This includes supervision, feedback and opportunities to explore new roles as well as ongoing training and study options.

Many Aboriginal people have not had the same opportunities as non-Aboriginal people to study and gain formal qualifications because of the disadvantage they experienced in terms of health, education and housing, discrimination in the education system and ongoing experiences of cultural abuse and racism. Opportunities to build skills through professional development, study and secondments are important in terms of:

  • Individual professional development for Aboriginal staff
  • Ensuring effective services are delivered by these staff
  • Building cultural and practice skills in your organisation.

Organisations should ensure Aboriginal staff are supported throughout their study or secondments in a culturally appropriate way.

Professional development of individual Aboriginal staff makes an important contribution to capacity building in Aboriginal communities. Supporting and facilitating Aboriginal staff to gain qualifications and expertise across a range of areas contributes to Aboriginal community capacity building and to restoring to those communities the ability to make their own decisions and deliver their own programs to their communities.1

Tips for best practice in career managing Aboriginal employees:

  • Aboriginal staff like all staff like to hear feedback about their performance and ongoing encouragement and acknowledgement is important in building confidence and supporting career development.
  • Aboriginal staff may need support and encouragement to go to training, enter a qualification or to apply for the next level up position.
  • Create an open and trusting relationship and ensure staff feel comfortable and safe to express themselves and eliminate feelings of shame.
  • Do not pigeonhole Aboriginal staff into identified or designated positions, even if they were recruited to one, and make it clear that there is room to move and explore different areas.
  • Provide opportunities for ongoing training and study in areas that your employee has expressed interest in.

Questions for managers and workplaces in supporting career development of Aboriginal staff:

  • Do you create professional development plans for Aboriginal staff?
  • How are Aboriginal staff encouraged, supported and resourced by the organisation to access further training and gain qualifications?
  • Are Aboriginal staff to provided with opportunities for experiences and skill development through secondments within the organisation?
  • Does the organisation actively support Aboriginal students through student placements across the organisation?
  • When you ask questions of staff who leave the organisation: Are Aboriginal people given the opportunity to discuss their experiences in the organisation with a person of their choice, including an Aboriginal person?

Useful links and other information

(1) Source: VACCA Building Respectful Partnerships 2010.