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Aboriginal people

Tailored guidance for the recruitment and selection of Aboriginal people to Victorian Government boards.

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.

Key considerations

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.

Advertising channels

Advertising channel Description Process to advertise or contact information
Aboriginal VPS Staff NetworksExternal Link 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 NetworksExternal Link (LANs) Local networks run by volunteers that provide a safe and welcoming space for the Aboriginal community Contact Local Aboriginal Network (LAN) brokersExternal Link at First Peoples – State Relations Group (DPC).
FacebookExternal Link An effective social media platform for reaching Aboriginal people and communities in Victoria All promotion should strongly encourage Aboriginal people to apply.
Koori MailExternal Link A fortnightly national Indigenous newspaper (online edition available) Email appointment details to Koori Mail at advertising@koorimail.com.
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 VictoriaExternal Link 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 Victoria enquiries@firstpeoplesvic.org
Traditional Owner Corporations

Formally recognised Traditional Owner Corporations in VictoriaExternal Link

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:

Djirra External Link (family violence)

Aboriginal Advancement LeagueExternal Link

Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association LtdExternal Link

Victorian Aboriginal Child Care AgencyExternal Link

Koorie Youth CouncilExternal Link

Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health OrganisationExternal Link

Victorian Aboriginal Health ServiceExternal Link

Aboriginal Housing VictoriaExternal Link

Victorian Aboriginal Legal ServiceExternal Link

Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc.External Link

Kinaway Aboriginal Chamber of CommerceExternal Link

Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for LanguagesExternal Link

Aboriginal Community Elders ServiceExternal Link

Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner CorporationsExternal Link

Contact the organisation relevant to your board for supporting a recruitment campaign.

Reviewed 18 March 2022

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