Organisational identity

Integrating Aboriginal perspectives into our work

Governments have worked with Aboriginal people before. Although they’ve meant well, the experience hasn’t always been positive for Aboriginal people.

In 2021 the EPA committed to integrating Aboriginal cultural values and perspectives into our work. The Aboriginal Initiatives team was formed, with its first task being to help get our relationship right.

The EPA’s most recent NSW State of the Environment report, released in February 2022, was a high-profile opportunity to show our commitment to Aboriginal people in NSW. We wanted to hear Aboriginal people’s views on the health of the environment. A working group, the Aboriginal Peoples Knowledge Group, was formed to support this initiative.

We also developed a Statement of Commitment to Aboriginal people. The statement sets out our intent to respectfully engage with Aboriginal people and include Aboriginal cultural values to further strengthen the protection of the environment. This statement will eventually lead to an Aboriginal Cultural Framework, which will guide how we incorporate Aboriginal cultural values into our everyday work.

Visually incorporating Aboriginal values

One of the first steps in integrating Aboriginal cultural values into our work has been to develop an ‘Aboriginal visual identity’ to enhance our visual brand.

decorative‘I looked at NSW maps through the eyes of Baiame, who is the spirit god and spirit creator of the land’

In 2021 more than 200 staff took part in 18 ‘yarning’ sessions during NAIDOC week (a week celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples). From these sessions we developed a collective story of what an Aboriginal visual identity would mean to the EPA.

Graphic artwork of Aboriginal visual identity represents our organisation’s relationship with Country and with Aboriginal people

We gave the collective story to Gerard Black, a Worimi artist, who used it to guide his creation of an artwork. This work is titled Nyuragil Barray Yawutung Warri in the Gathang language of the Worimi People; in English, it’s Spirited Country Journey Now.

‘I looked at NSW maps through the eyes of Baiame, who is the spirit god and spirit creator of the land,’ Gerard said. Filmmaker Wayne Quilliam documented Gerard’s creative journey. The artwork was officially launched at the all-staff SHINE awards in September 2021. It has become a special part of the EPA’s visual brand.

The Aboriginal visual identity represents our organisation’s relationship with Country and with Aboriginal people, and creates awareness of our commitment to Aboriginal people. It’s now on everything we work with – document templates, online meeting backgrounds, email signatures, banners, EPA shirts, cars and more – and on bottles and other merchandise.

Having this Aboriginal artwork before us every day is the first step in integrating Aboriginal cultural values into our everyday work.

Recruiting for success

staff members in the field - two women and two men wearing hi-vis vests

What attracts staff to work at the EPA?

What do they think makes us a great place to work? When we ask them, they consistently tell us that the EPA gives them:

  • the opportunity to be part of a purpose-led organisation where they can make a difference and have an impact
  • diverse work and challenges to solve
  • a culture where they are valued, recognised and have a voice
  • an environment where they feel included and diversity is valued
  • a place where they are part of a collaborative team, and their development and career growth are supported
  • a place where they have the flexibility to find balance in their life.

These insights help shape the benefits that we continue to develop, offer and promote to our current staff and to the talented and passionate people we want to attract.

On our careers webpage and LinkedIn profile we share the details of why we are a great place to work and the varied career opportunities we can offer. We’ve also told our stories through videos that cover what our operations officers do in a typical week. ‘The videos show the diverse work we do and the broad impact we have on the community,’ says EPA’s Director of Capability and Talent, Erin Torsello.

Focus on Aboriginal officers

We created a video specifically for Aboriginal people who might think about joining the EPA team as an operations officer. It shows what Aboriginal people and knowledge means to us and the value Aboriginal officers can add to the EPA, the NSW community and Country by bringing their culture and knowledge with them.

‘The videos show the diverse work we do and the broad impact we have on the community’

We’re focused on incorporating cultural activities into our work that enable Aboriginal people to care for Country, engage in knowledge sharing, and gain skills and employment in protecting the environment and community.

We aim to be an employer of choice and to nurture talent. With purpose, passion, pride and people at our heart, we create an organisation where we can protect tomorrow together.

How our people see the EPA

In August and September 2021 EPA staff, along with all other NSW Government employees, were invited to take part in the People Matter Employee Survey (PMES). This is the public sector’s annual opinion survey. The EPA’s participation rate of 96% shows how engaged and willing to offer feedback our people are.

The anonymous survey asked employees about their experiences with their work, workgroup, managers and organisation. The results showed that there are many things we do well as an organisation and there are also areas that need improvement.

So, what did our people feel about how we foster the EPA’s values?

Some results from the People Matter Employee Survey 2021



Staff who saw it favourably in 2021 (%)

2020 (%)

from NSW
Govt Sector (%)


Team collaboration





Manager-led improvement





Staff autonomy at work





Support for career advancement of women





Staff care about each other





The EPA meets the needs of the communities, people and businesses of NSW


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Where we work

The EPA head office is in Parramatta and there are 16 offices throughout NSW. The public can report pollution and environmental incidents through Environment Line, 131555. Other contact details.

EPA Office locations

Map of NSW showing our office locations