Aboriginal Inclusion1

The department is deeply committed to Aboriginal inclusion. Having a vibrant and growing Aboriginal workforce is an important part of achieving the department’s goal set in the Marrung Aboriginal Education plan 2016–2026External Link ; ensuring that all Koorie Victorians achieve their learning aspirations.

This requires everyone working in education to reflect upon their knowledge, practices and behaviours, to show respect and support the realisation of genuine reconciliation and closing the gap in outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Victorians.

Legislative and policy framework

Aboriginal Employment

The department is committed to Aboriginal Employment through our commitment to the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2018-2023 (VAAF) and the Self-Determination Reform Framework that places Aboriginal Victorians at the centre of decision-making where they will be better supported to be healthy, safe, resilient, thriving and culturally confident. It is also committed to the Victorian Public Service Aboriginal employment targets that set the goal of having a minimum of two per cent representation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in our workforce. This aims to ensure that the departments workforce represents the community it serves.

The department works towards promoting Aboriginal inclusion through:

The department’s Aboriginal Employment Plan aims make the department an employer of choice for Aboriginal staff — one that easily attracts and retains Aboriginal employees and by doing so enhance the department’s work to benefit the community.

What does discrimination look like?

Aboriginal people face discrimination in a wide range of contexts due to historical and systemic racism prevalent in Australian society. This discrimination can be direct or indirect and can occur at any stage throughout an individual’s life. Furthermore, discrimination against Aboriginal people can occur in a range of different institutional settings.

A Beyond Blue2 report into discrimination against Aboriginal people found this to be one of the most prevalent forms of discrimination in Australia. This has highly negative impacts on the mental health and wellbeing of those subjected to discrimination, and these impacts are poorly understood by the wider population.

Everyday forms of discrimination against Aboriginal people include:

  • being avoided
  • being treated suspiciously
  • racist jokes
  • missing out on jobs due to direct or indirect discrimination
  • negative stereotypes perpetuated throughout society including a culture of low expectations for Aboriginal people

Beyond Blue’s Invisible DiscriminatorExternal Link campaign highlights the impacts of subtle or 'casual' racism on emotional and social wellbeing of Aboriginal people.

Fostering inclusion

At the department all employees have a responsibility to ensure that discrimination is not tolerated or condoned, as outlined in the Equal Opportunity and Anti-Discrimination Policy.

As well as ensuring that discrimination does not occur against Aboriginal people at the department, there are numerous ways to show your support and foster inclusion. These include:

Acknowledge formally recognised Aboriginal Traditional Owners

Conduct an Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners at events and meetings and organise a Welcome to Country for major events. For more guidance, read the department's Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country: A guide for the Department of Education and Training.

Positive sharing of Aboriginal inclusion

Appreciative inquiry is a well-known tool to raise consciousness and change attitudes, confidence, and behaviour. In your stand-ups, division meetings include a positive story about Aboriginal Inclusion.

Review your writing to use inclusive language

Have you used a Human Rights and inclusion lens? Have you avoided ‘the otherness' in your writing? i.e.: not called Aboriginal people ‘them’, ‘they’. Have you recognised that Aboriginal is a proper noun and ensured it is capitalised? Familiarise yourself with inclusive and respectful language by using the Reconciliation Action Plan good practice guideExternal Link .

Look at your work environment

As a team talk about opportunities to create a more inclusive environment that recognises and celebrates Aboriginal cultures and histories. Act on your ideas. Discuss the intersections your work may have with Aboriginal people, including Aboriginal families/carers and community, and privilege consultation to ensure that policy, projects and implementation actions are culturally inclusive.

Review your work plan

What can you do in your job, your team, unit or division? Talk and identify what you can do to progress Aboriginal inclusion — make a commitment in your work plan. For example, identify social procurement opportunitiesExternal Link (login required) to engage potential Aboriginal suppliers within your work.

Commemorate significant dates

Know these significant datesExternal Link (staff login required) are coming — plan ahead to avoid an ad-hoc approach. Plan an event or a way to recognise the event in your work area. Keep it simple, do your research. Attend other events organised in the department and the local community. Examples include: a morning tea with shared information, a short film watched together, a guest speaker, a trivia/quiz time over lunch, a book club discussion of an Aboriginal author’s work, attending a NAIDOC march.

Identify learning in your PDP plan

Everyone is at a different place on their pathway towards Aboriginal cultural competence. Identify training and development opportunities to increase your knowledge about the community you work in, Aboriginal cultures and histories. Attend Aboriginal cultural awareness training on offer via webinars.


Are the conversations you have about work inclusive? How will you ensure Aboriginal perspectives? Do you have relationships with Aboriginal community members, networks and organisations that are respectful and natural? Do you spend time in community — perhaps meetings can be at organisation offices, rather than the department? Discuss with your colleagues the intersections your work may have with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and privilege consultation to ensure that policy, projects and implementation actions are culturally inclusive.


When possible to do so, advertise vacancies in the Aboriginal media (Koori Mail), circulate through Koorie Staff Network (through Koorie Outcomes Division), Aboriginal Units at TAFE and universities or local Aboriginal networks and include an Aboriginal person on your selection panel. Ask yourself — Do your recruitment approaches attract Aboriginal applicants and lead to recruitment of Aboriginal staff? See Recruiting and Inducting Aboriginal staffExternal Link for further advice.

Aboriginal cultural capabilities

The Barring Djinang Aboriginal Cultural Capability ToolkitExternal Link provides information on how to build the cultural capability of public sector workplaces. It discusses key concepts and understandings of Aboriginal culture and cultural capability. There are also learning resources on LearnED to support development of Aboriginal cultural capabilities.

Learn more about Aboriginal inclusion

For more actions and learning resources to create a more inclusive culture in the workplace, see the Koorie pageExternal Link (login required) of the Workforce Diversity and Inclusion site.

Further assistance

1 Whilst the terms ‘Koorie’ or ‘Koori’ are commonly used to describe Aboriginal people of southeast Australia, the guide uses the term ‘Aboriginal’ to include all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Victoria. Koorie is maintained when it is the name of a program or title.

2 Discrimination against Indigenous Australians: A snapshot of the views of non-Indigenous people aged 25–44

Chapter of the Inclusive Workplaces Guide on Aboriginal Inclusion

Reviewed 07 March 2024

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