- Message from the Secretary
- Our Vision for Reconciliation
- Our Reconciliation Action Plan for 2008-2009
- Summary and Key Learnings
Message from the Secretary
In Reconciliation Week 2007 I launched FaHCSIA’s first 2007–08 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). This plan and our subsequent 2008 plan placed on public record our strong commitment and actions to progress reconciliation. We have made good progress in implementing the 2008–09 Reconciliation Action Plan and I am pleased to be able to present this report on the progress of each of the 15 action items.
FaHCSIA has completed, or is on track to complete, 14 of 15 actions by the end of the 2008–2009 financial year. Our achievements reflect our role as the lead agency for Indigenous Affairs, and our strong commitment to working with other departments to overcome Indigenous disadvantage.
In particular, work on the Mainstream Framework has resulted in a significant cultural shift for program managers. They are increasingly aware of the importance of ensuring that all our mainstream programs are accessible to Indigenous peoples. Once again we have made good progress in this specific area. However, the path to achieving accessibility of all programs for all Australians is a long one, and we will continue this focus in our next RAP.
In addition, we have noticed the benefits of the Cultural Awareness Programs throughout the Department. These are held in high regard by staff who have attended, and by other agencies who have sought advice on establishing similar programs.
Although our 2008–09 plan does not end until June 2009, we are reporting in May as it marks two years since our first RAP was launched in Reconciliation Week 2007. In addition, we wanted to review progress with the 2008–09 Plan to assist the process of developing the 2009–11 RAP which began with a Working Group workshop on 21 April 2009.
The Department’s next RAP will build on our achievements, reflect changes in the environment and consider lessons learned from the development of the 2008–09 plan.
This new plan will set the agenda for building our Department’s contribution to and promotion of reconciliation in 2009–11 and beyond.
Our Vision for Reconciliation
The Department’s vision is that Indigenous Australians, wherever they live, will have the same opportunities as other Australians to make informed choices about their lives, realise their full potential and take responsibility for managing their own affairs.
Our Reconciliation Action Plan for 2008-2009
As the lead Department for Indigenous Affairs, FaHCSIA is committed to working in a whole of government way to take the Government’s Closing the Gap agenda forward and by doing so, help to build reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
In particular, FaHCSIA is working with other departments and stakeholders to address the gap in employment and to deliver a number of programs and initiatives related to housing, community development, leadership and land.
Our Reconciliation Action Plan for 2008–09 has a number of prioritised actions that are focused on how we operate as an organisation to achieve our vision of reconciliation. It addresses how we work together to build a culture of mutually respectful relationships, understanding and respect for Indigenous culture, and value and opportunities for our Indigenous employees.
Summary and Key Learnings
We have made good progress in implementing the 2008–09 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and have achieved or are on track to complete 14 of the 15 actions by the end of the plan period. It has become clear that implementing worthwhile and well-grounded initiatives takes time and patience. The timelines we set for some of our actions were optimistic and we have challenged ourselves and achieved the majority of these. Where actions have proven to be more complex than expected, in particular where extensive consultations and discussions are required, some anticipated timeframes have not been met. The implementation time for these actions will be extended and these action items included in our next RAP.
The timeframe we set for completing and reporting on this Reconciliation Action Plan was July 2009. To align with the timelines of the first Reconciliation Action Plan in 2007–08 and allow the learnings from this reporting process to feed into the refresh of our plan, we have prepared this annual report in April 2009. This has meant that actions to be completed between March and June 2009 have been marked as ‘on track’ where we have the confidence that the work remaining will be completed on time.
|Action||Target||Actual progress||Lessons learned||Stop light|
|1. Inform, promote good news and share learnings through a whole of government publication and radio program for Indigenous communities.||
Whole of government publication launched.
Radio program launched.
Publication and radio program to be reviewed annually.
A range of whole of Government communications products was endorsed by the cross-government Indigenous Communications Coordination Group (ICCG) in September 2008.
The initial work on launching the newspaper and radio program has been completed. The first edition of the magazine will be out by 30 June 2009, and a weekly radio program will be operating by July
|Goals are being achieved and the Department has gained learnings on how to introduce specialist communications products into mainstream environments.||On track|
|2. Explore the scope to offer Indigenous Leadership Program graduates the opportunity to be listed in a database of contacts available within the Department for consultation on issues when necessary.||
If agreed to proceed, develop and promote database to FaHCSIA staff.
The revised information management arrangements for Indigenous Leadership and Engagement Group (ILEG) are on track to be implemented and linked to National Indigenous Information System (NIIS) by 30 June 2009. The comprehensive contacts list will be included.
