Indigenous Employment Index


We are calling for immediate action from employers, governments, and investors to bring about the end of Indigenous employment disparity.


We are calling on executive leaders in all Australia-based organisations to:


Set robust Indigenous employment targets and report regularly and transparently on progress towards them, to measure the effectiveness of your Indigenous employment strategy.

Indigenous employment targets are critical to driving employment outcomes, but targets must be complemented by a comprehensive Indigenous employment strategy. Targets and plans, such as Reconciliation Action Plans, provide accountability, but are the beginning of the journey, not an outcome in their own right. Reporting progress towards targets, whether internally and/or externally, is associated with statistically significant better outcomes.


Work to retain current Indigenous employees, rather than focusing only on Indigenous recruitment.

Amid labour shortages and fierce competition for talent, employers must work hard to retain their Indigenous employees at the same rate as other employees. This Index provides a range of measures that employers can take to support better Indigenous employment outcomes, including retention. Report on retention – especially during organisational restructures, provide Indigenous specific development opportunities, and prioritise workplace culture and safety.


Treat racism as a safety issue and acknowledge that work is still required to ensure that your workplace is culturally safe for Indigenous employees.

Employers are required by law to provide a safe workplace for all employees. This is unattainable if racism is present in your workplace, which disproportionately compromises the safety of Indigenous employees. Ensure discrimination policies and procedures include considerations for Indigenous employees, upskill leaders and line managers in preventing and responding to racism at work, and increase the cultural capability and responsiveness of employees.


Follow this Index’s Employer Roadmap to take the next steps towards employment parity, tailored to your organisation.

The Employer Roadmap (see Chapter Three of the Index) is based on the Index’s results, and provides a practical, evidence-based way for your organisation to progress towards true Indigenous employment parity. Employers should self-assess the current state of their workplace against the Roadmap, and identify next steps towards parity, based on your unique industry, organisation, and context. Progress can be assessed through the next iteration of the Index in 2024.


We are calling on the federal government to:


Regularly compile and publish data to comprehensively report on the state of Indigenous employment nationally.

Indigenous employment data is only collected and reported comprehensively every five years, through the National Census. In between these years, it is difficult to track Indigenous employment over time, let alone the impacts of policy decisions on the Indigenous workforce. This Index goes some way, but not far enough to filling this glaring data gap.


Activate industry to help close the Indigenous employment gap through legislation.

The federal government can support employers by including them as partners on Indigenous employment policies and system design, and by setting clear guidelines and expectations for Indigenous employment outcomes.


Prioritise building an Indigenous Community-Controlled employment sector.

The federal government and the Coalition of Peaks have agreed that building the Indigenous community-controlled sectors is a priority area for reform; we call on the government to prioritise the Indigenous employment sector in this reform.


We are calling on all institutional investors to:


Understand the investment risk caused by poor company culture and racism, and the fact that more diverse companies are likely to outperform less diverse companies.

Racism and culturally unsafe work environments impact employee health, wellbeing and job satisfaction. The diversity, wellbeing and engagement of a company’s workforce can strongly influence the success of a company.


Evaluate current investee companies and consider Indigenous employment performance when making investments.

Using this Index and the Employer Roadmap it contains as a guide, investors should assess whether investee companies have policies and practices in place to ensure a safe work culture and support Indigenous employment.


Engage with investee companies and set expectations.

Investors should actively engage with investee companies on how they are ensuring a safe, diverse, and inclusive workplace culture. Investors should set clear expectations that investee companies identify risks and take action to ensure that their operations promote and enhance respect, inclusion and equality for Indigenous employees and disclose accordingly.

Indigenous employment parity is achievable in our generation but requires approximately 300,000 more Indigenous Australians to enter paid work by 2040.

This is our responsibility, and our opportunity to take.

What impact will your organisation make?

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.