David Risstrom - Greens Melbourne City Councillor 1999-2004
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ACHIEVEMENT: The City of Melbourne employs indigenous people on merit and gains from the knowledge, skills an understanding they contribute to our community.

An Indigenous Unit or Division of Melbourne City Council is created to confirm the importance of Indigenous issues within the Melbourne City Council.

Businesses in the City of Melbourne supporting indigenous cultures be promoted.

TARGET DATE: December 2003 PROGRESS: Achieved.

Significant progress towards establishing decent levels of indigenous employment at the City of Melbourne moved a step forward last night [4 March 2003]. Melbourne City Council gave effect to its August resolution for Indigenous Reconciliation by endorsing concrete action to implement the resolution of the 6 August 2002 Melbourne City Council Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee. A summary of the report and its recommendation is shown below. The full report is available for download [296k PDF file] by clicking here: Report on the Progress of Reconciliation and Indigenous Interests at the City of Melbourne.

Below is an extract of the Council report addressing my 6 August 2002 reconciliation motion as it relates to indigenous employment.

The following recommendation was adopted, with an amendment to examine the implications of substituting the band 7 position with a higher 'active level' appointment.


46. That the Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee:

46.3. Approve in principle the proposed Indigenous program as outlined as Option 2 in this report

46.5. Note that this decision is being made by the Committee under delegation from the Council and is subject to the referral notice process.

Employment Strategy

19. At its 6 August 2002 meeting the Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee resolved, in response to the report on Indigenous Programs in the City of Melbourne, that: “Appropriate and respectful consultation [occur] with Indigenous spokespersons and organisations in relation to the development of an Indigenous Employment Strategy; [and] provide a report to the December 3 2002 meeting of the Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee on the feasibility of the establishment of an Indigenous Unit within the City of Melbourne which would report to the Director City Assets and Services and to the Chair of the Aboriginal Consultative Group.”

20. On 4 September 2002 a special meeting of Council’s Aboriginal Consultative Group was convened to discuss the consultation and development of this report to Council and to seek nominations to a Steering Committee that would guide a feasibility study. Key Indigenous community members from the Indigenous Arts Advisory Panel, the Aboriginal Consultative Group and Indigenous organisations participated in this meeting.
21. A Steering Committee was nominated to support and oversee the feasibility study. This Steering Committee comprised:
21.1. Steve Walsh, Department of Infrastructure;
21.2. Christian Thompson, Indigenous Arts Advisory Panel;
21.3. Kelly Koumalatsos, Reconciliation Victoria Inc.;
21.4. Debby Walker, Aboriginal Affairs Victoria; and
21.5. Janina Harding, City of Melbourne.

22. Expressions of Interest for conducting the study and preparing a report were sought from five Indigenous consultants. It was considered by the community to be crucial that the consultant was Indigenous and had networks within the Indigenous community. Three Expressions of Interest were received. The Steering Committee selected From Little Things Pty Ltd (Phil Egan, Principal Consultant).

23. From Little Things Pty Ltd was engaged to conduct the consultation and provide a scoping document that would include key findings, recommendations and tasks relating to the development of an Indigenous Employment Strategy, the establishment of an Indigenous Unit and processes for advancing reconciliation in the City of Melbourne.

Recommended Directions

24. From Little Things Pty Ltd’s report, New Indigenous Mechanisms for the City of Melbourne, identifies a range of issues, outlines the consultation process and findings of the study and recommends possible future directions (Attachment 2). The author, Phil Egan, has been invited to attend the 4 March 2003 Committee meeting. A considered response of the administration to each recommendation is outlined in Attachment 3.

25. A diverse range of views was expressed by Indigenous representatives during the consultation and the findings of the feasibility study and the particular model proposed were generally supported. There is clear support for adoption of an Indigenous Unit and an employment strategy as primary areas of activity. This is underpinned by the recognition that proper representation of Indigenous interests, within the culture and activity of the organisation will only occur where Indigenous people have a due presence and role within the organisation. It is broadly accepted and consultation confirms that policy commitments must be aligned with levels of participation, if the City of Melbourne is to genuinely reflect Indigenous interests.

26. New Indigenous Mechanisms for the City of Melbourne proposes the establishment of a new Division within the City Of Melbourne to be responsible for the development and progression of an Indigenous Employment Strategy and related activities. The cost of this approach is outlined in Option 1 below. Consideration by the administration suggests that adoption of all recommendations in the feasibility study exceed current Council capacity in the first instance.

27. In light of the significant costs involved an alternative approach to implementing the recommendations of this report has been developed and is also outlined (Option 2). This staged approach would allow for the progression of the recommendations but not require the significant internal restructuring involved in the first option in the first instance. In addition this approach reflects a recognition that the actions required involve several branches of Council and a strong emphasis upon co-operation and co-ordination will therefore be required.

28. Consistent with the direction outlined in the consultant’s report, the Action Plan is proposed as an initial step upon which future initiatives may be built. It is accepted that the strategic objectives and tasks require both senior level scope and commitment and environmental support. It is therefore proposed that a senior officer be appointed to drive the implementation of the Action Plan. The Action Plan also seeks the examination and development of other activities designed to support change. The costings in the table below are indicative at this stage and include basic employment costs for 2003/04. They do not contain operational funds necessary to complete projects or establish positions within the organisation.

