Transcript of Aboriginal Programs: supporting great careers in NSW Education video

Melissa Hamblin Biggs:

... join the waiting room.

Darren Bell:

All right, thanks. Hello everyone. Before we begin, I'd like to acknowledge Country and pay my respects to our elders and our ancestors. I'm coming to you today from Darug Country in Western Sydney. I'd like to pay my respects to our Darug elders, to everyone today from all the lands that you're coming to us from, pay my respects to our elders and ancestors from those many lands and offer my gratitude for their continual custodianship of our lands and waterways. Thank you all for joining us today. Melissa, if you can just move onto the next slide for us, if that's okay.

Darren Bell:

We're here today to talk to you a bit about what our team does and provide you some information that you might not know about and give you an opportunity to ask us questions. We actually really do want you to ask us questions. That can be obviously about what our team does, but also about other issues you might want to know about. We encourage you to ask open and honest questions because this is a safe place. Our team is more than happy to help educate in different areas as well. If you have a question, you can ask throughout the presentation if something pops up in your head or there's a time at the end of the presentation for questions as well. But we're more than happy to take questions as we go along.

Darren Bell:

First off, I'd like to, as I said earlier, thank you for joining us. We're the Aboriginal Programs School Workforce Team, previously human resources. We still obviously do human resources activities and programs, but I'm going to just give you a little bit of a rundown about our team first and who we are and a little bit of history about us.

Darren Bell:

As you can see on the screen there, we've Join Our Mob hashtag. I'll talk a bit about that as we go along. This is our team at the moment. As our little tagline states, we're little, but mighty. Our manager dubbed us that, so we're going to run with it. As you can see on the screen right now, our director is Leah Anderson and our manager is Gabby Hidalgo.

Darren Bell:

Our team generally has a complement of six, but we have two vacant positions at the moment, which we will hopefully have filled come the New Year. In the team at the moment, we have Annie Austin, Tamara Saunders and Pam Widders and myself. Annie, Tamara and Pam are our HR advisors within our team. Annie and Tamara have a responsibility for our SAS Staff within schools. Pam has responsibility for our teachers. I lead the team.

Darren Bell:

Joining us today from my team is Tamara. Unfortunately, Annie and Pam can't join us today, but Tamara's here with us. She'll be jumping in to help me with this presentation and move me along or pick up anything I might miss. You'll be hearing from Tamara as we go along as well. Tamara, maybe just introduce yourself if you want before we continue.

Tamara Saunders:

Hi everyone, I'm Tamara. Like Darren said, I'm from Aboriginal Programs. I'm the HR advisor within the team.

Darren Bell:

Thanks Tamara. Can we move onto the next slide, please, Melissa? This is just a little bit of a breakdown about our team. As I mentioned before, the Join Our Mob hashtag that we use is... We've been using that since about 2006. That was used before our team was actually established. Our team came to be in 2008. The department decided that we needed a dedicated team, a Aboriginal team within HR, to [inaudible 00:04:22] working properly. Can everyone hear me okay?

Melissa Hamblin Biggs:

It's gone back to being fine. I think it could be a bandwidth problem. If people who aren't presenting or speaking at the moment just turn off their videos, sometimes that helps.

Darren Bell:

Thanks Melissa. As you can see on the slide here, currently we have [inaudible 00:04:57]. It doesn't include ACIP positions, school-funded positions, because that data isn't captured in what the department captures with its data information.

Darren Bell:

We have about 125 corporate staff. Those corporate staff are sitting in identified roles. It doesn't capture Aboriginal people sitting in non-identified roles. That's how the department gathers its stats. New South Wales has the highest population of teachers of Aboriginal descent in the Country. That's in no small part due to our team and the programs and the initiatives that we administer. Can you move onto the next slide, please, Melissa?

Darren Bell:

Thank you. At the beginning of the year, our team had came together for a planning day just, I think a week before the lockdown started. We developed our credo. In our credo is our mission statement, our vision statement and our purpose. We developed this credo as a guide to how our team works and to show-

Melissa Hamblin Biggs:

Darren, sorry, I've just asked a question in the chat about the audio quality. Apparently, I thought it was just my end, but I think the audio is off for everyone else, so maybe if you turn off your video as well. Sometimes that can help. Sorry, it's a pity to not see your gorgeous face talking, but it might help.

Darren Bell:

It's all right.

Melissa Hamblin Biggs:

Okay, try again.

Darren Bell:

No worries. How's it now? Can people hear me now?

Melissa Hamblin Biggs:

That's sounding much better to me so hopefully for everyone else as well. Yep, Tracy is telling me, "better."

Darren Bell:

Thank you. As I was saying, these are our mission statement, our vision statement and our purpose. These three initiatives guide our team because we believe that... Especially from our mission statement, "To be Australia's leader of educational recruitment, retention and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people." We are already there. We lead the country in educational recruitment for Aboriginal people. That's something we're very proud of.

Darren Bell:

Our purpose is to provide the best support we can as a team, the best initiatives to encourage Aboriginal people to work in our department in all fields and in all sectors of the Department of Education, not just within teaching, or within schools. These are the three points that guide our team. We strive to work towards these every day. If you can move onto the next slide, Melissa, please, that'd be good.

Darren Bell:

Thank you. Now, I know a lot of people online with us today would know of the AECG is and who they are, and that we just recently renewed our partnership agreement with the New South Wales Aboriginal Education Consultative Group. For those of you who don't know who the AECG are, they are the big advisory body to the Department of Education on Aboriginal education in New South Wales for public schools, TAFE and [crosstalk 00:09:10].

