State of the service

APS employee work location

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Australian Public Service (APS) employees work in various locations, both around the country and overseas. Despite Canberra being synonymous with the APS, nearly 62% of all APS employees are located outside the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

  • “Nearly 62% of all APS employees are located outside of the ACT”

Figure 1.

APS employee location

Paper icon representing the learn more page Learn more about this chart: view data for Figure 1.

Per cent


APS employee location

State/territory

Figure 1. is a bar chart showing nearly 62% of all APS employees are located outside the ACT. Out of all the states and territories the ACT has the highest proportion of APS employees (38.1%), the NT has the least (1.5%). Overseas employees only represent 0.9% of the APS workforce.

The location of APS agencies and their staff is intended to ensure that services are delivered where they are needed most. The appropriate placement of staff also enables the implementation of policies and programmes where they are most relevant. Many agencies have national and regional offices in diverse locations. A small number of APS employees undertake their work overseas.

Figure 2.

APS employee location map

Paper icon representing the learn more page Learn more about this map: view data here or visit the State of the Service profile on Tableau Public.


Figure 2 is an interactive map showing the distribution of APS employee numbers across Australia by Statistical Area level 4 (SA4). Generally APS employee number is highly concentrated in the capital cities with 1,000 or more employees. The majority of WA and NT land masses have between 500 and 999 employees. The majority of QLD, NSW, VIC and SA land masses have between 100 and 499 employees. The majority of TAS land mass is split between 100 and 499 employees and less than 100 employees.

Five of the larger APS agencies have at least two thirds of their employees outside the ACT. These include the:

  • Department of Veterans’ Affair 67.9%

  • Department of Human Services 86.5%

  • Australian Taxation Office 87.6%

  • Bureau of Meteorology 94.3%

  • Australian Securities and Investments Commission 94.4%

There are many agencies where all employees are based outside of the ACT. Examples include the Australian Human Rights Commission in New South Wales and the Future Fund Management Agency in Victoria.

APS level employees account for over 80% of the APS workforce in locations outside the ACT. Compared to the other states and territories, the ACT has a significantly lower proportion of APS level staff (57.9%) and a correspondingly higher proportion of Executive Level (EL) staff. The classification distribution amongst overseas based staff is skewed towards EL employees.

Figure 3.

Classification by location

Paper icon representing the learn more page Learn more about this chart: view data for Figure 3.

Per cent


Classification by location

State/territory

Figure 3 is a bar chart showing over 80% of all APS 1-6 level employees are located outside the ACT. Out of all the states and territories the ACT has the lower proportion of APS level employees (57.9%), and higher proportion of EL employees. In all other states the distribution of all classification levels is relatively the same with a range of APS level 81.2% to 89.5%, EL 10.3% to 18.4%, SES 0.2% to 0.6%. Overseas APS have greater representation at the EL level 55.7% compared to SES (11.2%) and APS level (33.1%).

The proportion of non-ongoing employees is lowest in the ACT and in overseas jurisdictions. The proportion becomes much higher in other small locations. Over 17% of Tasmania’s APS workforce is non-ongoing and 16.5% of the Northern Territory’s APS workforce is non-ongoing.

Figure 4.

Non-ongoing employees by location

Paper icon representing the learn more page Learn more about this chart: view data for Figure 4.

Per cent

Non-ongoing employees by location

State/territory

Figure 4 is a bar chart showing the proportion of non-ongoing employees is lowest in the ACT (6.8%) and in overseas jurisdictions (2.3%). Out of all the states and territories the TAS has the highest proportion of non-ongoing employees (17.2%), followed closely by NT (16.5%).

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Read the State of the Service Report 2014–15 on the APSC website.