INdigenous Employment Index


The Indigenous Employment Index 2022 is the first comprehensive snapshot of Indigenous workplace representation, practices, and employee experiences ever to be carried out in Australia. Together, the participating 42 organisations employ more than 700,000 Australians; about five per cent of the total Australian workforce, and 17,412 Indigenous Australians; around six per cent of the Indigenous workforce.

The number of First Nations people employed increased by 42.6% between 2016 and 2021. However, the First Nations unemployment rate was 12.3% compared to 5.1% for all Australians. While the gap is closing, progress towards parity since Australia’s Closing the Gap commitment in 2008, remains glacial.

Indigenous employment parity will only be achieved when Indigenous employees are present in the workforce in the same proportion as they are in the national population, at 3.2 per cent. But ‘true’ parity extends beyond a single representation measure. This Index therefore assessed employers against a range of indicators across the following domains:

  • Commitments and Accountability: do employers have strong commitments to Indigenous employment, do they report on progress towards targets, and who is held accountable for results?
  • Workplace Culture and Inclusion: how do Indigenous employees feel about their workplaces in terms of safety, racism, cultural awareness, cultural load and identity? What practices are in place to support the workforce on their journey to intercultural responsiveness?
  • Attraction and Recruitment: how do employers attract and recruit Indigenous employees, and are these practices effective?
  • Engagement and Development: do employers provide career pathways for development of Indigenous employees? Are Indigenous employees retained and represented at senior levels?
  • Partnerships and Community: do employers engage with Indigenous communities and organisations, including through employment partnerships and their supply chains?

This research finds that one-off measures to create Indigenous employment must give way to a more comprehensive and systemic approach. Authentic commitments, tailored strategies with targets, and a broader definition of Indigenous employment success that includes retention, safety, progression, and partnerships are critical to better Indigenous employment outcomes.

An aboriginal cultural experience and ceremony teaches backpackers about the Traditional Owners’ history. Photo Credit: Matthew Micah Wright. Getty Images.

Expert Advisory Panel

We warmly and wholeheartedly thank the members of the Expert Advisory Panel who have been integral to guiding the Indigenous Employment Index. We thank you for your commitment and passion for realising true employment parity, and for your extensive and invaluable contributions throughout the project.

Boyd Hunter

Emeritus Professor, The Australian National University

Dr Deen Sanders OAM

Professor, Partner Deloitte: Integrity

Jahna Cedar OAM

Executive Director, IPS Management Consultants

Lisa Cunningham

CEO, Waalitj Foundation

Louise Davidson AM

CEO, Australian Council of Superannuation Investors

Melinda Cilento

CEO, Committee for Economic Development in Australia;
Co-Chair Reconciliation Australia;
Non-Executive Director Australian Unity

Shelley Cable

Director, Generation One, Minderoo Foundation

Other External Advisors

We recognise the contribution of other external advisors for their support in developing the Indigenous Employment Index. We have valued their deep expertise and vast practical experience in Indigenous employment, working with a range of organisations.


Indigenous Employment Partners

Research Partners

The research was commissioned, conceptualised and led by Minderoo Foundation’s Generation One initiative and culminated in a collaborative research study with Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC) and Murawin.

Generation One has a mission to create employment parity, with and for Indigenous Australians, within one generation. Minderoo Foundation, established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest, is one of Asia-Pacific’s largest philanthropies.

The BCEC is an independent economic and social research centre located within the Curtin Business School at Curtin University. BCEC has a core mission to undertake high quality, objective research on key economic and social issues of relevance, and was responsible for the quantitative research.

Murawin is an Indigenous owned consulting agency, committed to driving change and creating impact for Indigenous Australians. Murawin led the qualitative component of this research, to bring the voices and experiences of Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees, as well as Indigenous-led businesses, to add deeper insights to the findings.

Research Teams




Generation One, Minderoo Foundation

Shelley Cable, Fiona David

Liz Griffin, Caris Jalla, Caitlin Leslie, Rachael Sage, Ellen Ceklic, Mortaza Rezae

Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre

Alan Duncan

Rebecca Cassells, Michael Dockery, Lili Loan Vu, Jaslin Kaur Kalsi, Astghik Mavisakalyan, Silvia Salazar


Carol Vale

Sophia Anagnostaras, Reiko Byrom, Sherie Bruce, Donna Ingram, Sarah Jones, Tony Kiessler, Nakita Kirby, Terri Lethlean

Participating Organisations

42 Australian organisations contributed to the Indigenous Employment Index, with all organisations completing a detailed survey.

Advanced Personnel Management


ANZ Bank


Australia Post

Australian Red Cross

Australian Unity Limited

Clayton Utz

Commonwealth Bank

Compass Group (Australia)

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises

Downer Group EDI


Fortescue Metals Group


Goodstart Early Learning


Jones Lang LaSalle – JLL

KPMG Australia


Linfox Australia

Minter Ellison



NSW Department of Communities and Justice

NSW South Eastern Sydney Local Health District

PwC Australia

Rio Tinto

Serco Australia

Silver Chain Group

South 32

St John of God Health Care

The Star Entertainment Group

Toll Group

Transport for NSW

University of Melbourne

WA Department of Health

WA Police Force



Woolworths Group


About the cover art

“The cover artwork depicts many people journeying together in many different places, which represents a roadmap of Indigenous employment across many workplaces. The ochre red and yellow represent places on Country, while the warm yellow dots represent the pathways into reconciliation, like the sun which provides light. The green represents personal growth, like our earth that turns green with good growth. The cool and warm blues represent new beginnings and opportunities, like the water in the rain that provides our earth with new beginnings and opportunities. The earth needs these elements of sunlight, earth, and water in order to thrive. Our people and workplaces require new beginnings, opportunities and pathways to grow towards parity and reconciliation.”

Julianne Wade, Artist

About the artist

Julianne Wade is a Whadjuk Perth born artist on her mother’s side, who grew up in New Zealand in Ngaruawahia Tainui with her father’s side. She is a visual artist and remains connected to her culture through painting and family, and to community through the West Australian Aboriginal Leadership Institute. She has a passion for making a change through art for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Her purpose is to highlight that all land is a traditional Country on which ancestors have practiced culture and shared knowledge for thousands of years.

Photo Credit: Julianne Wade.


“The artwork represents the cultural identities of the Indigenous contributors to the research. The blue and white represent oceans, waterholes, currents and direction. The ochre red and yellow lines represent the land that is forming, blue and green lines represent the waterways of old rivers and swamps. The land is ever evolving on our journeys and pathways. The white lines represent pathways journeys travelled.”

ABOUT THE TITLE – Woort koorliny

Woort Koorliny is from the Noongar language, and is interpreted in English as ‘moving forward.’ The sentiment of Woort Koorliny acknowledges that Indigenous employment is a journey. While there is momentum and progress underway, there is still a long road ahead to achieve true parity in all workplaces, and we must move forward along this journey together. We thank Noongar Elders and linguists, Len Collard, Director of Moodjar Consultancy and Fiona Simpson, for providing a Noongar title for this report, and acknowledge theirs and many others’ ongoing efforts to protect and promote Indigenous languages across Australia.

Photo Credit: Julianne Wade.

The full findings, recommendations and methodology are available in the First Nations Employment Index

Aerial viewpoint looking down on the dramatic patterns of the dry river beds and cracked land of outback Queensland, Australia. Photo Credit: Vicki Smith. Getty Images.