Darren Bell:

Sorry, my dog's having a bit of a go with her bone. Sorry if you hear noises in the background. Our team works closely with the AECG in relation to things like our panels, policy when it comes to HR-related issues, things like that. We engage with them as often as we can and vice versa. Now, obviously, we've just strengthened that partnership with the renewing of the agreement.

Darren Bell:

If you would like to see a copy of the partnership agreement, we're more than happy to send that through to you or you can go to the AECG's website as well. They have a downloadable copy there. If we can move on, please, Melissa to the next slide. I just want to talk to you a bit about who we actually work with, who actually works with the partnerships and working groups and things like that.

Darren Bell:

We don't work in a silo. Our little team works with all of these different areas within the Department of Education and external agencies like the AECG, universities and other government agencies as well. We have a close working relationship with SASS recruitment and teacher recruitment and now moving more into the corporate sector as well. We also have a close relationship with branding and promotions and the scholarship and sponsorship teams.

Darren Bell:

We have a finger in all these different pies and we work closely with these other units within the department because of the programs that they run. They gel very well with what we do as well when it comes to things like scholarships and promotions of vacancies of initiatives and programs. We work in close contact with a whole range of different areas as you can see on the screen.

Darren Bell:

If we can move onto the next screen as well, please, Melissa. These are actually working groups that are team members are on. The Diversity and Inclusion Council is quite an important group that we're associated with. That group tries to implement and make sure that the deliverables from a diversity and inclusion strategy are met and continue to work on those for the five groups that are within the diversity and inclusion strategy, which include Aboriginal people, people with disabilities, male teachers, women in leadership and culturally and linguistically diverse.

Darren Bell:

Our team would have responsibility for... or part responsibility for pretty much all of those ares as well within the diversity and inclusion strategy. Tamara and I are on the Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group, as is Melissa, who's with us today, who's thankfully working our PowerPoint presentation for us because I couldn't get it to work.

Darren Bell:

We have a lot of partnerships as well with these areas. It helps with our work and it helps with providing advice and guidance to other areas of the department on Aboriginal employment and Aboriginal people in general and issues that relate to the employment of Aboriginal people and retention. If we can move on, Melissa, to the next slide.

Darren Bell:

At our planning day, we talked about a lot of things of course, and our team came up with not just our credo, but we call our five pillars. These five pillars are the attraction, recruitment, retention, support and leadership opportunities for all Aboriginal staff working in the Department of Education. Of course, a whole range of different initiatives and programs branch off each one of these five pillars, but these five pillars also guide us as well as our credo.

Darren Bell:

I'm going to go through our five pillars and give you a bit of a breakdown about what we mean by attraction, recruitment, retention and so on. If we can move to the next slide, please, Melissa. Part of the attraction and how we engage with our communities, to come and work for the Department of Education is we promote obviously vacancies that we think are pertinent and related and relevant, not just identified roles. We want to encourage Aboriginal people to apply for any role within the Department of Education.

Darren Bell:

We do that by attending career events. We do that in partnership with branding and promotion. We travel all over the state attending career events, where we talk about a bit of teacher education scholarships, different areas of the department that people... because a lot of people and a lot of students in particular, young students, when they think about the Department of Education, they think about teaching. They think that's the only sort of opportunity there. We talk to them about different areas of the department that they can work in.

Darren Bell:

We ask them questions like what do they like doing, things like that. Some students come back to us with, "I like art or I like dance." I talk to them about the arts unit or working in places like that, where they can be part of the Schools Spectacular, things like that, different areas of the department. If they're into construction, things like that, I talk to them about school infrastructure. I tell them, "Come build our schools for us." If they're into engineering, I tell them, "Design our schools for us." Things like that.

Darren Bell:

It opens up their minds about different areas of the Department of Education and where they can work and use the skills and the interest that they have. What we do as well is, I'll talk a bit more about some of these things a little later on because all of our pillars interact with each other in a sense. They cover some of the things I'm going to talk about, like our yarn ups and things like that, which I'll discuss a bit later. That's part of attraction, but it's also part of support as well.

Darren Bell:

We try to increase the number of SAS staff in our schools by requesting that a school might make that position Aboriginal identified, if the school has a high population or a high enrolment figure for Aboriginal students. It's a voluntary initiative. It's called ASI or Aboriginal SASS Initiative, where we would contact a school that has recently had a vacancy in a SASS position. We're able to gauge with the school's principal and ask if they wouldn't consider making that position identified.

Darren Bell:

We've been quite successful in that as well. That comes from a recommendation from the review of Aboriginal education, known as Recommendation 55. It's been quite a success for us in our team and in our schools of course. On the right-hand side, there's a video that we use when we engage with our schools about the ASI and just provides some points about why we think it's important that these roles are identified. We're doing some training, Tamara and I, very soon to give us the ability to update our web presence, so we can keep you in the community well informed about our programs, our initiatives and what we've got coming up and things like that.

Darren Bell:

Of course, part of the attraction is our team. The community knows that there's a dedicated Aboriginal team within School Workforce or human resources, goes a long way to show that the Department of Education is moving forward in being a culturally safe place to work. Can we go to the next slide, please, Melissa?

Darren Bell:

As I touched on before, the department offers teacher education scholarships. Those of you who aren't familiar, the scholarships are... There is a range of scholarships that are on offer. There is an Aboriginal-identified scholarship as well, though Aboriginal people can apply for other scholarships that are on offer as well. It's not just they're restricted to applying for the identified role.

