Reconciliation Action Plan 2016 - 2018

Updated: 26 May 2016
Reconciliation Action Plan

The AEC acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures and to their Elders both past and present.

Endorsements

Message from the Electoral Commissioner

I am pleased to present the Reconciliation Action Plan 2016 – 18 for the Australian Electoral Commission.

In developing this, our second Reconciliation Action Plan, an important objective is to enhance our reputation as an employer of choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Integral to achieving our objective is our commitment to a workplace environment where staff are appreciative and respectful of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

Our overarching goal is for our staff to work together and with the broader community to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage in electoral participation.

This Reconciliation Action Plan applies the lessons learned from our first plan. It outlines the actions we will take and targets we have set to increase opportunities for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and to strengthen and sustain our relationships with communities.

The evidence of our success will be seen in the cultural appropriateness of our election information materials, in the accessibility of our services, in the attitude of our staff and by the degr ee to which our polling official staffing profile reflects the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities we serve.

Illustrative of our commitment to reconciliation, this Reconciliation Action Plan was developed by our newly formed Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group which comprises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous staff from each state and territory. The Working Group will play an important ongoing role in monitoring progress and making adjustments, as required, to ensure it responds to the needs and aspirations of our staff and communities.

I extend my thanks to the Working Group and encourage all staff to support the 2016 – 18 Reconciliation Action Plan.

Tom Rogers
Electoral Commissioner

Message from CEO Reconciliation Australia

Reconciliation Australia commends the Australian Electoral Commission on the completion of its Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan.

Reconciliation Australia’s role as the national leader for reconciliation is to inspire social change and foster relationships, respect and trust between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

Our Reconciliation Action Plan program leads the way in encouraging organisations to bring about that social change to workplaces around the country. In so doing it provides sustainable opportunities in education, employment and business for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Australian Electoral Commission plays an important role in empowering first Australians to have their say in Australia’s electoral and democratic processes. In this Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan, the Commission continues its dedicated efforts to bring about change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through a range of organizational initiatives.

The Australian Electoral Commission clearly recognises effective engagement is important for all Commission staff: those who deliver services, those who manage programs and those who develop policies.

As such we commend the Commission’s firm commitment to promoting employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We also welcome the Commission’s efforts to continue to provide targeted and culturally appropriate electoral services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The success of the Commission’s performance will be seen in the degree to which its activities, the accessibility of its services and the attitudes of its staff contribute to increased electoral awareness and participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

In this, we wish the Australian Electoral Commission well in its continued reconciliation journey.

Justin Mohamed
Chief Executive Officer
Reconciliation Australia

Staff Endorsement

Message from Brett Hill

I am proud to support and endorse the Australian Electoral Commission’s Reconciliation Action Plan. I have participated in the development and design of the Plan and am delighted to be a part of an agency that shares a strong commitment to reconciliation. I ask all my colleagues to read, accept and discuss our new Reconciliation Action Plan and take appropriate action so we can all make a difference.

As an agency, we pride ourselves in raising the electoral awareness of our diverse community. We provide opportunities to empower all Australians to participate in delivering their democratic obligation to support the future of our country. I urge everyone to embrace these same principles in accepting our Reconciliation Action Plan.

Through our individual and collective journeys of increased awareness and understanding of the disadvantage and circumstances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, together we can make positive decisions that permanently change how we interact and acknowledge our responsibility for reconciliation.

This Reconciliation Action Plan gives us two years to build relationships, respect diversity and provide opportunities. Our vision for reconciliation is to sit together, talk together and walk together in a positive way and to make informed decisions for a better tomorrow.

Brett Hill
Team Leader | Indigenous Electoral Participation Program

Brett is a Noongar man from the wheat belt town of Pingelly in Western Australia. He now lives with his family in the suburb of Mandurah, south of Perth. Throughout his life Brett has been committed to reconciliation and raising awareness and understanding of the disadvantage and circumstances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Strengthening our commitment to the AEC’s Reconciliation Action Plan

The Australian Electoral Commission’s (AEC) first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), released in 2012, set the foundation for the AEC to engage and work towards reconciliation with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and communities. It established a minimum standard for building and maintaining relationships, providing opportunities to engage and retain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and to establish partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The AEC has reflected on the outcomes of the inaugural RAP in various discussions and workshops. Based on these findings, the AEC has developed strategies to better embed the 2016 – 2018 RAP into core AEC business planning processes.

The AEC’s ultimate goal for this RAP is to build momentum for a united approach to reconciliation that every employee supports and actively contributes to.

