Australian Public Service sets new diversity targets

By on 08/07/2020
Indigenous Australians minister Ken Wyatt (left) says workplaces that nurture Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees will benefit future generations. (Photo by Emmanuel Berrod, courtesy World Intellectual Property Organization via flickr).

The Australian government has released a five-year workforce strategy that aims to boost the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees in public service.

It has set a target to increase the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to 3% in both the Senior Executive Service – comprising the top three leadership levels in the Australian Public Service (APS) below that of secretary – and in each band across all other government portfolios by 2024.

The Mandarin reports that workforce data for APS agencies at the end of 2018 showed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees were significantly over-represented in the lower five bands of the public service – the trainee to APS 4 classifications – and under-represented in middle management, executive level leadership, and senior executive leadership roles.

Reaching the set targets would involve “targeted recruitment with a longer-term focus on developing employees within the public sector to enable promotion into the more senior roles,” the report says. Agencies would be required to build a “talent pipeline” through direct recruitment and professional development, it adds.  

Boosting inclusivity through cultural understanding

The report outlines four focus areas: boosting inclusivity by improving and embedding the understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in the workplace; strengthening and diversifying career pathways into and across the public sector; and ensuring career development plans are supported by targeted initiatives and advancement opportunities.

The plan builds on the previous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment strategy.

APS commissioner Peter Woolcott said the strategy would “accelerate improvements in closing the gap in social and economic outcomes between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians”. He added that workplace environments that demonstrate cultural integrity “drive better policy development and service delivery outcomes to better meet the needs” of Australians.   

Indigenous Australians minister Ken Wyatt said that workplaces that nurture Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees would ensure that cultural perspectives “become embedded in all aspects of our organisations over time,” while also benefitting future generations.

An interim evaluation of the strategy implementation will be undertaken in 2022, after which the plan could be updated subject to progress. A further assessment is to take place in 2024.

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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