DFAT Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan 2019-22

28 May 2019

Acknowledgement

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia and recognises their contributions to the Department’s representation of Australia to the world.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this publication contains names and images of people who have passed away.

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Acknowledgement of Artist

Kim Hill (nee Holten) – Dunghutti/Yuin

1959–2018

Raised in Sydney at La Perouse on the Aboriginal Reserve, Kim’s family ties and connections are to the Dunghutti people of the North Coast and the Yuin people of South Coast of New South Wales. Kim drew inspiration from her rich Aboriginal heritage and was an interdisciplinary artist, who enjoyed working across mediums and styles. Kim completed a Masters in Art from the College of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales. Kim was also a primary-trained teacher, who worked in Aboriginal Education for over 30 years across several sectors. Kim embodied her belief in the power of education throughout her career as an artist and educator, and passed this onto her children, one of whom works at DFAT.

Photo of Kim Hill.

Among Women (2011) was inspired by the strong and beautiful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women that Kim met throughout her life. Those who have been guides, mentors and confidants; who share themselves, their spirit and their culture with grace, dignity and generosity.

Photo of artwork 'Among Women' by Kim Hill.
Among Women (2011) Acrylic/Linen 120cm x 150cm ©

The artwork featured in this publication is used with the permission of the artist’s family, and should not be replicated or used for another purpose without prior consent from the family.

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“Reconciliation is about sharing your stories and listening to those of others – this way we build a shared understanding of the past that informs a common vision of the future”
Photo of Lou-Ellen Martin speaking at the Songlines Art Exhibition.
Lou-Ellen Martin speaking at the Songlines Art Exhibition. Image courtesy of DFAT Media Team.

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Message from the Secretary, Frances Adamson

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a long organisational history established from the time of Federation as External Affairs. Since that time we have been uniquely tasked with ‘introducing Australia’ to the world. Australia’s Indigenous heritage is a fundamental element of this nation’s story. The Department’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) demonstrates our commitment to the First Australians and their role as Custodians of the world’s oldest continuing cultures.

The 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper highlights Australia’s values as one of the oldest democracies and most successful multicultural societies in the world. We are a Department that has also been explicit in articulating our values. We value people and we promote reconciliation with between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

Our diplomatic network values Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and heritage as a part of our national identity. In doing this, it is also important we acknowledge our history. Across the network it is through moments of connection and conversation that we can reach a shared understanding.

Photo of Frances Adamson.

At home and overseas the Department has a unique opportunity to showcase Indigenous stories, cultures, businesses, and tourism. We are committed to championing the social and economic benefits that Indigenous Australian cultures and businesses offer.

This is our fourth Plan and it has been designed as a Stretch RAP. It will work to stretch our knowledge and inspire us to take action as individuals, teams, and collectively as a Department in support of our Indigenous peoples.

I would like to thank the staff who developed this document, particularly our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues.

I proudly commend this document to you all.

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Message from the Indigenous Champion, Richard Maude

As the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Indigenous Champion, I am pleased to introduce this document.

Reconciliation is about understanding the true depth and richness of our history. This is the starting point for all endeavours to ensure an equitable future. We must build on this understanding to ensure we achieve other fundamental objectives of reconciliation – mutual respect, acknowledgement and celebration.

DFAT is committed to a diverse workplace. We provide a welcoming, inclusive environment where all our staff feel included and have opportunities to develop and excel.

I undertake my role as Indigenous Champion with the support from an active and engaged Indigenous Employees Network. I thank the Network for their advice on the development of this plan. This document encourages all staff to build their knowledge of Indigenous peoples, histories and experiences. I look forward to continuing to work together, with all our colleagues, to achieve our RAP commitments.

Photo of Richard Maude.

RAPs are important documents because they provide a public signal about an organisation’s commitment to reconciliation. They are also practical documents that set clear goals and timeframes for delivering measures that will advance reconciliation in the workplace. I encourage all staff in the Department to embrace the vision of this RAP and to look for opportunities at home and abroad to deliver practical reconciliation.

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Message from the Indigenous Employees Network

We are the Indigenous Employee Network (IEN) Representatives who worked in the Department’s RAP Working Group.

While being involved in the drafting process, we were witness to the national discourse on issues such as the call for an Indigenous Treaty, the debate around Australia Day, and continuing Indigenous deaths in custody. Each of these issues highlights the continuing need for reconciliation in this country.

Unity is the centrepiece of Reconciliation Australia’s Five Dimensions of reconciliation and it is required along with improved race relations, equality and equity, institutional integrity and historical acceptance. To implement these changes the Department has chosen to actively participate in achieving our vision of reconciliation within Australia. Internationally we have worked energetically and effectively with a range of stakeholders, to progress indigenous issues in a range of multilateral fora. Australia’s willingness to engage on indigenous issues overseas, without shying away from our own failings, has strengthened our credibility. This emphasises the need for ongoing representation from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia and overseas.

We thank our fellow non-Indigenous colleagues who chose to be part of the process, who created safe places for us to have an open and honest discussion on the RAP and the issues facing us as a First Nations people. As the IEN representatives, we aimed to be thoughtfully critical of how we could create an achievable and practical RAP for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We look forward to implementing the 2019-2021 RAP.

Photo of Indigenous Employee Network Representatives in the Department’s RAP Working Group
IEN Representatives on the RAP Working Group, Michael Ohrin, Katina Clarke, Michael Janz and Taylor Pepene. Credit: DFAT.
IEN Logo
IEN Logo designed by Jen Pilot and Michelle Bedford, members of the IEN.

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Message from Reconciliation Australia

Reconciliation Australia congratulates the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) on its past successes and continued commitment to reconciliation, as it adopts its fourth Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP); its second Stretch RAP.

As a RAP partner, DFAT is a member of a fast-growing collective of over 1,000 organisations in Australia that are all working to build and implement plans of action based on the key pillars of the RAP program: relationships, respect and opportunities.

As a federal department providing foreign, trade and development advice to the government, DFAT’s sphere of influence stretches beyond Australia’s shores, as does its engagement with First Nations peoples.

Previous RAP actions saw DFAT reach $37 million in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business procurement. I am pleased to see that in this Stretch RAP, the department will continue to strive for increased diversity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suppliers, with aim to improving economic and social outcomes for First Nations peoples.

Photo of Karen Mundine.
Karen Mundine, Chief Executive Officer Reconciliation Australia.

I would also like to congratulate DFAT on the launch of its Understanding Indigenous Australia curriculum through the DFAT Diplomatic Academy. DFAT plays an important role in representing Australia abroad, which crucially includes confident representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and aspirations. The department has committed to rolling out the program as a mandatory requirement for all staff undertaking postings across the world.

On behalf of Reconciliation Australia, I commend DFAT on its dedication to driving reconciliation, and look forward to following its continued achievements.

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Our Vision for Reconciliation

Our vision of reconciliation is one of mutual value, respect and opportunity. It is a vision for all staff, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous alike, in our engagements with each other and the broader community.

It is where we recognise and promote Australia’s First Peoples in our core business, and seek to pursue opportunities in the Department’s work at home and abroad.

Our commitment to reconciliation extends beyond our shores, as we project our vision abroad through our engagement with indigenous peoples around the world in trade, development and foreign policy.

