Defence has reached a key milestone in its commitment to reconciliation, achieving the Australian government’s Indigenous participation target of 3 per cent across the Australian Defence Force and Australian Public Service.
Defence has now set an ambitious target of 5 per cent Indigenous participation by 2025 reaffirming its commitment to Closing the Gap by enhancing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities, according to Darren Chester, Minister for Defence Personnel.
“Part of Defence’s vision for Australia is understanding and learning from our history, and this includes providing meaningful opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in supporting Defence capability into the future,” Minister Chester said.
“Defence has a long history of Indigenous service and is extremely proud of the contributions and achievements of past and present Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women in defending Australia’s national interests.
“As one of the largest employers in Australia, Defence is in a unique position to significantly contribute to the Commonwealth’s National Agreement on Closing the Gap and I am proud of the achievements to-date and am confident this success will continue into the future.”
The Defence Reconciliation Action Plan 2019-2022 (D-RAP) contains 61 actions targeted at supporting Indigenous businesses, community engagement, recruitment and retention.
“Through these actions, Defence is focused on building genuine and meaningful relationships built upon trust with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including local communities wherever Defence interacts with the land, air and sea,” Minister Chester said.
“Under the D-RAP, Defence has awarded $1.86 billion in contract value to more than 550 Indigenous businesses, since the Indigenous Procurement Policy commenced in July 2015.”
Since 2007, Defence’s commitments to Closing the Gap had been outlined through successive Reconciliation Action Plans.
According to Norman Laing, defence Indigenous cultural advisor, Defence is aiming to build a culturally intelligent organisation where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander personnel and their cultures are respected and reflected.
“Defence should be congratulated for the opportunities it has provided, and continues to offer Indigenous Australians through collaborative engagement, employment as well as economic development opportunities,” Laing said.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander personnel bring unique perspectives and experiences into the workplace.”
Defence is also leading the way in employment and development programs, including the management and delivery of the Australian Public Service Indigenous Graduate Pathway Program.
Additionally, the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program and Exercise Kummundoo has been providing Indigenous communities with health and infrastructure assistance. Both programs support Target One of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, which aims to improve the health outcomes for Indigenous Australians.