Working together to achieve equity in employment pretty much sums up Frank Gafa's philosophy in life and his career.
Frank is the University Partnerships Manager in our Office of Indigenous Science and Engagement. He joined us in 2022 to work with the higher education sector to foster the next generation of Indigenous researchers.
Frank is building on the existing relationships we have with universities, such as James Cook University, and create new relationships.
"I’ve been reaching out to Indigenous units across the university sector to understand the relationships we have," Frank said.
We caught up with Frank to hear about his passion for empowering the next generation of Indigenous researchers, activism, and fast cars.
Helping make Indigenous researchers possible
Frank is overseeing our Indigenous Graduate Program, which matches Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university graduates to science or corporate services projects that relate to their field of study and career aspirations.
"Science graduates will learn from some of our finest researchers and leaders in their field and work on projects that are of interest to them," Frank said.
"The program has a strong focus on professional development so participants can become future leaders in their field. The corporate services opportunities include everything from communications and marketing to finance, legal, human resources, property and information technology.
“The first cohort of graduates started in June 2023. They had a week long face-to-face orientation which helped them form strong bonds.
"During the week graduates also heard from many CSIRO people, including our Chief Scientist Bronwyn Fox, and even had a visit from Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic."
Lifelong commitment to equity and employment
Frank has worked for universities his whole career – his background is all about equity and employment. His first job, at the age of 18, was doing office work at the Australian National University.
"I worked with Professor Mick Dodson and helped with the development of the university’s reconciliation action plan (RAP),” Frank said.
“I have also worked at Deakin University as an Indigenous HR consultant and the National Tertiary Education Union at Monash University as a union organiser. Along the way I completed a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Political Science.
“I was attracted to the role at CSIRO as I wanted to work with universities to address structural issues of access and equity into research. This role gives me a more holistic view of the sector and how to work towards this goal. I want to help identify and support more Indigenous researchers."
Frank said he would like all Australians to reflect on how important it is to work on reconciliation every day.
“My advice is to think of input from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from the start of any projects and partnerships. Also, how does any work fit in with your own organisation’s RAP," he said.
Driving equity outside work
Driving equity in the workplace is just as important to Frank as doing so outside of work. He is currently working hard to bring his extracurricular passions together. He is part of a network to create more pathways for people from diverse backgrounds in motorsport, with a particular focus for Indigenous peoples, the LGBTQIA+ community and women.