Photo of three men, one is holding a cricket stump covered in indigenous art and another is holding a jersey that says Bripumyarrimin and the number eleven.
Justin Mohamed, Co-Chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cricket Advisory Committee, presented Tom Rischbieth from the Mullagh Group an Aboriginal team shirt and Matt Anderson Deputy High Commissioner with a match day stump that features commemorative artwork designed by Fiona Clarke. Image courtesy of Australia High Commission, United Kingdom.
Photo of two men wraping their arm around each others shoulders and smiling.
Meeting Tonga National Touch Rugby Patron and Executive Team, Image courtesy of Ana Kolokihakaufisi, Australian High Commission, Tonga.
Photo of High Commissioner Brazier and Chris Tamwoy.
High Commissioner Brazier and Chris Tamwoy, Image courtesy of Australian High Commission, Honiara.
Photo of people browsing the outdoor art exhibition.
“Evolution: Torres Strait Masks” Art Exhibition. Image courtesy of Australian High Commission, Ghana.

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Our Business

As outlined in the Department’s Corporate Plan 2018–19 to 2021–22, the purpose of the Department is to make Australia stronger, safer and more prosperous, to provide timely and responsive consular and passport services, and to ensure a secure Australian Government presence overseas.

To achieve this purpose, the Department has three key outcomes:

  • The advancement of Australia’s international strategic, security and economic interests including through bilateral, regional and multilateral engagement on Australian Government foreign, trade and international development policy priorities.
  • The protection and welfare of Australians abroad and access to secure international travel documentation through timely and responsive travel advice and consular and passport services in Australia and overseas.
  • A secure Australian Government presence overseas through the provision of security services and information and communications technology infrastructure, and the management of the Commonwealth’s overseas owned estate.

We pursue these outcomes through seven priority functions, which align with the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.

  1. Promote a stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
  2. Pursue our economic, trade and investment agenda for opportunity.
  3. Keep Australia and Australians safe and secure.
  4. Deliver an innovative development assistance program.
  5. Advance global cooperation.
  6. Support Australians overseas.
  7. Provide a secure overseas presence.

To achieve these functions, DFAT employs 6,088 people, 3,817 of which are Australian-based, and 2,271 of which are locally engaged staff. As at publication, there were 97 staff who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, 2.5 per cent of Australian Public Service staff.

Our staff operate in 117 overseas posts around the world. We also have offices in every Australian state or territory capital as well as on Thursday Island in the Torres Strait.

Other Departmental Indigenous Policies

The Department has developed the following Indigenous-related strategies that complement our RAP:

  • Indigenous Peoples Strategy (2015–19) - The Strategy provides a framework for Australia to work with its international partners to advance and promote the wellbeing of indigenous peoples around the world through our foreign, trade, soft power and development work.
  • Indigenous Recruitment and Career Development Strategy (IRCDS 2016–20) - The IRCDS sets out the Department’s policy on strengthening recruitment, retention, seniority and capability outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees in the Department, and widening opportunities available to all staff to deepen levels of Indigenous cultural competency.
  • Promoting the economic interests of Indigenous Australian businesses overseas: a charter - The Charter provides additional information that may be of value to Indigenous Australian businesses interested in pursuing opportunities overseas through DFAT and its portfolio agencies, including Austrade, Tourism Australia, Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC) and Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

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Our RAP

This is the Department’s fourth RAP and second Stretch RAP. Our focus is on embedding respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures, and histories in all aspects of our work.

Our Values Statement clearly sets out the Department’s commitment to promoting reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Our RAP is central to operationalising this commitment.

Our Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group (RWG) actively considered Reconciliation Australia’s Five Dimensions of Reconciliation in the development of this document – Race Relations, Unity, Historical Acceptance, Equity and Equality and Institutional Integrity, as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The targets and actions of our RAP align with the principles therein.

Group photo of Indigenous Employee Network members at a BBQ for National Apology Day.
IEN Members hosting a BBQ for National Apology Day. Image courtesy of DFAT Media Team.

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Consultations

The RWG and IEN representatives consulted across the organisation speaking and listening to staff in Australia and abroad. A primary driver to consult key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other partner organisations on the development of our RAP was to understand others’ views of DFAT’s role in contributing to and promoting reconciliation, particularly through our role in leading Australia’s engagement internationally.

The development of the RAP was also supported by senior leaders with:

  • Secretary and Indigenous Champion providing opening statements endorsing the document;
  • members of the SES appointed as RAP Working Group Co-Chairs;
  • regular consultations with the Indigenous Champion and Deputy Secretary of the Service Delivery Group; and
  • the Indigenous Taskforce (ITF) briefed regularly throughout the RAP’s development.

We ensured input from the broader Department by engaging with work areas directly on issues affecting them, briefing divisions on RAP development progress, and opening the draft for feedback from all departmental officers.

Throughout internal consultations, the RWG emphasised that all Departmental officers have an active role to play in reconciliation. Each individual can and should contribute towards reconciliation, and this can be done in many, often simple, ways.

We consulted local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community leaders and organisations, other government agencies, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and organisations, and the private sector, including:

  • DFAT’s Indigenous Employee Network;
  • Indigenous Accountants Australia;
  • Jawun;
  • Message Stick;
  • Aunty Caroline Hughes, Ngunnawal Elder, Director of the Yurauna Centre at the Canberra Institute of Technology and member of the Australian Capital Territory Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body;
  • Supply Nation;
  • The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies;
  • The Department of Prime Minster and Cabinet;
  • The Department of Veterans’ Affairs; and
  • The United Ngunnawal Elders Council.

Consultation Timeline

Aug-18 RAP WG established; SES Co-Chairs announced; sub-WGs established
Sep-18 RAP WG members met with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues
Oct-18 Indigenous Champion and FAS MPD attended RAP WG meeting
Nov-18 Initial engagement with divisions and posts
November–December 2018 RAP WG identified and consulted with key stakeholders, including other RAP organisations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations
Nov-18 RAP WG participated in a local cultural tour with Traditional Custodians
Nov-18 RAP WG updated to ITF on progress
Dec-18 Initial engagement with Indigenous Champion and Deputy Secretary, Services Delivery Group
Dec-18 Initial feedback sought from IEN on draft RAP
Dec-18 Initial feedbacks sought from Reconciliation Australia on draft RAP
Feb-19 Feedback sought from IEN, divisions and Reconciliation Australia on second draft of RAP

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Our Reconciliation Journey

Achievements

Engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Businesses through the Indigenous Procurement Policy

Since the inception of the Indigenous Procurement Policy in 2015, DFAT has entered into over 340 individual contracts with 94 unique suppliers with a total reported contract value of $37 million. DFAT continues to maximise opportunities for Indigenous suppliers by applying the mandatory set-aside, where Indigenous suppliers are given first opportunity to quote for certain procurements, at $10,000 to $200,000.

Taking Indigenous Business to the World

Through continued engagement with Indigenous suppliers, DFAT is working to build capacity of firms to take advantage of new and emerging aid and corporate procurement opportunities in Australia and overseas.

Since 1 July 2018, DFAT has included a diversity and inclusion schedule in major aid procurement activities, to promote Indigenous business participation in the aid program. Our commercial delivery partners have shown strong commitment to diversity and inclusion within their organisation including establishment of reconciliation action plans, mentoring programs, cultural awareness training and the diversification of their supply chains.