Darren Bell:

The scholarships are a great initiative because as it says on the website, "Get paid to study." You get an allotment of funding every year that you're at university. The best part about it is that you are guaranteed a permanent teaching position on the successful completion of your scholarship and your university degree. We promote these in the career events and of course throughout our social media networks and our internal and external networks as well.

Darren Bell:

Aboriginal people can apply for the non-Aboriginal scholarship, rural and remote scholarships, teach maths now scholarship. There's a range of scholarships there. I do encourage people to jump on Teaching South Wales website and have a look what's on offer there. They're closed at the moment, but if you are interested in actually applying for one, you can sign up for an alert and you'll be sent details of when the scholarships are open and how you would apply.

Darren Bell:

Our team can provide advice in partnership with the scholarships team on the processes behind the scholarships and how to apply. Can we go to the next, please, Melissa? Part of our attraction is visual, as you can see. This artwork is peppered throughout our presentation. We use this artwork not just for people to obviously... When you see this, you'll go, this will have... Whatever this is related to is Aboriginal, but it's not just about that. It's not just a pretty artwork, which it is, but it's about the community knowing that, yes, there is a team within the Department of Education in HR that I can contact and get advice from.

Darren Bell:

It also goes a long way as well to show the department is moving forward with culturally safe place to work type of initiatives. The artwork is from a young student. We can only give you his first name because of the situation surrounding the student, but Eugene was one of two people who were successful in a competition that we ran. The other artwork that was selected is the branding for the Reconciliation Action Plan.

Darren Bell:

We utilise these artworks throughout all of our promotions, whether it be print material, online material. We've used it on actual promotional products like tote bags, things like that. It gives Aboriginal people... I believe and our team believes... an idea that, yes, there is a team here for us. We can talk to them people, they will provide us with advice, support, all the resources that they might need.

Darren Bell:

We hope that when people see this artwork, they think of Aboriginal Programs. The reasons behind this as well is because Aboriginal people, we are a visual group. We don't have any written histories, but our histories are in our artwork, in our songs, in our song lines, in our dance, in our culture. This is one of the reasons why we use these artworks and the symbolism to promote what we do to our communities. Can we move onto the next slide, please, Melissa?

Darren Bell:

I'm going to ask Tamara to help me out here with this one. Pillar two is recruitment. Tamara is just going to give you a bit of a quick rundown about the SASS vacancies and how our team works within SASS and in partnership, of course, with the SASS recruitment team. I'll hand it over to you Tamara.

Tamara Saunders:

Thank you, Darren. our SASS vacancies advertise on I Work For New South Wales. Vacancies can be filled by expression of interest, which is the EOIs, transfers or merit selection. Basically, when the principal submits an OMSI we will action the position. We'll either match it if there's a training or it goes to merit selection if there is no EOI. Our panels for the SASS vacancies depend on the position that is being advertised.

Tamara Saunders:

As you can see, the panels consist of the following. AEO is the hiring manager, which can be the principal or it could be one that they have recommended, an AECG representative, Aboriginal parent and a district officer, which is the ACLO or ASLO. SAO is the hiring manager, the Aboriginal parent and and a SAO from another school. The SLSO is basically the same, but an SLSO from another school.

Tamara Saunders:

Panels must adhere to departmental gender balance, which means they must have a male or a female representative on their panel. An AECG representative is also required on the panels for position at schools with higher Aboriginal student enrollments. They are required to be on the panel as the department has an ongoing partnership with them, as well as they are representative of the community that they are from.

Tamara Saunders:

Aboriginal parents are required for the panel as they also have the connection with the community and school. So it's best to have both of them on the panel to fill their vacancy. Aboriginal people are encouraged to apply for all positions, not just Aboriginal-identified roles. That's basically the run down of our SASS vacancies.

Darren Bell:

Thank you Tamara. That also highlights, I think, the department's commitment to ensuring that the community knows that we have a responsibility and we take our responsibility seriously when it come to the employment and the recruitment of Aboriginal people. The makeup of these panels is different to non-Aboriginal roles that are advertised because we want to know that the person that the department is employing is culturally aware and can fit the role well.

Darren Bell:

The community has a role in that with the panel maker by the AECG representation and Aboriginal parent representation as well. That's why our panels to different to non-Aboriginal-identified roles. Can we move onto the next slide, please, Melissa? As I mentioned before, I touched on yarn ups. What our yarn ups are, is when we do have a vacancy in a SASS role, we will contact the school and let them know that we would like to host a yarn up or a community information session.

Darren Bell:

What we do at these yarn ups is we talk about the role itself, of course. The principal or the convener is present at these yarn ups, where they will talk about the role, the school, expectations and things like that of the role. We give quite a thorough break down, run down of how you do apply for these positions. Some of these people that come to our yarn ups have never applied for a position within a school or the department itself.

Darren Bell:

We explain about how you address the selection criteria, really focus on selection criteria, about cover letters, about resumes, the interview process itself. We talk about information about departmental policies and requirements like working with children check, criminal record check, things like that. We explain all that in detail to the participants that join us at our yarn ups.

Darren Bell:

These yarn ups have been quite successful in actual recruitment of people as well. We've been to yarn ups before, when we can actually physically go to schools. We do these all over the state. We've been to yarn ups where we've had people come along, pulled us aside at the end of and said, "Look, I've never applied for a position at a school or within the department at all. I don't think I can apply.

Darren Bell:

We take them aside. We ask them questions like... One of the big questions we ask is if they have children. If the answer is yes, then we let them know, "Well, you know how to budget, you know how to time manage, so your life skills can translate over into this role." We've had people who said this to us and they've actually gotten the role because they realised that their life skills can translate over into aspects of a AEO, SAO or SLSO. They've gotten the job.

Darren Bell:

I like to believe, and I think it's true that these yarn ups have helped in people being employed with the department. Now, as you can see there's two... These are our flyers that we use as promotion of the yarn ups. There's two different colored ones there. Now we're doing yarn ups for corporate positions as well. They normally would be held for SASS positions, but we're moving into the corporate area as well and promoting corporate roles and trying to help out with getting people to apply by coming to these yarn ups and learning about how they would do that and learning a bit more about the role and feeling comfortable in actually applying.

Darren Bell:

We're going to be hosting yarn ups as well for positions, as we discussed we want people to apply for non-identified roles. We're going to be hosting yarn ups for positions where we think it would benefit that position or that role to have an Aboriginal person in it, so we would host a yarn up for that as well.

Darren Bell:

What we do now though is because of COVID, we had to change the way we presented our yarn ups. We've done that virtually. They've been really successful. Tamara has done a wonderful job in setting up our virtual yarn ups via Microsoft Teams. Tamara, if you just want to give it a little bit of a rundown of what's involved in the creation of these virtual yarns, I'll give you the opportunity now.

Tamara Saunders:

Yes, so basically within Microsoft Teams, we've created a few channels that go in each [inaudible 00:29:55]. Basically, they have a run down of our team. They have the information for the yarn up. They have school information from the principal. The principal gets the opportunity to mention about the school and the position itself, basically a principal's message. Then we have a channel for documents. Basically, we put the statement of duties and the selection criteria for that position as well as departmental processes, which is included in appendix seven and appendix eight, which they must fill out when they're doing their onboarding.

Tamara Saunders:

We also give documents in regards to a Confirmation of Aboriginality and also just a few [inaudible 00:30:33] applying for the position that we've created which is our Join Our Mob booklet. Basically, that's a run down of how they can apply and what can support them into applying for it. Basically, that just goes through what their resume and cover letter should be and basically gives them a few tips for their interview as well.

Tamara Saunders:

Then we also have links. The links is basically anything in regards to the position as well as our website for our team and then we have a section for questions. If any of them have any questions that they like to ask publicly, they can in there. Then we also give them the link of the position directly, as I Work For New South Wales can be a bit hard to look for positions. We give them the opportunity to get the link straightaway so they don't have to mess around finding the position. Basically, when we have the yarn ups, we go through Microsoft Teams, as Darren mentioned. It is recorded as well for those community that can't make it. They get the opportunity to rewatch.

Darren Bell:

Thank you Tamara. Can we move onto the next slide, please, Melissa? Of course, we look after our teachers basically. Part of the responsibility about our team is the placement of teachers of Aboriginal descent. You might have noticed I do say teachers of Aboriginal descent. I don't say Aboriginal teachers. The reason we say this is because we don't define other teachers by their nationality. They are teachers who happen to be Aboriginal. We don't refer to teachers of Chinese descent as a Chinese teacher and so on, so we don't do it for Aboriginal people either.

Darren Bell:

With the placement of our teachers, Pam has responsibility for that and she does a fantastic job. This is a bit of a run down of how Pam works and what the responsibilities are in her role about the placement of our teachers and what she has to do in regards to filling a school vacancy. One of the big aspects of Pam's role as well is the case management of the placement of our teachers. Our team actually has to unfortunately gauge responses from schools when they hear that we want to place a person of Aboriginal descent as a teacher at their school.

Darren Bell:

If that response to Pam or to our team is basically negative, we will not place that teacher at that school. It won't be a safe place for them as an Aboriginal person to be. Unfortunately, that's what we have to do. We will ensure that an Aboriginal person isn't placed at that school because we could be potentially setting them up to fail.

Darren Bell:

A big part of Pam's responsibilities is, like I said, the case management and support. So support prior to placement and support after placement as well. That's continual. Our team provides continual support for the life of someone's career, whether they're a teacher, whether they're a SASS employee and, like I said, more so now whether they're a corporate employee as well. I'm not going to read through everything here. I mean, you guys... I don't want to do death by PowerPoint, but we can provide this PowerPoint as well as a PDF should you wish to have a copy of it.

Darren Bell:

Can we move onto the next slide, please, Melissa? Pillar three is retention. The ways that our team tries to retain our staff in the department, here's some of the programs that we offer and the initiatives that we have, whether it's provision of funding through what we call our NATAD program, or Newly Appointed Teachers of Aboriginal Descent program... That is in partnership or in accompaniment to the beginning teacher funds. It's not funding that's just given out. It's needs based.

Darren Bell:

If we're contacted by a school, whether it's the principal or the teacher themselves, and they think that they might need an extra bit of help, our team can provide funding to the school for the teacher in question to work with a mentor. The funding is used as relief to the school, so the teacher and their mentor can go off class, work on accreditation, work on lesson plans, things like that. It's an opportunity for them to move away from the classroom and then to discuss what needs to be worked on in their first year of their teaching career.

Darren Bell:

It also can be used for current teachers or experienced teachers who may feel they need a bit more extra support. We can provide that as well through the NATAD program. We're working on, as I mentioned before, the diversity and inclusion strategy. That's the deliverables within that and within the RAP strategy as well are there to help obviously attract, but also to retain staff within the Department of Education. We also provide things like what's called special leave, which is... It's basically study leave, but it's far better than study leave.

Darren Bell:

That's open to long-term temporary or permanent Aboriginal SAS staff who wish to become a teacher or wish to undertake teacher studies. If they want to go to university to do teacher studying and things like that, our team has funding to provide to the school so it covers the school and it covers the officer to be able to go do their block release at university, go do their practicums and things like that. The school and the officer don't lose out in a sense.

Darren Bell:

We can provide that funding should a SASS officer want to do that. We have provided it for corporate staff as well. It just depends on the situation. We have provided it for ACLO, Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers, and other corporate staff in the past as well, but it just depends on their circumstances and situation. We have corporate staff networks that Aboriginal staff are able to participate in. I'll talk a bit more about our virtual networks and things like that, but we're working in partnership with Training Services New South Wales, who are now part of the Department of Education.

Darren Bell:

They already had a strong and well attended network of their own, which the Department of Education staff can be a part of. I'll be meeting with them next week to discuss how we move forward with that. Of course, there's all different ad hoc support that our team can help provide, whether it's to do with HR-related issues, policy, procedures, things like that.

Darren Bell:

We're just an an email or a phone call away and we provide information about regional staff that Aboriginal people out in our schools and in our corporate sectors throughout the state can contact and engage with at a local level as well. Each region has... I still call them regions. Old school, but each region has what's called an Aboriginal Educational Wellbeing Team. They can provide localised support as well to staff needing it. Can we move onto the pillar four, please, Melissa?

Darren Bell:

As I've been talking throughout this presentation, I've talked a lot about support because support touches on all of the pillars, but what our team does, we case manage not just our teacher placements, but our SASS placements as well. In regards to the best schools and the best fit, whether a school has a high population of Aboriginal kids, we believe Aboriginal staff representation is vital, not just for the students, but for the families and for the school itself and their colleagues within the school.

Darren Bell:

We provide support, like I said, throughout the career of teachers, SAS staff and corporate staff in relation to simple things like telephone calls, emails. Our team will jump in the car and drive to a school to speak to someone face to face if that's what they prefer. Because the people that we deal with and talk to and support on a daily basis are not a number to us. They're our community, they're our mob. We know them. We've known them for years, or if they're new, they'll know us for years because the sort of support that we offer, it's not just professional. It's human support as well. It's as personal type of relationship that we have, but we also keep it in a professional capacity as well.

Darren Bell:

But I think that goes a long way to show our staff that we're not just a voice down the end of the phone or a bureaucratic face. We're Aboriginal people helping Aboriginal people. I'm very proud of my team in that sense. I think some of the support that we do provide and do offer has helped people remain in their job and go further in their job because they know that there's people like our team there to support them and to provide them with whatever resources that we can and information that we can and other contacts that may be able to help them as well.

Darren Bell:

We would have informal yarns with people. We can provide induction and check ins with our colleagues face to face or telephone or Zoom or whatever works now because of the situations that we're in. We work in partnership with people like the AECG because they're a community-based organisation as well and they can provide support and help for employees. If we move onto the next and final pillar, please, Melissa?

Darren Bell:

And leadership, our team tries to provide leadership opportunities for all of our colleagues, whether they are teaching, SASS or corporate. Our team is working with Aboriginal Outcomes and Partnerships Directorate, so formerly Aboriginal Education and Communities on the Aboriginal Workforce and Leadership Development Strategy. We've been working on that in partnership with them since before COVID hit. That's slowed it down a little bit, but that's still a strategy that hopefully will be released next year and be available and running for the next nine years.

Darren Bell:

We have provided funding to Aboriginal Outcomes and Partnerships for the development of aspirant teachers as well. We've provided workshops and attend workshops that are hosted by regions and schools. Our team will go to SASS workshops, newly appointed teachers workshops, provide this sort of information that we're talking about now to newly appointed staff, letting them know what we can do for them and how we can help.

Darren Bell:

We travel the state or we used to travel the state to do that, but we can do that virtually as well. Hopefully, we'll be able to get to go around the state again because, as I'm sure you would all agree with the personal face-to-face interaction is better than virtual. As I said before, we can provide funding to staff to attend appropriate professional development activities and opportunities. We promote things like the Aboriginal leadership program run through the New South Wales Public Service Commission, which is for our senior level Aboriginal corporate staff.

Darren Bell:

The revision of current and former relevant HR policies and procedures like the DNI strategy and the RAP deliverables and things like that, which have provision in those for leadership opportunities for Aboriginal staff as well. We're getting towards the end. We've only got about 15 minutes to go. Sop if we can move onto the next slide, please? Thanks, Melissa.

Darren Bell:

As Tamara mentioned before, Confirmation of Aboriginality, I want to just give a bit of a run down about that and explain the reasons why the department has introduced these guidelines. They were introduced and released in October of 2018. These guidelines basically require if someone is applying for an Aboriginal-identified position in our department and they're not already recognised by the Department of Education as being of Aboriginal descent, they must provide confirmation.

Darren Bell:

The confirmation is a document from a registered Aboriginal organisation and must be endorsed with their common seal and also a statutory declaration from the applicant themselves. These guidelines also cover current staff who wish to identify with the department, but haven't before in an official capacity. If they're not already recognised, they must provide this confirmation as well. They're generally sent through to our team just to clarify that they are the correct documents.

Darren Bell:

If they are, our team will update the present status. These are also for Aboriginal Teacher Education Scholarships as well. If you apply for one of those, you must provide confirmation as well. It just helps to ensure that genuine people are applying or are requesting the change of their status because the department has identified roles that it has offered. It offers monetary benefits through the scholarship program. We just need to ensure that Aboriginal people are being recognised and are the ones who are receiving the scholarship funding or the identified positions.

Darren Bell:

There's a link here which obviously it's a bit of a long one, but we're more than happy to send through the link if you would like to have a look at the guidelines themselves. If we can move on, please, Melissa. This is another way of how our team promotes and supports our communities and our staff. We have social media accounts. This is our open Facebook account, which anyone can come along to and follow. This is where we provide information about our yarn ups, about job vacancies, about resources, about good news stories, events that are happening. Anything you might think that should be shared on social media, that's what we put up there when it's in relation to HR issues, Aboriginal people and what our team does.

Darren Bell:

This is a great place for us to be able to share that with our communities and our colleagues. We also have... If you go to the next page, please, Melissa, we also have three closed Facebook pages. They're for Aboriginal corporate staff, AEOs and Aboriginal SAS staff and teachers of Aboriginal descent. They're only open to these people. These are closed. They're safe places for teachers, SAS staff and corporate staff to talk to their peers and talk to us as well of course.

Darren Bell:

Great places for us to share information, great places for them to ask questions that they might not want to ask on our open Facebook page or they'll want to ask their teacher peers or their SASS peers. These have been really successful and great resources for not just the teachers or SASS or corporate staff, but for our team as well. We can learn a lot through the interactions of these three Facebook pages. It's just another way for us to be able to support and for these officers to be able to support themselves as well.

Darren Bell:

If you can move onto the next page, please, Melissa. We also have a Twitter account. Most of you know what Twitter's about. They're short little messages you can get out there and information you can share. As you can see on the screen there, we got a teacher from... I think she's from Wilcannia... who won an ARIA Award. We felt we needed to share that. It's a place for us to be able to quickly share information like we have a yarn up coming up, we have a job vacancy and share great news stories like that as well.

Darren Bell:

All up with our social media accounts, we have about three... No close to 4,000 people following us. We think that's pretty good for a little Aboriginal team to have that many followers. If you haven't already followed us, please do so. If we go onto the next slide, please, Melissa... Within the department, we have a Yammer account as well that we created for the Aboriginal corporate staff network. That's another place for us to be able to talk to each other, share information, find out when network meetings might be held, so we can come along and join each other as a peer group and a collegial group of Aboriginal corporate staff.

Darren Bell:

That's another internal social media account that we have. If we can go to the next page please, Melissa. As Tamara mentioned before, we do have a website, an official DoE website. This is for us to be able to share. We've got videos and things on there with my rough head. We have links to the Confirmation of Aboriginality, how teachers can be supported and how SAS staff can be supported, information like that of course with corporate staff and contacts not just for us, but for our colleagues out in the corporate sector, throughout the department and in our schools as well.

Darren Bell:

If we go onto the next page, please, Melissa, we're coming to an end now. This is what our team doesn't have responsibility for. That's payroll and leave in particular. We get a lot of questions and emails and phone calls to us for payroll and leave inquiries. The reason that happens is because the officer that's making the inquiry might tell payroll or leave or Ed Connect that they are Aboriginal, so it comes straight to us, but leave and payroll inquiries are the same as what any person in the Department of Education might have.

Darren Bell:

It doesn't matter whether you're Aboriginal or not. It doesn't affect your payroll or your leave. Transfers, in particular teacher transfers, we don't really have any sway in teacher transfers or any remit over those. We do have in regards to certain aspects of SASS transfers... Maybe, Tamara, can you can touch on about the SASS transfers and how some of that aspect is managed by our team.

Tamara Saunders:

Yes. Those transfers no longer exist. Basically, the transfers that remain are resumption, compassionate...

Darren Bell:

Nominated.

Tamara Saunders:

Nominated, thank you. Basically, what happens if one of those match in the position, then you're transferred into a school. Although if no one is active for one of those positions, then the position does go to merit selection.

Darren Bell:

Look, we'll try our best to answer any of these questions, but we're not the subject matter experts. Of course, we don't want to provide the wrong information. If you do have a payroll or a leave question, just Ed Connect a call and they will put you through to payroll and leave. Like I said, we'll try to help as much as we can, but we don't want to provide the wrong information. We're not the subject matter experts.

Darren Bell:

Basically, if we go to the next slide, please, Melissa, that's pretty much the end of our presentation. This is an opportunity for you guys to ask any questions if you have any questions. I hope you do. Like I said, we want to be able to answer questions that are related to what we presented and what we spoke about. We want this to be, like I said, an open and honest discussion. If you have any questions about anything, please ask. Our ears are open, and we're ready to talk. Hopefully we'll get some questions.

Melissa Hamblin Biggs:

I've got two, actually, that I could start off with while people are thinking of their great questions. I was wondering about... I mean, I work in corporate. If I was in the position I'm in, which is being a hiring manager, I've got a question about when I'm recruiting in corporate... So it's non-identified positions, just, I guess, your standard positions. You said that you had the yarn ups that you were doing now for some of those positions.

Melissa Hamblin Biggs:

It was a question around, "How do I get my position on that list of things that you're going to do yarn ups about and also what else can I do to get the message out there to any interested Aboriginal people that this position is available.

