Westpac boosts employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians

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22 August 2014

Westpac Group today committed to employ an additional 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by 2017 as part of a broad suite of commitments announced in its 2015-17 Reconciliation Action Plan.

To support this commitment, Westpac will enhance its targets within existing dedicated Indigenous employment programs, including a new 10-year commitment with CareerTrackers to place 40 Indigenous interns annually and committing to increase the number of Indigenous trainees hired each year.

In addition, Westpac announced it will create new employment pathways for Indigenous Australians in collaboration with corporate partners, suppliers, social enterprises and community partners. This includes: 

  • A new pilot apprenticeship program called Warrigal with Westpac’s catering partner Compass Group. Sixteen young Indigenous Australians will gain hospitality industry qualifications and practical experience, supported by holistic mentoring at work and home;
  • Increasing to $3 million the spend on Indigenous-owned businesses within Westpac Group’s supply chain;
  • Continuing to increase the number of small Indigenous businesses being established or expanded through access to Westpac microfinance loans in partnership with Many Rivers Microfinance; and
  • Delivering a new financial governance education program to more than 30 Indigenous-owned organisations.

Westpac Group CEO Gail Kelly said the company’s employment commitments were focused on building and supporting long-lasting careers.

“Not only are we increasing the number of new Indigenous employees across Westpac Group, we’re also focused on retaining and developing employees. Our goal is to provide long-lasting and meaningful careers, where we can better support the professional development and leadership aspirations of our Indigenous employees,” Mrs Kelly said.

Mrs Kelly said the plan will be driven by an integrated approach across the areas where Westpac has the skills to make the greatest contribution to lasting social and financial outcomes for Indigenous Australians.  

“We have learnt from experience that creating strong partnerships and taking an integrated approach to working with customers, employees and communities is essential to opening up new opportunities for effective progress for Indigenous Australians,” Mrs Kelly said. 

“By working closely with our Indigenous and corporate partners, we continue to share knowledge and identify new, more efficient ways to create better outcomes for Indigenous customers, employees and communities.”

Mrs Kelly was also pleased to announce the establishment of a new Indigenous Business team with a dedicated focus on building Westpac’s Indigenous banking capability.

“Our new Indigenous business managers will work alongside Indigenous customers and communities to better understand unique needs and challenges and develop new options for personal, home and business banking,” she said.

“Our aspiration is for this work to improve the financial wellbeing of more Indigenous Australians and ultimately, see a sustainable increase in levels of home ownership and business growth.”

Mrs Kelly said the refreshed Reconciliation Action Plan built on the progress achieved over the past two decades. Highlights include: 

  • Since co-founding the Jawun Indigenous Corporate Partnership program in 2001, 623 Westpac Group employees have contributed the equivalent of 80 years to Indigenous community organisations; 
  • Since the inception of Many Rivers Microfinance in 2009, 275 Indigenous owned businesses have been established or expanded with the assistance of Westpac/Many Rivers microfinance loans totalling $1.53 million on a non-profit basis; and
  • Since 2012, $2.4 million in community grants have been awarded to organisations focused on supporting Indigenous through Westpac Group’s four charitable foundations.

Reconciliation Australia Chief Executive, Leah Armstrong, today announced Westpac Group’s latest Reconciliation Action Plan had been awarded the ‘Elevate’ status - the highest status to be assigned.

“As a financial services organisation, Westpac uses its strengths to make a real difference to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities,” Ms Armstrong said.

“It is great to see Westpac continuing to show leadership, pushing the boundaries and setting new benchmarks for achieving real change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and for reconciliation.”

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