Our partners have also identified subcontracting opportunities. For example, under the Pacific Labour Facility (PLF), Palladium will partner with Indigenous to Indigenous Development (i2i) to facilitate the expansion of Pacific circular labour mobility to Australia. This follows i2i’s success in commercialising cooperative cocoa farming in Papua New Guinea and has helped the firm to scale up to take advantage of new and emerging opportunities across the region.

Photo of Paul Wood and Isaac Harrison in disucssion.
Former CFO Paul Wood with Founder of Bunjil Energy Isaac Harrison. Image courtesy of DFAT Media Team.

Understanding Indigenous Australia (UIA) – Promoting Reconciliation through Greater Awareness

DFAT’s Diplomatic Academy has developed and launched its UIA curriculum, which aims to equip staff with greater cultural awareness skills and an ability to engage more confidently on indigenous issues as part of their work in Australia and internationally. Being able to represent Australia and speak confidently on Indigenous Australia is a core diplomatic tradecraft skill. The curriculum also aims to develop skills to promote greater connection between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other indigenous peoples in the region and beyond.

The foundation-level course ‘Understanding Indigenous Australia’ provides participants with different perspectives. Both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous speakers address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, the Government’s policy responses and how to create a culturally safe and respectful environment.

Staff can also equip themselves with the tools to present an Acknowledgement of Country in the language of the traditional inhabitants of the land on which DFAT is headquartered. Teaching the Acknowledgement and its cultural context builds the confidence of staff to recognise and show respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at diplomatic meetings and events.

Through these learning experiences, the Understanding Indigenous Australia curriculum is growing a cohort of Australian representatives confident promoting the values of reconciliation, inclusion and equity, engaging on international indigenous issues and sharing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures globally.

Group photo of participants on the Understanding Indigenous Australia course.
Participants of the Understanding Indigenous Australia course. Image courtesy of DFAT Media Team.

Reconciliation Space

The Reconciliation Space was launched by Secretary Adamson in November 2017, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum, the 25th anniversary of the historic Mabo decision, and the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Space provides an area for staff and visitors to the Department to reflect on reconciliation, what it means to them personally and how they can play a role taking it forward. It is a permanent reminder of the Department’s commitment to reconciliation, in a prominent and accessible position in the atrium of our headquarters. It brings together a number of important symbols:

  • A copy of The Apology is the centrepiece of the Space. Delivered on 13th February 2008 by the then Prime Minister the Hon Kevin Rudd MP, The Apology honours the Indigenous peoples of this land and reflects on past mistreatment, in particular the stolen generations.
  • A painting called “Four Corners of The World”, commissioned by the Department in 2015 from an Aboriginal former colleague, Emma Kerslake. The painting illustrates the tyranny of distance that has shaped Australia while also highlighting our connectedness to the world.
  • Three pieces from the Pormpuraaw Art and Cultural Centre. Mother and daughter artists, Jeannie and Christine Holroyd created the Jellyfish sculptures, which provide an opportunity to share important stories about respect for land and sea. Artist Shawn Shortjoe created the striking Hammerhead Shark to pay respect to and celebrate his mother’s totem. These sculptures are produced using recycled “ghost nets”, which is a term for illegally dumped commercial fishing nets.
Photo of DFAT's Reconciliation Space that has a 3D artwork piece of a Hammer Head shark made of fishing wire and a Indigenous artwork painting title Four Corners of The World.
Reconciliation Space. Image courtesy of DFAT Media Team.

DFAT’s program for International Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019

Indigenous Australia’s considerable expertise in language preservation and revival will be at the forefront of the Department’s celebration of the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019 (IYIL2019).

DFAT’s wide-ranging program for the year will have as its centrepiece an international speaker series in which Indigenous Australians will show their language expertise to the world. Artists, performers, scientists, lawyers, researchers, film makers and writers working in language will all feature prominently in the speaker series which will build lasting partnerships across the Indo-Pacific. The series will feature activities from performances in Indo-Pacific countries to attendance at major multilateral gatherings.

The 2019 program will also initiate a legacy project being undertaken by the Soft Power Strategy team on the Ethics of Indigenous Intellectual Property (fake art, misappropriation and misattribution). The challenge in this area is significant and global in scope and Indigenous Australians are well positioned to take a prominent regional role in addressing the challenge.

Closer to home, the IYIL2019 program will feature a ‘Word a Week’ series on the DFAT Intranet carousel, language and cultural classes for staff and the diplomatic corps, and a display of the renowned and historically significant collection of doors from Yuendumu school painted in Dreaming stories. In partnership with the UNESCO National Secretariat and the South Australian Museum, the doors will be exhibited in the DFAT Atrium from NAIDOC Week through to the UN Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples in early August. The exhibition will include digital panels in which community members speak in language about the creation of the doors and their significance.

Photo of Indigenous Champion, Richard Maude and Indigenous Elders that performed at the Songlines Art Exhibition.
Elders attending the Songlines Art Exhibition. Image courtesy of DFAT Media Team

Challenges and Learnings

RAP Governance and Accountability

Due to the nature of the Department’s work staff turnover is high making it challenging to maintain corporate memory and continuity in RAP implementation and awareness. To address these issues, we embedded ‘corporate’ in the RWG in addition to those who expressed interest voluntarily, to ensure early buy-in and implementation throughout the RAP’s life. Corporate membership attaches to a key position, rather than an individual (i.e. Director of the Mentoring, Performance and Diversity Section). We established sub-groups of the RWG focused on the three pillars of the RAP – relationships, respect and opportunities, each of which included both corporate and volunteer members.

We also developed a robust implementation monitoring and evaluation framework, which brings RAP implementation reporting into line with broader ongoing reporting to the Departmental Executive. This will ensure accountability for action at the highest level of our organisation.

Engaging DFAT’s overseas and interstate network

DFAT has offices in every state and territory capital as well as on Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. In addition, our overseas network spans over 100 diplomatic missions. Feedback received throughout the consultation process on this RAP was that knowledge of previous RAPs and related strategies was limited, particularly outside of Canberra. DFAT’s large overseas and interstate network of offices presents particular challenges in relation to ensuring consistent awareness and understanding of the RAP.

However, this network also creates particular opportunities, which we have sought to leverage. We have developed specific actions aimed at overseas and interstate offices, which had previously not felt fully engaged in the Department’s reconciliation agenda. Our focus has been to ensure posts and STOs engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples respectfully, particularly in public diplomacy, outreach and advocacy efforts. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-specific learning and development solutions of the Diplomatic Academy, particularly for staff going overseas, are integral to ensuring respect and fostering international opportunities for First Australians.

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Our RAP Working Group

The RWG comprises staff from across the Department, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non- Indigenous, including those who expressed interest and those with responsibility for implementation. We ensured Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation on the RWG by designating at least three positions for members of the Indigenous Employees Network (one in each sub-group).

