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Case Study - Indigenous Business Australia – Recognising the contribution of workers

In 2013, Paul Hynes received a service award in recognition of 20 years of long and valued service working in Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) and its predecessors. He was one of 40 IBA employees to be acknowledged during NAIDOC week. Inscribed on the lid of the presentation box was a poignant message describing the hand-crafted award inside—an ornate tree. The inscription reads, ‘Designed and painted by Wayne “Liwingu” McGinness, the tree represents growth, strength, endurance and knowledge.  Laying roots to make a solid foundation, reaching for the sky, always striving for bigger and better, learning and growing more knowledgeable as each year passes.’  The message is a fine metaphor for a career of lifelong learning and contribution—something Indigenous Business Australia applauds and values.

Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) is a progressive, commercially focused organisation that promotes and encourages self-management, self-sufficiency and economic independence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

IBA is an integral partner within the Government’s Indigenous Economic Development Strategy, which seeks to close the gap between Indigenous Australians and other Australians’ standard of living.

Values and Commitment underpins everything IBA does

IBA’s values focus on professionalism, outcomes, collaboration, responsiveness, being proactive, and realistic. They value their people as much as the work they do, the programs they deliver, and the Indigenous people they serve across Australia, including remote regions.

IBA employs more than 200 people from diverse cultural backgrounds and demographics. They have long standing employees; and many have also worked for IBA’s predecessor organisations. Aligned with their values, they are proactive and professional, acknowledging the efforts and commitment of employees through an informal rewards and recognition program:

  • Australia Day Achievement Medallions – in recognition of outstanding performance of core duties or special projects
  • CEO Awards (annual) – for providing exceptional customer service and/or demonstrating IBA’s desired behaviours, in particular promoting cultural appreciation
  • Round of Applause for IBA Stars—nominations and acknowledgement of effort from all levels including peers, and approved by the Executive team
  • Long Service Awards—acknowledging long and valued service working in Indigenous affairs for IBA and its predecessors.

The program is underpinned by more formal mechanisms such as its performance management system designed to capture and encourage feedback, among other things.

Service Awards—celebrating the contribution of long standing employees

Paul Hynes is one of 40 workers to receive a service award this year. Paul has had a long and accomplished career in Indigenous affairs. He has worked in many aspects of Indigenous affairs in some of the most remote locations in South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland. Early on in his career, Paul found himself working in Alice Springs, then Katherine, delivering employment, education and training programs. A move to Port Augusta saw his focus change to community and youth support and other social programs in rural towns, followed by the delivery of housing, infrastructure and environmental health programs in the remote northwest of the state. After a move to Cairns he took a new pathway and led the human resources and corporate services team, a role that expanded to cover Regional Council support. It was a challenge, but after a time he returned to the job he finds most rewarding: working with regional and remote clients. Paul’s flexibility allowed him to slot-in where he was needed, including a stint as Deputy Regional Manager of a remote SA office.  He has recently been dividing his time between Cairns and Canberra, where he has once again applied his skills in new ways, filling in for public relations and parliamentary liaison positions. The experience has once again broadened his horizons and perspectives. It has helped him understand yet another aspect of IBA—an understanding that he intends to share with colleagues on his return to Cairns.

A lifetime of experience

Paul’s experience demonstrates a career pathway does not have to be linear. It’s possible to take different paths, learn continuously and find new ways to leverage past experience and apply it in many ways. He is passionate about Indigenous affairs and he has a deep understanding of issues facing Indigenous people in Australia today. His passion drives his work, and it’s this attitude that has enabled him to continually apply a lifetime of experience in new ways. IBA have a flexible approach to finding practical and achievable solutions to complex challenges - it’s driven by common sense and getting the best for their client base, and their workers.

For Paul, the Service Award presented an opportunity to reflect on his 20+ years of service in Indigenous affairs. As he reflects he recalls the highs and lows and realises, ‘careers have highs and lows, and without the lows the highs wouldn’t be so high’.

He said, “For me, the IBA award is affirming and says long-term service in Indigenous affairs is highly valued. Indigenous affairs is a complex and often critiqued public policy area and it is great to be acknowledged for work that does make a difference. The award is also highly motivating and encourages me to advocate all the more for my employer.”

The Service Award is another highlight of his career, it has renewed his commitment, and made his work more meaningful. That, combined with his passion, means his enthusiasm is infectious, which is why his peers of all ages celebrated his achievements alongside him.

IBA’s commitment to acknowledging service milestones demonstrates the importance of building age diversity and recognising the achievements of workers.

For more information—Investing in Experience

Older workers make important contributions in the workplace and their active participation at work is increasingly important in the context of an ageing society. The experience of older workers can positively reinforce age management practices. For more information about it read Investing in Experience: Working for Today and Tomorrow (PDF, 2.0 MB).

About Indigenous Business Australia

IBA is a significant contributor to the goals of the Australian Government’s Indigenous Economic Development Strategy, aimed at closing the gap between the living standards of Indigenous and other Australians.

We identify and pursue opportunities that enable Indigenous Australians to create wealth, accumulate assets and achieve their financial aspirations. We do this by building mutually respectful and responsible partnerships with Indigenous Australians, government agencies, private sector business and industry to facilitate home ownership, business ownership and wealth creating investments.

Comcare is working with organisations to share better practice. Comcare thanks Paul Hynes and Indigenous Business Australia for sharing their experience and for highlighting the importance of recognising and rewarding the contribution of workers.

Last updated: 31 Mar 2020
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