Follow us on LinkedInFollow us on TwitterFollow us on FacebookFollow us on Instagram

Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Respect

Being the lead Agency in the Commonwealth for Indigenous Australians, the NIAA strongly understands and respects the important value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples bring to the table with their rich cultures and histories as Australia’s First Peoples. The NIAA recognises that policies, programs and services need to be tailored to the unique needs of communities. Respect is fundamental to ensuring we achieve that successfully. We are committed to expanding our knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and their unique customs and traditions to continue building cultural competency.

Focus area: The NIAA focuses on continuous building of respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures, and leads the approach that builds this respect across Governments and Australian society.

1. Increase understanding, value and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories, knowledge and rights through cultural learning.

Deliverable Timeline Responsibility
Conduct a review of cultural learning needs within our organisation. Ongoing – reported October, annually Chief Operating Officer
Consult local Traditional Owners and/or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisors on the implementation of a cultural learning strategy. Ongoing – reported October, annually Lead: Chief People Officer Support: Regional Managers
Regional Managers to consult with local Traditional Owners to inform local cultural learning needs and embed in the practices of the Regional Presence. Ongoing – reported October, annually Lead: Chief People Officer Support: Regional Managers
Implement and communicate a cultural learning strategy for our staff. August, 2023 Chief People Officer
Commit all RAP Working Group members, HR managers, senior executive group and all new staff to undertake formal and structured cultural learning. Ongoing – reported September, annually Chief Operating Officer
Add resources to NIAA’s Footprints program (linked via NIAA’s intranet and Acorn (NIAA’s learning and development platform) which promotes truth-telling and opportunities for staff to engage in discovery and understanding. For example, truth-telling initiatives and activities developed by State and Territory Governments, Non-Government Organisations, and local communities. Ongoing – reported February, 2023, 2024 Lead: Director – Inclusion and Diversity
All NIAA staff complete and undertake ongoing formal and structured cultural learning through:
  • AIATSIS’ CORE cultural learning
    The CORE cultural learning program is part of our mandatory training for all staff. It is a foundational e-learning course on respecting and understanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures for the APS.
  • NIAA’s Footprints Program
    The Footprints Program is the NIAA’s continuous cultural learning and development framework which all staff are expected to undertake. Footprints articulates a minimum professional standard of learning practice for staff to ensure they are engaged in learning opportunities that complement learning styles whilst building confidence and competence to engage in culturally safe work practices. All NIAA staff are required to undertake and report on their participation in local Footprints activities (including face-to-face activities) to achieve 100 Continuous Development Points throughout the annual performance cycle. Participation is reported through individual performance agreements.
Ongoing – reported September, annually Chief Operating Officer
Each member of the NIAA’s Executive Board will undertake at least one cultural immersion activity each year. Ongoing – reported November, annuall Lead: Executive Board Support: CEO
Implement a virtual book club (book of the month) for NIAA staff to promote books relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander historical and contemporary barriers using our available online platforms, sharing learnings across NIAA staff. August 2022 Lead: Director – Internal Communications, Director Capability and Development Support: Director – Library PM&C
Integrate cultural capability learnings into our learning and development (L&D) and performance development framework (Engage on a Page). Ongoing – reported August, annually Chief People Officer

2. Demonstrate respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by observing cultural protocols.

Deliverable Timeline Responsibility
Develop and implement the NIAA Cultural Protocols Guide to increase staff’s understanding of the purpose and significance behind cultural protocols, including Acknowledgement of Country and Welcome to Country protocols. June 2022 Lead: Branch Manager – Culture & Heritage

Support: Regional Mangers, Director – Internal Communications

Educate and raise awareness of the Cultural Protocols Guide (the Guide) by promoting its launch, including it in the NIAA’s induction pack for new starters, and highlighting the Guide annually on the Intranet during NAIDOC week. Ongoing – reported October annually Chief Operating Officer
At all times NIAA staff provide an Acknowledgement of Country or other appropriate protocols at all public events. Ongoing, reported – November, annually Lead: Chief Operating Officer

Support: Director – Internal Communications

Display 11 Acknowledgment of Country plaques in our offices or on our buildings. Ongoing, reported – November, annually Branch Manager – Business Operations
Invite Traditional Owners/Elders to provide a Welcome to Country at a minimum of two significant events across the NIAA embedding it as standard practice, sharing their knowledge and understanding of their ancient connections to country as a foundation of reconciliation. Ongoing, reported – November, annually Lead: Director – Internal Communications

Support: All Branch/Regional Managers

Conduct Acknowledgement of Country training in local languages (where possible and appropriate) on Country, where NIAA offices are located. Ongoing, reported – November, annually Lead: Chief People Officer

Support: Chairs – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Network, Regional Managers

Include Acknowledgement of Country (in language where possible and appropriate) as part of all new starter induction programs. Ongoing, reported – November, annually Chief People Officer

3. Engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories by celebrating NAIDOC Week.

Deliverable Timeline Responsibility
Increase the percentage of staff accessing NAIDOC leave by 10 percent each year over the life of the RAP to participate in external events to recognise and celebrate NAIDOC Week, as an opportunity to participate in reconciliation and grow their understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, achievements and cultures. Ongoing – reported September, annually Lead: Chief People Officer

Support: Director – Internal Communications

Demonstrate leadership by working in partnership with the National NAIDOC Committee to promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and successes nationally through NAIDOC Week. Specifically, provide secretariat support for the NAIDOC Committee to stage the NAIDOC Gala Awards, conduct the NAIDOC Poster competition and produce NAIDOC Merchandise. July, annually Branch Manager – Culture & Heritage
NAIDOC Week events (to be organised in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander speakers)
  • Host at least one national NAIDOC Week event across the NIAA, which all staff can engage in (either in person or through remote participation).
  • Organise a minimum of 11 NAIDOC events per year across NIAA’s regional presence, with at least one event within each Region.
July, annually Lead: Chief People Officer

Support: Regional Managers

RAPWG to participate in an external NAIDOC Week event. July, annually RAP Working Group Co-Chairs
Consistent with the NIAA Enterprise Agreement 2021-2024, encourage all NIAA staff to access NAIDOC leave to participate in NAIDOC Week celebration events in the local area. July, annually Chief Operating Officer

4. Promote equality and equity through cross-cultural opportunities that build relationships and an inclusive and diverse workforce.

Deliverable Timeline Responsibility
Support staff to volunteer for organisations that support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander outcomes, utilising the volunteer leave as per NIAA policies and protocols. Ongoing – reported August, annually Lead: Chief People Officer
Utilise the annual GARMA APS Alumni and Indigenous Champions Network event to promote the importance of Indigenous perspectives to APS business and incorporate these perspectives in ways relevant to Indigenous Australians. September, annually Lead: Chief Executive Officer Support: Culture & Heritage Branch
Support at least 4 staff per year to undertake a Jawun Secondment to support Indigenous businesses and communities through knowledge and skill sharing. Ongoing – reported September, annually Lead: Chief People Officer
Continue to implement the Footprints Program across NIAA staff, and promote it across the APS and the non-Government sector as an opportunity to strengthen cross- cultural awareness and competency as a foundational element of reconciliation. Ongoing – reported September, annually Lead: Chief People Officer
Develop, implement and promote a cross-cultural Mentoring Program, where non- Indigenous and Indigenous Senior Executive Officers can opt-in to provide professional development and cultural mentorship to APS and EL level Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff. November, 2023 CEO, Chief People Officer