Aboriginal Workforce Development

Workforce development is a process that aims at building, attracting and retaining a skilled workforce to ensure capacity and capability for continued success.

In short, it is about having the right staff in place and ready to perform at the right time.

In most Community Services, Health and Education agencies there are workers from diverse backgrounds working together. Responding appropriately to this cultural diversity whether within the agency, workforce or with the agency’s clients is the key to establishing effective workforce practices.

Best Practice

The “Training Together – Working Together” Aboriginal workforce development strategy is aimed at assisting Aboriginal people to participate effectively in the workforce and to ensure that the development and application of their skill is within a workplace context.

This strategy has been developed through the State Training Board (Western Australia) for industry, community and government.


Aboriginal people have often been overlooked as potential employees. Now an increasing number of organisations are recognising that a commitment to employing Aboriginal people makes good business sense.

The growth in the number of young working age Aboriginal people has produced an untapped and valuable employment source.


There are many benefits of employing and retaining Aboriginal people. In general, these benefits include creating an environment where cultural diversity enriches the activities of the employer and having staff that are able to effectively communicate, consult and interact with their communities.

Good retention strategies and incentives lead to an experienced and stable workforce where the quality of service is maintained by the workforce. This section on retention provides a number of examples in the areas of existing policies, legislative requirements and financial incentives.

Connecting Culturally

Cultural competency is, at its core, about changing organisational and individual behaviour to respond to culturally diverse communities and their needs, so that services are inclusive, accessible and utilized by all members of the community (DHS 2008).

An understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their personal histories, beliefs and values, languages and lifestyles is important in many ways.


Aboriginal employees are often faced with greater personal, social and cultural pressures than no-Aboriginal employees. These pressures place the Aboriginal employees at a higher risk of not achieving the same development opportunities.

Early intervention through a structured mentoring relationship may give the Aboriginal employee the tools and support to deal effectively with these pressures and to increase the likelihood of remaining in employment.

Language, Literacy and Numeracy 

Language, literacy and numeracy skills equip people with the ability to communicate and problem solve in a variety of workplace settings. These skills are essential for work, learning and life.

 Training, Qualifications and Pathways 

Aboriginal people often face barriers to taking up opportunities in further education or employment. These barriers are multiple and varied.