Building The Blocks of Cultural Competency in Melbourne's North West




Aboriginal staff bring particular skills, knowledge and experience to the workforce that promotes an environment where Aboriginal people can feel safe and draw strength in their identity, culture and community.

Numerous factors may impact upon an Aboriginal person’s access to work opportunities including strong ties to community, increased family obligations, potentially lower levels of education, negative experiences of workplace discrimination or other negative experiences of cultural competency at mainstream organisations. These barriers can be addressed by providing a culturally responsive and inclusive workplace that has implemented policies and practices that respond to the cultural support needs of Aboriginal staff.

The following information pertains to recruitment practices to attract and support Aboriginal applicants, and models of professional development to assist Aboriginal employees to develop their skills and gain experience. This section should be read in conjunction with Section H of this Toolkit.


  • - Taking steps to ensure that a service is culturally responsive is an essential precursor to being able to support and retain Aboriginal staff. In particular, the direct supervisor of the Aboriginal staff member must have completed comprehensive cultural awareness training.
  • - Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 people and organisations can take positive steps to help disadvantaged groups. These are called ‘special measures’ under the Act. Contact the Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (Victoria) for further information.
  • - When developing an Aboriginal Employment Strategy, staff consultation, communication and engagement must be factored into the process. A staff cultural awareness training session may be required to ensure that all staff understand the differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal culture, the importance of having a specific Aboriginal employment strategy and are provided with the opportunity to provide feedback prior to implementation.
  • - Providing recruitment opportunities for Aboriginal people involves developing recruitment practices that are applied to all positions being advertised – not only Aboriginal identified positions or programs.
  • - Aboriginal people are more likely to respond to job advertisements when promoted through Koori media or social media and when they are written in plain English and avoid corporate speak.
  • - When recruiting Aboriginal applicants emphasize in the advertisement and position description the value of skills developed through life experience and provide less emphasis on formal qualifications. Consult with an Aboriginal agency such as VACSAL about the wording of a position advertisement or description.
  • - Additional supports for Aboriginal applicants will assist with the recruiting process such as having an informal discussion about the position and providing assistance to develop the application.
  • - Flexible work conditions to accommodate the cultural needs of employees will make workplaces more attractive to Aboriginal applicants. Examples of cultural leave policies for Aboriginal staff are provided in Section L of this Toolkit.
  • - Providing opportunities to undertake further training and study is also a valuable Aboriginal staff retention strategy.
  • - Models of cultural support for Aboriginal staff employed in mainstream organisations should be implemented as part of the Aboriginal Employment Strategy. See Section G of this Toolkit: Supporting Aboriginal Worker Wellbeing.
  • - Aboriginal specific employment agencies may be able to provide assistance in the recruitment process and ongoing support to the employee. See Section K of this Toolkit.



Title Walk With Us
Author Inner North West Primary Care Partnership
Type Video
Employing and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in your organisation.

Title Improving Employment Opportunities for Aboriginal Workers in Mainstream Community Health Services – Aboriginal Readiness Checklist Project Report 2012
Author Northern AHPACC Consortium Partners
Type Publication
The Northern AHPACC Consortium partners, comprising Darebin Community Health Service, Dianella Community Health Service, North Yarra Community Health Service, Plenty Valley Community Health Service and the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHs), received a Strategic Project Grant for Improving Employment Opportunities for Aboriginal workers in mainstream community health settings.This project resulted in a report and the development of a range of resources including a ‘Readiness Checklist’ to help mainstream agencies identify what they need to do to ensure a culturally safe and appropriate workplace for Aboriginal Staff. The report and resources can be found at the following link

Title Karreeta Yirramboi: an Employer Toolkit to Grow Aboriginal Employment in your Organisation
Author State Services Authority, State Government of Victoria (2011)
Type Publication
This publication was produced by the Government of Victoria to increase Aboriginal employment in the public sector. Chapter two of this resource refers to attraction and recruitment of Aboriginal staff, chapter three relates to induction, mentoring and career support, and chapter four examines career development, managing performance, and leadership.

Title A Model for Aboriginal Employment & Retention in Health Care: A Report to the North West Region Department of Health
Author Banyule Community Health Centre (2013)
Type Publication
This report presents a workforce participation model for the Aboriginal population. The model was developed and implemented by Banyule Community Health in the context of their wider partnership work with the Aboriginal community. Specifically, the model was developed and implemented through (a) provision of allied health traineeships as a career pathway for the Aboriginal workforce, and (b) was supported by the organisation through culturally inclusive recruitment and employment processes aimed at retention of workers.

Title Everybody’s Business: A Handbook for Indigenous Employment
Author Generation One (2013)
Type Publication and videos
This handbook for Indigenous employment provides a comprehensive range of information on preparing the workplace; finding recruits; screening, selection and placement; on-the-job support; retention and career progression.

Title Working it out: Case Studies of Success in Transitioning Long-Term Unemployed Indigenous Australians into Sustainable Employment
Author SVA Consulting, for Generation One (2011)
Type Publication
These case studies document existing examples of employers who were supporting the transition of Indigenous Australians from long-term unemployment into sustainable and meaningful employment.

These case studies give unprecedented insight into ways employers can break the cycle of Indigenous unemployment, and at a granular level, how this is working. They were developed with consulting support from Social Ventures Australia.

Title Walk in My Shoes: Employer Experiences of Barriers and Drivers in the Employment Cycle for Indigenous Australians; Indigenous Experiences of Barriers and Drivers in the Employment cycle
Author Aus Poll for Generation One (2011)
Type Publication
This research report highlights a number of factors along the employment cycle. The views of experienced employers and Indigenous candidates coalesce around significant barriers and the factors which contribute to successful Indigenous employment outcomes.

Title Ngarngadjil! Listen/Understand! Improving Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Patients (ICAP) Resource Kit
Author Sonia Posenelli, Angela Clarke, Shaun Ewen Nicole Waddell for the Department of Health, Victoria (2009)
Type Resource Kit
This resource kit provides information for people who are working together to realise the goals established by the Improving Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Patients (ICAP) reform. They include hospital executives and managers with responsibility for, and interest in, improving Aboriginal health programs. Section 3: Orientation and information for health service managers at page 89 provides information on human resources management, including information on supervision of Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officers and cross cultural issues.

Title Aboriginal Employment: A guide to better attraction, selection and retention strategies across WA health
Author WA Health (2009)
Type Publication
This resource has been developed to assist management and human resource personnel to better attract, recruit and retain suitable Aboriginal employees into the WA Health workforce.

Title Workplace Ready Program Toolkit
Author Reconciliation Australia
Type Online Toolkit
Reconciliation Australia has a Workplace Ready Program toolkit that is written for line managers, human resources managers and supervisors. This toolkit provides examples and insights from organisations that have successfully implemented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment programs, including a series of case studies and input from employers and human resource professionals. The insights apply to organisations of all sizes and in all industries. They show the positive outcomes that can be achieved when managers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders work together to create long-term jobs and strengthen communities.