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 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.
Today, Indigenous Australians remain vastly under-represented or excluded from the workforce. As of 2018, less than half (49.1 per cent) of working age Indigenous Australians were in some form of employment, compared to 75.9 per cent for non-Indigenous Australians. Worryingly, that gap only closed by 1.3 per cent during the decade to 2018.
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 approximately 3.3 per cent. But ‘true’ parity extends beyond a single representation measure. This Index therefore assesses employers against a range of other indicators across the following domains:
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.
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.
Emeritus Professor, The Australian National University
Dr Deen Sanders OAM
Professor, Partner Deloitte: Integrity
Executive Director, Indigenous Employment Partners
Jahna Cedar OAM
Executive Director, IPS Management Consultants
CEO, Waalitj Foundation
Louise Davidson AM
CEO, Australian Council of Superannuation Investors
CEO, Committee for Economic Development in Australia;
Co-Chair Reconciliation Australia;
Non-Executive Director Australian Unity
Director, Generation One, Minderoo Foundation
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
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.
Generation One, Minderoo Foundation
Shelley Cable, Fiona David
Liz Griffin, Caris Jalla, Caitlin Leslie, Rachael Sage, Ellen Ceklic, Mortaza Rezae
Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre
Rebecca Cassells, Michael Dockery, Lili Loan Vu, Jaslin Kaur Kalsi, Astghik Mavisakalyan, Silvia Salazar
Sophia Anagnostaras, Reiko Byrom, Sherie Bruce, Donna Ingram, Sarah Jones, Tony Kiessler, Nakita Kirby, Terri Lethlean
42 Australian organisations contributed to the Indigenous Employment Index, with all organisations completing a detailed survey.
Advanced Personnel Management
Australian Red Cross
Australian Unity Limited
Compass Group (Australia)
Domino’s Pizza Enterprises
Downer Group EDI
Fortescue Metals Group
Goodstart Early Learning
Jones Lang LaSalle – JLL
NSW Department of Communities and Justice
NSW South Eastern Sydney Local Health District
Silver Chain Group
St John of God Health Care
The Star Entertainment Group
Transport for NSW
University of Melbourne
WA Department of Health
WA Police Force
“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
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.
“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.”
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.