The Department of Communications is committed to bridging the gaps that exist between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians. It recognises and respects the unique histories and cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as well as the importance of working together to create an inclusive society.

This page presents the department’s Reconciliation Action Plan 2011–13 and the annual progress reports.

Secretary’s message

I am pleased to present the 2011–2013 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for the Department of Communications (the department).

This revised RAP builds on the achievements of the department to date. It sets out practical ways in which our department can raise awareness, understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples history, culture and contribution. This is a living document that can influence the way our organisation and individuals think about the process of reconciliation, while also reflecting the department’s commitment to support and promote reconciliation.

Attracting Indigenous staff members and raising awareness of Indigenous culture can only broaden and strengthen the department’s skills in helping to successfully implement reconciliation initiatives across the whole-of-government. The department’s Indigenous Employment Plan 2011-2013 operates in conjunction with the RAP.

I encourage all staff to actively consider how they might contribute to the overall success of this plan and to be involved in the department’s commitment to closing the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

Peter Harris
May 2012

Our vision for reconciliation

The Department of Communications is committed to bridging the gaps that exist between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians. The department recognises and respects the unique histories and cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as well as the importance of working together to create an inclusive society. The department aims to be an employer of choice and provide equitable access to employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within the department. Knowledge about Indigenous culture is paramount to designing programs and policy that the department delivers for the Australian Government that affects Indigenous people. We believe that committing to the process of reconciliation will enable the department to be more effective in delivering our business outcomes and will assist in building a workforce that reflects the diversity of the Australian community. We recognise being an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person in modern times can often involve balancing revered traditions, culture and languages with the demands of a world dominated by technology.

Our business

The department’s goal it to help develop a vibrant, sustainable and internationally-competitive broadband, broadcasting and communications sector and, through this, promote the digital economy for the benefit of all Australians.

The department has four main areas of focus:

  • transforming the structure of telecommunications
  • switchover to digital television and enhancing the broadcasting sector
  • realising the digital economy
  • enabling a good consumer experience.

We will work to improve the delivery of our programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and support the Australian Government’s Closing the Gap objectives by realising the benefits of the digital economy, which is essential to Australia’s productivity, global competitiveness and improved social wellbeing. Within the department there are also specific programs for improving regional communications services, including the Indigenous Communications Program. The department is also responsible for promoting cultural awareness through supporting the broadcast of Indigenous content on TV, radio and online. Constructive engagement is recognised as making a valuable contribution to the development of good policy and the achievement of positive outcomes, both for government, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

Our Reconciliation Action Plan

This Reconciliation Action Plan outlines a range of actions to enable the department to realise its vision for reconciliation. It operates in conjunction with the department’s Indigenous Employment Plan 2011–13 and Workplace Diversity Statement August 2010.

A working group is in place to monitor implementation of the plan. The working group secretariat is maintained by the Governance Branch. The working group comprises representatives from across the organisation and an Indigenous staff representative. The working group will continue to meet every three months throughout the life of the plan to monitor progress and guide the annual refresh of the plan. The joint champions of the plan are the Assistant Secretary of the Regional Branch, the Assistant Secretary of People Branch and the Assistant Secretary of the Governance Branch.

The plan is available on the department’s intranet and internet sites and the Reconciliation Australia website. The plan is in place from July 2011 to June 2013.

Relationships: Build mutually-beneficial relationships between the department and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to enhance inclusive relationships and mutual understanding

Focus area: Increase developing networks and communication

Actions

Responsibility

Timeline

Measurable targets

1. Review the department’s volunteer leave policy to incorporate provisions for staff to utilise this leave to work with Indigenous communities or not-for-profit organisations.

People Branch

October 2011

Departmental leave policy provides detailed information on the provisions to utilise volunteer leave for Indigenous community engagement.

All staff are informed of the amendment to the leave policy via an intranet article.

2. Reconciliation Action Plan working group guides implementation of the plan.

Governance Branch (chair)

Ongoing

The working group is to meet four times a year to monitor and review progress and annually to refresh the plan.

The working group aims to have both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other staff as participants.

Working group provides minutes as well as status reports, including an annual progress report to Reconciliation Australia and input to departmental annual report.

3. Identify and build relationships with external Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples:

1. invite speakers from local Indigenous communities

All branches

Commencing July 2011

Progress in building relationships and evaluate.

2. invite representatives/ speakers from organisations in the media and communications sector to speak on Indigenous issues

All branches

Commencing October 2011

Share knowledge across department (e.g. through intranet article, policy/program networks sharing experiences with engaging with stakeholders, build these shared experiences and stories into the discussion board.

Level of participation.

3. promote awareness of Indigenous culture via the internal showing of contemporary Indigenous programming

Broadcasting

Commencing February 2012

4. host a trial discussion board for departmental staff to share information on Indigenous issues including stakeholder engagement.

People Branch

July 2012

Respect: Creating an awareness, understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander peoples culture helps create a work environment respecting all backgrounds

Focus area: Improving cultural awareness

Actions

Responsibility

Timeline

Measurable targets

1. Celebrate and participate in significant Indigenous cultural and reconciliation events.

All branches

People Branch

Ongoing

The department holds a minimum of one event per year.

Departmental events are promoted and all staff are encouraged and supported to attend.

Attendance numbers are monitored and feedback is requested, considered and acted on.

Ongoing

The Indigenous intranet pages provide links to information about significant Indigenous and cultural events.

2. Further develop Indigenous intranet page to promote and encourage an inclusive culture in the department to include:

  • RAP
  • RA Events link
  • protocols
  • links to appropriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s resources.

Coordination Section

People Branch

Commencing October 2011

Ongoing

Indigenous intranet pages are available, promoted to and used by staff. We will monitor page hits to assess the level of usage and effectiveness of the site.

