Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Career Pathways Service

  • 2019

  • Service
    Public Sector Services

Designed By:

  • Queensland Public Service Commission
  • Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships

Commissioned By:

Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships

Designed In:


In a public sector first, the Queensland Government has designed a just-in time, human-centred service that is built with and around the strengths of First Nations people’s leadership and networks. The service tackles the under-representation of First Nations public servants in leadership positions using human-centred design and systems thinking.

  • MORE
  • The brief was to address the underrepresentation of First Nations’ public servants in senior leadership positions in the Queensland public service by supporting their career progression. Under-representation is a significant, long-term and systemic problem across all governments because it means less influence over policy decisions that affect First Nations communities. Previous attempts to address the problem have been ineffective. They have been siloed and have failed to address the culture, politics and practices of workplaces, upon which career progression is dependent. We therefore needed to design for all of these aspects and for the individuals who work in this system.

  • The design had to reconcile difficult histories and build new bridges in relation to culture, politics, practices and individuals' views and behaviours around career progression. Human-centred design gave a framework to design a person-centred service that is built around all players in the system. HR, managers and Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander participants draw on the service over the lifetime of their employment, whenever they need it. It offers development opportunities in technical and leadership skills, job mobility, coaching, reflective practice and events, wrapped around a culturally safe service provision. The back-end consolidates existing programs into one streamlined pool, reducing government siloes.

  • Meaningful participation is critical for the design of services for First Nations people. For the first time in this space a service has been designed truly bottom-up, involving 300+ people over two years. The ultimate impacts are two-fold. 1. The service contributes to advancement for First Nations people by incubating existing talent and accelerating their progression, impacting up to 6300 people sector-wide. 2. It drives efficiencies by operating through a pooled-funding model. It drives efficiencies in the Queensland government's learning and development pool, worth millions of $ annually, by breaking down siloes and creating alignment in its procurement.

  • The service reframes the problem of under-representation to that of a social view: from seeing a lack of career progression as an individual’s problem to recognising it as a problem created by the system. This impacts the service design in the following ways: • applies a human-centred lens, designed around the lived experience of individuals within the system instead of a system-driven response to an abstract diversity issue • reforms the system from within, by building cultural capability, creating internal feedback loops, pooling of resources and connecting agencies with each other, thus breaking down silos and creating efficiencies • demonstrates a clear business case for human-centred design, agile and lean ways of working within government by making services more human-centred and efficient • creates a testbed for applying these methodologies to working with other groups of employees and communities • aligns the design and implementation of the service with participatory ways of working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities Features include: • 3 uniquely designed journeys through the service for employees, managers and HR-teams •A system of advocates and removal of barriers in culturally appropriate ways •In-time tailored career development support during an employee's lifetime •Service evaluation and co-iteration by all users