Greens call for investigation into shockingly low levels of indigenous employment in NSW Department of Industry

Greens Aboriginal Affairs spokesperson, Dawn Walker has called on the NSW Premier to order an urgent investigation into the recruitment practices of the NSW Department of Industry after new figures tabled in NSW parliament revealed that only 9 out of 2,747 staff employed in the Regional offices of the Department of Industry are Aboriginal.

It has also been revealed that there are no senior executive staff who are indigenous and that the average wage of indigenous staff in the Department is more than 10% less than the average wage for non-indigenous staff in the Department. 

“These are truly shocking figures and the NSW Government and public service should be ashamed at the lack of indigenous people employed in the Department of Industry,” said Greens MP Dawn Walker.

“These numbers are so low that they point to serious issues, including the potential for institutional racism, in the recruitment practices of this Department and the Premier needs to order an urgent investigation to get to the bottom of this.

“This is even more alarming when you consider that the Department of Industry is responsible for key indigenous issues, including processing and approving Aboriginal Land Claims, overseeing cultural water access and fishing rights, and improving employment and skills training in disadvantaged indigenous communities.

“I have today written to the NSW Auditor General, Margaret Crawford, to request that she also commence an investigation into indigenous employment across the whole of the NSW public service as a matter of priority.

“This issue goes to the heart of indigenous representation and participation in our society and highlights the need for NSW to begin the process of developing a state-based Treaty, which could include issues such as employment requirements,” Ms Walker said.

The NSW Department of Industry is responsible, among other things, for TAFE, primary industries, crown lands, water, tourism, jobs creation, regional development and industry policy. The Department is overseen by NSW National leader and Deputy Premier, John Barilaro.            

In 2008, the NSW Government signed up to a Council of Australian Governments agreement to a target of 2.6% indigenous employment in the public sector by 2015 as part of the National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Economic Participation.

The figures have been taken from answers to Budget Estimates Supplementary Questions (attached) from NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales, Skills, and Small Business John Barilaro:

75. How many Aboriginal staff are currently employed in the regional offices of the Department of Industry?

(a) What proportion of these staff are senior executive staff?

(b) What is the average remuneration for non-Aboriginal staff?

(c) What is the average remuneration for Aboriginal staff?


Nine within Department of Industry.

(a) Nil

(b) $93,471

(c) $84,060

76. How many staff in Total are employed in Regional offices of the Department of Industry?


2,747 excluding casuals.

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