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Opportunity and prosperity

Fully participating in the economy provides Aboriginal Victorians with the resources they need to determine the future they want. Economic participation is key to Aboriginal self-determination.

Our shared commitment

Building opportunity and economic prosperity for all Aboriginal Victorians.

Fully participating in the economy provides Aboriginal Victorians with the resources they need to self-determine their future.

The Victorian Government is committed to supporting Aboriginal Victorian workers, employers and businesses to thrive, including supporting them to recover from the financial impacts of coronavirus.

As part of government’s efforts, fostering inclusive economic growth is key. This means stimulating work and additional economic development and business opportunities for Aboriginal young people, women, people living with a disability and those in regional areas, and ensuring Aboriginal Victorians are represented at all levels, across all sectors and in all pursuits.

Goal 8: Aboriginal workers achieve wealth equality

8.3 Increase Aboriginal business ownership and support Aboriginal entrepreneurs


  • 8.3.2 Aboriginal businesses that government enters into a purchase agreement with as a proportion of small to medium enterprises.

The number of Aboriginal businesses that the Victorian Government entered into a purchase agreement with increased by 35% in the past 12 months, from 94 in 2018-19 to 127 in 2019-20. During the same period, total procurement value with Aboriginal businesses increased by 176%, from $16.7 million to $46.1 million.

Goal 9: Strong Aboriginal workforce participation, in all sectors and at all levels

9.1 Increase Aboriginal workforce participation


  • 9.1.3 Aboriginal jobseekers supported into work.

Under the Jobs Victoria Employment Network (JVEN) program, the Victorian Government funds several training and employment linkage programs to support Aboriginal jobseekers. In 2019, 303 Aboriginal jobseekers secured JVEN placements compared to 230 in 2018. This equates to an increase of 24.1% from 2018.

9.4 Increase Aboriginal leadership and representation across all sectors and levels


  • 9.4.3 Number of Aboriginal people at VPS 6 level and above in the VPS.
  • 9.4.4 Number of Aboriginal people participating on government boards.

The number of Aboriginal employees within the VPS has grown each year from 2017 to 2019, however as a percentage of the total VPS, it remained steady at 1.2% in 2018 and 2019. On a positive note, the number of Aboriginal staff employed in the VPS has been proportionally higher than the non-Aboriginal cohort during the same period. In 2019, 1.6% of the Aboriginal 18 and above population was employed in the VPS compared to 0.5 percent of the non‑Aboriginal 18 and above population.

From 2018 to 2019, the number of Aboriginal employees within the VPS in leadership roles declined slightly from 59 to 56. In 2019, 9.2% of all VPS Aboriginal staff were at Grade 6 or above.

Government acknowledges that given the important role of ACCOs in delivering programs and services, there remains an ongoing need to support the ACCO-sector workforce.

In 2019, 90 Aboriginal people were on Victorian Government boards, which represented 1.3% of all Victorian Government board appointments.

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Goal 10: Aboriginal income potential is realised

Victorian Aboriginal Employment and Economic Council

DJPR has established the Victorian Aboriginal Employment and Economic Council (the Council) to improve employment and economic outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians, with its first meeting held in October 2020.

The Council operates within the principles of self-determination and membership is comprised of 20 appointed Aboriginal community members (Koori Caucus), DJPR Executive Board members and Executive Officers from State and Commonwealth government agencies. The Council’s 20 Aboriginal community members serve a 12-month term and include six standing community members representing peak Aboriginal organisations and 14 community members who offer diverse experience, skills and broad representation in economic development across areas of business and entrepreneurship, Traditional Owner economic development, skills development, creative industries, community organisations and development, and tourism.

The Council provides advice and guidance to government on matters affecting Aboriginal Victorians in business, employment, tourism, culture and broader economic development. The Council also provides a mechanism for the Aboriginal community to have direct input into the design, implementation and evaluation of policies, programs and practices to drive Aboriginal economic prosperity.

In its first 12 months, the Council will lead on the development and monitoring of the new Victorian Aboriginal Employment and Economic Development Strategy.

