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Pathway Overview

The Indigenous Graduate Pathway (IGP) is a key initiative to increase the number of Indigenous Graduates across the Commonwealth coordinated by the Australian Public Service Commission in partnership with participating Commonwealth Government agencies. 

The IGP is a targeted, centrally coordinated and culturally safe, end-to-end recruitment process consistent with the Public Service Act 1999 and Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 2016-2019 (Commissioner’s Directions). Participating agencies are provided with a pool of eligible candidates who have undergone a rigorous assessment process and have been found suitable for employment as a graduate at the APS 3 and APS 4 classification.

In accordance with the implementation deliverables of the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workforce Strategy 2020-24 the management and delivery of the IGP has been transitioned to the Department of Defence, Directorate of Graduate and Entry Level Programs (DGELP).

Pathway Benefits

The Pathway offers:

  • targeted marketing to Indigenous graduates;
  • a robust, inclusive and culturally-safe assessment methodology;
  • a cost-effective, centralised assessment model;
  • access to detailed, holistic assessment reports for suitable candidates;
  • an increased profile of the Commonwealth as an employer of choice within the Indigenous community; and
  • culturally appropriate guidance and support for program managers.


These guidelines provide agencies with information to support the recruitment of Indigenous employees through the IGP. They also outline roles and responsibilities in supporting participants on commencement and throughout their respective programs. 

By nominating to participate in the Pathway, agencies understand and agree to all information outlined in these guidelines including their role and responsibilities. 

Key recruitment milestones

January 2021 - Applications open

January 2021 – APS Agency information session

 January 2021 - Agency profile due

April 2021 - Applications close

April 2021 - Online assessments conducted and referee reports submitted

May/June 2021 - Meet, Greet, Yarn (Assessment Centres). Arrangements under review, please check back for an update in the coming weeks.

June 2020 - Assessment reports released to participating Agencies and call for first round offers

June-August 2021 - Offers of employment

Roles and Responsibilities

The role of the Directorate of Graduate and Entry Level Programs (DGELP), is to manage the delivery of a targeted, centrally coordinated and culturally safe end-to-end recruitment process inclusive of marketing, assessment and candidate support.  

Key responsibilities of the DGELP include: 

  1. Delivering a targeted marketing campaign attracting eligible Indigenous graduates to apply; 
  2. Undertaking a robust and culturally safe assessment, utilising contemporary assessment methods;
  3. Providing culturally appropriate candidate care throughout the recruitment process;
  4. Facilitating offers of employment from participating Agencies to successful candidates; and
  5. Hosting networking events which include an annual event celebrating the success of program participants. 

The DGELP will seek to confirm applicant eligibility for the IGP, requesting confirmation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander heritage in accordance with the tiered approach outlined within the Indigenous Recruitment Guide.   

The DGELP willalso provide guidance and support for participating Agencies throughout the Pathway processes.  

Participating Agencies

The role of participating Agencies is to allocate and fill graduate vacancies using the IGP merit pool. Agencies also participate in the delivery of the Pathway through various activities. Key responsibilities of participating Aagencies include: 

  1. Allocating a number of ongoing vacancies withinthe Agency’s graduate development program; 
  2. Providing promotional materials and information; 
  3. Participating in recruitment events and activities; 
  4. Reviewing assessment reports and making offers of employment to suitable candidates; and 
  5. Undertaking the onboarding and recruitment of the graduate/s into the Agency.  

Following the recruitment process, Agencies are responsible for the selected graduates as ongoing employees of their Agency. Further information on how Agencies contribute to the process is available under Pathway Delivery below.  

Costs to Agencies

Operational costs for the 2022 Indigenous Graduate Pathway will be met by Defence and recovered from participating Agencies through a fee for service arrangement (in financial year 2021/22).There may be incidental costs associated with some activities: 

  • Participation at assessment centres: includes Agency staff travel (where necessary) and materials for mini career expos. 
  • Graduate attendance at annual event: includes travel and accommodation of graduates located outside of Canberra. 

Agency participation in these activities adds value for both the Agency and graduates. It is recommended that Agencies account for these costs to support recruitment and retention outcomes.  

Pathway Delivery

Intention to recruit

The APS Commissioner and the Secretary of the Department of Defence have invited all APS and Commonwealth Agencies to participate in the 2022 Indigenous Graduate Pathway..

Intention to Recruit

Agencies will be invited to participate in the program by submitting an Intention to Recruit form. The form collects key information, including the details of the positions allocated and the details of key contact people within your Agency. 
Note: it is important that this information is accurate to ensure the Pathway marketing reflects positions available in each participating Agency.

Agency Information Session

January 2021 

The session covers key information about the program, including assessment methodology, Agency roles and details of program delivery.
Note: the attending representative should be each participating Agency’s nominated key contact for the IGP.


The marketing strategy targets potential candidates and includes flexibility to target particular regions where positions are available. A wide variety of marketing and promotional strategies will be used to advertise the Pathway, including, but not limited to, online marketing, social media, and university outreach.

Confirmation of Agency Profile

Due: January 2021
Agencies are required to complete their Agency Profile. This information is collated and published as a digital information booklet for candidates. It is also used to promote the Pathway and participating aAencies throughout the marketing campaign.
Provide promotional materials: Agencies are requested to provide ready-to-use digital promotional materials for distribution through the Indigenous Careers channels.


Formal assessment will be conducted to identify suitable candidates through a robust and culturally safe process, utilising contemporary assessment methods. Further information about the process is available under Assessment Methodology below.

Assessment Centre Yarning Circle: Group Interviews

Agencies will be invited to nominate representatives from their Agency to participate as a panel member. Panel members will undergo mandatory training and attend the nominated assessment centre(s).

Meet and Greet

Hosted at the Assessment Centres, prospective employers will meet with candidates to discuss the graduate opportunities available. Each Agency will meet with each candidate for a period of five minutes. Candidates will rotate through every Agency on the day. This is an opportunity for Agencies to meet candidates and promote their Agency.


The DGELP will facilitate the offers of employment process to ensure a fair and equitable process for  Aencies and candidates. Defence will maintain candidate engagement throughout the offers process in an effort to reduce the risk of confusion or misunderstandings.  

The offer of employment process is as follows: 

  1. The assessment report and candidate information is released to employing Agencies. 
  2. Agencies will consider the entire pool of candidates and identify the candidate/s to whom they intend to make an offer. Agencies may contact candidates during this time for informal discussions and to determine suitability, however no formal offers are to be made. 
  3. Agencies advise the DGELP of up to 10 candidates they wish to make offers to. All offers made must be a formal offer of employment, however can be conditional to account for Agency requirements such as security clearances. 
  4. The DGELP advises candidates of their employment offer/s.  
  5. Candidates consider all offers of employment and advise the DGELP of their decision to accept or decline the offers. This information will be forwarded to Agencies. During the candidate deliberation period Agencies must not contact candidates but can respond to candidate enquiries. 
  6. If required there will be a second round of offers. 
  7. Following the offers period, the DGELP will work with Agencies to facilitate the placement of any remaining candidates. 

Merit list shared

August 2021 The merit list will be made available to all APS & Commonwealth Agencies following the offer period. In accordance with the Commissioner’s Directions, agencies will be able to engage candidates remaining on the merit list for other vacant positions with similar capabilities assessed through the IGP.

Further details on the offers process, including key dates, will be provided to employing Agencies following the Assessment Centre. The DGELP will maintain contact with candidates and Agencies to assist in meeting required timeframes. 


All subsequent recruitment and onboarding actions, after an offer has been accepted, including terms and conditions of employment such as salary, probation, security clearance and leave provisions, are the responsibility of the employing Agency. 

Agency feedback

September 2021

Agencies are invited to provide feedback to inform the Pathway evaluation. An Agency feedback survey will be circulated for completion, along with opportunity for feedback discussions.

Confirmation of graduate commencements

February 2022

Agencies are required to confirm the details of the Indigenous graduates who commence at their Agency.  

Annual graduate event

March 2022

Usually held in March, this is an opportunity for celebration and networking across the APS/Commonwealth. Both commencing and completing Indigenous graduates are encouraged to participate in this event.

Further details, including key dates, will be provided to employing agencies following the offers process. 

Assessment Methodology

The DGELP delivers a robust and culturally safe merit selection process, utilising contemporary research based methodology. The objective of the process is to determine the suitability of candidates for a graduate role in the Australian Public Service. The capabilities and characteristics to be assessed have been developed with reference to the APS Work Level Standards at the APS3 and APS4 classification, the APS Framework for High Potential and central factors common across agency graduate development programs. 

Capabilities and Characteristics

Candidates are assessed on the following capabilities and characteristics:

  1. Communication
    • General verbal ability
    • Clarity of written and oral communication
    • Ability to adapt to audience
    • Negotiation skills
  2. Conceptual & Analytical
    • Problem solving
    • Organisational skills
    • Numerical reasoning
    • Adaptability & learning orientation
  3. Working with others
    • Emotional intelligence
    • Propensity to lead
    • Collaboration
  4. Aspiration & Engagement
    • Motivation
    • Career aspiration
    • Alignment with APS culture and values

Eligible candidates will be:

  • An Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person: as per the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 these positions are restricted to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. 
  • A university graduate: have completed, at minimum, a three-year undergraduate degree at AQF level 7 or above in the last five years prior to January 2022. 

Assessment Process

  1. Application: Candidates are required to submit a resume, academic transcript and confirmation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander heritage. 
  2. Online tests: eligible candidates will be invited to complete a writing task and a cognitive skills test online. 
  3. Referee reports: candidates will be required to submit two written referee reports. 
  4. Meet, Greet, Yarn: shortlisted candidates will be assessed in a Yarning Circle group interview and participate in a meet and greet session with Agencies. 
  5. Validation interview: candidates will be invited to a validation interview conducted via video- or teleconference, and will consist of individualised questions based on the outcomes of their assessment activities as well as academic transcript and resume. 
  6. Individual assessment report: a report will be prepared on the holistic assessment of each candidate and made available to agencies.


Email indigenous.graduates [at] defence.gov.au or visit the Indigenous Careers website

Last reviewed: 
3 November 2020