Mr Darren Bowd
Senior Policy and Planning Officer, Aboriginal Services Division,
SA Department of Human Services
How much do we really know about an organisation's "greatest
asset"? While most organisational resources are audited
down to the last paper-clip, do we make the best use of our people
by knowing as much as we can about who they are, what they know,
think and feel? All people inherently bring more to the workplace
than is implied in their job title. But what is it they bring
and how do we know what impact this great unknown has on the
function and capacity of an organisation? Of course without this
information, opportunities, threats, problems and solutions that
can assist an organisation to develop for their own and their
customers' mutual benefit are missed.
The 1967 referendum result permitted equal human rights for
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples "in theory".
What actually happened was a large scale withdrawal of Indigenous
workers from Primary Industry, a major Australian employer, and
the commencement of the Aboriginal welfare state. Despite being
exploited in wage disparity and working conditions, Indigenous
peoples rubbed shoulders with non-Indigenous in the workplace,
a highly social environment that can foster relationships and
provides a microcosm in which a society's larger issues are played
out daily and impact on real people in real ways. Attempts to
address the historic absence of Aboriginal people in virtually
all workplaces have been made using what continue to be well
intentioned yet disappointingly counter-productive beliefs such
as those espoused in equal employment opportunity legislation.
It is a relatively unsophisticated understanding of workforce
diversity and it's subsequent under-use that limits our current
degree of success in restoring Aboriginal peoples to their rightful,
responsible and valuable participation in the Australian workplace.
Darren Bowd is a descendant of the Biripi people from the mid-north
coast of New South Wales. Darren is a registered mental health
nurse and has worked in a range of community based mental health
services in Sydney and Adelaide, including mainstream and Aboriginal
community controlled agencies. Darren currently works as a Senior
Policy and Planning Officer in the Aboriginal Services Division
of South Australia's Department of Human Services.
30 min paper