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Indigenous Intern Pathway - Agency Guidelines

Program Overview

The Intern Pathway is delivered on behalf of participating APS and Commonwealth agencies. It is as key program within the suite of initiatives delivered by the Australian Public Service Commission (the Commission) under the APS Indigenous Employment Programs Memorandum of Understanding 2016-2019. The program is administered by the Commission’s Indigenous Capability Team.

The Intern Pathway provides an opportunity for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander university students to undertake paid work experience within an APS agency. The Intern Pathway is a 50 day placement within a 12 month period, with placements commencing from November 2019.

The Intern Pathway represents both an opportunity to support the graduate pipeline into the Australian Government, and provide a rewarding experience for students studying for a broad range of disciplines.

Internship Objective

The strategic objectives of Indigenous Internships are to:

  • contribute to the readiness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interns to transition from university to full-time employment
  • encourage university completion by providing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students with potential career aspirations alongside a source of income
  • build the awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students of the APS and a potential future employer
  • establish a pipeline of talented university students for future graduate positions within the APS

Agency Benefits

Participation in Indigenous Employment Pathways benefits agencies by increasing the profile of the agency as an employer of choice among Indigenous Australians and ofers targeted marketing of employment opportunities to attract a wider pool of talent for internship and graduate programs.

Key Dates

26 July 2019 - Agency Expression of Interest Due

1–13 August 2019 - Indigenous Careers Expos

1 August 2019 - Applications Open

29 August 2019 - Application Close

2–13 September 2019 - Shortlisting

16–27 September 2019 - Matching and Placement

1–16 October 2019 - Offers

October-November - Agency/candidate readiness – e.g. security clearance

From November 2019 (As required) - Supervisor Briefing

March 2020 - Indigenous Intern Event

Program Delivery

Agency participation is coordinated through the Expression of Interest (EOI) form. The Commission requires agencies to provide an indication of recruitment numbers, job description, and the qualifications and/or skills required to assist in recruiting the right people.

The Commission will undertake a targeted approach to secure an applicant field that meets agency demands. The information provided by agencies in the EOI form will also form the basis of a candidate matching and placement.

If an agency’s intended recruitment numbers need to be adjusted, it is essential to advise the Commission in a timely manner. Equally important is the need to advise any changes to key agency contacts. Clear and open communication is required in order to accomplish this recruitment exercise in the timeframe for late November commencements.

Gazettal of vacancies

The Intern Pathway will be advertised as non-ongoing positions.


Host agencies will agree to pay $5,000 sponsorship fee per intern. Agencies will be invoiced upon intern commencement. Host agencies are responsible for employee expenses for the placement, including salary, superannuation and associated employee on costs.

Host agencies will be responsible for any travel costs incurred in relation to work undertaken during the Internship.

Agencies that require security clearances or Australian Government Security Vetting (AGSV) are to undertake these processes at their own costs.

Conditions of employment

Interns are engaged on a non-ongoing fixed-term contact at an APS2.1 classification for a minimum of 50 days paid work experience.

Comment dates will vary depending on the placement model offered by the agency (see section on work placement for further detail).

The Christmas period close-down applies from 25 December until the commencement of the first working day following 1 January. Payment for Christmas close-down will be in accordance with the host agency’s Enterprise Agreement.


The Intern Pathway is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, primarily in their second last year of university.

To be eligible to apply applicants must provide:

  • a response to expression of interest
  • documentation confirming Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander heritage
  • evidence of enrolment in full-time or part-time university in 2019
  • most recent academic transcript

Marketing and Promotion

The Commission’s communication strategy targets potential candidates. The Indigenous Careers Expos will be a key component of the marketing and promotion strategy. In addition, a wide variety of marketing and promotional strategies will be used to advertise the Intern Pathway, including but not limited to:

  • Direct engagement with university Indigenous Support Units and Career Centres
  • An enhanced social media presence, which includes a dedicated Indigenous APS Careers Facebook page
  • Information distributed to:
    • Universities and tertiary institutions
    • Indigenous organisations
    • Various email networks such as ACTIndnetwork and Indigemail

Assessment of candidates

The Commission has developed a Success Profile, which outlines the qualities a candidate is expected to possess and display in order to be successful in an internship position in the APS.