Option One: Implement recommendations in consultant’s report to Establish an Indigenous Division
Implement the activities in the consultant’s report through the appointment of an Executive Manager Indigenous Policy and Development (Director), Program Manager, Indigenous Research and Development (Executive 1), Program Manager, Indigenous Employment and Training (Executive), and Personal Assistant (Band 5). Cost: $446 402

Option Two: Adopt a staged approach to implementation of recommendations in consultant’s report
Establish an Indigenous Program
Implement the identified activities in the Action Plan through the appointment of a Senior Officer (Band 7), and a Reconciliation Program Officer (Band 5)
Note: The Reconciliation Program Officer (Band 5) is costed ($62,000) as part of the Calendar of Events. Cost: $150 000

Option Three
Status Quo: Maintain existing initiatives
Implement activities for which there are already funds allocated. Cost: $63 000

29. Other activities proposed within the Indigenous Program and outlined in the Action Plan include the improvement of resource support to Indigenous consultation mechanisms, training opportunities for all staff and promotion of equity principles in all activities of the City Of Melbourne such as social infrastructure, client services, and community planning and organisational initiatives.

30. Current Indigenous cultural activities will continue to be promoted, supported and implemented by Arts and Culture within City Projects.

31. Given the focus of the work on the development of an employment strategy, the Human Resources section of the City of Melbourne will have a key role in providing support and expertise to the senior officer once appointed and assist in the development of the Employment Strategy.

Action Plan for the progression of Indigenous interests

Stage One: Development of an Indigenous Employment Strategy 2003/04 Budget Estimates
Aim The aim of Council’s Indigenous Employment Strategy should be to achieve the successful employment, training and retention of a number of Indigenous staff across all branches and management levels of the organisation.

Required Actions
· This Employment Strategy will require a dedicated driver who will relate to a range of staff and service areas within Council and who will support new Indigenous recruits. It is therefore recommended that a senior officer (Band 7) be appointed to undertake this role. Cost: $86 000 (salary plus on costs)
· That this officer be responsible for the development of an Indigenous employment recruitment and retention strategy which outlines the activities required to achieve these objectives. Cost: $20,000 This will include the development of a co-ordinated approach to attracting and sustaining internal and external support for the initiative.
· The development of a mentoring program for Indigenous employees to ensure adequate support, in particular during the first year of implementation. Cost: $10 000
· The utilisation of traineeships will form a key component of the Strategy.
External funding- will be sought for this initiative.
· The development of training sessions on Indigenous awareness. $12 000

Stage Two: Other activities aimed at recognition of Indigenous interests
Aim Explore and resource the present and required mechanisms to facilitate the further recognition of Indigenous interests
Required action/s
· With the exception of IAAP (Indigenous Arts Advisory Panel), the Indigenous advisory groups experience issues relating to attendance and therefore perceived commitment. It is therefore recommended that sitting fees be instituted for members of all Indigenous advisory groups to Council. Cost: $30 000
· The senior officer will explore the strategies required to provide the Indigenous community with a focus on identity within the City of Melbourne and will allow for further cultural growth throughout Council’s structures. $20 000
· Develop processes to manage the relationships required for effective support and further development of Indigenous issues within Council.
Cost: $10 000 $188,000

DESCRIPTION: Indigenous people are under-represented in local government employment.

A recent report 'Toomangi: Indigenous Communities and Local Government - a Victorian Study' found that the City of Melbourne is one of five Victorian local government councils who employ a staff member dedicated to Indigenous issues, and that as of mid-2002 there were 37 known indigenous employees throughout Victorian local government.

The Toomangi study also identified ways in which local governments can demonstrate leadership on reconciliation, some of which are reflected under the goal of Aboriginal Reconciliation on another page on this website.

I wrote and moved the following motion [the relevant part is shown below], which was adopted unanimously at the 7 August 2002 Melbourne City Council Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee.


30. That the Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee:

30.1 Notes the City’s existing programs and relationships for and with Melbourne’s indigenous communities, outlined in Attachment 1;

30.2 Approve appropriate and respectful consultation with Indigenous spokespersons and organisations in relation to the development of an Indigenous Employment Strategy;

30.3 Reaffirm the Statement of Commitment to Indigenous Australians by the City of Melbourne;

30.4 Provide a report to the 3 December 2002 meeting of the Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee on the feasibility of the establishment of an Indigenous Unit within the City of Melbourne, which would report to the Director of City Assets Services and to the Chair of the Aboriginal Consultative Group;

A meeting of community members was held at the North Melbourne Town Hall to discuss the issues concerning establishing an Indigenous Unit at the City of Melbourne.

Due to delays in the consultation process among the communities, the report is now to be presented to the February 2003 meeting of the Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee.


Businesses in the City of Melbourne supporting indigenous cultures can be found on the City of Melbourne website by clicking here -> Indigenous Businesses in Central Melbourne.



Cool Green Tip Of The Week -

23 April 2017: Only those who decline to scramble up the career ladder are interesting as human beings. Nothing is more boring than a man with a career: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918 -1956.

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