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The Directorate of Indigenous Affairs is on a mission to
increase cultural awareness
By Katharine Martin
HE Defence People Group sits at the heart
of Defence’s commitment to Indigenous
reconciliation and representation.
The Directorate of Indigenous Affairs
(DIA) has a strong focus this year on
increasing cultural awareness across Defence and
enhancing career pathways and opportunities in the
APS and ADF for Indigenous personnel.
Part of the People Strategy and Culture Branch,
the DIA has a blend of Indigenous and non-Indige-
nous employees, bringing with them a diverse range
of culture and knowledge.
The team works closely with the Services to
develop Indigenous programs and works with the
Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group to fur-
ther Indigenous procurement efforts.
The Acting Director of DIA, Christina Heath, says
the team is pleased with the “significant progress
Defence has made in our commitment to closing the
gap to Indigenous disadvantage and promoting cul-
tural respect and inclusion”.
Defence Reconciliation Action Plan
ONE of the most significant and tangible Defence
commitments towards reconciliation for
Indigenous people is the Defence Reconciliation
Action Plan (D-RAP), Defence’s contribution to the
whole-of-government Closing the Gap Strategy.
Personnel within DIA oversee the plan’s imple-
mentation and manage Defence’s participation in
Indigenous APS programs and activities.
“Over the course of 2018 the department will
review the D-RAP to advance the discussion about
Indigenous inclusion and identify the next steps in
reconciliation for the department,” Christina says.
At the core of the D-RAP and the department’s
programs and initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander peoples is a desire to foster strong rela-
tionships, provide opportunities and demonstrate a
profound respect for Indigenous Australian culture.
Cultural Awareness Training
ONE of these important initiatives is delivering
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural
awareness training to Defence employees. This train-
ing helps break down barriers by educating employ-
ees about Indigenous beliefs, traditions and cultural
The training is delivered online via CAMPUS
course code 00007208 or face to face through the
DIA, including as part of Leading for Reform and
Defence Indigenous Career Development and
DEFENCE People Group has been working
to deliver the Defence Indigenous Career
Development and Retention Framework to provide
career development for Defence employees.
The framework was piloted in 2017, with a formal
rollout scheduled for 2018 this year.
This framework is unique in that it is experiential-
ly focused with 70 per cent of employees’ skills and
experience being derived from practical, on-the-job
Twenty per cent of skills are derived from super-
vision, mentoring and coaching with 10 per cent
focusing on formal education and training.
Members of the
Indigenous Affairs. Front
row from left, Christina
Heath, Katharine Martin,
Back row from left:
Norman Laing, Alexa
Satchell, Bekah Francisco,
Corporal Tara Enchong,
Emma Bowyer and
Photo: Lauren Larking
Defence Indigenous Champion
CULTIVATING respectful relationships with
Defence Indigenous people and Indigenous
communities and businesses is a large component
of the role of the Defence Indigenous Champion,
Steve Grzeskowiak, Deputy Secretary of Estate and
Through his participation in the Jawun program
and other Indigenous initiatives, Steve has fostered
strong relationships with Indigenous employees and
Department executives as a way of driving positive
change in the organisation.
“Part of my role as the Defence Indigenous
Champion is to advocate for Indigenous participation
and drive cultural awareness within the Department,”
“A fundamental part of closing the gap to
Indigenous disadvantage is ensuring we provide
opportunities for Indigenous people to gain employ-
ment and participate positively in their communities.
“We in Defence have a chance to make a real
difference in people’s lives by making direct and
indirect employment opportunities available to
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”
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