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Workplace mentoring for indigenous Australians: a case study

John Burgess (Newcastle Business School, University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia)
Sharlene Dyer (Newcastle Business School, University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia)

Equal Opportunities International

ISSN: 0261-0159

Article publication date: 14 August 2009




The purpose of this paper is to present a case for the importance of mentoring programs in addressing the disadvantage of minority groups in the workforce. Also, to report on a workplace mentoring program conducted for indigenous Australians at the University of Newcastle, Australia.


Interviews with program participants.


Indigenous Australians are marginalised in the Australian workforce. Governments have developed many special labour market programs for indigenous Australians, the majority of which are based on public sector employment. There is potential for more extensive private sector participation in developing workplace programs to support indigenous Australians. Workplace mentoring, especially through indigenous mentors, is important in assisting indigenous employees sustain employment and enhance workforce attachment. The case study demonstrated how culturally appropriate mentoring programs can be successful in attracting, training and placing indigenous Australians into employment.

Research limitations/implications

Confined to a single case study organisation, but the findings are in keeping with North American research on mentoring indigenous workers.

Practical implications

Mentoring has a strong role to play in assisting disadvantaged minorities improve labour market outcomes.


There has been no previous research in the Australian context on mentoring indigenous workers.



Burgess, J. and Dyer, S. (2009), "Workplace mentoring for indigenous Australians: a case study", Equal Opportunities International, Vol. 28 No. 6, pp. 465-485.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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