Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Inter‐cultural contexts: Exploring the experience of indigenous employees in mainstream Australian organisations

Steel, L. and Heritage, B.ORCID: 0000-0002-6437-7232 (2020) Inter‐cultural contexts: Exploring the experience of indigenous employees in mainstream Australian organisations. Australian Journal of Psychology, 72 (3). pp. 248-256.

Link to Published Version:
*Subscription may be required


Objective: This study aimed to understand more about the experiences of Indigenous employees within mainstream Australian workplaces. Employment and retention rates for Indigenous employees continue to be disproportionately lower than the mainstream Australian population. The potential impact of the inter‐cultural workplace context has featured little in the current research and public discourse on employment and retention rates. This study contributes further research and practice implications within the inter‐cultural and organisational psychology literature.

This qualitative study investigated the experiences of 10 Indigenous participants in a metropolitan area who are, or have been, employed in mainstream Australian workplaces. In‐depth interviews were conducted using grounded theory methodology and participants' responses coded to identify themes.

Results suggested that some Indigenous employees experience mainstream workplaces as inter‐culturally complex environments. This setting is also found to present an increased range of psychosocial barriers to successful employment and retention. A working theory of inter‐cultural code‐switching between mainstream and minority groups is proposed.

The inter‐cultural environment of mainstream Australian workplaces may be requiring Indigenous employees to display high levels of cultural agility to achieve successful employment and retention outcomes. The implications of this study suggest that widespread government initiatives to increase Indigenous employment are unlikely to result in sustained increases in employment and retention unless inter‐cultural considerations are given due attention.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
Publisher: Wiley
Copyright: © 2020 The Australian Psychological Society
Item Control Page Item Control Page