Led by Senior Executive Co-Chairs, Julianne Cowley and Cate Rogers, the Working Group includes:

  • David Arnold
  • David Bradley
  • Cecilia Brennan
  • Rebecca Brown
  • Katina Clarke
  • Gina De Pretto
  • Tara Featherstone
  • Emily Fisher
  • Clyde Hamilton
  • Emily Hill
  • Lorraine Hitch
  • Michael Janz
  • Derya Koc-Mcdonald
  • Lou-Ellen Martin
  • Tom Menadue
  • Antoinette Merrillees
  • Rachel Moseley
  • Richard Neumann
  • Michael Ohrin
  • Taylor Pepene
  • Jen Pilot
  • Alison Purnell
  • Kayla Ross
  • Paula Watt
  • Helen Williams

Staff Profiles

Jen Pilot

Hi, I’m Jen Pilot. I am a proud Seisarem woman from Erub (Darnley Island) and my people speak the Erub dialect of the Meriam Mir language of Eastern Torres Strait. My diverse cultural heritage includes kinship ties to PNG (Western Province), Niue, Jamaica, Tonga and New Caledonia. I am the second youngest of seven children and the last of my family to be born in the Torres Strait. I relocated from Townsville to join DFAT.

My career includes working in all tiers of government, the private sector, community organisations and the academic and museum sectors. I completed a Social Sciences degree (Anthropology major) at James Cook University in Townsville (1999). I have an interest in human societies and how the arts and culture can build bridges between, and strengthen communities.

I am driven by ideals of hope, truth and justice. Although, to this day, I still encounter many instances of racism and ignorance, I choose to believe that those people are a minority and that most Australians are decent folk and genuine about reconciliation. The reconciliation journey is one where both Indigenous, non-Indigenous and communities of diversity can share in the social, economic and spiritual wealth of Australia without questioning each other’s motives. We have 60,000 reasons to do so.

Photo of Jen Pilot

Michael Ohrin

My name is Michael Ohrin, I am Wailwan on my grandmother’s side - the Darcy and Baxter families from Gulargambone NSW, and I am Wiradjuri on my Grandfather’s side - the Newman family from Condobolin. I grew up in Dubbo, and that is where I call home.

I have been with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade since 2017 and now work within the Executive Branch. Previously I worked at Reconciliation Australia as a RAP program officer for ACT, VIC, TAS, and WA.

The Reconciliation Action Plan program holds importance to me as it defines measurable goals to systematically address corporate culture internally while guiding external engagements and creating public accountability.

For me the DFAT RAP and related documents aim to assist staff in engaging abroad, through competently and confidently addressing questions concerning Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples, which involves appropriately acknowledging a fuller picture of the shared Aus­tralian story acknowledging the negative as well as the positive. The RAP supports pathways for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agendas progress in an international platform.

Photo of Michael Ohrin

Overall I would encourage all staff to engage with these initiatives to support the positive progression of reconciliation in our workplace and community. The flow-on effects of these actions in our daily lives can contribute to the improvement of race relations, equality and equity, historical acceptance, institutional integrity and unity in Australia. Lastly reconciliation within Australia would not significantly progress without the involvement of all of us.

Melissa Kirk

Melissa Kirk - I commenced working with DFAT in 2016, and came to the organisation with strong experience in the public and private sectors in project management, vendor management, procurement and contract management.

I am responsible for facilitating the Department’s supplier engagement program and am actively involved in the aid program’s relationship management activities with strategic suppliers. I have played a leading role in the engagement of Indigenous suppliers with the aid program and across the Department more broadly. I am currently involved in the Indigenous People’s Strategy Mid-term review Working Group and provide input to the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) review.

DFAT’s RAP is key to expanding our awareness and ongoing commitment to Indigenous people’s issues and culture and the role that we as a Department can play in applying it in our daily activities. I actively promote the Indigenous Procurement Policy/Indigenous Grant’s Policy and the benefits that Indigenous to Indigenous approaches can play in the aid program, and how DFAT officers can engage more effectively with Indigenous suppliers. I am also working hard on encouraging DFAT’s commercial delivery partners to, expand their own supply chains and Indigenous cultural awareness and capability.

Photo of Melissa Kirk

I am passionate about increasing diversity and inclusion within the aid program, through the Department’s supply chain and that of our delivery partners, with a focus on how we can support the Department in achieving the objectives of the DFAT’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment strategy and the DFAT Disability Action strategy.

Photo of Rene Kulitja performing.
Ms Rene Kulitja, Elder and Seven Sisters Performer at the Secretary’s NAIDOC Reception. Image courtesy of DFAT’s Media team

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Relationships

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade pursues Australia’s national interest and represents Australia to the world. A clear understanding of national interests and priorities should be informed by building and harnessing relationships with domestic stakeholders, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. As national representatives, we should be able to represent our shared history and the diversity of Australian people, including our First Peoples. To do this, our staff should foster and maintain strong and respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities, both as stakeholders in our work and as colleagues with a shared interest in an inclusive workplace. By deepening these relationships through strengthened collaboration and communication, the Department will better represent Australia and its interests, and will contribute to reconciliation for the benefit of all.

Focus Area

To develop and strengthen our relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the breadth of our work through deepened consultation, partnership, cooperation and communication.

