There is a substantial gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians on a broad range of measures. Aboriginal people in Australia have shorter life-expectancies, higher rates of chronic disease, poorer educational outcomes, and higher levels of unemployment (Council of Australian Governments [COAG] 2012).
Public sector agencies across Australia are making efforts to improve Aboriginal staff representation. In most cases, the economic benefit to Aboriginal people and the reduction of disadvantage are cited as the primary reasons for improving Aboriginal representation. In the Department of Corrective Services (the Department) the benefits of improving Aboriginal staff representation extend far beyond this. With nearly 40 per cent of the state’s prison population and over 75 per cent of juvenile detention centre population being Aboriginal, the needs and management of Aboriginal people is core business for the Department. The Department states that increasing Aboriginal staff representation will improve Aboriginal offender management and rehabilitation (Department of Corrective Services [DCS] 2012), and make the Department more responsive to the needs of Aboriginal people (DCS 2008).