Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have made and will continue to make extraordinary contributions to Australia across cultural, economic and scientific domains.

We recognise the social and economic disadvantages they have experienced and are committed to overcoming the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

We engage and partner with Indigenous peoples across several areas, such as marine and environmental science, human resources, property services, astronomy and space science, information management and technology, mining, horticulture and aquaculture. In this way, they are contributing to research affecting the productivity and sustainability of Australian industry. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are also represented on various advisory committees such as the Indigenous Strategic Advisory Council, Health and Biosecurity Advisory Committee and Indigenous STEM Education Project Steering Committee.

We are partnering with the BHP Billiton Foundation to implement a five-year $28.8 million education project, which is supporting more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to take part in and achieve in STEM. This year, we announced the second round of Indigenous STEM Awards winners and finalists and offered cadetships to several students who had previously taken part in the ASSETS (summer camp) program.

Six programs cater to the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students as they progress through primary, secondary and tertiary education, and into employment:

  • Science Pathways for Indigenous Communities targets primary and middle school students in remote Indigenous communities and uses on-country projects as the context for learning science linked to Indigenous ecological knowledge.
  • Inquiry for Indigenous Science Students targets middle-school students in mainstream metropolitan and regional schools, using hands-on inquiry-based projects to increase student engagement and achievement in science.
  • PRIME Futures targets Foundation to Year 9 students in mainstream metropolitan and regional schools and uses the YuMi Deadly Maths approach to improve student outcomes in mathematics.
  • The Aboriginal Summer School for Excellence in Technology and Science (ASSETS) is a nine-day residential program for high-achieving Indigenous Year 10 students with an ongoing leadership and support program to nurture students through Years 11 and 12 (see page 53 for further details).
  • The Indigenous STEM Awards rewards Indigenous students, teachers, schools and scientists as well as STEM champions who have supported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ achievements in STEM.
  • The Bachelor of Science (Extended) is a degree program that provides a supported pathway to complete a mainstream Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne. It is designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who show potential, but who might otherwise not have access to such an opportunity.

Employment strategy

115 of our employees identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

In March 2015, the Australian Government announced a target of 3 per cent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in the Commonwealth public sector by 31 December 2018 and assigned CSIRO a target of 2.5 per cent representation. In our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), we committed to a 3 per cent representation target and have moved towards the target from 58 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff (1.2 per cent) in August 2015. As at 30 June 2018, 115 (2 per cent) of our employees identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Of these, 21 were cadets, 17 were trainees and 77 were research, technical, administrative and management staff.

In January, we finalised the review of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy and identified activities in the recruitment, development, promotion and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff. An Indigenous Capability Advisor has been appointed for 12 months to help implement this strategy. For details on our Indigenous engagement, see page 74.

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