To strengthen its efforts to promote understanding and awareness amongst staff of issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Action Deliverable Timeline Responsibility
1. Establish, maintain and leverage mutually beneficial relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations to support positive outcomes  a. Through consultation with stakeholders, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, review the Department’s protocols for engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (i.e. Indigenous Toolkit)  December, 2019  First Assistant Secretary (FAS) Soft Power, Communications and Scholarships Division (SCD) 
  b. Build on the Indigenous Toolkit to make it more accessible and user-friendly on the intranet  July, 2020  FAS SCD 
  c. Work closely with the Torres Strait Regional Authority and engage annually with Traditional people of the Torres Strait, on matters of relevance to the Torres Strait Treaty  Ongoing – September, reported annually  Torres Strait Treaty Liaison Office (TSTLO) Manager 
  d. Consult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community groups and representative bodies in relation to domestic, multilateral and bilateral negotiations and advocacy on international Indigenous issues internal advocacy, including the promotion of Australia’s experiences with community engagement and benefit-sharing in the extractives sector  Ongoing – September, reported annually  FAS Multilateral Policy Division (MPD), 
  e. Proactively seek opportunities to engage the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and hear their views in respect of foreign investment  Ongoing – September, reported annually  FAS IVD 
  f. Ensure graduates include an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander component during visits to State and Territory offices (STO) during the International Graduate Program (IGP)  August, annually  Executive Director (ED) Diplomatic Academy (DAC) 
  g. Encourage relevant countries to nominate indigenous participation for IGP  Reported September, annually  ED DAC, Posts 
  h. Recommend in Special Visits Programs and Head of Mission (HOM) / Head of Post (HOP) program guidelines that programs include an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander component  July, 2020  Director HOM/HOP and SES Unit (SHS), Ministerial and Executive Liaison Section (MEL) 
  i. Establish and maintain three formal two-way partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities or organisations  May, 2020  Indigenous Champion, in consultation with FAS SCD 
  j. Review, update and implement an engagement plan to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders  December, 2020  Indigenous Champion, in consultation with FAS SCD 
  k. Consolidate information about engaging in DFAT as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business / community / person / student into one brochure and/or website  December, 2019  Indigenous Champion, in consultation with FAS SCD
2. Strengthen and maintain relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and their colleagues by celebrating National Reconciliation Week (NRW)  a. Organise at least six NRW events annually, which will include one event in Canberra, one at the TSTLO, and encourage all posts to prioritise National Reconciliation Week in their public diplomacy strategy  27 May – 3 June, annually  Director Mentoring, Performance and Diversity Section (MPS), STO Managers, Post Public Diplomacy Managers, TSTLO Manager 
  b. Register all NRW events via Reconciliation Australia’s NRW website  27 May – 3 June, annually  IHRA 
  c. Circulate Reconciliation Australia’s NRW resources and reconciliation materials to all staff  27 May – 3 June, annually  IHRA 
  d. Encourage staff and senior leaders to participate in two external NRW events  27 May – 3 June, annually  Secretary, Indigenous Champion 
  e. Departmental Executive supports opportuni­ties for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to participate in local NRW events  27 May – 3 June, annually  Indigenous Champion 
  f. Ensure the RWG participates in at least one external NRW events each year  27 May – 3 June, annually  RWG Secretariat 
  g. Support an external NRW event that could include in-kind support and/or partnering with community organisations  27 May – 3 June, annually  Indigenous Champion 
  h. Invite an influential Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community member/s into our office to connect and share experiences during NRW  27 May – 3 June, annually  Director MPS 
  i. Promote opportunities for staff to undertake cultural competency training during NRW  27 May – 3 June, annually  IHRA; ED DAC
3. Support staff participation in secondment / volunteering opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations  a. Facilitate opportunities for staff, including below EL1, to volunteer with community organisations, through a possible partnership with Indigenous Community Volunteers (ICV)  January, 2020  Director Staffing Operations Section (SFS), IHRA 
  b. Participate where possible in steering committees or review processes for the partnering organisations to support continued strong governance  Ongoing – reported November, annually  IHRA; Jawun and other participants 
  c. Promote Jawun and similar opportunities via discussion events and/or through video/blog posts  Ongoing – reported November, annually  IHRA; Jawun and other participants 
  d. Jawun secondees and participants in similar opportunities to report to ITF on placements  Reported November, annually  IHRA; Jawun and other participants 
4. Raise internal and external awareness of our RAP to promote reconciliation across our business, sector and sphere of influence  a. Facilitate new relationships through an outreach event showcasing the different areas of the Department working on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, including promoting the ‘Indigenous Business Charter’  August, 2020  FAS MPD, FAS SCD, FAS Contracting and Aid Management Division (ACD), FAS Development Policy Division (DPD), other divisions including FAS IVD 
  b. Raise awareness through DFAT’s engagements in relevant extractive sector forums, including the Voluntary Principles Initiative on Security and Human Rights and the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme  By August, 2020  FAS IVD 
  c. Develop, implement and review a RAP communications strategy to communicate our RAP to all internal and external stakeholders  August, 2019  RWG Members and Secretariat
  d. Engage senior leaders in the delivery of RAP outcomes, including through activities to implement the Indigenous Peoples Strategy (IPS) and participation in the ITF and RWG  Ongoing – reported September, annually  SES leaders, Indigenous Champion 
  e. Broaden reconciliation efforts of STOs by encouraging staff to attend local reconciliation events and engaging relevant local bodies such as State Reconciliation Councils, and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community organisations  January, 2020  STO Directors 
5. Support the Indigenous Employees Network (IEN) to develop strategic engagements with Departmental decision-makers  a. IEN office-holders include network duties in per­formance and development agreements (PDA)  April, annually  IEN Coordinator, MPS Director 
  b. All new employees identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, offered membership and information on the IEN, through specific information being included in Departmental and divisional induction packs  December, 2019  ED DAC, Divisional Coordination Units, IHRA 
  c. Develop a specific induction program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander new starters  December, 2019  IHRA 
  d. Allocate funding for annual IEN planning day and other activities  July, annually  AS People, Performance and Support Branch (WSB) 
  e. IEN members form part of the permanent membership of the ITF  Ongoing – reported March, annually  IHRA 
  f. Provide graduates with information about IEN in induction training and opportunity to meet  February, annually  ED DAC; IEN 
  g. Conduct annual 6+6 meetings with IEN members and SES to raise awareness of issues facing Indigenous colleagues  Reported November, annually  SES Leaders, IHRA, IEN
6. Work closely with policy agencies in Australia to ensure Departmental expertise and experience, including in the overseas environment, contributes to Government efforts to build awareness and understanding and develop mutually beneficial relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 

a. Strengthen collaboration with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, or agency/ agencies with portfolio responsibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy, programmes and service delivery, including through exploring: 

  • Senior Executive dialogue on Indigenous issues 
  • Inclusion in relevant Communities of Practice 
  • Areas for collaboration under the 2030 Agenda
  • Dialogue on development best practice 

Reported November, annually 

Indigenous Champion 

Departmental Executive 

Departmental Executive 

Development Division Heads 

Development Division Heads 

7. Promote positive race relations through anti-discrimination strategies  a. Review the Anti-Bullying, Harassment, and Discrimination (ABHD) Policy  Ongoing – reported November, annually  Director Employee Conduct and Ethics Unit (EES) 
  b. Engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to continuously improve our ABHD policy through initiatives like ‘Everyday Racism’ and Words@Work resources to help people call out inappropriate behaviours  Ongoing – reported November, annually  Director EES, IHRA 
  c. Continue to raise awareness of the ABHD policy in our organisation  Ongoing – reported November, annually  Director EES, IHRA
  d. Continue to facilitate mandatory eLearning training on ABHD for all new starters and for all staff every three years  Ongoing – reported November, annually  Director EES, IHRA 
  e. Provide ongoing education for senior leaders and managers on the effects of racism through opportunities such as the Division Heads meeting; session on racism in UIA face-to-face course; and including information in Leadership training on ABHD and the effects of racism  Ongoing – reported November, annually  Director EES, IHRA; ED DAC 
  f. Senior leaders to publicly support anti-discrimination campaigns, initiatives, or stances against racism, e.g. ‘Racism. It stops with me’ campaign  Ongoing – reported November, annually  Secretary, Director EES, IHRA 
Photo of Chris Williams performing with his didgeridoo at the Vatican Anima Mundi Museum Australia Catalogue Launch
Chris Williams at the Vatican Anima Mundi Museum Australia Catalogue Launch. Image courtesy of Kathrin Ziegler, Australian Embassy, Holy See.

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Respect

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is committed to maintaining diverse, inclusive and culturally safe workplaces in Australia and overseas. Respect for others is fundamental to this. As part of our commitment, we will find opportunities to expand our understanding and knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, customs and traditions and build cultural proficiency. We will accurately represent the full extent of Australia’s history and heritage both in our professional and personal lives, and take individual responsibility to increase our own involvement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities. We will consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples when promoting their cultures and traditions in our work.

Focus Area

To strengthen our culturally safe and inclusive environment so all staff feel supported and driven to develop a deeper cultural understanding and awareness, with a view to represent our cultures and heritage domestically and internationally with confidence and sensitivity.

To build on the work of previous RAPs to integrate cultural awareness and respect of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as part of normal duties and expectations of a DFAT employee.

