Creating opportunities

We are focussed on fast-tracking Indigenous Australians into professional and leadership roles to ensure we have a stronger representation of diverse voices at our decision-making tables across all our businesses in Australia. In 2023, we revised our target to have 100 Indigenous leaders by 2025.

Having true diversity of perspectives, and an Indigenous lens on decision making, will guide our company moving forward.

Creating an environment that is safe for Indigenous employees is a priority. Our cultural safety initiative “Care for Mob” will be delivered against a national framework in partnership with the Everyday Respect taskforce to ensure all employees feel safe, supported and respected.

Supporting students to achieve their potential

For more than a decade we have partnered with Indspire, an Indigenous national charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. Indspire provides financial awards, delivers programs and shares resources so that Indigenous students achieve their highest potential.

In 2021, we renewed our partnership with the Breakfast Club of Canada with C$750,000 over 3 years to provide nutritious meals to over 4,000 students in 18 Indigenous schools in British Columbia and Quebec.

We also established an institutional research structure dedicated to the indigenisation of higher education through a C$1.5 million partnership with Universite du Quebec a Chicoutimi. The structure will be established in collaboration with several Indigenous communities and will focus, among other things, on training the next generation of Indigenous scientists.

Our leaders talk about our commitment to Indigenous leadership in our Australian business
  • Indigenous development programs - Australia
  • Graduate and vacation student programs

Indigenous development programs – Australia

Indigenous Leadership Development Program

This program supports our Indigenous employees to accelerate the transition to higher roles within our business and bridge any development gaps.

It is available for people either leading teams or pursuing a more technical discipline and is tailored to suit each person’s specific career aspirations. The program can include access to one of our university partnerships to fast-track tailored learning to help employees secure qualifications for their next role, or placement in another role or operation to develop core business and leadership skills.


We’re proud to have partnered with the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) to deliver the RioInspire program which is a first of its kind, blending Indigenous knowledge and practices with best-practice leadership research. It's a globally recognised framework that focuses on developing executive-ready Indigenous future leaders who will have an influential role in shaping the future not only our business and Indigenous Australia, but all Australia.

This partnership has enabled us to develop a program specifically for Rio Tinto Indigenous leaders. It incorporates Rio Tinto’s ways of working, including our values and business priorities. Upon completion, participants receive an AGSM Certificate of Executive Management Development.

Two-way mentoring program

Our 2-way mentoring program presents an important opportunity for our senior leaders in Australia to offer career advice to our Indigenous talent, while gaining a better understanding of some of the challenges faced by our Indigenous employees. The program is helping build a culture of understanding across our organisation and foster connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees.

More than 120 Indigenous employees have been paired with senior leaders since it commenced at the end of 2020.

Our senior leaders and Indigenous employees share their reflections on reciprocal learning through 2-way mentoring.

Graduate and vacation student programs

It is part of our strategy to accelerate opportunities for Indigenous professionals, providing them mentoring and opportunities for career growth. We work closely with the Graduate Talent at Rio Tinto to attract and recruit Indigenous talent for Graduate and Vacation Student Programs. Graduates and vacation students will be placed at a variety of locations across our Australian operations and hubs, including the Pilbara, Perth, Brisbane, Yarwun and Weipa.

Addressing employment barriers in Canada

In addition to raising awareness, we have been focusing on identifying and addressing some of the recruitment opportunities and barriers for Indigenous Peoples, and particularly Innu First Nations candidates. We prioritised eastern Canada in 2022 and took a number of actions. We established employment and training committees in partnership with Indigenous job placement agencies and we revised our recruitment process, including hiring criteria, pre-employment checks and verification processes. These changes resulted in 31 new Indigenous hires.

Indigenous participation

In 2023, we re-established the Aboriginal Training and Liaison (ATAL) program through a co-design process with the Traditional Owner groups we work with in the Pilbara. This work-ready program is focused on empowering participants to develop skills for ongoing employment in different jobs and industries across the Pilbara.

Networking program

We also launched our Australia-wide Indigenous employee networking program in 2021, supporting positive relationship building opportunities and a sense of belonging.

Leadership success

Coaching is one of the most powerful developmental tools to build skills and evolve behaviours. It is completely personalised and focuses on setting goals, creating outcomes and managing personal change in a way that is tailored to an individual.

All Indigenous employees in Australia have the opportunity to work with an experienced coach from the Leadership Success organisation. Coaches help participants to focus attention on the things that matter most and give them practical support, provide tools related to their individual goals and challenges, and guide them in how they can apply these on the job.

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Indigenous Leadership Program - Graduate Info Sheet
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2024 Indigenous Scholarship Program
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2024 Indigenous Cadetship Program
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