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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Indigenous Skills and Employment Program (ISEP)

The Australian Government announced in the 2021–22 Budget a commitment to develop the Indigenous Skills and Employment Program (ISEP), a new Indigenous Employment Program, to replace the Vocational Training and Employment Centres (VTEC), Tailored Assistance Employment Grants (TAEG) (including Employment, Cadets and School-based Traineeships) and Employment Parity Initiative (EPI), to commence from 1 July 2022.

The ISEP will contribute to closing the gap between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous employment rate by supporting pathways to employment for Indigenous Australians, through flexible and locally informed investment.

The new program will increase economic opportunities for Indigenous Australians and drive actions that connect Indigenous Australians to jobs, targeted skills acquisition and career advancement opportunities. ISEP will foster partnerships and co-investment with key stakeholders at the local level, in particular with providers, state, territory and local government and employers, to provide seamless, complementary services to support Indigenous Australians in gaining sustainable employment outcomes.

You can read Minister Wyatt’s 2021-2022 Budget media release about the new program.

You can read Ministers Wyatt’s media release opening ISEP.

ISEP Grant Timing

Stage One will open 22 March 2022 and close at 23:30 on 26 April 2022.

Application forms are available on GrantConnect.

We expect Stage Two to open to successful Stage One applicants early September 2022.  

ISEP Grant Information Sessions

ISEP held two grant information sessions on the 6th and 7th of April for interested applicants. The sessions comprised of an overview of ISEP, followed by a Q&A session.

A recording of the overview is available, the Q&A sessions were not recorded but answers to the questions have been made available in the Factsheet for Applicants, available on GrantConnect.

If you have questions after listening to the recording and reading the documents on GrantConnect please send them through to

ISEP Grant selection process

The ISEP grant opportunity will be a two stage competitive process.

ISEP priorities have been determined, in consultation with key stakeholders, at the regional level in the context of existing and planned investment, labour markets and place-based needs and are detailed in the ISEP Grant Opportunity Guidelines. ISEP activities must clearly align to the relevant ISEP regional priorities outlined in the Grant Opportunity Guidelines at Appendix 3.

Stage One

Stage One is an open competitive process where interested organisations can submit a grant application showing their linkages and experience working with the local community/ies or groups they are targeting. Organisations will need to demonstrate their capacity to co-design activities with Indigenous community/ies or groups and deliver culturally safe employment services to Indigenous Australians. They will also need to demonstrate their ability to build the capacity of Indigenous organisations, a track record in delivering employment related activities in collaboration with others and knowledge of the needs and aspirations of Indigenous jobseekers, job opportunities and the industry and community needs in the region they are targeting.

If successful, organisations will be required to co-design activities with Indigenous community/ies or group and other key stakeholders (industry, local, state or territory government, employers, training organisations etc.) in all areas the activities will be delivered. This will help to ensure activities are fit for purpose, meet the unique local and regional needs and that Indigenous communities have a voice in the development of services that impact them.

More detail on co-design will be provided to successful applicants.

Stage Two

Organisations successful in Stage One will be invited to submit an application for Stage Two – which is a restricted competitive grant process. Successful organisations will be required to demonstrate they have appropriately engaged in and completed the co-design process and  developed a detailed plan of activities that clearly align with the relevant ISEP regional priorities. Organisations will also need to provide details of their proposed activities and demonstrate they have the capacity to successfully deliver the activities, adequately managing risk and measuring their effectiveness in achieving ISEP objectives.

Monitoring, Evaluation and Capacity building

Key milestones for successful ISEP organisations will be the development of a monitoring and evaluation strategy, including a theory of change and program logic, as well as a capacity-building plan outlining how they will further build the capacity of local Indigenous organisations engaged in the project. Further guidance on this will be provided to successful ISEP organisations.

Business Support  

NIAA is considering options for mentoring and business support to be available to the successful ISEP organisations throughout the life of the funding agreement, focused on improving governance, monitoring and evaluation capability.


Key components of the ISEP are partnership, collaboration and to enabling more Indigenous organisations to build skills and capabilities. By partnering, organisations can benefit from the sharing of local knowledge, industry experience and resources to deliver projects targeted to regional needs as well as leverage local relationships and existing /mainstream investment.

The ISEP Partnership Register is intended to be used as a resource for organisations to connect with each other while the Stage One grant opportunity is open noting it may take time to make your connections.

Organisations who are unsuccessful after Stage One may still be a partner organisation during the co-design phase. Organisations are encouraged to register their interest to partner now to still have an opportunity to be involved in the ISEP.

The Partnership Register - XLSX 54 KB is now closed to new registrations and will no longer be updated.

ISEP Design

The ISEP has been designed with Indigenous Australians and key stakeholders. The NIAA used various engagement methods in consultations to gather information and views. This included a public discussion paper which received 63 submissions, as well as a series of roundtable discussions and virtual Town Hall meetings to engage with Indigenous communities, employment and training providers, state, territory and local governments, industry bodies and other key stakeholders.

The information and ideas contributed through these processes informed the final design of the program and advice to Government regarding stakeholder views on future investment in Indigenous-specific employment programs.

Read the findings from the consultations and discussion paper submissions.

Empowered Communities

The Commonwealth Government has a commitment to a partnership approach to regional planning and investment with the Empowered Communities regions. of East and West Kimberley, Central Coast NSW, Cape York, Inner Sydney, North East Arnhem Land, Ngarrindjeri in SA, Far West Coast of South Australia, the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, and Goulburn-Murray.

The Empowered Communities model is an Indigenous designed and led shared decision making initiative that places Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in true partnership with the Australian Government. For further information on the Empowered Communities regions see

ISEP delivery targeting or including Empowered Communities must demonstrate shared decision making in the co-design phase and an ongoing commitment for the project duration, where directly affecting the Empowered Community.

ISEP and other employment services

Funding under the ISEP will be available where there is a genuine gap in the new Workforce Australia (replacing jobactive from 1 July 2022) or the Community Development Program(CDP)/Remote Engagement Program or an opportunity the ISEP can appropriately address, and where there is no duplication with existing Government investment, including mainstream employment services. This includes consideration of whether the same activity is available to job seekers through the new Workforce Australia or the CDP/Remote Engagement Program.

More information about the new Workforce Australia can be found on the Department of Education, Skills, and Employment website.

Impact on VTEC, TAEG and EPI

Existing Indigenous-specific employment programs - VTEC, TAEG (i.e. employment, school-based traineeships and cadetships streams) and the EPI will wind down over 2022 (or the end of current grant agreements). There will be no changes to current funding agreements and no impact on current participants under existing VTEC, TAEG or EPI projects, with participants able to complete their placements as intended.

Further information

For more information about the ISEP, you can contact the ISEP team at

If you are an existing VTEC, EPI or TAEG provider you can contact your contract manager for more information.

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