The Indigenous Apprenticeships Program has this year launched the public service careers of 238 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Apprentices from across Australia recently gathered in Canberra for their graduation, where they were treated to performances from Indigenous dance group Djuki Mala and The Voice grand finalist Kristal West.
One recent graduate was Adam Spittles, a Wiradjuri man originally from Parkes and Dubbo in central NSW, and now based in Brisbane.
“The day I got the call with the offer, I was filled with joy because it was something I never thought I would get,” Adam said.
“As a young teenager, I was quite rebellious and dropped out of school in year 8.
“I moved away from my friends and family, and after a few years of living in Sydney I made my way to Brisbane.
“I was 18 years old at the time, and without a high school education I was scared of the prospect of finding a job.
“A friend eventually suggested I apply for the IAP and I haven’t looked back.”
As part of the program, apprentices receive a nationally recognised certificate or diploma-level qualification, along with a full-time entry-level position and a “competitive” salary.
“This year I’ve completed a diploma of government, which has inspired me to begin further studies in social work,” Adam said.
“I want others considering enrolling to know that you can do anything, or become anyone if you apply yourself. Lack of education doesn’t have to hold you back.”
The Department of Human Services leads recruitment for the program, which spans across multiple government agencies and organisations, including Defence, Finance, Education and Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Adam is one of more than 900 apprentices who have joined the Australian Public Service through the program since 2015, 650 of whom have joined Human Services. Of this year’s 238 graduates, 153 have joined Human Services.
Recruitment for the program in 2017 saw the department exceed its five per cent Indigenous staffing target. The proportion of Indigenous staff employed by the department now sits at 5.3 per cent.
The success of the program was recognised when it received the Stan Grant Indigenous Employment Award at the 2018 Australian Human Resources Institute Awards. The award recognises excellence in Indigenous employment initiatives and programs in the workplace.
Indigenous Employment Strategies assistant director Robbie Enchong said it was an honour to be awarded.
“Our team is incredibility passionate about the work we do, and we’re committed to increasing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders,” Robbie said.
“This award is recognition of that and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved over the last four years.”
Applications for the next intake will open during 2019.