Our vision for reconciliation is that of a united Australia where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, heritage and culture are valued and celebrated both in Australia and overseas so as to enhance our reputation as a multi-cultural country which respects the rights of the first Australians and of people from all nations.
DFAT’s Reconciliation Action Plan 2016-2019
The department’s work
Promoting art and culture overseas
DFAT plays an active role in promoting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture internationally. Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program is a central component of our international cultural diplomacy efforts. This program provides funding and support for touring visual arts exhibitions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performance groups.
International engagement on Indigenous issues
We also represent Australian Indigenous issues internationally, and have a dedicated Human Rights and Indigenous Issues Section in our International Organisations and Legal Division. Each year we send selected Indigenous employees to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) meeting in New York. This provides the opportunity for our Indigenous staff to make a practical contribution to Australia's engagement at the UNPFII and to contribute as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals to the highest level Indigenous forum in the multilateral system.
Torres Strait Treaty
DFAT manages the Torres Strait Treaty between Australia and Papua New Guinea. The Treaty defines the border between Australia and Papua New Guinea and protects the rights of Torres Strait Islanders and coastal people from Papua New Guinea who live in and keep the traditions of the region. Our Torres Strait Treaty Office on Thursday Island consults regularly with Torres Strait Islanders and the Papua New Guinea Border Liaison Office in Daru (Western Province) on the implementation of the Treaty at the local level.
We actively support NAIDOC Week, both in Australia and at our overseas missions. Visit our NAIDOC Week page for more information about the events we host.
Indigenous study awards
An important initiative of the department is its bursary program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at the Ngunnawal Centre at the University of Canberra and at the GUMURRII Student Support Unit at Griffith University. Our annual Roni Ellis Indigenous Study Awards (REISA) were launched in 2001 in memory of Roni Ellis, an Indigenous DFAT employee who died of leukemia in 2000. Roni joined DFAT in 1991, where she managed the promotion of Australia’s Indigenous culture and art abroad. She was instrumental in building understanding of Indigenous culture and history. In 2012, DFAT entered into a similar arrangement with Griffith University. The bursaries are advertised by the Ngunnawal Centre and GUMURRII Student Support Unit annually.
Jawun Indigenous Corporate Partnerships
We nominate a number of DFAT staff each year to undertake secondments to Indigenous community organisations through the Jawun Indigenous Corporate Partnerships program. Jawun is a not-for-profit organisation managing programs of secondments from corporate and government partners to Indigenous organisations. It has been operating since 2001 and seeks to find skilled people in the corporate and public sectors and connect them to Indigenous communities to share knowledge and expertise.
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What we offer
The department offers interesting and exciting work opportunities and a diverse, respectful and inclusive workplace. We seek to ensure that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees maximise their potential for a successful, rewarding and enjoyable career in DFAT.
Reconciliation Action Plan
Our Reconciliation Action Plan 2016-2019 sets out our commitment to promoting diversity and reconciliation in Australia and in our overseas posts, both for our own Indigenous staff and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia.
Indigenous Employees’ Network
We have an active and committed Indigenous Employees’ Network (IEN), which provides mentoring and support for new Indigenous employees, as well as a social and professional network for all our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff. The IEN also regularly engages with the department’s staff management branch and provides advice on a range of issues, such as recruitment and retention strategies for Indigenous staff.
Our Indigenous Taskforce meets regularly to consider and respond to issues of concern to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. Chaired at Deputy Secretary level, the Indigenous Taskforce has members from a number of areas of the department and provides a forum for Indigenous employees, represented by the IEN, to discuss issues and ideas directly with senior management.
A culturally aware workforce
DFAT actively promotes awareness and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and issues within our own workforce. We provide formal guidance to all staff on correct terminology and protocols, and we provide cultural awareness training.
Competitive terms and conditions
In addition to our competitive salaries and conditions of employment, we provide Indigenous employees with an additional three days of paid leave ceremonial purposes (including NAIDOC leave).
We provide financial assistance for staff who are required to relocate to take up offers of employment. We offer extensive training and development opportunities, including in-house and external courses and development programs, plus financial support for employees undertaking further study.
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In support of the Government’s Closing the Gap Strategy: Indigenous Economic Participation Agreement, we are aiming to increase our recruitment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
All of the department’s advertised vacancies are open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and we welcome applications from Indigenous Australians for any of our vacancies. We also specifically recruit Indigenous graduates, cadets and trainees, and occasionally other positions, using the Special Measures provision contained in section 8(1) of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and sections 4.2 (6)(b)(i) and 4.3(3)(b)(i) of the Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 1999.
The Special Measures provision allows for the targeted recruitment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by designating particular positions as being open only to Indigenous Australians.