Action Deliverable Timeline Responsibility
1. Increase understanding, value and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories, knowledge and rights through cultural learning.  a. Continue to roll out the UIA course and the broader Understanding Australia curriculum, with the course highly recommended for all staff and at least 100 people completing per year  2019 onwards – reported November, annually  ED DAC; FAS SCD 
  b. Require outgoing HOM and HOPs to complete training from the Understanding Indigenous Australia curriculum  Reported December, annually  ED DAC; FAS SCD 
  c. Facilitate 100 staff undertaking other/ additional cultural training/activities each year, such as group tickets for Indigenous films, Bangarra dance performances, and cultural/ bush tucker tours such as Dharwra  Reported December, annually  ED DAC; FAS SCD in consultation with Director MPS, IEN, Social Club Chair 
  d. Facilitate the teaching of Ngun(n)awal language to staff (language of Traditional Custodians of land on which Department is headquartered) December, 2019 ED DAC; FAS SCD, IHRA
  e. Promote opportunities for STO staff to participate in local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language classes Reported December, annually Director STOs
  f. Deliver activities that focus on the Year of Indigenous Languages (2019) December, 2019 FAS SCD; ED DAC
  g. Consider the role of an ‘Elder-in-residence’ or Indigenous specialist advisor(s) to inform DFAT’s engagement on Indigenous issues  December, 2019 Indigenous Champion; AS SFB
  h. Promote existing eLearning courses to make cultural understanding more accessible, with a completion target of 7.5 per cent or 300 Australian-based staff members May, 2022 IHRA
  i. Promote the Reconciliation Australia’s Share Our Pride online tools to all staff during NRW and NAIDOC week Reported December, annually IHRA, Manager Cultural Program
  j. Develop a rolling program of short cultural awareness activities for Division meetings to increase awareness December, 2019 IHRA, Divisions, with support from FAS SCD
  k. All RWG members to undertake at least one intensive cultural learning activity, such as a cultural tour or course Reported December, 2019 RWG Members and Secretariat
  l. Ten staff to undertake cultural immersion learning activities (such as Jawun) Reported December, annually IHRA, AS SFB
  m. All senior executives to undertake cultural learning activities, including through focus session at SES timeout and Global Heads of Mission meetings December, 2021 AS Executive Branch (EXB), ED DAC, Indigenous Champion 
  n. Demonstrated leadership by SES, through recognising and supporting cultural competency as a core Departmental skill March, 2020 SES leaders, Secretary
  o. Embed a cultural awareness/participation Key Performance Indicator in all staff performance plans in the 70, 20, 10 part of the performance and development agreements March, 2020  Director MPS 
  p. Provide appropriate and meaningful resources about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, for example the Little Red, Black and Yellow Book, available to staff in Australia and at Post March, 2020 FAS SCD, ED DAC
  q. Create an “Indigenous Hub” on the intranet to centralise all resources in one location March, 2020 FAS SCD, IHRA 
  r. Develop a set of regularly reviewed Talking Points for DFAT staff to use when asked in Australia and overseas about issues relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, to be updated regularly as required  September, 2019 FAS MPD 
2. Demonstrate respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities by embedding cultural protocols as part of the way our organisation functions a. Raise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at posts on external flagpoles continually where possible, and install additional flagpoles where necessary July, 2021 HOM/HOPs
  b. Review and promote internally a cultural protocols document including protocols for Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country December, 2019 FAS SCD 
  c. Invite a local Traditional Custodian to offer a Welcome to Country, or other appropriate cultural protocol, at significant DFAT-organised events and meetings hosted in Australia (including, but not limited to: policy launches; major international meetings; Departmental milestones and celebrations), as outlined in our cultural protocols document Ongoing – reported September, annually Division Heads, STO Directors
  d. Offer an Acknowledgement of Country, or other appropriate cultural protocol, at DFAT-organised events and meetings in Australia (including but not limited to: major forums; project/opening ceremonies; and training courses) Ongoing – reported September, annually Division Heads, STO Directors
  e. Increase competence and confidence of staff in delivering an Acknowledgement of Country by developing guidance for staff on how to respond to a Welcome to or Acknowledgement of Country, and including prompting cards on podiums and lecterns December, 2019 ED DAC, IHRA
  f. Maintain and review a list of key contacts for organising a Welcome to Country December, 2019 IHRA
  g. Review the Acknowledgment of Country plaques in the public areas of all DFAT office buildings in Australia to determine if they could be localised December, 2019 STO Directors in consultation with FAS SCD, ED OPO
  h. Update the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Toolkit to include information on cultural protocols for State and/or Territory and specific local communities December, 2019 STO Directors, FAS SCD 
  i. Display Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags permanently in the public area of all DFAT buildings in Australia and overseas posts December, 2019 HOM/HOPs in consultation with ED OPO
  j. Display Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander table flags in all meeting rooms in Australia December, 2019 IHRA
  k. Update our Departmental meeting agenda/speech templates to include an Acknowledgement of Country December, 2019 AS EXB, Director Speech Writing Section (SWS) 
  l. Include an Acknowledgement of Country on the DFAT intranet, website and official social media accounts December, 2019 FAS SCD 
  m. Develop an easily accessible resource outlining wording for an Acknowledgement of Country for staff (e.g. cards in security passes) July, 2019 IHRA
  n. Develop and make available for all staff an official signature block and stationary containing an Acknowledgement of Country July, 2019 IHRA
3. Celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures year round and provide opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to engage with cultures and histories during the year, including NAIDOC Week a. Provide opportunities for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to participate in internal and external NAIDOC Week events First full week in July, annually FAS SCD 
  b. In consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders, support at least six internal and external NAIDOC Week events each year First full week in July, annually FAS SCD 
  c. Support all staff to participate in at least two NAIDOC Week events in their local area First full week in July, annually FAS SCD, Indigenous Champion, Secretary
  d. Departmental Executive supports opportunities for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to participate in local NAIDOC Week events, and other cultural events during the year First full week in July and throughout year Indigenous Champion
  e. Support an external NAIDOC Week community event July, annually FAS SCD 
  f. Host a Big Picture Forum focused on issues relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and/or indigenous peoples of the world Reported December, annually AS Strategic Policy, Contestability and Futures Branch (PLB)
  g. Develop a dedicated Secretary’s reading pack on issues relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and indigenous peoples of the world August, annually (International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples) AS PLB
  h. Develop eBriefs for staff to mark days/weeks of significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples Reported December, annually DFAT Library
  i. Review HR policies and procedures to remove barriers to staff participating in NAIDOC Week. May-20 IHRA
4. Deliver and support a cohesive cultural programs and activities for post, including major Australian country promotion, touring exhibitions, lectures and artists exchanges a. Tour and promote internationally at least one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander exhibition, performance or artist each year Reported July, annually Manager Cultural Program, Posts 
  b. Encourage overseas posts to look for culturally appropriate ways to mark local days of significance to indigenous peoples in their countries of accreditation, including cultural exchanges with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples/communities Reported July, annually  IHRA, Posts 
5. Promote Indigenous design and art at posts overseas and in Australia a. Audit posts, HOM residences overseas and STOs to ensure at least one Indigenous artwork is displayed in a public area, with access to information about artwork available to share with visitors and staff May, 2020 FAS SCD, ED OPO
  b. Explore incorporation, licencing or procurement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and design in new or refurbished chancery builds, including purchasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander furniture Reported September, annually  ED OPO
  c. Encourage staff to refer to the Indigenous Art Code website prior to purchasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and gifts, to ensure that suppliers comply with the code December, 2020 FAS SCD
6. Promote Indigenous Australia to the foreign diplomatic and consular corps in Australia a. Share Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural opportunities with diplomatic corps, including through newsletters Reported December, annually Chief of Protocol
  b. Ensure an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander element to diplomatic corps programs, such as the annual Foreign Minister’s visit Reported December, annually  Chief of Protocol
  c. Ensure the diplomatic corps are invited to attend Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island focused Departmental events Ongoing – reported September, annually Director MPS, Manager Cultural Program, Chief of Protocol
Photo of Dion Devow and Kerri Hartland at Tamika Mitchell's IAGDP graduation ceremony
Tamika Mitchell, 2018 DFAT IAGDP graduate with Dion Devow, 2018 ACT Australian of the Year and Secretary of the Department of Jobs and Small Business, Ms Kerri Hartland at the 2018 IAGDP Graduation Ceremony. Image courtesy of Department of Jobs and Small Business.

