Aboriginal staff at Victorian government and community organisations are being equipped with expanded leadership skills to take on complex roles through the Barring Djinang Leadership Program.

Barring Djinang is the public sector’s 5-year Aboriginal employment strategy. It is part of the Victorian Government’s commitment to Aboriginal self-determination.

At this year’s graduation ceremony, The Hon Gavin Jennings MLC, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs congratulated 19 staff who completed the program this year.

At the ceremony, the Commission’s Executive Director, Workforce and Engagement Daen Dorazio addressed the graduates:

“I expect that the program has challenged and empowered you to be more confident in making choices that impact on your careers and communities and this will assist you in navigating the complexities that come with living and working across two worlds.”

“This group of leaders is an asset to the Victorian public sector. The leadership styles they are developing are authentic and self-assured but also influenced heavily by connection and community. The contribution of their perspectives and the expertise in their various fields enriches our sector, and can only improve the policy and services we deliver to all Victorians.”

The leadership program brings together high-performing Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander staff from the Victorian public service, public sector organisations, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and Traditional Owner Groups.

The six-month program is highly tailored and culturally informed. It is designed to draw on the strengths of Aboriginal leaders. It focuses on storytelling, resilience, emotional intelligence, and cultural and personal authenticity.

It encourages participants to uncover their unconscious motivators, work to their strengths and draw on identity as a resource.

Coaching in the program is designed around a set of Aboriginal leadership attributes. This emerging style is more relationally based than in traditional leadership concepts. There is a focus on stewardship, relationships and community, performance and a leader mindset.

Highlights of the program include:

  • 2 individual coaching sessions to tailor a development plan
  • 4 group coaching sessions to discuss experiences and build a sense of collective leadership
  • a 2-day, activity-based residential to learn from experienced Aboriginal public service leaders and participate in culturally significant, experiential activities such as yarning circles, Story Harvests and Walks in Pairs.

In 2018 to 2019, 9 participants completed the pilot program. One participant described the impact of the program for them:

“Thank you for the opportunity to work with a person of your calibre. I have grown as a person, both professionally and personally, throughout the entire journey.”

“Having been able to recognise triggers, having the ability to combat some of the internal fears through your coaching methods was remarkable. You have given me the strength and ability to maintain my composure and professionalism whilst being confronted by difficult situations. I am truly grateful.”

More Aboriginal voices are needed at the centre of decision-making. This program is designed to strengthen the leadership pipeline and ensures Aboriginal Victorians are increasingly represented at high levels of the public sector.

Contact the Aboriginal employment unit to learn more about developing Aboriginal leadership: