National Library’s Indigenous program opens doors for uni graduates

Katrina Condie 1 November 2021
Aleara Pearce at work in the National Library of Australia

Indigenous Graduate Program participant Aleara Pearce is learning new skills at the National Library of Australia. Photo: Nicole Lockwood.

Young people have an opportunity to choose their own adventure after completing the National Library of Australia’s Indigenous Graduate Program.

Since 2012, around a dozen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates have finished the program and moved into specialist roles within the library or crossed over into the public service.

Program coordinator Rebecca Bateman says the 11-month program provides university graduates with a “good grounding” to further their careers across a range of fields in both the government and community sectors.

“It’s a really varied program and could take graduates anywhere,” she said.

“We have graduates still working with us in the library today, but others have gone on to work in the public service and other government organisations.”


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The Indigenous Graduate Program is a key component in employing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the library’s workforce to develop the national collection for future generations and ensure Australia’s stories can be known and told into the future with respect and sensitivity.

As part of the program, Rebecca says graduates will get hands-on experience across different areas of the library, including the opportunity to work with the NLA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection as part of three or four rotation placements.

“They’ll work within the Indigenous Engagement section, learn about the library’s public programs and how to engage with the community,” she added.

“They could be working in the reading rooms, on requests for access or with our website.”

Participants can explore opportunities across the library, from oral history, folklore, photography and public programs to marketing, IT, pictures and manuscripts, and information management.

The specialised development program welcomes recent university graduates from a diverse range of disciplines.

Nicole Lockwood at work in the library

Previous graduate Nicole Lockwood is now working at the National Library. Photo: Amy Ramires.

Rebecca said the applicants could have previously studied anything from Japanese Studies to Accounting, but must express an interest in cultural heritage and leadership, arts and humanities, information technology, or curatorial and conservation work.

“They need to have an interest in connecting with Indigenous people and their heritage, and in working with the community,” she said.


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The program provides support from an Indigenous mentor and the Indigenous staff network, and the successful applicant will be required to relocate to Canberra.

Rebecca says anyone thinking of applying should call her to talk about the assistance that is available to graduates relocating from outside of Canberra.

“I know it’s a big thing for people to move away from their homes and their family, but it’s a really supportive and encouraging environment,” she said.

“Lots of people have been through the program from as far away as Western Australia, Far North Queensland and regional NSW, and we have a great team here to support them.”

Applications for the program close at 11:30 pm on Sunday, 7 November. More information is available from the National Library of Australia website.


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