Our vision for reconciliation

By building and maintaining strong relationships, demonstrating respect and showing support to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, the AEC will play its part in promoting reconciliation in Australia. The AEC acknowledges activities supporting reconciliation can improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment outcomes. Within the AEC we are contributing to improved outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Where our interactions with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as an agency are concerned, understanding and respect will aid in education and engagement in Australia’s electoral and democratic processes.

Through our RAP, the AEC will:

  • Strengthen our reputation as an employer of choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Ensure our staff are culturally aware and equipped to communicate effectively and to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Ensure our services are effective, culturally appropriate and accessible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Strengthen our relationships with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities within which we deliver services.

Our business

About the AEC

The AEC is a statutory authority responsible for administering the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act). The AEC must conduct federal elections and referendums, maintain the Commonwealth electoral roll and administer Part XX of the Electoral Act, which deals with political funding and disclosure. The AEC also provides a range of electoral information and education programs.

Our purpose

The AEC is funded to deliver one key outcome:

Maintain an impartial and independent electoral system for eligible voters through active electoral roll management, efficient delivery of polling services and targeted education and public awareness programs.

Our programs

The AEC’s core legislated deliverables are managed through four programs:

  1. Electoral roll management
    Provide Australian voters with access to their entitlement to vote through maintaining an accurate electoral roll.
  2. Elections
    Access to an impartial and independent electoral system.
  3. Education and communication
    Informed Australians through the provision of communication, education and public awareness activities.
  4. Industrial and commercial elections
    Conduct of industrial and commercial elections in accordance with applicable legislation.

Our organisational values

The AEC’s focus is on electoral integrity through the AEC values of quality, agility and professionalism.

Quality must be evident in every task across the AEC, and excellence in practice must be the driving force behind every aspect of the AEC’s business. Planning, policy, procedure and service delivery must reflect this, ensuring the AEC delivers nationally consistent and reliable elections.

Agility is a critical feature of modern public sector agencies. It is defined by an ability to readily and swiftly adapt to change, to operate effectively despite uncertainty, and to be flexible and innovative. An agile AEC looks for innovative solutions, rather than obstacles to improvement.

Professionalism must be the hallmark of the AEC. A professional AEC is made up of competent, knowledgeable and skilled electoral practitioners, whose work is marked by proficiency.

Current workforce

As reported in the AEC 2014–2015 Annual Report, the AEC workforce consists of:

  • a regular workforce of 827 ongoing and non-ongoing Australian public Service (APS) employees, and
  • a casual workforce of 739 irregular and intermittent employees.

The AEC currently has 16 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees which represents 1.9 per cent of our workforce.

Our Reconciliation Action Plan

The AEC’s journey towards formally supporting reconciliation began with our first RAP in 2012, the 50th anniversary of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander right to vote. Our decision to develop a RAP provided a mechanism, as well as demonstrating our commitment, to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to achieve greater participation in Australia’s electoral and democratic processes.

Enhancing our reputation as an employer of choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and promoting a workplace environment where staff are appreciative and respectful of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures were integral to that commitment.

The AEC’s inaugural RAP was developed in consultation with staff from across the agency and endorsed by the AEC Consultative Forum, as our representative staff body.

A core lesson from our initial RAP experience was the importance of ensuring staff ownership of the development process and implementation. A cross-agency RAP Working Group, comprising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and non-Indigenous staff, was established to lead the process (see Our RAP Champions as follows).

The RAP Working Group identified the provision and sharing of information to support reconciliation as integral considerations in progressing RAP objectives. This will be addressed with the inclusion of specific actions in this RAP. They include establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee to enable the perspectives, knowledge and skills of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to be recognised and inform AEC business planning. An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Portal will be established to provide access to resources to support RAP implementation.

Measures to increase employment and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were also identified as key objectives for a second RAP. The development of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Retention Strategy provides the framework to progress this objective.

Our RAP champions

The AEC recognises the success of the RAP depends on all staff acknowledging and working towards reconciliation which will be achieved through dedication and a commitment to implement the RAP.

The development of the RAP has been the responsibility of the AEC RAP Working Group (RWG). The RWG is comprised of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous staff from every state and territory. The RWG members are committed to the success of the RAP and act as local champions supporting its implementation across the agency.

A representative of the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) is the AEC’s Indigenous Champion, supported by the Indigenous Liaison Officer (ILO) located in the People Services Branch (PSB).

