7.4 Staff development and training
Providing staff (including managers) with opportunities to improve and strengthen their abilities and knowledge is an investment for an organisation and strengthens its overall governance.
Many of the organisations that enter the Indigenous Governance Awards have realised these benefits and looked at the adequacy of their own systems for supporting staff in their work and professional development.
They have developed a planned approach to staff training, including initiatives such as:
- a staff development plan for the entire organisation, supported by approved policies
- place-based, in-house training
- staff inductions and cross-cultural training
- targeted training opportunities for collective professional development
- encouraging staff to attend relevant external courses and workshops to improve their skills
- access to mentoring, coaching schemes and on-the-job training
- work experience and job shadowing
- assistance with paid study leave or secondments
- training that is tailored to gender and age
- requiring staff to report back on insights, information and ideas from their training.
Attracting and retaining staff can be very difficult for organisations, especially organisations in remote
Many organisations do it in different ways, such as by ensuring good staff members have promotion opportunities, training and career pathways, and by managing workloads properly so that staff members don’t burn out.
7.4.1 Developing local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff
“Capacity building is about regeneration of our communities from the inside out—communities renewing themselves by identifying, appreciating and using their assets … Each individual and organisation is a resource on which to build.”
(Mick Dodson, Chair Indigenous Governance Awards, Jabiru Governance Conference, 2003)
The long-term goals of self-determination and self-governance are a powerful catalyst towards building the experience and skills of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to govern, manage and staff their own organisations.
Some organisations are fully staffed by local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Others have an Indigenous governing body, but mainly non-Indigenous staff. Most have a mix of both.
With high rates of unemployment it makes sense to provide local work to local people, and many organisations now have this as part of their objectives and policies.
This means organisations have to make an investment in training and mentoring support for local people.
While there might be an initial cost involved, in the long term it contributes to building the overall capacity of your nation or community.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations are developing many innovative ways to attract, train and retain their own local members.
Ngnowar Aerwah building skills in a growing organisation
Ngnowar Aerwah Aboriginal Corporation (NAAC) was a Finalist in Category A of the 2014 Indigenous Governance Awards. Here Board member Philomena Hunter talks about the wide range of services offered by NAAC and how they have evolved over time. NAAC is looking to expand their services, and is focused on developing skills and creating opportunities for their growing workforce.