Action the Victorian Government is taking

The Victorian Aboriginal Business Strategy 2017 – 2021 (VABS) and Victorian Aboriginal Economic Strategy 2013-2020 (VAES)

Tharamba Bugheen Victorian Aboriginal Business Strategy 2017-2021 (VABS) guided Victoria’s efforts to support Aboriginal businesses and economic development, while the Victorian Aboriginal Economic Strategy 2013-2020 (VAES) has supported opportunity and economic prosperity for Aboriginal Victorians across the last decade. Both VABS and VAES lapsed in June 2020. Through VAES and VABS, the government partnered with non-government organisations to deliver on many of the initiatives within the strategies.

Key investments across 2020 include

  • $15.6 million for employment initiatives generated through the Working for Victoria Program to support 33 proposals from ACCOs, Traditional Owner Groups and First Peoples Creative Industry bodies, which led to the creation of over 260 employment opportunities.
  • $5.7 million for the development of economic development strategies by Kaiela Institute and 11 Traditional Owner Groups.
  • $502,000 for Kinaway Chamber of Commerce and RMIT University to deliver three initiatives in 2020 to support Aboriginal businesses.
  • $285,000 for delivery of support to Aboriginal businesses and business owners to address the significant health, wellbeing, and economic impacts of coronavirus.

Key actions across 2020 include

Support provided from VABS funds to deliver 3 initiatives with RMIT University and Kinaway Chamber of Commerce:

  1. Aboriginal Women’s Business Development Manager to employ an Aboriginal Women’s Business Development Manager over 12 months to foster growth in the Aboriginal Women’s Business Sector.
  2. Aboriginal business joint venture awareness program to assist in developing high-growth, export‑ready Aboriginal businesses.
  3. ‘Trade Routes’ Aboriginal business growth program to deliver a program to guide and improve outcomes for Aboriginal joint ventures.

Support provided from VABS funds to respond to the significant health, wellbeing and economic impacts of coronavirus on Aboriginal businesses and business owners. Initiatives were developed in consultation with Aboriginal community partners, Kinaway Chamber of Commerce and Ngarrimili, that enhance access to existing support services. Initiatives funded include:

  • Health and Wellbeing Package to provide mental health and wellbeing services through third party providers.
  • Tax focused professional support Package to administer professional services packages to Aboriginal businesses to ready themselves for the eligibility requirements of government COVID- 19 response funding initiatives.
  • Online Visibility Support Package to administer online visibility support packages to Aboriginal businesses to transition to or enhance their business’ online presence.
  • Women's COVID-19 Support Package to support Aboriginal women in business by providing access to core business skills workshops.

Support provided through VAES in 2020 enabled:

  • Aboriginal consultancy business Wan-Yaari to work in partnership with the Geelong Aboriginal community to develop a model for a VPS sector‑wide Aboriginal Recruitment and Career Development Strategy.
  • Development of Regional Economic Development Strategies by Kaiela Institute and Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation.

Barring Djinang: Aboriginal Staff Strategy

Barring Djinang is the 5 year Aboriginal Employment Strategy for the Victorian public sector. It includes 16 initiatives designed to enhance attraction, recruitment and retention of Aboriginal staff. Barring Djinang initiatives help public sector agencies support and improve career experiences for Aboriginal employees, placing a strong focus on career development.

Victorian Public Sector Commission’s (VPSC) Aboriginal Employment Unit drives the roll out of initiatives across the public sector and partners with ACCOs to remain responsive.

Key actions across 2020 focussed on continued delivery of Barring Djinang programs and initiatives, including

  • Barring Djinang Leadership Program, which was completed by 26 emerging Aboriginal leaders from Aboriginal Community Controlled, Traditional Owner and Victorian public sector organisations.
  • Barring Djinang Career Development program which was completed by 23 participants across 2 intakes.
  • Barring Djinang Internship program, which welcomed 34 Aboriginal interns to a variety of public sector agencies.
  • Inaugural intake of 10 participants into the Barring Djinang VET/TAFE Graduate Program.
  • 12 Aboriginal Graduates entered the Victorian government graduate program via its Aboriginal Pathway.
  • Continued delivery of the Barring Djinang Regional Aboriginal Staff Networks.
  • Launch of the Aboriginal Cultural Capability in the Workplace Program (formerly the Public Entity Capacity Building program).
  • Publication of guidance to public sector employers on the application of Special Measures provisions in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.