Our RAP champions work together to help make the AEC an employer of choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

AEC RAP Working Group members

Ruth Clarke – Divisional Office Manager | Division of Farrer NSW

Susan Geraghty – Community Engagement Officer | IEPP SA

Malama Gray – Community Engagement Officer | IEPP QLD

Sara Hamilton – Community Engagement Officer | IEPP NSW

Wendy Harris – Community Engagement Officer | IEPP TAS

Brett Hill – IEPP Team Leader | Media and Public Awareness WA

Emily Kerslake – Assistant Director | People Services Branch & Indigenous Liaison Officer

Dean O’Donoghue – Project Officer (Election Services) | Division of Lingiari NT

Hayley Priestly – Community Engagement Officer | IEPP WA

Rosemary Smith – Project Officer | IEPP, Education and Communications Branch

Adele Thornton – Staff Relations Program Officer | People Services Branch

David Wakely – Divisional Office Manager | Division of Gippsland Victoria

Relationships

Building and maintaining respectful and sustainable relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is core to our values and the way we do business. It enables us to better understand their needs and aspirations and to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the electoral system and democratic processes.

Focus Area: Indigenous-led solutions; Information sharing; Network building
Action Deliverable Timeline Responsibility
The RAP is actively monitored, including implementation of actions, tracking and reporting on progress. Implementation of the RAP.

Ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff are represented on the RWG.

May 2016 RWG, ILO
The RWG meets at least three times a year to monitor and report on RAP implementation. Indigenous Champion and the ILO, attend RWG meetings. March, July and November annually.
Raise internal and external awareness of our RAP to promote reconciliation across the AEC and among stakeholders. RAP launched and promoted to demonstrate our commitment to reconciliation and ensure staff understand how they can contribute. May 2016 RWG, PSB, ECB,
RAP communications strategy developed and endorsed by the ELT. November 2016
Indigenous Portal established for AEC staff, which includes resources to support RAP implementation and RWG member contact information. November 2016 ECB
Focus Area: Indigenous-led solutions; Information sharing; Network building
Action Deliverable Timeline Responsibility
Provide opportunities for AEC staff to build and maintain relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by celebrating National Reconciliation Week (NRW). AEC staff take part in NRW internal and/or external events and activities. May annually PSB, State and Territory Managers
NRW activities promoted and acknowledged throughout the AEC.
NRW events are registered on Reconciliation Australia’s NRW website.
Attendance at community NRW events is supported by AEC managers having regard to operational considerations.
At least one internal event is arranged to celebrate NRW each year.
RWG members participate in an external event to recognise and celebrate NRW.
Develop and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations to support positive outcomes. An internal Indigenous Advisory Committee is established to enable the perspectives, knowledge and skills of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to be recognised and inform AEC core business planning. January 2018 PSB and ECB
An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative is included on the AEC Consultative Forum (ACF). January 2018 PSB
National, state and divisional office staff establish, maintain and strengthen relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations. January 2017 IEPP and ECB

Respect

We endeavour to foster an inclusive and respectful workplace environment in which our staff acknowledge and have an understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and heritage.

Focus Area: Indigenous cultural education programs; Cultural protocols; Policy integration
Action Deliverable Timeline Responsibility
Develop and participate in cultural learning opportunities to increase understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories and achievements. New Starter Induction Program is revised to support the building and maintenance of respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff. October 2016 PSB
The AEC’s New Starter Induction Program includes an overview of AEC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service delivery including Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners. June 2018
A cultural appreciation training package is made available to all staff through AEC Learning. May 2016
A cultural competence training strategy is developed to identify cultural learning needs based on demographics and geographical locations and influence. September 2017
IEPP staff support service delivery areas to deliver culturally appropriate electoral services. June 2018 IEPP and ECB
National, state and divisional office staff use AEC endorsed culturally appropriate information materials to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations. January 2017
  Opportunities are investigated to involve local Traditional Owners and/or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultants in developing and delivering cultural appreciation training. September 2016 PSB
Opportunities are provided for RWG members, the Indigenous Champion, Human Resources (HR) managers and other staff in leadership positions to assist in the delivery of the cultural appreciation training strategy. June 2018
A blog is developed and a feature story or face to face presentation made available to staff with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment, history, future, peoples, experiences or stories. December, March, June and September annually PSB, ECB
AEC staff take advantage of cultural learning opportunities to develop an understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and heritage. June 2018 PSB
Celebrate, recognise and build awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures through visual identity. Every AEC office has a set of three flags (Australian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands) September 2016 PSB
Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners materials are displayed in all AEC offices. June 2018 EPSS and IEPP
Participate in the Jawun Program. Support is provided for one AEC executive level staff member to participate each year. May and August annually PSB
Engage employees on the significance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural protocols, such as Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners, to ensure a shared understanding. Develop, implement and communicate a cultural protocol document for Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country.

Develop a list of key contacts for organising a Welcome to Country and maintaining respectful partnerships.

