Strategy report - activities to date (July 1997)
In this report the progress of the implementation of the training and support programs funded under the strategy are discussed and a brief overview of activities undertaken to promote the strategy since the last meeting of General Council is given.
Recruitment levels for cadetships and traineeships were as follows, to date there are five cadetships in the following programs: James Cook University, Qld; Batchelor College, NT; ATSIC, ACT; and two at the State Library of NSW. Also to date there are three traineeships in the following programs: Mudgee Shire Council, NSW; Tumut Shire Council, NSW; Cape York Land Council, Qld; Far North Queensland TAFE, Qld; and Queanbeyan Public Library, NSW.
The projected recruitment for cadetships and traineeships were as follows, to date there are four cadetships in the following prgrams: Commonwealth Library, ACT; Sydney Institute of Technology, NSW; Sydney Institute of Technology, NSW; and the University of Queensland. Also to date there are eight traineeships in the following programs: North Queensland Land Council, Qld; Cairns City Library Service, Qld; City of Stirling Libraries, WA; Bunbury Public Library, WA; Queensland Institute of Technology, Qld; Mareeba Public Library, Qld; Nunulinga College, NT; and Clevland City Council, Qld. A number of other organisations have expressed interest in participating in the strategy but to date have been unable to establish positions because of 'budget cuts', or because the process of getting positions approved is not yet complete. These organisations are: Charles Sturt University, Adelaide Institute of TAFE, Melbourne Institute of Textiles, Casuarina Public Library, Battye Library, Parramatta City Library, and Queensland University of Technology.
Overview of recruitment
There has been a marked growth in the level of indigenous employment in the private sector, (forty per cent of the indigenous work force as at 1994) and this trend is being supported through the implementation of the strategy. The current level of recruitment is good if analysed in the context of the recruitment outcomes of analogous employment strategies in other private sector industries, however if current and projected recruitment levels are analysed in the context of the objective in the Agreement of achieving employment 'equity' within the sector, (a level of two per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander personnel), it is then poor.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics in a 1991 census predicted that the level of employment in the library and information sector would be 19 964 employees in 1996. An 'equitable' level of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees would therefore be around 400. A survey of the level of indigenous employment in the sector conducted by ALIA in 1996 found that there were 104 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander employees in the sector. Achieving employment 'equity' would therefore entail recruiting an additional 289 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander employees, or an average of twelve new employees a month over the two year recruitment phase of the strategy.
The Strategy Agreement includes the objective of 'equity' but sets recruitment targets at the following levels:
Although these targets are modest when compared to the level of recruitment that would be required to achieve 'equity', recruitment in some programs is proving difficult, and at this point in the implementation of the strategy, forecasts can be made with some degree of certainty about the achievement or not of recruitment targets, as follows:
||(max. 50% wage subsidisation funded by other TAP programs through the CES)
- It is unlikely that any of the scholarship positions will be filled. Perhaps the difficulty recruiting under this program lies in the fact that 46 per cent of Indigenous people live over 100 kilometres away from the nearest University. The preference of Indigenous people for disciplines other than library and information studies and the point that people with post-schooling qualifications expect a level of income much greater than that being offered under the program, also have a bearing on the program. Moreover employers have identified the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) as a barrier to recruiting under the program, which is to say that a person's ability to participate in the program is subject to their ability to pay a $4000 HECS charge before commencement of the degree.
- Cadetship targets will be met or exceeded. (DEETYA have informally approved funds to cover the cost of positions additional to the strategy target of 6 positions.) All current positions are at the diploma level. The University of Queensland and the Sydney Insitute of Technology will advertise for cadet librarians. If recruitment outcomes are as currently planned seven library technicians and two librarians will do their training under the strategy.
- It is unlikely that 24 trainees will be employed under the strategy because few organisations have positions which require or describe the ASF1-2 skill level. However, the library studies stream of Certificate II in Local Government currently being developed by Australian Local Government Training Ltd might offer the opportunity for further positions, particularly in academic and research libraries.
Summary of recruitment levels
Even though it is unlikely that recruitment targets will be met in all programs, the current level of recruitment can not be interpreted as wholly negative when the cultural context, demographic features and education and training profile of indigenous peoples are taken into account. Indigenous people currently use state and public library services more frequently than the national average for other Australians, and the growth in the level of indigenous employees, however modest, will do much to generate continued interest from the community in the resources and services offered by libraries, particularly since libraries are an 'additional arm of the education and training infrastructure', the 'actual and potential role of the library in the arts and cultural development as a meeting place, a gallery, a performance venue, a research centre, a key node in local arts and cultural networks', the 'actual and potential role of the library as custodian of heritage resource', and the 'actual and potential role of the library in cultural education and training.'
Recruitment targets for the strategy are equivocal in the context of the strategy achieving employment 'equity', and even if it was likely these targets could be met, it would be fallacious to think that the latchkey to a culture of equity is full employment. Predictions about the level of the growth in employment opportunities across the sector may have been overstated, and the current demand from indigenous people for the training programs offered by the strategy is not as large as expected. However the support being offered current strategy participants and the willingness of management in the sector to include positions for indigenous people in future budgets and to distribute information about the strategy throughout the sector augur well for the future.
Seven of the ten strategy participants are, or have participated in the mentoring program. Mentoring activities have included:
To date the mentoring program has been a heartening example of the receptiveness of the people fulfilling the task of mentors to the strategy and strategy participants. The high degree of support and interest in the strategy that has been shown by employees in the sector is being coupled with genuine and pragmatic mentoring activities which support cultural diversity and indigenous people.
- tutorial assistance;
- advocating approval of unpaid absences from work that are related to cultural responsibilities;
- setting up an e-mail link as a means of engendering a support network between strategy participants;
- planning tours of library and information services other than those of the employer to develop in strategy participants an understanding of the scope of the sector;
- teleconference link-ups between several mentees and mentors;
- providing information about the strategy's training and support programs at internal meetings and workshops and at relevant external forums;
- profiling the strategy and strategy participants in journals and newsletters;
- encouraging employees in the sector to participate in and support library programs and services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
- encouraging strategy participants to comment on and become involved in the development of programs and services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the cataloguing of existing resources by or about Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- Career development
Strategy participants are keen to attend the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Information and resource Network (ATSILIRN) conference planned for November 1997. One strategy participant has expressed a desire for membership of ALIA and is undertaking a course in the use of internet additional to her current study load.
Information about the strategy has been provided to country, regional and metropolitan librarians through the aegis of the Library and Information Service of Western Australia (LISWA). Information about the strategy has also been included in the Needs Analysis Kit produced by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Unit of the State Library of Queensland. This kit will be distributed to all public libraries in Queensland.
Recruitment under the strategy's training programs is progressing slowly but in response to the current capacity of the sector to employ and the actual demand for positions offered under the strategy. Support programs are engendering very positive employment outlooks for strategy participants and the continued promotion of the strategy is being given great support by employees in the sector.