula or set rule however you should actively provide information and sensitively offer assistance wherever possible.
- Aboriginal Cultural Capability by the Victorian Public Sector Commission
- Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners
- Welcome to Country and Acknowledgements
- The Victorian Government’s approach to Aboriginal affairs is guided by the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework
- First Peoples – State Relations is a group within the Department of Premier and , responsible for nation-leading work in the areas of cultural rights, self-determination, treaty and truth – an extensive program of priority work with First Peoples
- The Self-Determination Reform guides public service action to enable self-determination in line with government’s commitments in the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2018-2023
- Victoria’s implementation plan on closing the outlines actions Victoria will undertake to achieve the objective of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap
- The First People’s Assembly of is the independent and democratically elected body to represent Traditional Owners and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria
- The Yoo-rrook Justice is the first formal truth-telling process into injustices experienced by First Peoples in Victoria
|Advertising channel||Description||Process to advertise or contact information|
|Aboriginal VPS Staff||Most departments have an active staff network of Aboriginal people||Further information can be found on your Department Intranet or through your department’s HR or people and culture division.|
|Local Aboriginal (LANs)||Local networks run by volunteers that provide a safe and welcoming space for the Aboriginal community||Contact Local Aboriginal Network (LAN) at First Peoples – State Relations Group (DPC).|
|An effective social media platform for reaching Aboriginal people and communities in Victoria||All promotion should strongly encourage Aboriginal people to apply.|
|Koori||A fortnightly national Indigenous newspaper (online edition available)||Email appointment details to Koori Mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.|
|Local newspapers||Local news outlets are also regularly used to reach Aboriginal people in their local community|
Contact relevant media outlets directly.
|Departmental intranets||Government agency intranet sites can be used to promote opportunities to Aboriginal people already in the VPS||Further information can be found on your Department's Intranet.|
|First Peoples' Assembly of||The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria is the independent and democratically elected body to represent Traditional Owners and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Victoriaemail@example.com|
|Traditional Owner Corporations||Contact the Traditional Owner Corporation relevant to your board for supporting a recruitment campaign.|
|Other Aboriginal organisations|| |
There are many Aboriginal organisations delivering services to Aboriginal Victorians, some include:
Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association
Victorian Aboriginal Child Care
Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health
Victorian Aboriginal Education Association
Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for
|Contact the organisation relevant to your board for supporting a recruitment campaign.|
Reviewed 09 March 2023