FaHCSIA employees will have access to the contact list, as per the consent on the privacy form.
3. Each program and payment area will incorporate appropriate consultation processes into their Indigenous access strategies as part of the development of the Mainstream Framework.
This action is linked to Action Number 15 and should be reviewed in partnership with Action Number 15, which is on track.
|Each program and payment area has consultation mechanisms in place.||
A series of workshops were held in February 2009 with all program branches to provide an overview of the Mainstream Framework and implementation requirements. Program areas have been asked to provide status and assessment reports of where their programs meet the Department’s objectives for Indigenous Australians, with action plans to identify consultation processes required. Action plans for the introduction of consultation mechanisms are expected to be in place for all groups by June 2009.
* This action will become an action item in the next RAP.
As part of the implementation of the Mainstream Framework, Program Frameworks Branch is currently compiling a list of what is currently working well in existing programs providing services to Indigenous clients. Information and resources regarding appropriate consultation models and resources that are available to assist in this regard will then be made available more broadly across the Department.
Good progress has been made on developing action plans. However, extra time was needed in recognition of the complexity and care required to develop appropriate consultation mechanisms. FaHCSIA is committed to the successful completion of this action and the closely linked. Action Number 15 as it sees access to mainstream programs as a key step towards reconciliation. This action is also linked to the significant work the Department is undertaking across the Australian Government on a framework for Indigenous engagement.
|Action||Target||Actual progress||Lessons learned||Stop light|
|4. Include basic cultural appreciation information in staff induction packages and training for new staff.||All new staff receive information.||Information has been developed for inclusion in FaHCSIA orientation programs from the beginning of 2009.||Information has been developed for inclusion in orientation packages. We have developed a handout to be given to participants at the National Office orientation program, and to staff in the FaHCSIA Network who use the induction package.||On track|
|5. Include more comprehensive cultural appreciation training (one full day with pre and post course work) in Individual Performance Management System (IPMS) agreements of all staff. Priority to be given to new and existing staff working in programs and payments relevant to Indigenous people.||At least 70% of existing staff attend over the next 2 years.||
Up to 30 March 2009 – 25 workshops have been held with 380 employees commencing their cultural appreciation journey.
A further 9 workshops have been scheduled to the end of June 2009.
Staff will be encouraged to include cultural appreciation training as a learning and development requirement in their IPMS. This will be through intranet messages and other relevant communiqués within the Department.
* This action was intended to be complete in a two year period, so will become an action item in the next RAP.
|The frequency of the workshops will need to be monitored to ensure that our targets are achieved.||On track|
|6. For staff working in Indigenous focused areas, implement a systematic orientation program that includes prioritised visits to Indigenous Coordination Centres (ICCs) or National Office, linked to appropriate activities.||
Program developed and piloted.
Depending on the pilot results, continue program in 2009.
Consultation with Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination and People Branch indicates the proposed program of work-base visits will deliver on the action item. People Branch has supported using the Cultural Appreciation Program as part of this orientation program.
Network Management Group (i.e. FaHCSIA state managers) cleared pilot proposal in February 2009.
Discussions with interested groups/branches to identify nominees, work objectives, preferred locations and the timing of visits have started. The relevant state and ICC Managers will be consulted to agree work objectives, locations and timing of visits. The scheduled visits will run through to June 2009.
The pilot will be reviewed with recommendations available in late June 2009.
* This item may become part of the actions in the next RAP, subject to the outcome of the pilot.
The pilot’s development required a longer lead time than originally anticipated as it involved a work-based visit rather than a simple orientation program to ensure better business outcomes were achieved.
The scope of the pilot has been broadened to include state and regional offices and communities where Government Business Managers (GBMs) are located.
The pilot involved consultation to ensure the business objectives anticipated for the placements were being met and that visits can take advantage of planned local or regional activities such as stakeholder meetings and community consultations.
The Department offers other initiatives such as secondments, temporary transfers as well as informal activities that provide orientation opportunities for participants.
|7. Develop guidelines for all staff working in Indigenous program or policy areas to ensure that programs and policies are culturally appropriate and accessible for Indigenous people.||
Guidelines are produced and staff are encouraged to use them as standard practice.
Guidelines are reviewed annually, including assessment of how they are used/implemented.
|An interim guideline has been developed. Consultation with staff and managers will occur by the end of April 2009 and the document will be finalised by May 2009.||The document will compliment guidance provided to staff in the Mainstream Framework (“Framework to Improve FaHCSIA’s Mainstream Programs and Payments for Indigenous Peoples”) and FaHCSIA’s Engagement Protocols for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.||On track|
|8. All FaHCSIA buildings/offices will (where possible) display Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in prominent locations.||100% of offices are investigated and where possible, flags are displayed.||
Emails have been sent out to state and regional offices reminding them of their obligation to display Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags where and when possible.