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Opportunities

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade remains committed to supporting programs to close the gap in opportunities available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Reconciliation is best served by equality and equity for Australia’s First Peoples. In a world of dynamic changes, Australia is strongest when all Australians contribute to the international pursuit of our national interest. By increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians’ access to employment, grant, procurement and other opportunities, the Department will strengthen communities and promote internationally our shared values, including non-discrimination, equality and mutual respect.

Focus Area

To continue to attract and retain talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff through targeted employment strategies, including through career development opportunities in essential roles in the Department.

To extend our corporate procurement success with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses by requiring our major aid delivery partners to consider Indigenous participation in their supply chains.

To promote Australian business internationally, including attracting foreign investment in Indigenous corporations.

Action Deliverable Timeline Responsibility
1. Increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recruitment, retention and deployment  a. Increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander em­ployment to three per cent (at the time of publication 2.5 per cent formally identified to the Department as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples)  30-Jun-22 Secretary 
  b. Increase the proportion of Executive Level Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander officers to match DFAT’s overall profile, including through continued use of Affirmative Measures  30-Jun-22 AS SFB 
  c. Explore targets for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation overseas, including at the HOM level  By 30 June, 2020  Chief People Officer (CPO) 
  d. Implement, review and update Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment, retention and deployment strategy, which includes professional development  By December, 2020  CPO 
  e. Through the ITF, engage with existing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to consult on employment strategies, including mobility and professional development, and report outcomes March, July and November annually Chair of ITF
  f. Continue to advertise all job vacancies in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media Ongoing – reported September, annually Director Recruitment Section (RCS) 
  g. Brief all Affirmative Measures selection committees on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues and share the APSC guide to Indigenous Recruitment Ongoing – reported September, annually Director RCS, IHRA 
  h. Continue to hold Affirmative Measures (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) processes in parallel with all bulk selection rounds Ongoing – reported September, annually Director RCS
  i. Develop, distribute and evaluate promotional material to attract Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants for entry-level programs and general recruitment, including by targeting Aboriginal Associations and support units in universities January, 2020 Director RCS in consultation with IHRA 
  j. Continue to engage existing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff in recruitment outreach activities First quarter, annually  Director RCS 
  k. Develop a pool of contact officers for recruitment advisory panels December, 2019 Director RCS 
  l. Offer mentoring for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, and invite senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to be mentors March, 2020 Director MPS, IEN 
  m. Consider a cultural (reverse) mentoring program by Indigenous staff for non-Indigenous staff May, 2020 Director MPS, IEN 
 

n. Maintain at least five flexible Indigenous identified positions using, if necessary, affirmative measures recruitment available under the Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Directions

  • APS6–EL1 Soft Power Partnerships and Research Branch
  • APS6–EL1 Human Rights and Indigenous Issues Section
  • APS6–EL1 Papua New Guinea Branch
  • APS6–EL1 Indigenous Human Resources Adviser, Corporate Management Group
  • APS4–5 Torres Strait Treaty Liaison Office, Thursday Island
Ongoing – reported September, annually CPO, in consultation with FAS SCD, FAS Pacific Bilateral Division (PBD), FAS MPD
  o. Review the use of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identified positions, dedicating further resources where necessary December, 2019 IHRA
  p. Designate at least two additional identified positions at EL1–EL2 levels January, 2020 Director SFS, IHRA
 

q. Provide career development opportunities for Indigenous Australian Government Development Program (IAGDP) recruits in essential roles in the Department, including through partnerships with professional associations

  • Finance Stream with Indigenous Accountants Australia
  • Online Communication Stream
  • Procurement Stream
January, 2020

AS SFB

Chief Finance Officer (CFO)

FAS SCD 

CFO 

  r. Ensure DFAT’s Indigenous employees are represented alongside other APS employees in study opportunities including annually through the Pat Turner Scholarship, subject to operational constraints  August, 2019, annually  CPO, ED DAC
  s. Support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees pursuing further study (e.g. review study provisions for Indigenous staff and other possible support) December, 2020 ED DAC, IHRA
  t. Explore talent management options for high performing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander officers December, 2019 IHRA
2. Increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander supplier diversity to support improved economic and social outcomes a. Implement, review and update our Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP) implementation strategy, including a mandatory set-aside for all procurements delivered in defined remote areas valued at $10,000–$200,000 (GST inclusive) for new procurements conducted in Australia December, 2020 AS Finance and Procurement Strategy Branch (FSB)
 

b. Continue to meet Commonwealth Indigenous Procurement Policy target of three per cent of contracts for goods and services for relevant expenditure, including to develop commercial relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander owned businesses as well as new value targets as follows:

