Public Interest Law Careers Guide - Department of Justice: Koori Employment Strategy

Contact Details

Koori Employment Team, People and Culture, Department of Justice, Level 37, 121 Exhibition St, Melbourne, Vic 3000
Phone: 03 8684 1753
Visit the Koori employment page of the Department of Justice website

Under the Aboriginal Justice Agreement, the Department of Justice has a comprehensive Koori Employment Strategy and recognises the importance of diversity and the value that Koori staff bring to the workplace.

The department has over 130 Koori employees in a range of diverse roles including management, policy development, project management, administration and direct service delivery roles in both Melbourne CBD and across regional Victoria.

In April 2012, Koori employees represented 1.78 per cent of the department's total workforce. Building further on its success, the department is committed to reach a Koori employment target of 2.5 per cent under the Strategy by 2015.

The Department of Justice aims to create a Koori-friendly workplace and be an employer of choice for Koories. State-wide and regional Koori Staff Networks are in place to support Koori staff and ensure access to career development and training opportunities. Koori Cultural Awareness Training is available to all staff, and aims to improve the departments' cultural awareness. 

Indigenous applicants are invited to contact the Koori Employment Team when applying for jobs.

The current Department of Justice Koori employment initiatives include:

Work Experience - secondary and tertiary level

Work experience and practical placements are available for secondary and tertiary students. Placements are usually for two weeks, but can be flexible to accommodate students' needs.

The Koori Graduate Recruitment & Development Scheme (KGRADS)

KGRADS is an employment program offered by the Department of Justice to Koori graduates who have completed their degree or are in the final year of their studies. The objective of this program is to make the transition to a career within the department more accessible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates. Emphasis is placed on investing in the graduates' professional development and retaining them in fulfilling, successful careers. 12 months of training and professional development is followed by permanent employment.

This program mirrors the VPS GRADS, in that graduates participate in three rotations and a structured graduate learning and development program; however, the recruitment process is tailored to ensure cultural sensitivities are catered for and graduates will have access to additional networking opportunities and peer support through the department's Koori Staff Network (KSN).

Koori Tertiary Scholarships Program

The department offers a number of Tertiary Scholarships to assist Koori students to undertake full-time study in a range of justice-related fields including law, criminology, paralegal, psychology, psychiatry, mental health and social work. A fortnightly study allowance is provided to undertake full-time study in justice related areas. To date, the department has awarded 32 scholarships through this program. Applicants must have completed the first year of their tertiary studies.

Indigenous Legal Traineeship Program

In a partnership with Tarwirri, the Indigenous Law Students and Lawyers Association of Victoria, the VGSO offers Law graduates at least one Traineeship position every two years.

The role of a Trainee Lawyer with the VGSO is wonderfully diverse, constantly challenging and extremely interesting. As a Trainee Lawyer, you will gain exposure to various facets of the legal system, with three-month rotations through four of our five Branches: Government & Public Law, Commercial, Property & Technology, Litigation & Dispute Resolution, Victoria Police, and Workplace Relations & Regulatory Compliance.

As the VGSO is an administrative office of the Department of Justice, the Indigenous Trainee Lawyer will have access to a range of support and networking opportunities offered by the department, including the Koori Staff Network.

Indigenous Cadetship Program

The Indigenous Cadetship Program links Indigenous tertiary students with justice employers in a cadetship arrangement to undertake full-time study and paid work experience placements. Students can get paid work experience while they study, a fortnightly allowance and an allowance for study materials. Ongoing mentoring is provided. A number of cadetships are available at any one time. Eligibility criteria and Application Forms are available upon request. Students can access this from their first year of university, and a guaranteed a job upon successful completion of their studies.

Other roles and career opportunities available within the Department of Justice include:

  • Koori Prison Officer Program: This Program aims to increase the representation of Kooris as prison officers across Corrections Victoria. The department also encourages applications from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for Community Correctional Services roles.
  • Entry level Prison Officer, Field Officer and Community Corrections Officer roles are based across metropolitan and regional Victoria.
  • Aboriginal Well-being Officer / Aboriginal Liaison Officer: assist Indigenous prisoners by providing ongoing support regarding their welfare and well-being
  • Indigenous Leading Community Corrections Officer: provide culturally appropriate guidance and counselling to Indigenous offenders, assisting them to participate in programs and community work and developing strong linkages with Indigenous agencies
  • Youth employment Scheme: Young people can access 12-month traineeships, and upon successful completion receive an accredited certificate III qualification and work experience.

Information for Indigenous Lawyers

Aboriginal Justice Agreement

The Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement (AJA) is a partnership between the Victorian Government and the Koori community, established to achieve improved justice outcomes for Koories. The AJA aims to minimise Koori over-representation in the criminal justice system by improving the accessibility, use and effectiveness of justice-related programs and services.

A core principle of the AJA is maximising participation of the Koori community in the design, development, delivery and implementation of all justice policies and programs that impact on Koories. Increased participation is achieved through community programs, partnerships and place-based partnership projects. Partnerships include working with the Koori Caucus, the Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Networks (RAJACs), and Local Aboriginal Justice Action Committees (LAJACs).

For more information on the Aboriginal Justice agreement, visit the Department of Justice website

Koori Justice Unit

Applicants interested in policy work can consider employment opportunities in Koori Justice Unit, Department of Justice.

The Koori Justice Unit sits within the Department of Justice's Community Operations and Strategy Branch. The unit is responsible for coordinating the development and delivery of Victoria's Koori justice policies and programs across the Victorian Government and justice system, primarily the Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement (AJA).

The Koori Justice Unit promotes the partnership of the Koori community and government, by facilitating community engagement initiatives to build strong networks and enable state-wide participation in the delivery of Koori justice-related policies, programs and initiatives.

As part of this responsibility, the Koori Justice Unit:

  • assists with achieving positive justice outcomes for the Koori community
  • builds capacity, in the Department of Justice and the Koori community, to develop and deliver effective and efficient justice services
  • provides advice to the Justice executive, Ministers and staff across the department on issues impacting on the Victorian Koori community (excluding native title)
  • advocates for continual improvement in the delivery of Koori justice initiatives
  • maintains a robust evidence base (including statistical databases) detailing Koori contact with the criminal justice system
  • provides executive services to Justice ministers and the Justice executive at Aboriginal affairs forums and committees across the Victorian Government, as well as the Commonwealth Government where required
  • provides secretariat support and program implementation on behalf of the Aboriginal Justice Forum.

One of the initiatives under the Aboriginal Justice Agreement which the Koori Justice Unit administers is the Community Initiatives Program for Organisations

Community Initiatives Program (CIP) funding is available to Koori organisations to support pilot programs or research which provide community-based responses to justice issues.

Projects considered for CIP funding will primarily be those that:

  • increase community participation in the development of culturally-appropriate and innovative early intervention programs
  • promote reconciliation and partnerships between communities and justice agencies
  • assist in research and the identification of community-based best practice initiatives including the planning and development of regional strategic plans and submission proposals
  • clearly promote activities which support the objectives of the Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement (AJA)
  • are a catalyst to, or basis for, long-term sustainable capacity-building programs.



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