The National Library’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy 2013–2018 is a commitment to improving employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The Strategy offers the Library opportunities to be enriched by Indigenous cultures, peoples and knowledge from across Australia and locally within the Australian Capital Territory.

We acknowledge the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land the Library is placed on, and acknowledge and welcome other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to our Strategy for building greater workforce engagement.

The Strategy serves to promote the Library’s leadership role in equity and diversity initiatives and strengthen our culture of excellence. The Library’s Strategic Directions 2012–2014 include the Delivery of National Leadership and Achieving Organisational Excellence. The Strategic Workforce Plan 2012–2014 makes clear the Library’s commitment to cultivating operational and career sustainability and a diverse workforce. The Library's Corporate Plan 2016–2020 has made a direct committment for the first time to building respectful relationships with Indigenous communites and connecting them with collections relating to their rich cultural heritage.

The Library aims to encourage employment of Indigenous Australians, provide training and development opportunities for Indigenous employees at all levels and offer a supportive workplace environment. This is an opportunity for the Library to build new relationships with Indigenous communities in our region and across Australia. The success of the Strategy will be measured by participation and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees in the Library and by the building of foundations for future engagement in the workforce across the country.

 The Library's story

The Library plays an important role in maintaining and disseminating Australia's cultural heritage. The National Library of Australia Act 1960 gives us responsibility for ensuring that documentary resources of national significance relating to Australia and the Australian people, as well as significant non-Australian library materials, are collected, preserved and made accessible.

The Library acts as a storehouse for Australia's memory: collecting, preserving and making available documentation and information in many different formats. These range from books, magazines and newspapers to oral history recordings, pictures, maps, sheet music, manuscript papers, ephemera, oral histories, photographs and more. As well as vast textual collections, exceeding ten million items, the Library increasingly collects material which is also ‘born digital’ such as websites, ebooks, and licensed databases. Originating with Federation in 1901, material in the Library's collection ranges from the earliest European works about the 'Great Southern Land' to current publications in print and digital formats. Across these formats, there are many materials in the Library which record Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and experiences, presented from a variety of perspectives.

While earlier historic materials were mostly created by non-Indigenous people the Library recognises the importance of acquiring material produced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and actively engages with this endeavour.

By offering a strong national focus in all that we do, and cooperating with others who share our goals, we support learning, creative and intellectual endeavour, and contribute to the continuing vitality of Australia’s diverse culture and heritage. The Library’s objective is to ensure that all Australians can access, enjoy and learn from a national collection that documents Australian life and society. We are committed to providing open access to the national collection and our online services. Australians – whoever they are and wherever they live – should be able to easily discover and obtain the information they are seeking and to engage with rich documentary and digital content to support their lifelong learning.

Employment promise

The Library is acutely aware of the necessity of ensuring a diverse workforce so we are well placed to serve our diverse clients and build collections which fully represent the Australian experience. As a national cultural institution, the Library takes responsibility for the custodianship and preservation of national cultural heritage as represented in our collections. In many ways, we demonstrate leadership in the management and development of cultural documentation. The diversity of our collections requires us to extend this leadership to ensuring diversity among the staff who develop, manage and preserve them. The management of significant material in our collections relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples requires knowledge and connections with communities and the close involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff also enable the Library to provide services which better meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Library needs an increased engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees in the work of its core business, to build, manage and preserve these collections for future generations, and ensure Australia's stories can be known and told into the future with respect and sensitivity.

This Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy brings together opportunities for employment, development and relationship building that are currently available at the Library. It also outlines the steps we will take to instigate new and strengthen existing initiatives. Operational Plans will be developed for rolling two year periods within the Employment Strategy. The Library’s Strategic Workforce Planning Committee will oversee and be accountable for the goals, actions, responsibilities and measures for success set out in these plans.

The first Operational Plan for Years 2013 & 2014 will focus on developing ways in which potential employees may Approach the Library, whilst including initial steps towards the goals of the next two Operational Plans. The second, 2015 & 2016, will consolidate these achievements and centre efforts on Building Capability and Confidence. The third, 2017 & 2018, will bring together the array of small and large actions from the previous years and direct attention towards Relationships. At the end of this six year period, the Employment Strategy 2013–2018 will be reviewed and refreshed.

The Library is a distinctive workplace, recognized for its diversity. It is seen as the peak of the profession in Australia. The Library provides a supportive work environment for staff at all points in their careers. There is a comparatively low staff turnover and high representation of women and people of culturally diverse backgrounds. Indigenous people are currently under-represented in the Library’s workforce and the Library is eager to be seen as a more welcoming workplace for First Australians.

The Library offers employment conditions that may be attractive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These include:

  • A respectful organisational culture providing service to the Australian community;
  • A family friendly and supportive cultural environment for staff;
  • General flexibility of hours and attendance including the option to purchase additional leave;
  • Options for full-time, part-time and casual employment
  • Provisions for community and cultural leave and ceremonial and NAIDOC purposes;
  • Access to public service support networks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees;
  • On-the-job learning and development opportunities that can be tailored to meet each person’s professional needs, including support for formal training and education at colleges and universities;
  • Attractive salaries and conditions including generous superannuation, holidays and other leave arrangements including parental leave and Christmas close down (effectively almost two weeks break);
  • Opportunities for staff engagement through one-on-one performance discussions, open support and use of social media to connect the Library and its staff with Australian communities, many and varied committees and groups that progress issues and ideas;
  • Access to the wider public service for even greater career options, especially other collecting and cultural agencies;
  • An active Indigenous employment committee and a respectful culture to foster diversity in collections and employment including cultural awareness and information sharing.