  • 2019–20: 1 per cent
  • 2020–21: 1.25 per cent
  • 2021–22: 1.5 per cent
  • 2022–23: 1.75 per cent
Reported September, annually AS FSB, AS Contracting Services Branch (ABB)
  c. Review procurement training to ensure adequate knowledge of IPP and Supply Nation December, 2020 CFO
  d. Work with PM&C and other relevant Commonwealth agencies to participate in the annual Supply Nation conference and other outreach opportunities as appropriate Reported September, annually AS FSB, AS ABB
  e. Expand the Indigenous Business Register to over 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses, including local businesses in States and Territories, and those outside of Supply Nation Framework December, 2019 AS FSB, AS ABB, STO Directors 
  f. Promote Indigenous catering for DFAT events and meetings Reported September, annually  AS EXB, Functions Unit, Divisions, Posts 
3. Support partners and suppliers on their reconciliation journey a. Build on the success of Indigenous corporate procurement to build relationships with aid contracting partners and managing DFAT divisions and posts July, 2020 AS ABB
  b. Encourage the top 16 aid contract delivery partners at the annual DFAT aid supplier conferences to develop their own Reconciliation Action Plans Reported September, annually AS ABB
  c. Work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ICT suppliers to train and mentor Indigenous IT and SAP contractors - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander IT contractors to benefit from DFAT men­toring, training and work placement opportunities with an option for permanent employment in the future, including an ability to work remotely 30-Jun-20 Chief Information Officer (CIO), CFO
  d. Engage with NGO partners for discussions and training about their work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities December, 2019 AS NGOs and Volunteers Branch (NVB)
  e. Collaborate with five RAP and other like-minded organisations to implement ways to advance reconciliation Reported September, annually  FAS MPD, CFO, CPO
4. Ensure greater accessibility and uptake of DFAT opportunities by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples / communities / businesses a. Ensure DFAT grant guidelines are accessible to potential Indigenous applicants July, annually FAS SCD
  b. Encourage DFAT’s foundations, councils and institutes (FCI) to set Indigenous grant targets - FCI boards to be consulted on the suitability of Indigenous targets for their programs June, 2020 FAS SCD
  c. Encourage Secretariats of DFAT portfolio boards to propose Indigenous board members appointees July, annually FAS SCD, AS EXB
  d. Develop an annual program of high profile Indigenous speakers to engage with DFAT Ongoing – reported September, annually Director MPS, 
5. Support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses internationally, including in conjunction with Portfolio partners, Austrade, ACIAR, EFIC and Tourism Australia a. Promote Indigenous business export and investment opportunities, including through free trade agreements July, annually FAS Regional Trade Agreements Division (RTD) 
  b. Create an Indigenous Business Export Award category with Austrade to promote excellence in exporting by an Indigenous Business November, annually FAS RTD
  c. Work with Austrade, Tourism Australia and our diplomatic network to encourage and promote Indigenous visitor experiences in Australia November, annually FAS IVD
  d. Work with Efic and our diplomatic network to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses November, annually FAS IVD
6. Support and promote opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students a. Actively promote the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in the New Colombo Plan (NCP) December, 2019 AS Scholarships and Alumni Branch (SCB)
  b. Implement actions to achieve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the NCP to equivalent or better levels than Indigenous participation in Australian Universities December, 2019 AS SCB
  c. Explore a partnership with Career Trackers to promote internship opportunities for Indigenous students December, 2020 IHRA, AS SFB
  d. Explore pathways to employment in DFAT for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recipients of DFAT bursaries, through support for the Roni Ellis Indigenous Study Award and the Griffith University Bursary and consideration of new bursaries December, 2019 IHRA, Director RCS
Photo of Ambassador to Madrid, Julie-Ann Guivarra and Secretary Adamson holding up a newspaper titled Envoys for Oz and has a photo of Assistant Secretary Damien Miller in it.
Ambassador to Madrid Julie-Ann Guivarra with Secretary Adamson. Image courtesy of DFAT Media Team

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Governance, Tracking Progress and Reporting

Action Deliverable Timeline Responsibility
1. RAP Working Group remains active, advising work areas, monitoring progress against RAP targets and reporting on RAP activity to the Indigenous Taskforce  a. Appoint SES RWG Co-Chairs as RAP Champions  May, 2019  Indigenous Champion 
  b. Establish a Terms of Reference for the RWG  May, 2019  RWG Co-Chairs 
  c. Oversee the development, endorsement and launch of the RAP  May, 2019  RWG Co-Chairs 
  d. Ensure Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples are members of the RWG  Ongoing – reported September, annually  RWG Secretariat 
  e. RWG meets at least four times annually to monitor RAP implementation and reports periodically, with suggestions for review, to the ITF  Ongoing – reported September, annually  RWG Co-Chairs and Secretariat 
  f. Include RAP implementation as a standing item on the ITF  March, July, November, annually  IHRA 
  g. RWG members to act as RAP focal points in divisions to disseminate information about the RAP and update on progress in implementation  Ongoing – reported September, annually  RWG Co-Chairs 
  h. RWG note their role as RAP Focal Point in PDAs  April, annually  RWG Co-Chairs and Secretariat 
 

i. Maintain relationships with external organisations consulted during the development of the RAP by: 

  • inviting them to NRW/NAIDOC events; and
  • RAP Champion writing annually to advise of implementation progress 

Ongoing – reported September, annually 

May and July, annually 

April, annually

RWG Co-Chairs 

RWG Secretariat; Director MPS; Director, Soft Power Strategy Section (SFP)

RAP Champion/Co-Chairs

2. Build accountability and transparency through reporting RAP achievements, challenges and learnings both internally and externally  a. Complete and submit the RAP Impact Measurement Questionnaire to Reconciliation Australia  Reported 30 September, annually  IHRA 
  b. Investigate participation in the RAP Barometer  May 2020, biennially  IHRA 
  c. Develop and implement systems and capability needs to track, measure and report on RAP activities  Aug-19 RWG Members and Secretariat 
  d. Report RAP progress to all staff and senior leaders biannually  May / December  Indigenous Champion, RWG Co-Chairs, Secretariat 
  e. Publically report against our RAP commitments annually, outlining achievements, challenges, and learnings  Reported May, annually  Indigenous Champion, RWG Co-Chairs, Secretariat 
3. Review, refresh and update RAP  a. Liaise with Reconciliation Australia to develop a new RAP based on learnings, challenges and achievements  May, 2021  RWG Secretariat 
  b. Send draft RAP to Reconciliation Australia for feedback  January, 2022  RWG Secretariat 
  c. Submit draft RAP to Reconciliation Australia for formal endorsement  April, 2022  RWG Secretariat

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Glossary

“Indigenous” – capitalised refers to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples, whereas “indigenous” not capitalised refers to broader indigenous populations around the world.

  • ABB — Contracting Services Branch
  • AS — Assistant Secretary
  • CFO — Chief Finance Officer
  • CPO — Chief People Officer
  • DAC — Diplomatic Academy
  • ED — Executive Director
  • EES — Employee Conduct and Ethics Unit
  • EXB — Executive Branch
  • FAS — First Assistant Secretary
  • FSB — Finance and Procurement Strategy Branch
  • IHRA — Indigenous Human Resources Adviser
  • IVD — Investment and Economic
  • LPS — Learning Program Management Section
  • MPD — Multilateral Policy Division
  • MPS — Mentoring, Performance and Diversity Section
  • NVB — NGOs and Volunteers Branch
  • OPO — Overseas Property Office and Services
  • PBD — Pacific Bilateral Division
  • PLB — Policy, Contestability and Futures Branch
  • RCS — Recruitment Section
  • RTD — Regional Trade Agreements Division
  • RWG — RAP Working Group
  • SCB — Scholarships and Alumni Branch
  • SCD — Soft Power, Communications and Scholarships Division
  • SFS — Staffing Operations Section
  • SHS — HOM/HOP and SES Unit
  • SWS — Speech Writing Section
  • TSTLO — Torres Strait Treaty Liaison Office

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RAP Enquires

Position: Indigenous Human Resources Adviser
Email: rap@dfat.gov.au or workplacediversity@dfat.gov.au

Group photo of DFAT’s 2018 NAIDOC Touch Footy Team in DFAT's Indigenous Jersey's.
DFAT’s 2018 NAIDOC Touch Footy Team. Credit: DFAT.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
R.G. Casey Building
John McEwen Crescent
Barton Act 0221 Australia

Phone: +61 2 6261 1111
Fax: +61 2 6261 3111
ABN: 47 065 634 525

Last Updated: 4 June 2019