The federal government’s Indigenous Apprenticeships Program is open for applications, offering 12 months of training in the public service, a certificate or diploma and a full-time job at the end.
There are 300 entry-level places for Indigenous Australians available next year in several agencies, but mainly the Department of Human Services, which runs the IAP and has taken on 680 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees since it began in 2014. Over 300 hundred more have gone into other agencies.
Some participants have allowed the department to tell their stories, like Danielle Naylor, described as a full-time mum who had minimal work experience and serious doubts about her career prospects when she joined, and her sister Celina, who was “a secretary in a small town with dreams of something better” before going to work at DHS.
“It was challenging, working and studying at the same time, but I look back on it now as one of the best things I’ve ever done,” said Celina in the latest media release.
Danielle said the IAP training year helped her regain confidence she had lost after years out of the workforce: “I’m excited about the opportunities I now have to continue my career and am now aiming to become a team leader.”
Last year, 238 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people got jobs through the IAP (pictured above) and we heard from Adam Spittles, a Wiradjuri man from central NSW, now 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,” he said in December, after finishing his one-year public service apprenticeship last year.
“As a young teenager, I was quite rebellious and dropped out of school in year eight. 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.”
Spittles now has a Diploma of Government and was inspired to pursue a career in social work. “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 your back.”
The 2018 graduation ceremony brought participants from various regional offices of DHS and other agencies to Canberra for a day of song and dance, featuring Indigenous performers Djuki Mala from north-east Arnhem Land and Kristal West, a successful vocalist who is also the grand-daughter of the famous Torres Strait Islander land rights campaigner Eddie Mabo.
The IAS is accepting applications for 2020 through its website until May 7.
Top image: 2018 graduates at the Department of Human Services.