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.
- by the Victorian Public Sector Commission
- The Victorian Government’s approach to Aboriginal affairs is guided by the
- , 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 guides public service action to enable self-determination in line with government’s commitments in the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2018-2023
- outlines actions Victoria will undertake to achieve the objective of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap
- The is the independent and democratically elected body to represent Traditional Owners and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria
- The is the first formal truth-telling process into injustices experienced by First Peoples in Victoria
Reviewed 18 March 2022