Indigenous Partnerships with Community and Job Network Employment Agencies
New strategies were needed to recruit Indigenous people into positions at the University of Newcastle. Previously our advertising had consisted of newspaper advertisements and circulation of vacancies to local Indigenous organisations. On many occasions, these methods of advertising failed to attract a suitable pool of applicants.
Identifying potential partners
Discussions were held with the local Community and Job Network employment agencies to set up an informal partnership arrangement. The idea was to tap into these agencies and to achieve common goals - transferring Indigenous people from welfare to employment.
Only those agencies who themselves employed Indigenous staff were considered, the rationale being that Indigenous staff will attract Indigenous clientele (job seekers). The agencies included both mainstream and Indigenous run community organisations.
How it works
The Indigenous Employment Co-ordinator (IEC) notes all suitable vacancies (identified and mainstream) and emails them to contacts within the agencies in the partnership group. The Employment Consultant (EC) in agencies then canvasses their clientele for suitable matches of client skills vs position requirements. The applicant can arrange to discuss aspects of the position they are applying for with the IEC. The EC then supports the job seeker to prepare and submit an application.
Notification of interviews is conducted by email between the IEC and EC. The EC contacts the job seeker and in most cases, assists them to travel to the interview. This is particularly beneficial to Indigenous clients.
Feedback is provided to the individual agency's EC by the IEC on all aspects of the process, for example, quality of the application, a jobseeker's readiness for interview and interview performance.
Job seekers have reported that they feel far more comfortable with this process because they know who they are working with in advance and they know that feedback will be provided to them for future improvement - as opposed to never receiving any acknowledgement of their application.
Stakeholders in the partnerships are committed to providing a quality service to their clientele. For job seekers who require a little more coaching, individual and group training sessions are arranged. These sessions are particularly useful for developing Indigenous interviewing skills/techniques.
Fourteen staff - ten trainees and four contract staff - have been placed into employment at the University of Newcastle through this channel of recruitment in the period February to July 2006. With each advertised vacancy, the pool of applicants has grown. The ECs regularly inform their new clientele about employment opportunities at the University. We are fast gaining a reputation as a great place to work, where Indigenous staff are suppported. The IEC has a steady stream of potential employees canvassing the vacancies on offer.
Where to from here?
These informal partnerships have proved to be beneficial for all parties involved. There is a strong commitment to continuing and strengthening the partnerships to assist more Indigenous job seekers to gain sustainable employment.
Agency members of the partnership
Aboriginal Employment Strategy (AES, Maitland, Tamworth)
Employment Plus (Hunter and Central Coast)
Mission Australia (Hunter)
New Careers for Aboriginal People (NCAP) program (Hunter)
Youloe-tah Indigenous Employment Centre (Newcastle)
Wesley Uniting Employment (Hunter and Mid North Coast)