Leading Indigenous community engagement
Niki Ross joined Defence in May 2015 to learn new skills and broaden his career options. He is currently based in Central Australia at the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap, where he provides security support to the intelligence mission and plays a lead role in Indigenous community engagement.
Part of his role involves working with Aboriginal organisations in Alice Springs and the broader region to increase the diversity of Defence’s workforce, improve Defence’s Indigenous cultural competency, and encourage young Indigenous people into jobs. His main priorities have been establishing work experience programmes and apprenticeships, as well as providing volunteer opportunities for Defence staff and facilitating access to jobs in Defence.
Niki said that a highlight of the year was assisting the Navy warship HMAS Arunta to reconnect with the local Arrernte community, which the ship is named after.
‘This involved escorting local Arrernte traditional owners to Darwin for a smoking ceremony to give the crew strength and power before heading into Exercise Talisman Sabre off Darwin.
‘I value the opportunity to play a role in contributing to Australia’s national security and safety’, he said.
Niki is motivated to develop partnerships with the broader ADF to put Central Australia on the map for Defence opportunities for Indigenous people, particularly among young people who have limited employment options.
‘There are a lot of great training and career opportunities in the military and the public service for Indigenous people’, Niki explained.
Previously, Niki worked for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Based in Adelaide, he worked with communities in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, focusing on government priorities in governance, education and community safety.
Niki grew up and completed his schooling in Alice Springs. He is an Arrernte and Kaytej man from both his mother’s and father’s sides of the family. He is currently studying business and has a particular interest in how businesses operate nationally and internationally.