Defence is committed to Closing the Gap, the whole-of-Government strategy to reduce Indigenous disadvantage. One of our main contributions is through economic participation by offering a number of employment opportunities and pathways for Indigenous Australians. The number of Indigenous Australians in Defence has been steadily increasing.
The Defence Reconciliation Action Plan provides the overarching strategy for Defence’s commitment to increasing Indigenous employment. Under the Plan, Defence Indigenous Champions promote Indigenous employment, and provide representation on whole-of-Government forums influencing Indigenous employment strategies and policies.
In 2017–18, Defence continued the Indigenous Pre-Recruit Program, a tri-service program to prepare Indigenous Australians who have demonstrated potential for general enlistment into the ADF. Over a six-week period at either Wagga Wagga New South Wales, or Batchelor in the Northern Territory, participants were given an introduction to military lifestyle, physical fitness, leadership, teamwork, character development, and cultural appreciation. Sixty-nine recruits participated in the program in the last 12 months and over 60 per cent go on to Recruit Training.
Defence participates in several cultural immersion programs, including the Jawun program. The program aims to increase cultural awareness among staff and operates across Australia, with secondments in a variety of settings. Since 2012, more than 65 employees have been involved.
The Indigenous Procurement Policy provides employment and training opportunities for Indigenous Australians. In the two years of its operation, Defence has exceeded our targets with a total of 765 contracts, valued at $251 million. Defence’s success has been recognised with the award of the 2017 Supply Nation Diversity Award as Government Member of the year.
Defence, as one of Australia’s largest employers and with a national footprint, is proud to contribute to the national effort to increase the economic wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and Closing the Gap.