Action Plan 2014-17

Western Sydney University recognises that having dynamic, purposeful and respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities is a key building block. The Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement (OATSIEE) has as its overarching remit, the enhancement of First Peoples' staff and student experience.

OATSIEE has developed the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement Action Plan 2014 - 2017 as an organisational framework to achieve current and future strategies.

Six objectives have been set in place to achieve the University-wide implementation of the Plan:


Objective 1: Increase the participation rate and employment outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People across all levels

You can help us

Be Proactive.
The Action Plan is all about creating and taking opportunities do more for others. The university prides itself on being energetic and enterprising and it invites you to join in that spirit of boldness by being proactive and showing initiative when looking for and deciding on future employees. You can achieve a lot if you do.

Look for opportunities.

There are more opportunities than we often believe exist if we simply look harder, or in different places. Full time employment positions may be limited in your area but perhaps there are opportunities for part-time/fractional employment or, cadetships, internships or traineeships. Perhaps you and your staff can benefit from having a cadet/intern/trainee support you or having a student work alongside you during semester breaks or as work experience. Being open to other possibilities often leads to unexpected benefits and outcomes.

Don't just wait for those positions where applicants must be Aboriginal and /or Torres Strait Islander person. Being an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander is a genuine occupational qualification as authorised under Section 14(D) of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act, 1977 NSW where roles are delivering specific services to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities. The reality is that there are far more people who meet the identified criteria than there are identified positions, so we do need to create the environment so more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want to come to work here.

Familiarise yourself with strategies and policy guidelines. The university has done all the hard work in developing plans, programs and guiding principles to give us the practical directions and backing we need to meet our objectives. Please familiarise yourself with them as it will help you to be informed and they'll also encourage you, and empower your efforts.

Encourage all our potential and existing all potential and existing employees to identify as an Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander potential and existing employees by creating a safe and welcoming environment. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander staff that have not yet identified can update their details via Staff Online by completing the Equal Employment Opportunity Survey in the Personal Details section in Staff Online (opens in a new window).

Whether or not someone chooses to identify as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander identity is a very personal decision. However, some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may feel inhibited in doing so as they may feel , there are negative consequences to disclosure. You can help by providing a safe and welcoming environment in which everyone feels comfortable and free to express themselves, and to have pride in who they are.  
 
'I want every Aboriginal working here to feel prouder for being Aboriginal, to be respected and to respect themselves, to strengthen their Aboriginality. Everyone who works here should want that for them.'
- Prof John Macdonald, Foundation Chair in Primary Care, Director MHIRC

'Other cultural and social groups have a strong voice. It's nothing for them to speak up and say they have special needs, ask for it and get it. Whereas some Aboriginal people don't even identify. We need to help them overcome this.'
- Dr. Deborah Hatcher, Senior Lecturer, Director Academic Workforce

Think and act like an employer of choice.
The key to being an employer of choice is to think and act like the employer you would want to have yourself, or wished you'd had when you were starting out. Everyone, at every level needs the same things. They want to feel valued, appreciated, listened to, supported, mentored and to be treated honestly and fairly. A lot of people have never had these in their working professional lives, but they should when they work are employed here.

If you don't know, just ask the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement (OATSIEE) or the OATSIEE Action Plan.

'If you're struggling with how or what to do, look at this the Action Plan and use it as your direction finder. You won't be pressured, you'll be supported.'
- Cris Carriage, Program Officer

Nobody's expected to know everything from day one, but whatever it is you do need to know about how the Action Plan applies to your department, or your people, or if there's some part of it you don't understand, or are not sure about, just ask.  

We have a team of people in OATSIEE who can explain things, who can help you. There are also many training and support services, hiring process guidelines and other useful information available to you online.

If you succeed, ask for more. There's A Lot Of Talent Out There To Tap Into
We've had a lot of success mentoring, training, employing and developing many talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders throughout the university. We've done it by utilising our Early Academic Career program, our Traineeship program, cadetship program.

We know these work so we 're confident that you'll also  have success and benefit from your initiative, and when you do we encourage you to share it with others.

This will help build our collective momentum and increase motivation to do even better.

Just remember, what may seem like a small achievement or gesture to you can turn into will be a major victory for the person you help out.  

