Indigenous Mentoring Program

Calling all Commonwealth employees – Join the Indigenous Mentoring Program!

For the first time, the Australian Public Service Commission (the Commission) is offering a Commonwealth-wide Indigenous Mentoring Program, and APS and Commonwealth employees at all levels are invited to participate. This initiative is one of the biggest we've embarked on, and we're looking for:

  • Indigenous employees who wish to be Mentees and Mentors, and
  • non-Indigenous employees who wish to be Mentors

to contribute to its success.

A mentoring partnership offers a great opportunity to develop skills, share knowledge, encourage the formation of networks, and work together towards future goals. Your involvement in this initiative will enhance your understanding of your own professional and cultural identity, as well as the cultural differences of others. Whether you're a Mentor or Mentee, this is your chance to inspire, empower and challenge others.

Please join us – there is not cost to participate, and just a couple of hours of your time a month will make a significant contribution towards increasing the retention and advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees across the Commonwealth.

Be a Mentor!

We are seeking capable Mentors (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) at the APS 5 level (or equivalent) or above with a willingness to share their professional skills, experience and solutions-driven ideas with Indigenous employees across the Commonwealth. We'll provide training and support if you haven't done this before.

Do you want to be mentored?

We encourage all Indigenous Commonwealth employees at all levels to nominate as Mentees in our program for the opportunity to develop professionally and personally.


A copy of the Indigenous Mentoring Program guidelines can be accessed HERE.

Nomination process

Nominations for Mentors and Mentees are open permanently, and nominating for the program through our online process is easy – we just need a few details about your current employment, experience, and Mentor/Mentee preferences. When your nomination is received by the Commission, you will be contacted and advised about the next steps.

  • Access your online Mentor nomination HERE (External site) (Word) (PDF)
  • Access your online Mentee nomination form HERE (External site) (Word) (PDF)

For more information, contact the Commission's Indigenous Capability Team at or 1300 656 009 (Freecall).

Why do we need an Indigenous Mentoring Program?

The Australian Public Service Commission (the Commission) is responsible for the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy, which aims to build Indigenous employment within the Commonwealth public sector. The Strategy supports the Government's target of three per cent Indigenous employment across the sector by 2018.

We've got a mountain of Indigenous employees hitting a career peak at the APS 3–4 level. Only one per cent of our APS Senior Executive Service is Indigenous. Indigenous Australians remain under-represented—currently 2.6 per cent, which means recruiting an additional 2,500–3,000 employees while retaining our current workforce.

(APS representation by classification (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) – June 2016)

We invest heavily in recruitment only to lose 16 per cent of our Indigenous recruits after their first year of employment, and we continue to lose them at a faster rate than we can recruit. Retention and advancement is a problem which will undermine our ability to deliver the best services to communities and meet targets.

We need to give Indigenous employees at all levels access to training and development opportunities to identify meaningful career pathways. This will have a significant impact on the ability and willingness of Indigenous employees to build careers in the public sector and positively influence policy development and service delivery.

Mentoring offers a great opportunity for both Mentors and Mentees to develop their skills, share key knowledge, encourage the formation of networks and work towards future goals.

We need to close the gap in the classification profile of Indigenous employees to more closely resemble that of their non-Indigenous colleagues. If you're an Indigenous Commonwealth employee, your career could benefit from the support of a Mentor. Whether you're Indigenous or not, you can play a part by becoming a Mentor.

What is workplace mentoring?

Workplace mentoring is a structured agreement between two people. It is designed to help those being mentored achieve their full potential, both professionally and personally, through their work experiences. The mentoring relationship involves sharing experiences and expertise through which advice, support, encouragement and reciprocal learning takes place.

It is a supportive and mutually beneficial relationship based on honesty, mutual trust, respect, encouragement, confidentiality and a willingness to share and learn. Mentoring:

  • Takes place outside of a line manager–employee relationship, at the mutual consent of both parties
  • Is career-focused or focused on professional development that may be outside a Mentee's area of work
  • Relationships are personal—a Mentor provides both professional and personal support, but referral to Employee Assistance Programs and other support mechanisms should be used where appropriate
  • Relationships may be initiated by either party or created through a match initiated by an organisation (in this case the Commission)
  • Relationships cross job boundaries
  • Relationships may last for a specific period of time (six months to a year) in a formal program, at which point the pair may continue in an informal mentoring relationship with mutual consent.

What are the benefits of a mentoring program?

The intended benefits of the Commission's Indigenous Mentoring Program include:

  • Increasing advancement and retention of Indigenous employees
  • An opportunity for Mentors to develop their own leadership capability
  • Raising awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and issues
  • Assisting Indigenous employees to feel secure in the workplace
  • Providing a framework for positive interaction between Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees. Mentoring directly and indirectly assists with developing the skills of individuals to succeed at their professional and personal goals. It is one of the quickest and cost-effective learning techniques available.

Mentoring partnerships foster:

  • Enhanced communication and interpersonal skills
  • Networking
  • Self-reflection and assessment
  • Flexibility and open-mindedness
  • Developing a broader understanding of individual and social issues
  • Awareness of others' learning styles
  • Enabling and motivating of other people
  • The techniques behind giving and receiving constructive feedback
  • Adapting to change and identifying opportunities for professional growth
  • Continued learning
  • Balance in professional commitments and priorities.

Mentor benefits:

The skill of self-reflection

Enhancement of your own professional development and leadership capability

Networking, and increased knowledge of the work of other Commonwealth agencies

Insights on balancing professional commitments and priorities

Broadening of your own awareness of social issues

Participation in a unique program recognised across the Commonwealth

How to be a "co-pilot" to your Mentee

Increasing your own self-awareness, challenging and broadening your ideas; and much more!

Mentee benefits:

The tools to unlock your own potential at your own pace

Ways to care for yourself and your career, and getting that work/life balance right

The opportunity to develop and strengthen your current skills while learning new ones

Broaden your networks, and understanding of the work of other Commonwealth agencies

The chance to be the "pilot" in your mentoring partnership

The skills to overcome challenges

Contribute to lifting cultural capability levels across the Commonwealth by imparting your knowledge and experiences

Grow your professional networks across the Commonwealth

  • Access your online Mentor nomination HERE (Word) (PDF)
  • Access your online Mentee nomination form HERE (Word) (PDF)

Want to know more?

Contact the Commission's Indigenous Capability Team at or 1300 656 009 (Freecall).

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