Westpac has announced it will employ an additional 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by 2017 and forge an Indigenous business team tasked with increasing home ownership as part of its Reconciliation Action Plan.

As part of the move, Westpac will forge a new 10-year commitment with Indigenous internship program CareerTrackers to place 40 Indigenous interns annually, as well as increasing the number of Indigenous trainees hired.

New employment pathways will also be created in collaboration with corporate partners, suppliers, social enterprises and community partners, including:

  • 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
  • delivering a new financial governance education program to more than 30 Indigenous-owned organisations

“Not only are we increasing the number of new Indigenous employees across Westpac Group, we’re also focused on retaining and developing employees,” Westpac chief executive Gail Kelly said. “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.

“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.

“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 also announced a new Indigenous Business team.

“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.”