Objective 2: Ensure the University has the ability to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People as an 'Employer of Choice'.

You can help us

Encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees to take advantage of research, training and professional development opportunities.
Western Sydney University is a learning organisation that provides education and training for more than just its students because we want our employees to grow and prosper too. In keeping with this aim, we have developed or engage in specific traineeship, internship, cadetship and early career academic programs to provide better opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to begin exciting careers, while at the same time obtaining relevant qualifications, skills and practical industry experience. There are also excellent opportunities for additional work experience and training in many of our research programs. We also have some wonderful professional development programs and personal mentoring support.

To benefit from these programs we need to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in order to increase participation. Unfortunately, some are not aware these programs exist, or they may not have the confidence to apply, or are not sure how or where to apply for them. They may also not have heard any of the success stories of those who have graduated from the programs, or from their Hiring Units and Mentors. Your encouragement of them will go a long way to achieving our aims of giving them a real chance at a bigger and brighter future which will benefit all Australians. 

Familiarise yourself with teaching and learning guidelines and standards, and designated work requirement definitions.

We support our commitment to excellence in teaching practices and enriching learning opportunities, by providing continuing professional development for all our staff, and through the provision of blended learning resources and activities. You can benefit greatly by familiarising yourself with our teaching and learning guidelines, standards and work requirement definitions. They will help you improve your own performance and job satisfaction, and of those who work with and for you.

The Teaching and Learning Plan 2012-2014 (PDF, 1301.12 KB) (opens in a new window),developed in collaboration with the Office of People and Culture, includes strategies for developing teaching capabilities among those in early career academic pathways, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander postgraduate students. It also supports the embedding of relevant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge in all courses in line with our commitment to rolling out the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduate attribute.

Create a welcoming environment that is inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge, languages and arts.
'Many Aboriginals feel inhibited by universities. They feel it's not their place, that they're strangers in a foreign land, which is the opposite of what it should be. We have to make ourselves an obvious place of welcome.'

- Prof John Macdonald, Foundation Chair In Primary Care, Director MHIRC

We need to build their sense of belonging and enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to feel at home and to feel free to share their knowledge systems with us, to help build a bigger, brighter and richer University community and culture.

'This Action Plan will help people learn that all Aboriginals aren't the same in their culture, their language, their thinking and their spirituality. Thinking that Aboriginals are the same is like thinking Europe is one country.'
- Diana Slape, Junior Medical Officer, Westmead Hospital
Academic Tutor, ITAS, School of Medicine

You can do that by your attitude and your actions. You can invite conversation about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage, you can encourage their participation in activities, you can show interest and respect for their knowledge and culture ( for example their art )  by displaying it. Every step you take toward having a better, more appreciative understanding of their history is a big step forward for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities.

Who to ask and where to look 

Learning about other cultures and histories is an interesting and exciting process. We're providing all our employees with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workplace relations and appreciation programs, so that we can all enrich ourselves and grow our collective culture. We also provide a network of ambassadors and subject matter experts who can help you out, explain things, show you where to get available training, where to access services, support and programs, as well as get online information.

If you need advice or would like more information, please contact the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement on (02) 9678 7577(02) 9678 7577 or via email at success@westernsydney.edu.au or by fax on (02) 9678 7322.

Objective 3: Develop leading strategies and help shape the national agenda in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People Employment and Engagement

You can help us

We are not doing this to make ourselves look or feel good but because it is the right thing to do. It is what good people do. We are being innovative, creating opportunities, co-creation and mutual engagement not just simply to provide a satisfying work or the means for a decent living but to create a prosperous life and better future, for all people..

Telling others about our motives and intentions raises the awareness, amplifies the intent and multiplies the beneficiaries with every conversation. Each of us is not only a participant but also an advocate of a life changing and culture enhancing action. 

Ensure that all relevant, current information on the achievement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment is available to all your employees.
We are moving from the exceptional to the expected but we are doing it at different speeds throughout the university. This is unavoidable as opportunities to employ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don't come evenly or regularly throughout our schools, institutes and divisions. Some of us have a lot of experience working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, while others have none at all. So it's up to those of us who do work with community to share what we know with others as much as possible. Such practical knowledge doesn't simply inform, it also encourages and motivates, giving us all confidence in what we're doing.

