Boosting Indigenous employment across Australia

Four Coles employees smiling at camera

Brodie Little with local Jawoyn women, Dolly (far right), her daughter Latoya and mother Ruth

Coles is proud to be the largest corporate employer of Indigenous Australians. In 2019, Coles made a commitment to increase its Indigenous team members to 5500 by 2023, after the Federal Government’s Closing the Gap 2019 report highlighted the need for improving the quality of life of Indigenous Australians*.

Coles is well on its way to achieving this goal. Currently, more than 4800 Indigenous Australians are employed by Coles – 430 of which were recruited earlier this year to keep up with increased consumer demand.

Providing a supportive and inclusive work environment is key to ensuring that Indigenous team members are successful in their roles, says Russell James, Head of Indigenous Affairs at Coles.

“Coles is seen as a safe and welcoming place for Indigenous Australians to work, and where you can build a career,” he says. “We’ve worked hard to achieve this.”

Coles Casuarina in Darwin, NT, is leading the way for Indigenous Australians.

Dolly, a local Jawoyn woman, has worked there for more than 20 years. Starting in a casual position to earn money while at school, Dolly is now the Officer In-Charge reporting to the store manager. Her mother Ruth joined the store in 2010, working in the deli, and Latoya, Dolly’s daughter, began working there in 2018. Employing three generations of Indigenous Australians within the same store is an important milestone in the store’s 45-year history.

Interacting with the local Casuarina community and working so closely with her family in the store are just two of the highlights for Dolly.

“Our store is like a big family and the customers are really special,” she says.

“Sometimes I walk in and Mum’s already there behind the deli and gives me a big smile and a wave. We’re quite close, so it’s nice that we get to spend a lot of time together.”

Coles Casuarina store manager Brodie Little is proud of the community spirit within his store and credits Dolly for her enthusiasm and loyalty.

“Dolly is the lifeblood of the store and you can always count on her to lend a hand and keep everyone on track,” Brodie says.

“She’s an all-round great person and treats her time here as more than just a job. She’s the driving force behind the family atmosphere that our team members and customers find so special.”

The excellent example that Dolly and Ruth lead at Coles is important not just to their tight-knit community, but to Dolly’s daughter Latoya too.

“Coles has done so many great things for them both,” Latoya says.

“This is my first job and I’m really loving it. I would love to follow their footsteps."

 *Source: niaa.gov.au/indigenous-affairs/closing-gap