Ivan's story

Ivan-Tiwu Copley is a Peramangk/Kaurna man who was raised around Plympton and the sand hills of Glenelg North in South Australia. His achievements working with non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal peoples for reconciliation and the recognition of his people were honoured in 2005 with the Premier's Award for Community Achievement, and again in 2009 when he received the South Australian of the Year Award. More recently, Ivan received the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2012.

In 2005, Ivan was working for the Aboriginal Christian Congress and based in Adelaide. A fellow Aboriginal friend who was an APS employee encouraged Ivan to go after an opportunity that they thought would suit Ivan's skills and abilities. This person went on to support Ivan up to the interview stage and kept in contact after he won the position as an APS 6 at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Ivan currently works across South Australia as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Manager - Indigenous Community Engagement Strategy, with the ABS.

Ivan is the State Engagement Manager for all Aboriginal communities for both data collection and dissemination, developing and delivering statistics in an accessible manner to communities, and advising communities, organisations and analysts on the effective use of ABS statistics, through:

  • Engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through collaborative partnerships to increase understanding of and participation in ABS data collection
  • Returning information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including the provision of statistical training to communities in order to increase their access and usage of ABS information
  • Improving the quality and relevance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander statistics for key stakeholders, including meeting the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 

'Through my job, I mostly enjoy meeting other Aboriginal people, their extended family and helping them tell their own stories through data collection and seeing the positive changes that have taken place over the past 10 years'. says Ivan.'Over the past 10 years I have worked with a culturally diverse number of non-Aboriginal Australians—many that have worked for 20–30 years in the APS—and they have provided me with a greater understanding of what people really want to know about from Aboriginal people, and also what they expect from Aboriginal people and the reasons behind their expectations. This has provided me with clarity and a clear understanding of how Aboriginal people can add to their skills and knowledge through experiential learning', says Ivan. 

The three pieces of advice Ivan offers about careers in the APS are: 

  • Get yourself a higher education and stay at school or pursue further external studies.
  • Find someone that can help you understand how to get to where you want to be.
  • Be part of all the biggest Aboriginal networks that have a positive outlook for the future.
Ivan Copley