'Our trainee Mitch Quirk has been a learning experience for all of us and for others coming through. He inspires others and helps them on their path. He proves that this works. He is a good investment for us that we couldn't have made any other way.'
- Dr. Mithra Fernando, Technical Manager, Professional Staff

Encourage and ensure the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workplace Relations training for all your new employees.
Even though Greater Western Sydney has the largest urban Aboriginal population in Australia (1.7% residing in Greater Western Sydney - Census 2011) many people in the wider community have little or no personal experience with them. This has more to do with a simple lack of opportunity than anything else, which is why we have developed and produced a range of cultural appreciation programs, that provide all of us with a better understanding of the history, culture, protocols and sensitivities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Please encourage all your staff, especially new staff, to make full use of them as we all become richer personally and collectively.

Be Proud.
This Action Plan is unique amongst Australian universities, showing real moral conviction and leadership in living up to our responsibility to our community. Everyone of us should be justifiably proud and loud about what we are achieving.

Actively promote and celebrate the University as a culturally diverse and inclusive university.
There are people from well over a hundred different national groups living in Greater Western Sydney and most of them are represented at Western Sydney University, which makes us the most culturally diverse university in the country. Given the spirit of acceptance and inclusion enjoyed by all who work and study in them, really marks us out as positive, practical example to the whole country.

Who to ask and where to look

Through our Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement, the University has developed a range of employment and training strategies and programs designed to help all levels of management achieve our ambitions and goals.

This Office also advises in conjunction with our Advisories' management on the cultural and social systems practiced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so that they will be recognised and respected in the workplace. They have also developed Cultural Appreciation Modules which will be launched via MyCareer, along with forums, employee information sessions, online newsletters, cultural appreciation events and updates.

If you need advice or would like more information about our strategies and training programs please contact the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement on (02) 9678 7577(02) 9678 7577 or via email at success@westernsydney.edu.au or by fax on (02) 9678 7322.

The Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement is a representative voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and potential employees at all levels at Western Sydney University, as well as Cadets, Early Career Academics, Trainees, Professionals and alumni.  It has strong working relationships, collaborative networks and commercial partnerships within the Greater Western Sydney region. OATSIEE also has a close working relationship with Careers On Campus, as well as traineeships and internships programs in every discipline that you can tap into for additional help.

Share the good news.
The Action Plan shouldn't be viewed or understood as a 'top down' directive of the Executive but as the initiative of our collective conscience and attitude to our community. This reflects and belongs to each and every one of us and we have every reason to take considerable personal pride in it.

Objective 4: Redress, through affirmative action in employment, the past disadvantages experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

You can help us

'This is about redressing the inequalities. It's not just a moral obligation, it's a justice obligation to rectify a long history of a lack of opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They're under-represented and this is their country, so we need affirmative action to redress some of the disadvantages they've suffered.'
- Anne McLean, Manager, Schools Engagement

Be active. Be involved.
The Action Plan is all about creating and taking opportunities do more for others. The university prides itself on being energetic and enterprising and it invites you to join in that spirit of boldness by being proactive and showing initiative when looking for and deciding on future employees. You can achieve a lot if you do.

'We need to have this sort of commitment to the Indigenous people of Australia. It is beholden on us to make a difference after what's gone on in the past, and redress it.'
- Professor Gregory Kolt, Dean, School of Science and Health

Motivate and Mentor.
None of us who are enjoying a rewarding career, job or learning experience got here on our own. Someone, somewhere, gave us a hand along the way, by encouraging us, supporting us or even pushing us to get to where we are. As a result, we're all now in a position to pass on those personal experiences and wisdom by doing the same for others.

Work with  Elders On Campus to preserve cultural knowledge for future generations

Our Elders on Campus are an invaluable human and social resource for all of us. They serve as advisors on matters of governance and facilitate engagement with their communities. They support, guide and mentor in successfully engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. They provide us with practical insight into and understanding of their cultural protocols and sensitivities. They share their knowledge, they tell us their stories, they educate us on their histories, they teach us their languages so that we can grow closer through understanding and mutual respect.