Assessment of candidate suitability will reference the Graduate success profile—the profile will be adapted, and used to assist in matching and placement of interns.

In addition to capability requirements, the Success Profile also details eligibility, career fit and motivational fit requirements that need to be taken into account when selecting prospective interns.

Candidates will be assessed at the APS 2 classification.

The Commission will develop an Intern Profile for each suitable candidate.


  1. Application
    • The Commission will coordinate the information gathering process and confirm all candidates documentary evidence supplied meets requirements
  2. Shortlisting
    • The Commission shortlists based on eligibility
    • Initial mapping of intern candidate pool to participating agency requirements
  3. Matching
    • Agency consider candidates to make offers
    • Agency and intern informal conversations to determine suitability and agency


Applications will be managed online through the Commission’s recruitment page on NGA. The candidate information collected at application stage includes:

  • Photo identification
  • Resume
  • Evidence to confirm Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander heritage
  • Academic transcript


The Commission coordinates the assessment processes for the Intern Pathways on behalf of employing agencies and gather all the necessary documentary evidence.

The Commission will conduct the shortlisting of application and provide a shortlist of recommended applicants to each participating agency. The recommendation will consider an agency requirements and intern areas of interest, aspirations and development needs.

Employing agencies will then be required to assess their list of candidates to make suitable offers to their agency.

Offers of Employment

The Commission will facilitate the offers of employment process, to ensure a fair and equitable process for all employing agencies and intern candidates. The Commission will maintain candidate engagement throughout the offers process.

The offer of employment process is as follows:

  1. Intern Profiles are released to employing agencies and informal conversations to determine suitability, agency/intern fit commence.
  2. Agencies advise the Commission of the formal offer/s of employment. All offers made must be formal, however can be conditional to account for agency requirements such as security clearances.
  3. The Commission advises candidates of the employment offer/s.
  4. The Commission will work with candidates to consider all offers of employment.
  5. The Commission will notify agencies which candidates have accepted offers.
  6. If necessary, following the offers period, the Commission will work with agencies to facilitate the placement of any remaining candidates.

Merit List

Any remaining suitable interns will be placed on a merit list. This will be available to all participating agencies and is valid for a period of 12 months after gazettal of the employment opportunity.


The Commission will require the employing agency to complete a commencement form for each intern. The information collected will assist the Commission in providing targeted support for the duration of the participant’s placement, and for research purposes to analyse the effectiveness of the Commission’s recruitment and retention initiatives.

Intern support mechanisms

The Commission will endeavour to provide the following touch points to the trainee and supervisor throughout the interns placement:

  1. Within the first two weeks of commencement
  2. Mid placement conversation, at approx. the 30 day mark
  3. End of placement conversation

Where required, the Commission will provide a supervisor briefing in the weeks preceding commencement. This will occur on an as need basis.

These touchpoints will largely be conducted via video conferencing.

Work Placement

Intern placements will be location based, with interns located in their home city in Sydney, Melbourne or Canberra.

The agency must provide the intern with a minimum 50 days paid work for each 12 month period.

During the work placement, the employer provides the intern with paid work that is relevant to their course of study and the intern is paid in accordance with an appropriate industrial instrument.

Placements can be flexible and tailored to suit agency needs.

Flexible Placements

A flexible placement will allow interns and agencies to negotiate a suitable work pattern for placement, for a minimum of 50 days of work during the year. It is important that placement arrangements do not interfere with an intern’s studies, especially with their preparation for and sitting of exams.

The following table provides examples of alternative work placement models:

Example 1—Day a week
1–2 days a week during semesters/trimesters across the course of the academic year for 50 weeks.

Example 2—Break blocks
6–8 weeks of full-time work during the long break at the end of the academic year, along with 2–4 weeks of full-time work during the break between semesters/trimesters.

Example 3—Summer block and day a week
8 weeks of full-time work during the long break between the academic years along with 1–2 days of work per week for at least 10 weeks during semesters/trimesters.

Example 4—Summer block
An agency may choose to offer a block placement at the end of the academic year for 10–12 weeks.


Ongoing evaluation of the program will be undertaken to determine whether the program is meeting the specified objectives. Lessons learned on the administration and coordination of the program will also be determined.


Last reviewed: 
3 October 2019