Policy report

Indigenous recruitment and retention in the Australian Defence organisation is defined by a high target of 5% participation in the armed services and 3% in the Australian Public Service component of the Defence Department by 2025. The participation target is a point of pride and a source of clear goodwill and has provided momentum in several areas of Defence for Indigenous employment and pathways.

However, the individual areas of success and effort are yet to translate into an effective whole-of-Defence framework with cohesive lines of effort. This policy report suggests how that can change. It provides a framework and strategy for Defence to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) recruitment and retention and cybersecurity careers, particularly through engagement with the vocational education and training system and through targeted relationship building with university- and school-based Indigenous STEM initiatives.

The authors of this paper propose that Defence should enact a wider set of supporting measures—particularly in data and reporting to track professional development—that’s more likely to create more sustainable success that delivers organisational improvements and outcomes for Defence. That should include mechanisms to enhance the achievements of the Indigenous Procurement Policy.

The authors also argue that Defence must ensure that it meets its immediate skills shortfalls, as well as its long-term obligations under the Closing the Gap initiative and the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan, to foster genuine and meaningful relationships built upon trust with Indigenous peoples.

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Policy Brief Report No.58/2022