Darren Bell:

Things like this presentation is a good way for us to get that information out there to hiring managers, whether their position's identified or not, but our team does get information sent from our colleagues within SASS recruitment and teacher recruitment and corporate recruitment about positions. We would make contact with the hiring managers ourselves, but if the position's not Aboriginal identified, we've had officers in corporate areas of the department actually contact our team because they know about us and the yarn ups.

Darren Bell:

They've contacted us and we've held yarn ups with them. We promote these yarn ups through our social media, through our networks, whether it's via our email or telephone calls and things like that. We promote the yarn ups as far and as wide as we can to get as many people interested in joining, to come along. We are more than happy to host a yarn up for a position that might not be Aboriginal identified, but we believe and their hiring manager believes that it might be beneficial that an Aboriginal person actually apply.

Darren Bell:

We do encourage... and we're going to be encouraging hopefully that all positions in the Department of Education, when advertised, if they're not identified, at least that they are targeted. The difference between identified and targeted is that targeted positions aren't identified, but people like Aboriginal people, women are encouraged to apply. That's another way of showing that the department is going down that path of cultural safety within its workplace. There are other options as well that we can provide for hiring managers that you might say that this position can be targeted in the ad itself. Does that make sense?

Melissa Hamblin Biggs:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Darren Bell:

There's a couple of questions I think in the chat here. What have we got here? You've answered the question, have you, Melissa? The one from Jackie McDonald.

Melissa Hamblin Biggs:

I have not.

Darren Bell:

Sorry. Just to clarify, if not identified as Aboriginal descent on the department's records and apply for an identified position [inaudible 00:57:24]. Yes.

Jackie McDonald:

Hi. Sorry, I'm Jackie. Tamara sent a response so...

Darren Bell:

Oh, did she?

Jackie McDonald:

You can add to it if you like, but I did get a response from Tamara, so thank you, Tamara.

Darren Bell:

Yeah, what Tamara's provided is correct. You only need to provide it if you are successful and called to interview.

Jackie McDonald:

Okay. Awesome. Thank you.

Darren Bell:

With a statutory declaration as well, when you complete that, it's generally what the department do consider is three criteria from the Land Rights Act, which is that you are of Aboriginal descent, you identify as such and you are accepted by your local community in which you live or have formerly lived. That's what you would address generally in the statutory declaration.

Tracey McManus:

Hi Darren, Tracey McManus here, Vice President Ngarra Wingarru, Blue Mountains AECG, teacher at Springwood Public School. How are you going?

Darren Bell:

Good and you?

Tracey McManus:

Yeah, yeah, great. Flat out, but yes, really good, thanks. I have a question on behalf of... I'm not going to say names. I just don't know who to... Hopefully you can advise who I speak to about this. There's a brilliant Aboriginal educator who works through Nirimba and he has been going around to the schools for years. He's amazing. We had him for NAIDOC. He's an ASLO, so he's just been told that as of next year, he will be going back to his school.

Tracey McManus:

We had a discussion about this at our AGM the week before last and said, "No, we want this guy. He's such a valuable resource in schools." We're going to write on his behalf to somebody to see if we can have him. We just don't have enough Aboriginal educators going to around to the schools. Who do we write to?

Darren Bell:

Tracey, I might talk to you about this offline, if that's okay because there is a hold on ASLO. It's not just him. There's all ASLO's thats had a change to their role statements and things like that, but I can talk to you about this offline because it's not just affecting that person. They aren't required to go back to school next year.

Tracey McManus:

All right, I'll give you a call. Is that okay, Darren?

Darren Bell:

Absolutely. I'll be able to give you a bit more information about it.

Tracey McManus:

Fantastic.

Darren Bell:

And let you know what the situation is.

Tracey McManus:

Yeah, I will. Fantastic. I'll call you maybe about a quarter past one. Is that okay for you?

Darren Bell:

Let me just check my ever changing calendar.

Tracey McManus:

I know.

Darren Bell:

Won't be a sec. Sorry, Tracey.

Tracey McManus:

That's all right.

Darren Bell:

Yeah, that's perfectly fine.

Tracey McManus:

Is that on that 7814 number?

Darren Bell:

Yeah, 7814-3833.

Tracey McManus:

Terrific. Thanks Darren. I'll talk to you then.

Darren Bell:

Thanks Tracey.

Tracey McManus:

Thank you so much. It was very informative.

Darren Bell:

We wanted to do this just to let people know that we're here and that we can help you as much as we can and please come ask us questions, come and talk to us. We'll do what we can.

Tracey McManus:

We have a lot of things come up obviously at AECG. We try to nut them out, but we need to come to you with some things that we might not understand. Can I just ask briefly as well, is the Confirmation of Aboriginality for students the same as the process for staff?

Darren Bell:

No, this is for staff members only.

Tracey McManus:

Right. For students, that's something we can talk about again?

Darren Bell:

Yeah, the AECG is working on that one I think as well. When it comes to students, I would actually encourage you to talk to Aboriginal Outcomes and Partnerships.

Tracey McManus:

Okay.

Darren Bell:

They might have a bit more information about that than what we do because we don't deal with students frequently.

Tracey McManus:

So Aboriginal Outcomes and Partnerships?

Darren Bell:

Yeah, the old Aboriginal Education and Communities.

Tracey McManus:

Yeah, thank you. I know because there's just so much information around there and we're just not quite sure what's correct and what's not.

Sharon Bunyan:

Hi Tracey. It's Sharon Bunyan here. I'm in the Aboriginal Learning and Wellbeing team.