Approaching the Library


There are a number of different pathways available for future employees at the Library:

  • Work exposure, work experience and internships – unpaid opportunities for students to come to the Library to see what work or professional roles are available to interest them. The Library has a program of liaising with schools and colleges directly to build and sustain relationships with communities.
  • Traineeships and apprenticeships – full-time paid employment for people who have not yet undertaken studies, come to the Library at a school-leaver level and undertake a formal program of study to build skills in a new job or career at the Library.
  • Graduate Program – this involves nine months of work placements and formal training to prepare graduates for a career at the Library and within the public service. Appointment is initially at an entry level with the expectation to progress upon satisfactory completion of the program and achieve ongoing employment with the Library.
  • Casual employment – this is where an employee works irregular or unpredictable hours on a short term basis, usually to undertake a project or task. Casual staff receive an additional payment (loading) because they do not get the benefit of paid holidays, sick leave and other conditions. It is, however, a useful way to connect with the Library and develop valuable employment skills. Often casual employment may lead to further work opportunities in the Library or elsewhere.
  • Temporary (non-ongoing) employment – this is where an employee works for a defined time or on a defined project (that is not permanent employment). It can be full-time or part-time and has most of the conditions of ongoing employment including paid holidays, sick leave and superannuation. Often temporary employment may lead to further work opportunities in the Library or elsewhere.
  • Ongoing employment – this is expected to be a long term relationship between a staff member and the Library. As with temporary employment, it can be full-time or part-time and is the basis for establishing a career which may promise promotion, development and fulfillment. The options of long term leave (with or without pay) and temporary placement (with another employer) mean that opportunities outside the Library may be explored while maintaining a connection to the Library.
  • Opportunities to temporarily transfer between partnering employers – are available to ongoing staff who seek to work outside the Library for a defined period of time or to undertake a specific project which exposes them to a different culture or experience. The goal of this transfer is to enhance the career momentum of staff and develop a broader range of job skills.
  • Volunteering – the volunteer program at the Library offers members of the community an opportunity to play an active role in supporting and promoting the work of the Library in diverse front of house roles and behind the scenes projects. Library volunteers gain valuable knowledge and experience in many different fields of expertise across the various work areas.

New initiatives

The Library is also committed to embedding its Employment Promise into its operational work and will revise its approach regularly over the six year period and into the future. This will ensure that our Strategy is able to respond flexibly to changing needs and our own learning and that we continue to think of creative initiatives.

Working group

In 2012, diverse and committed staff from across the Library came together to form the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Working Group. The Group is chaired by the Director of Human Resources and championed by the Assistant Director-General of Australian Collections and Reader Services. Group members will continue to bring ideas and initiatives together and will review and refresh the rolling Operational Plans regularly.

The Library have been researching and instigating the following new initiatives:

  • Development of Indigenous web presence on Library’s website, which will include:
    • Highlighting of the Library's Indigenous collections;
    • Easy to access employment information for potential Indigenous employees, with clear approachability and paths of enquiry;
    • Profiles and stories of current Indigenous staff;
    • The promotion of Indigenous events at the Library.
  • Other entry points for exposure to employment opportunities:
    • Connecting and engaging with existing events and festivals locally to promote the Library as a workplace and advertise employment pathways;
    • Taking part in Employment Expositions;
    • Targeted employment advertising at Universities;
    • Advertising in local Indigenous media and social networking;
    • Building relationships with other cultural institutions and bodies, and larger APS Agencies and continued involvement with the Government Indigenous Employment Network;
    • Building on our involvement with the Indigenous Graduate Program to instigate and strengthen our internships, work experience opportunities, traineeships and apprenticeships and secondments.
  • The discovery and removal of barriers to Indigenous recruitment, development and sustained involvement, in selection criteria, advertisement of positions, and interview processes, including the adjustment of merit-based employment system to include ‘fairness’.

Building capability and confidence

We will undertake the review and development of the following practices in order to nurture the warmth and inclusiveness of our workplace and foster excellence in the work that we do individually and collectively:

  • Training and professional development;
  • Mentoring program;
  • Performance review processes;
  • Instigation of Indigenous Scholarship in line with the current Summer Scholars program;
  • Increasing our involvement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander events, including NAIDOC week;
  • Offering of Cultural Awareness Training to all staff across the Library and increasing the breadth of involvement into the future. A Cultural Awareness presentation has also been delivered to the Collections Management Group for executive members of staff;
  • Indigenous Knowledge Sharing sessions in the model of current reference awareness sessions and regular presentations. This will increase the expertise of staff across the Library in developments to practices of collecting, handling and making available our substantial and growing Indigenous collections. These may include: current developments in the provision of access to Indigenous material in the Library’s collections, sensitive material in the Pictures Collection and other cultural restrictions, repatriation of collection material, the Library’s practice for publishing and exhibiting Indigenous material, moral and cultural rights and family history.


The Library currently has many interconnections with different Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including relationships around specific collection acquisitions and projects, the Community Heritage Grants Scheme, Oral History and Folklore projects, public programs including publications, talks, and events and the Bookshop support of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. We will take advantage of opportunities to actively research and foster new relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in all levels of our different work across the Library, to ensure that our connections are fostered into the future.