To be eligible for Special Measures positions an applicant must provide confirmation of their Aboriginality and/or Torres Strait Islander heritage. This is commonly a letter or form obtained from an incorporated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation such as an Aboriginal Land Council or similar Indigenous community organisation.
At least one member of every selection committee for Special Measures positions will be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander employee of DFAT.
We will also arrange for an Indigenous employee to participate as a member of the selection committee on the request of an Indigenous applicant in any other selection process. If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander applicant and you wish to have an Indigenous member on the selection committee please contact:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who are approaching completion of their university studies are strongly encouraged to apply for our annual policy and corporate graduate programs. Each year a number of positions on our highly regarded graduate programs will be offered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants as a special measure under section 8(1) of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.
If you are in your final year of a bachelor or higher degree and you are looking for a challenging and interesting career, start your application now via our vacancies page.
For more information about DFAT’s graduate programs and what we offer, visit our graduate recruitment page or see our Indigenous graduate fact sheet.
We also recruit Indigenous graduates through the Australian Public Service Commission’s (APSC) Indigenous Pathways Program graduate selection process.
Many of our former Indigenous graduates are now representing Australia in our embassies, high commissions and consulates around the world, including in senior roles. Visit our staff profiles page page to find out more about some of our current and former Indigenous graduates.
Our Indigenous Cadetship Program (ICP) provides Indigenous undergraduate students with financial assistance during their studies and practical work experience during their summer breaks. Upon successful completion of their studies, cadets are offered a permanent position in the department.
Who can apply?
Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians who are currently studying for their first undergraduate degree at an Australian tertiary educational institution are eligible to apply. Preference is given to applicants who have successfully completed at least one year of their undergraduate degree.
What salary will I receive?
Indigenous cadets are employed as ongoing (probationary) DFAT staff at the APS 2.1 level for the duration of their cadetship. Cadets are paid a full time salary during work placements in their summer university break (usually December to February), where they receive practical, on-the-job training. These work placements are normally in our head office in Canberra. During the study period (usually March to November) cadets are paid at 50% of the APS 2.1 rate.
The department also provides an allowance for textbooks and may cover the HECS costs for units successfully completed, as well as travel and accommodation costs associated with Canberra-based summer work experience.
Cadets who successfully complete their studies and work experience will be offered a position at the APS 3.2 level. For further information about DFAT’s terms and conditions of employment, see our salary and conditions page.
What opportunities exist for career development?
ICP graduates have many options for personal development and career advancement, including promotions and overseas postings. Cadets are encouraged to apply for the department's graduate programs during the final year of their degree. For information about current and former DFAT Indigenous cadets visit our profiles page.
How do I apply?
The department's ICP is offered in conjunction with the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations’ (DEEWR) National Indigenous Cadetship Support Program (NICS) and the Australian Public Service Commission’s (APSC) Indigenous Pathways Program.
- The first step in applying for a cadetship is to register with DEEWR. This can be done online via the DEEWR ICS website.
- The second step is to apply via the APSC’s Indigenous cadetships, nominating DFAT as your preferred employer.
For full details of the APSC’s selection process, eligibility and requirements, please visit the APSC’s Indigenous Pathways Program website.
The department employs Indigenous trainees through the Indigenous Australian Government Development Programme (IAGDP) implemented by the Shared Services Centre on behalf of partner departments of Education and Employment. The programme is delivered over a 15 month period, and in addition to ongoing employment and on-the-job training, participants complete a Diploma level qualification, and professional and personal learning and development opportunities to enhance their capacity to undertake a career in the APS.
Indigenous trainees are employed as ongoing employees and undertake placements in a range of work areas across the department, for example in corporate coordination, finance, media liaison and parliamentary services, passports and other client service areas. Upon successful completion of the traineeship, trainees are placed in a permanent position in the department.
Who can apply?
Individuals who are identified, recognised and accepted as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians are eligible to apply.
What salary will I receive?
Indigenous trainees are employed as ongoing (permanent) employees at the APS 3 level. The department also provides a range of induction and on-the-job training and funds trainees’ participation in their Diploma level course and other training.
For further information about DFAT’s terms and conditions of employment, see our salary and conditions page.
What opportunities exist for career development?
Indigenous trainees have many options for personal development and career advancement, including applying for promotions and overseas postings. For information about current and former DFAT Indigenous Trainees visit our profiles page.
How do I apply?
To apply, please visit the IAGDP website between January and February.
Applications should be submitted via the Shared Services Centre, nominating DFAT as your preferred employer. For full details of the selection process, eligibility and requirements, please visit the Shared Services Centre’s IAGDP website.