A flag display exists at National Office, outside both Tuggeranong Office Park and Juliana House. A project to have a flag at CentraPlaza in Canberra is awaiting a response from the building owner.
Property, Environment and Protective Security (PEPS) Branch plan to conduct an audit of National Office, state offices and ICCs during 2009.
All major buildings with FaHCSIA staff are expected to display Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags by June 2009.
|9. Develop and distribute clear guidelines for welcome to country/acknowledgement of traditional owners.||Guidelines developed, endorsed, released and promoted (through the intranet and ‘FaHCSIA in Focus’ newsletter) and staff are encouraged to use guidelines as standard practice.||
Welcome to country/acknowledgment of country have been incorporated in FaHCSIA’s Engagement Protocols for Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples document. This was endorsed by EMG on 22 Dec 2008.
Acknowledgement of country is on FaHCSIA’s Staffnet (what’s on\in focus\issue 35).
|10. When new Indigenous art is displayed it will include educative material about the artist and community location where this information is available.||
EMG endorsement of policy.
Reinforcement of policy through regular reminders to National Office and state and regional office (STO) network.
The Department has advised group, branch and state managers requesting that they include educational information on all displayed Indigenous artwork (where the information is available).
The Asset Management Team in Business and Financial Services has commenced a project to record all artwork held within FaHCSIA premises and expect to be finished in May 2009. This will record whether relevant details regarding artwork are displayed or not and will allow Property, Environment and Protective Security Branch to provide appropriate information for any new work to be displayed by the end of June 2009.
|11. A FaHCSIA hosted event for Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day on August 4 2008.||Event hosted and actively promoted to FaHCSIA staff.||An awareness raising article was displayed on the FaHCSIA intranet front page on 4 and 5 August 2008. The article outlined the purpose for Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day, and the theme for 2008. A link to the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) website about the day was also provided. Staff within the Women, Children and Parenting Support Group held an Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day party to celebrate the event.||For future events of this nature we should canvass opportunities for broader Departmental involvement.||Achieved|
|12. Build awareness of Indigenous culture through production of a poster series.||Poster series produced and distributed to Indigenous Coordination Centres (ICCs), schools, libraries and other institutions.||Poster series is in production, with designs received, and the majority of artworks/photographs chosen.||On track|
|Action||Target||Actual progress||Lessons learned||Stop light|
|13. Develop a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workforce Strategy that will focus on career development, leadership and recruitment. Our aim is to sustain our current lead position in the Australian Public Service (APS) in the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff in the department (currently at 9.1%).||Launch July 2009.||Focus groups were held in the first quarter of 2009. A new strategy will be launched in July 2009 during NAIDOC Week celebrations.||On track|
|14. Targeted promotion of our department as an employer of choice to universities and high schools with a high population of Indigenous students.||
Promotion strategy implemented.
Offer up to 6 graduate and 4 cadetship positions in our 2009 Graduate (previously COMPASS) Program.
Offer up to 10 school based traineeships in 2008–09.
Strategies were developed to include information as part of the 2009 graduate information session.
February 2009 saw the engagement of 3 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Graduates and 5 trainees. Through the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC), offers were made to a further 6 candidates. However, none of these offers were accepted. We recognise that it is a very competitive market, so other offers were accepted.
4 cadetship offers were made. 2 cadets took up the offers and commenced with the Department in December 2008. Additional cadets will be engaged in 2009.
No school based traineeships have yet been offered.
* This may become an action item in the next RAP.
|The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates that joined FaHCSIA came through our general graduate recruitment round. The offers made through the APSC were not taken up.||On track|
|15. To improve access to our mainstream programs and payments by Indigenous people, develop, endorse and promote the Indigenous Mainstream Framework, supported by a suite of implementation, planning and reporting tools. This action is linked to Action 3.||Framework promoted widely. Tools developed and promoted.||
The Mainstream Framework, including tools and fact sheet are now available on the FaHCSIA intranet. The Mainstream Framework is being incorporated into the Program Funding Manual which provides grants management information for all program managers.
Workshops on the Mainstream Framework were held in February 2009 to raise awareness of the framework. All program areas have been asked to submit action plans and it is expected that they will be in place for all groups by June 2009. The strategy for implementing the framework is based on:
|The Framework tools are being used in the development of new community programs. Program staff are now working with the Indigenous Communication and Events section within FaHCSIA to ensure that communications are appropriate to engage the Indigenous sector.||On track|