Skip to main content

Indigenous Skills and Employment Program (ISEP)

The Indigenous Skills and Employment Program (ISEP) is about connecting First Nations people to jobs, career advancement opportunities, and to new training and job-ready activities.

In supporting organisations to design activities with community before implementing them, ISEP leverages the distinct strengths and interests of local First Nations communities and employers.

Complementing (but not duplicating) mainstream employment services, ISEP-funded activities will reflect regional priorities that have been identified by the NIAA but guided by local knowledge. In this way, activities funded through ISEP will make an impact where it is most needed.

ISEP is consistent with the aims of the Closing the Gap Agreement and especially priority reform 3, which seeks a transformation in the way government operates – including by delivering services in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Organisations supported through ISEP funding are supported to design projects and activities with the local community that will benefit from them.

ISEP Design 

The ISEP’s design draws on thorough consultations with community that took place in August and September 2021 – as well as Australian and international research. You can read more about the work that went into designing ISEP by reading the ISEP Consultation Outcomes Report

ISEP Grant selection process 

The ISEP grant opportunity is a two stage competitive process. Stage One closed in April 2022. Successful Stage One applicants are published on GrantConnect

Stage One 

ISEP Stage One consisted of an open-competitive application round. Successful applicants needed to demonstrate their capacity to design activities with First Nations communities and to deliver culturally appropriate employment services.  

As part of the application process, applicants also needed to demonstrate: 

  • their ability to build the capacity of First Nations organisations; 
  • a track record in delivering employment related activities in collaboration with others; 
  • their knowledge on the needs and aspirations of First Nations jobseekers, and; 
  • their efforts would align with the priorities of the regions they are targeting. 

Following the competitive assessment process, the NIAA provided successful organisations with seed funding to support their community design phase activities. The community design process ensured an organisation’s project is fit for purpose – and that projects will reflect the community’s needs and wants. 

Stage Two 

Stage Two was a closed-competitive round that was open to successful Stage One applicants only. In their Stage Two application, organisations were required to:  

  • develop a detailed plan of activities that clearly align with the relevant ISEP Regional Priorities; 
  • provide details of their proposed activities and demonstrate their capacity to successfully deliver the activities, adequately managing risk and measuring their effectiveness in achieving ISEP objectives; and 
  • demonstrate they have appropriately engaged in and completed the community design process. 

The full selection criteria is available in the ISEP Grant Opportunity Guidelines through GrantConnect

Applications for ISEP Stage Two opened on 16 January 2023 and closed on 12 July 2023, with several NIAA regions granted extensions due to adverse weather events and to allow for cultural business.  

  • The NIAA is currently conducting a comprehensive, merit-based assessment process in partnership with Empowered Communities where appropriate. Successful Stage Two applicants will be published on GrantConnect.  


ISEP is about partnership: participating organisations stand to benefit from sharing local knowledge, while jobseekers will be better off because the activities that ISEP will support will better fit their circumstances. 

In order to help participating organisations connect with each other and other relevant service providers, an ISEP Partnership Register (XLSX 68 KB) has been developed. 

If you would like to register your organisation’s interest in partnering with an ISEP-participating organisation, then you can register your interest.   

Empowered Communities 

The Commonwealth Government is committed to a partnership approach to regional planning and investment with the Empowered Communities (ECs) regions of East and West Kimberley, Central Coast NSW, Cape York, Inner Sydney, North East Arnhem Land, Ngarrindjeri in SA, Far West Coast of South Australia, the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, and Goulburn-Murray. 

Where an ISEP application targeted or included an Empowered Communities region, Empowered Community representatives were invited to participate in the assessment process with NIAA 

The Empowered Communities model is a First Nations designed and led shared decision making initiative that places Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in true partnership with the Australian Government. For more information on the Empowered Communities initiative, please see the NIAA’s Empowered Communities webpage as well as ISEP delivery targeting or including Empowered Communities must demonstrate shared decision making in the community design phase and an ongoing commitment for the project duration. 

Further information 

For more information about the ISEP, you can contact the ISEP team at


  • ISEP Consultations and Discussion Paper – Findings report 
  • Indigenous Skills and Employment Program (ISEP) Discussion Paper 

For all enquiries please contact

Latest News