December 2016 ECB
Invite a Traditional Owner to provide a Welcome to Country to at least one significant event. June 2018 IEPP
Include Acknowledgement of Country at the commencement of important internal and external meetings. June 2018 PSB
Provide opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to engage with their cultures and communities by celebrating NAIDOC Week. Review HR policies and procedures to ensure there are no barriers to staff participating in NAIDOC Week activities. March 2017 PSB
Provide opportunities for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to participate with their cultures and communities during NAIDOC Week. July annually
AEC NAIDOC Awards recognise and celebrate exemplary behaviour and contributions to reconciliation in the workplace. July annually
National, state and divisional offices are provided with materials to participate in NAIDOC week. July annually

Opportunities

We strive to provide employment opportunities and pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to build the diversity of our workforce while contributing to the greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their cultures.

Focus Area: Indigenous recruitment and retention; Professional and career development; Business opportunities
Action Deliverable Timeline Responsibility
Participate in the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) Indigenous Graduate and Traineeship Programs. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are provided with employment opportunities through the AEC partnering with APS Indigenous Pathways Programs. May 2016 PSB
An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff member represents the AEC on APSC Selection Panels for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates and trainees. March annually
Induction and orientation programs respond to the cultural needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates, trainees and other new starters. February annually
Partner with other APS agencies to provide mobility and secondment opportunities for Indigenous staff to increase individual potential, retention and developmental opportunities. Arrangements for an Indigenous Mobility Program are agreed to by ELT and implemented in negotiation with APSC and other government agencies. June 2018 PSB
Investigate opportunities to improve and increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment outcomes within our workplace. Information on our current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff is collected to inform development of future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment strategies. December 2017 PSB
Existing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff are consulted on development of employment strategies, including professional development.
An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Retention Strategy is developed and implemented.
HR and recruitment procedures and policies are reviewed to remove barriers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment.
Positions with duties involving the development and/or delivery of policies, programs and services that impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are advertised as Identified Positions, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians strongly encouraged to apply.
All vacancies for Identified Positions are advertised in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander press.
Current recruitment practices are reviewed to ensure compliance with the APSC Employment Strategy objectives and employment targets. May 2017
Work with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to explore opportunities to source staff in remote areas through the Community Development Program. March 2017 PSB and ECB
Promote opportunities to support the Indigenous business sector to drive improvements in Indigenous economic development and employment. AEC staff are informed of the requirements under the Commonwealth Indigenous Procurement Policy and the APS-wide commitment to a procurement target for goods and services from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses. November 2016 Commercial, Law and Procurement Section
AEC staff comply with procurement policies and procedures to implement the Commonwealth Indigenous Procurement Policy’s aim of strengthening AEC engagement with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business sector.
Supply Nation is utilised by AEC staff to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses with an opportunity to respond to quote or tender requests.
Develop at least one commercial relationship with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander owned business. January 2018 IEPP
Support the capability and career development of AEC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff in achieving their career goals. Mobility and collaborative partnerships are established with other government agencies to enable AEC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to develop their skills in both the AEC and in other APS agencies. January 2018 PSB in consultation with RWG
An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Wellness Network is established to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff. March 2017

Tracking progress and reporting

Focus Area: Indigenous-led solutions; Information sharing; Network building
Action Deliverable Timeline Responsibility
Report RAP achievements, challenges and learnings to Reconciliation Australia. The RAP Impact Measurement Questionnaire is submitted to Reconciliation Australia. 30 September annually PSB
Investigate participating in the RAP Barometer. March 2017
Publish progress reports on implementation of RAP actions. Progress report on implementation of RAP actions published in the AEC’s Annual Report and on the Reconciliation Australia website. October annually PSB
Provide regular progress reports to ELT on progress to implement the RAP. Report to ELT on progress in meeting the deliverables outlined in the RAP. April and September annually RWG, PSB
Review, refresh and update RAP. The RAP is reviewed, refreshed and updated, based on learnings, challenges and achievements, in consultation with Reconciliation Australia.

Refreshed RAP is published on-line.

June 2018 RWG, PSB

The Artist

Jordan Lovegrove

Indigenous Artist, Dreamtime Creative

Ngarrindjeri young man who combines intimate knowledge of Aboriginal communities and illustration skills to develop outstanding Indigenous artwork which is applied to a range of print and online communications.

The Artwork

Artwork by Jordan Lovegrove. The artwork is a powerful rendition of what goes around comes around, represented by the spiral within the square confines of what can and can't be controlled.

The artwork is a powerful rendition of what goes around comes around, represented by the spiral within the square confines of what can and can’t be controlled. The AEC, represented by the inner spiral, is reaching out to Indigenous communities to have their say on matters which are important to themselves, their families, their communities and their future. By working side-by-side with First Nations people, the AEC are circling around Indigenous communities in this nation to gather and sweep up an informed and inclusive way forward.