Request feedback from all staff on improvements or additions and consider and act on it.

Further promote on intranet by establishing links that are more accessible and visible to the user.

3. Raise staff awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures by:

1. continuing to offer Indigenous cultural awareness training as part of the department’s core training program and encourage—managers to promote

People Branch

All branches

Ongoing

All new starters are informed of the department’s cultural awareness training programs.

Report on the number of cultural awareness training programs run and the statistics of staff attendance.

Indigenous cultural awareness training available to all staff to continue as part of department’s core training program. Improvements will be made as required by monitoring the level of attendance and feedback.

2. encouraging all staff to actively participate in NAIDOC week celebrations and other key events

People Branch

Annually

Number of staff supported to attend events.

3. displaying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples flags at events where appropriate, such as NAIDOC week

People Branch

Ongoing

Set of flags to be made available for events and displayed in accordance with the cultural guidelines.

4. promoting use of protocol for Welcome to Country and Acknowledgment of Country at key departmental events.

People Branch

Ongoing

Increase use of protocol for Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country used at key departmental events.

4. Raise staff awareness of Indigenous stakeholder issues by:

1. developing cultural guidelines about when, why and how to incorporate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples cultural practices, celebrations and images into Departmental activities, events, facilities and corporate communications

People Branch / Communications Branch

December 2012

Develop guidelines; launch and promote guidelines on intranet and Indigenous pages.

Link to be provided on Communications Branch ‘Event Planning Checklist site.

2. promoting to all staff the government’s ‘Engaging Today, Building Tomorrow’ framework for engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Communications Branch

November 2011

Whole-of-government Engagement Framework promoted to all staff and also included on above checklist site as well as intranet and Indigenous pages

3. presentations at an all-SES meeting on designing programs for Indigenous people.

Communications Branch

2012–13

Areas in the department to share knowledge.

Opportunities: Promote recruitment, retention development and support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Focus area: Continue and improve existing programs to boost departmental Indigenous staff recruitment, development and retention

Actions

Responsibility

Timeline

Measurable targets

1. Encourage and support recruitment and retention of Indigenous Australians in line with COAG targets of 2.7% Indigenous employees by 2015 through:

1. actively recruiting Indigenous employees through advertising on the Indigenous Jobs Australia website

People Branch

Ongoing

The department’s Indigenous employment key objective is 2.7% by 2015, consistent with the COAG agreement, which includes the recruitment of two Indigenous graduates each year.

Update the statement on the department’s careers web page that actively encourages applications from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognises the department’s Indigenous employment objective.

2. actively encouraging Indigenous university graduates to apply for the department’s entry-level programs

Provide Indigenous staff the opportunity to appear in a video promoting the department as an employer of choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Promoting entry-level programs at universities in regional centres with high Indigenous populations.

3. working closely with Indigenous graduates and trainees to ensure access is available to resources and support required

Include the department’s Indigenous employment brochure with promotional material for entry-level programs

Promote all employment opportunities through www.indigenousjobsaustralia.com.au

Continue to provide a mentor to all entry-level Indigenous employees, if required.

4. collaborating with agencies such as the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) on initiatives aimed at improving the attraction, recruitment and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Contribute staff resources to the APSC Indigenous Graduates and Indigenous Trainees programs.

Host students from the DEEWR, Learn, Earn, Legend program.

2. Participate in Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) Indigenous Graduates program and Indigenous entry-level trainee program.

People Branch

Ongoing

The department’s annual graduate intake has two Indigenous graduates sourced from the APSC Indigenous Graduates program.

The department’s trainee intake has a minimum of two Indigenous trainees sourced from the APSC Indigenous Trainee Program every 18 months (noting that the APSC programs commence every six months and are 18 months in duration).

3. Support Indigenous staff to participate in internal training and development programs as well as APSC Indigenous programs.

All managers

People Branch

Ongoing

Training and development opportunities continue to be well promoted with Indigenous staff encouraged to attend.

Annually

Indigenous staff feedback sought annually to HR about training opportunities offered or supported by the department and their experience in accessing training.

Feedback is acted on, as appropriate.

Ongoing

Entry-level Indigenous employees will attend mandatory training in line with the requirements of their particular programs.

November 2011

Indigenous staff continue to receive encouragement and supported to attend APSC programs and events, as well as to join networks such as the Indigenous APS Employee’s Network and the APSC ‘Career Trek’ training.

Tracking progress and reporting: Maintain and report on the Reconciliation Action Plan

Actions

Responsibility

Timeline

Measurable targets

1. Annual performance report on the plan prepared by the department and provided to Reconciliation Australia.

Governance Branch (chair)

Working Group

July 2012

July 2013

Annual performance report on the plan completed and provided to Reconciliation Australia and published on the department’s website.

1. Summary of plan progress included in the 2011–12 and the 2012–13 departmental annual report.

Summary of progress of the implementation of the plan is included in annual reports.

2. Establish a new plan developed after consultation with Reconciliation Australia following expiry of this plan by July 2013.

Develop the new plan after consultation with Reconciliation Australia following expiry of the current plan in June 2013.

2. Working group to meet every three months to discuss progress against the plan actions and ensure the plan is ‘on track’ in preparation for annual reporting and refresh of the plan in July.

Governance Branch (chair)

Working Group

Every three months commencing July 2011

Working group meetings organised every three months commencing July 2011. Working group to meet to do annual refresh due July 2012.

Governance Branch track plan progress based on meeting feedback and inform Assistant Secretary, Governance Branch of progress.

3. Finalise and implement the communications strategy to promote the plan.

Communication Branch

July 2012

Communications strategy developed and implemented.

Download the plan