'Most of us can name several American Indian tribes but not any of the local Aboriginal tribes in the area we live in. This is our local culture and there's a real hunger for this information. It's time we did this.'
- Prof Lynette Sheridan Burns, Deputy Dean, School of Humanities and Communication Arts

Aboriginal history is indivisible from our country's history but many of us know very little about it, which is why it's so important that we learn as much as we can from those who do know it, while we have the opportunity. However, they are few and we are many, so we encourage you to get to know and work with the Elders on your campus to ensure their wealth of knowledge is appreciated by our current generation, and preserved for future generations to come.  

How we can help you

Leadership development framework for Executive and Senior staff.
We recognise that our managers and leaders have a key role in influencing and shaping organisational culture, especially in the implementation of this Action Plan. Our Leadership Development framework is aimed at helping to build commitment, accountability, improved performance and relationships, and promote leadership behaviour, values, skills and capabilities that positively influence and shape organisational culture and foster employee engagement.
 
You can visit MyCareerOnline or read and download the UWS 2013 Organisational and Career Development Program from the Organisational Development website.

We Are Leading The Way In The Direction We All Need To Go
Our  having the direct involvement and participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities in the implementation of our policies and strategies, through such initiatives as the Advisory Board and OATSIEE are delivering real, measurable outcomes, and they are being noted. The National Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People Final Report launched in September 2012, highlighted the University as an exemplar in the following areas for other Universities to adopt:

  • Building professional pathways and responding to community need (section 11.3.3 UWS Indigenous Graduate Attribute);
  • Research, research training and university workforce (13.6.3 UWS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Strategy); and
  • University culture and governance (14.1.3 UWS Office of Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement)

This extensive and significant report makes many positive mentions of Western Sydney University and the practises we are implementing.

Cultural Appreciation Program
Our Cultural Appreciation program is being developed to advise management on the cultural and social systems practised by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so that they will be recognised and respected in the workplace.

We are also providing our employees with an opportunity to learn Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workplace Relations, so that in the future they will have the knowledge and skills to engage and work effectively, in inclusive language and practices in a culturally acceptable manner, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in every business or organisational setting.

We hope that you will be personally inspired to embrace and contribute to this important initiative which will result in a spirit of co-operation and sharing, that is guided by genuine understanding and mutual respect for each other's cultures, ideas and attributes.

The Cultural Appreciation Module is coming soon to MyCareer On-Line.

Objective 5: Create a work environment that is free from discrimination, promotes an understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, and is culturally respectful and inclusive.

You can help us

One of the most distinctive and appealing attributes of the University is its multicultural population. We have more nationalities represented here than any other university in the country and as a result we enjoy a collective culture of acceptance and mutual respect, which enriches all of us. Because we're all different, nobody is different.

We wish to extend that sense of belonging, of being respected, of not being different, to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, which is still very much under-represented in our campuses. We can do this at a personal level and we can do it at a departmental level, by being proactive in looking for ways of promoting their culture, art and history, by talking about it with them, by encouraging them to share their unique knowledge with us.  Above of all, we can do it by encouraging more and more of them to join us.

Encourage all your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to reach their full potential by facilitating and encouraging their direct involvement in determining personal career strategies, goals and objectives.
We don't all come from families who have experience in studying or working at a university, so many of our staff have to find our own way through, which can be a daunting experience, especially for younger ones. As a result, they can run the risk of not fulfilling their potential or achieving their ambitions. We can help them do both by showing personal interest in them, by sharing our experience with them, by providing advice and mentoring, and most importantly by encouraging them to become self-determining in their working lives. All of us who have experience and a satisfying career can show them how to set goals, develop strategies and achieve their objectives on their professional path.

'The reason we're teachers is we want to see people come in and then leave with the skills and knowledge to have better lives, to be better people.'
- Prof Rhonda Griffiths, Dean, School Of Nursing And Midwifery

How we can help you

Familiarise yourself with our policies, practices and guidelines.
The University has developed a comprehensive range of strategies, policies and guidelines to inform, advise and help all of us to play an effective part in the successful implementation of this Action Plan and thereby achieving its objectives. We encourage you to familiarise yourself with them in order to benefit from their application in your school or unit. They are all available online, or if you need further information or explanation please contact the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement or the Office of People and Culture, whose contact details are below.  

