Queensland's housing department has apologised after indigenous staff reportedly complained about a training document titled "Monkey Management" that was distributed across the state's north.
The 11-page HR document was made by an independent organisation using American material from the 1970s and is not part of official department training schemes, a spokesman said.
"Staff members who distributed the material have been counselled about its inappropriateness," the spokesman said.
"The department apologises to anyone who might have been offended by the material, and this is being communicated to staff."
The guide focuses on how managers can work with staff to stop workplace issues compounding and seems to be based on the metaphor of "a monkey on the back" being an ongoing problem.
"It's about making the right choices to manage your time and relationships when people bring you monkeys - problems, issues, or tasks they want your help with," the manual says.
Several indigenous department staff members have complained about its content to management and the Together Union, The Townsville Bulletin reports.
A six-step "monkey feeding" plan is detailed in the document.
It begins by advising "monkeys should be fed or shot, but never starved" and "keep the monkey population below the number you have the time to feed."
Housing minister Mick de Brenni said it was not surprising people found the material insensitive.
"I can only imagine how I would feel if I was a staff member who had this just randomly turn up in their email inbox," he told the Townsville Bulletin.
Further details are being sought from the union.