Tracey McManus:

Thanks Sharon.

Sharon Bunyan:

I just wanted to let you know we can't really question Aboriginal students on their Aboriginality. It'd be a conversation that you'd have with their parents. If they wanted to change their status, there is a process that you could go through, but you could go back to your AECG because they are working in conjunction with the schools to formalise that process, but I know we can't really ask a child to confirm their Aboriginality.

Tracey McManus:

Yeah. It's not the children obviously. It's through the family. We've had a couple of instances at our school where same parents, one sibling's identified and the other one's not. We've got in touch with parents and they went, "Oh, yeah, sorry. That's a mistake there," or...

Sharon Bunyan:

Yeah, I think having an interview and clarifying with the parents their reasons for changing the status or... and then asking those questions. Where do you come from? Things like that.

Tracey McManus:

Okay.

Sharon Bunyan:

Would be a good approach for that.

Tracey McManus:

Yeah. So it's nothing formal.

Sharon Bunyan:

No. Unless they're doing a school-based traineeship which requires their Aboriginality because they will be receiving financial benefit from it. My son did a school-based traineeship with the police and he had to have his Aboriginality for that when he was 16.

Tracey McManus:

Right, yeah. I mean, it came up at the meeting the other week about funding for children and PLP's and things like that. Someone actually said that they went to a regional meeting and they said now that there's a process and children have to formally identify or families have to formally identify with paperwork and so forth. We've not heard anything like that. Again, misinformation. Okay, I'll get back to everyone at the AECG and let them know that because we were all going, "Wow, where's the paperwork? What can we do?"

Speaker 7:

Sharon, can I ask you a question about your SBAT's? I'm from Training Services. We do have that identified... There is a box, they do identify as being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Are you saying that if they do actually identify, they need to have confirmation?

Sharon Bunyan:

It depends who they work for. He had to have it for the police and they asked for his confirmation which he had to provide, which was fine.

Speaker 7:

Yeah, all right.

Sharon Bunyan:

I know they don't do it with the education SBAT's and all the other ones.

Speaker 7:

Yeah, it might just be for police.

Sharon Bunyan:

It depends on who's doing it and what their requirements are.

Speaker 7:

Yeah if they're looking at getting into iProwd or something later, yeah. Darren, I just had a very quick question. With the recruitment side of the presentation today, which was great by the way, has this been delivered to training services team as well for our Aboriginal-identified positions?

Darren Bell:

No. I've spoken to Charlene Davis about things like the confirmation process and all that sort of stuff, but that's the team I would really like to do this presentation for.

Speaker 7:

Yeah because I've been seconded now. I do have an identified position at Chatswood Office a 9/10. I've been now seconded to head office for the Skilling for Recovery Program. So my role's going to go out to market really because I'm on secondment for two years. I just want to make sure that if my regional manager's back filling me and if he is going to recruit that he's aware of this process as well.

Darren Bell:

Absolutely. We would be more than happy to host a yarn up for that position as well. Which we've already done one for training services, and I'm doing one next Monday as well for a training services vacancy.

Speaker 7:

Okay, well, you might want to speak to Derek at Chatswood Office.

Darren Bell:

What's Derek's surname?

Speaker 7:

Hennessy.

Darren Bell:

Hennessy. No worries.

Speaker 7:

Yeah, just reach out because I think he could actually do with some assistance. I've offered to be part of that recruitment panel. I'm not sure, it's his choice, but just to make sure because it is important we get the right people for the job as well.

Darren Bell:

Yeah, absolutely. What I didn't touch on before as well is another thing our team can do, and we do do, is we let people know, at our yarns in particular that prior to them submitting their application that they send it through to our team for us to provide feedback. We can critique their application, give them advice to a point of course. If you can let people know that as well. If they're going for an identified role, our team is more than happy to provide advice on their application before they submit it.

Speaker 7:

Great. Thank you.

Darren Bell:

Anyone else with any questions? Feel free to email us if you think of something else down the line or give us a call. That's what we're here for.

Sharon Bunyan:

Hi Darren. I don't have any questions, but I just wanted to let you know that I have been through all of the processes that you've talked about today. My school identified an SLSO position for me when I started. We didn't have one before. They worked with your team and then I did my teaching degree while I was in that role. I went onto the scholarship program and everything and Pam came and visited my university class at Sydney Uni and I got appointed to my school. It was amazing. Then every year since then, my principal has appointed a new Aboriginal grad. So good work you guys.

Darren Bell:

That's fantastic, now look, you're one of our success stories.

Sharon Bunyan:

I am. I've done it all. It was amazing. I love how it's changed. We have 10 Aboriginal staff at our school now.

Darren Bell:

Fantastic. What school was it sorry?

Sharon Bunyan:

Ulladulla High School.

Darren Bell:

Okay. That's funny. I actually looked up Ulladulla yesterday and saw the amount of Aboriginal staff you have at that school.

Sharon Bunyan:

Yeah.

Darren Bell:

That's fantastic.

Sharon Bunyan:

And that's from... I think Pam has worked with our principal, Denise, on some of those appointments. So it's been great.

Darren Bell:

Yes, she would have done that, old Pammy.

Sharon Bunyan:

Yeah, she did. It was great.

Darren Bell:

That's Sharon. Sharon was asking the question. Sorry, there's something that came up on chat there, Sharon, asking who was talking.

Sharon Bunyan:

Absolutely.

Darren Bell:

Yeah. Anyone else before.


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