Make use of our many training and support services, programs and cultural appreciation program
All of us have an important part to play in the Action Plan regardless of our role or position. To help you make an effective contribution we have made available a cultural appreciation program designed to inform, advise and empower you. We encourage you to make full use of them and enjoy the benefits of personal and professional growth that result from them. For more information about how and when you can participate in them, please contact the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement or the Office of People and Culture.  

Objective 6: Build and develop a positive working relationship with the community and relevant stakeholders to ensure the improvement of employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

You can help us

Participate.
Word of mouth is the most powerful means of broadcasting positive impressions and developing mutually respectful relationships, both personal and professional. This is something all of us are qualified to do. We can all speak up for what we believe in and are achieving. Being personally involved and committed will open up opportunities to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that we wouldn't otherwise see, or be given, within the university and outside in the wider community.

'Affirmative action is important, because it shouldn't be just about identified jobs. But for it to work well it has to actively find out who's out there who is capable, talented and skilled to do the job.'
- Diana Slape, Junior Medical Officer, Westmead Hospital
Academic Tutor, ITAS, School of Medicine

We all know a lot of people in other organisations, businesses and services who can help us with support, advice and even offers of training and employment. But they may not know about our Action Plan, how we are implementing it, what we are achieving or how they can benefit from following our lead. We encourage you to take every opportunity to participate at Western Sydney University and with the wider community.   

Encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to apply for both identified and non-identified positions.
This Action Plan is designed to break down barriers to greater participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and one of the ways we can do this is by thinking and acting differently about which positions they should be considered for and which ones they should apply for.

There are regular positions offered at the University that are specifically identified for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but there are far more that aren't identified, and there lies the opportunity for all of us to increase their participation. We need to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to apply for both.

'Every school or unit has vacancies, so if you're in a managerial position every time you consider to fill them look at them as an opportunity for a person of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background, and then ask yourself how you can do it.'
- Dr. Mithra Fernando, Technical Manager, Institute for Infrastructure Engineering

After all, affirmative action doesn't start and stop with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, it's a universal attitude that applies to all roles and positions. This may not be something understood or appreciated by all, so we need to make sure everyone feels that if there is a position they are qualified for, and would like to have, they can and should apply for it. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community is a big pool of talent that we are not tapping into fully and we should, because we'll all benefit when we do.

'Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cadets really appreciate the opportunities we've given them and they're not wasting them. They're exploiting their talents to the full and repaying us with them.'
- Prof. Clive Smallman, Dean, School of Business

Utilise the  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement Advisory Board as a prime source of information and a consultative link to the community.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement Advisory Board was established to provide strategic advice and input into the University's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement initiatives in relation to the following:

  • The content, direction and development of the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment and engagement initiatives.
  • Relationships between the University, Industry, Government and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
  • The process and course of consultation and communication with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, in particular throughout the Greater Western Sydney.

The Advisory Board is made up of highly regarded and respected Elders, community leaders and professionals with direct links to their various communities. They are able to provide you with all the practical knowledge and cultural wisdom you need to engage successfully with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in regards to their employment, training and mentoring.

Please make full use of their experience and knowledge as they are only too willing to help. Just contact the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement who will help you make arrangements to speak with members of the Advisory Board.

Cultural Appreciation Program

'Our commitment to cultural awareness demands this Action Plan as we already teach about lots of other cultures.'
- Lynda Holden, Aboriginal Liaison to School of Nursing and Midwifery

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workplace Relations and Cultural Appreciation program was designed specifically to help fill the gap in our knowledge and understanding of the protocols and sensitivities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture within the workplace. It will help all of us to gain a greater insight and respect of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture, individually and as a community, enriching us and our own culture. We encourage you to find out more.

Become an Action Plan Ambassador

If you are interested in becoming an Action Plan Ambassador, and believe your knowledge and experiences could be of benefit, please complete the online form or contact us on (02) 9678 7577(02) 9678 7577 or via email success@westernsydney.edu.au.

Who to ask and where to look

The Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Engagement of course. 

Relax, you're not alone. We can help you out with protocols, recruitment, explain things, show you where to get available training, access support, services and programs, as well as online information.

For more information on how we can help you, contact us on (02) 9678 7577or via email at success@westernsydney.edu.au or by fax on (02) 9678 7322.