State of the service

Representation of Indigenous employees in the APS

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In September 2015 the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet released the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy. One of the goals of the strategy is to increase the representation of Indigenous1 employees across the Commonwealth public sector to 3% by 2018. The Australian Public Service (APS) accounts for almost half of the Commonwealth public sector.

  • “Indigenous representation is 2.6% of the APS—the highest level in the last ten years”

The representation of Indigenous employees has remained fairly stable over the past fifteen years. At 30 June 2015 Indigenous representation was 2.6% of the APS workforce. This is its highest level in the last ten years and 0.4 percentage points away from the Commonwealth target.

Figure 1.

All employees: representation of Indigenous employees, 2006 to 2015

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

Per cent

June

Figure 1. is a line chart showing a gap in agency digital transformation capability in strategic digital planning across the APS

Three of the APS Indigenous recruitment programs have made a significant difference to the representation of Indigenous employees in the APS over the past ten years.

  • The APSC Pathways program commenced in 2006. It includes a graduate program for university graduates and a traineeship program. Successful applicants experience a variety of work placements and receive training and ongoing support.
  • The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Evergreen program commenced in 2012. It is an Indigenous advancement program that provides training and work placement opportunities within the ATO.
  • The departments of Employment and Education and Training offer an Indigenous Australian Government Development Program that commenced in 2010. It is an entry level employment program that combines ongoing employment with structured learning.

Our research shows that increase in Indigenous representation can be attributed to both recruitment and retention programs. This demonstrates the success of the strategies being used across the APS to retain Indigenous employees.

Figure 2.

All employees: representation of Indigenous employees 2006 to 2015

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Per cent

June

Figure 2.

Ten years ago the separation rate for Indigenous employees was nearly twice that of the rest of the APS. The separation rate for the rest of the APS has remained more or less static over past the ten years. During this period the rate for Indigenous employees has trended downwards. A number of factors have contributed to the declining separation rate, including much improved agency-specific Indigenous employment strategies and the introduction of Indigenous Champions. These champions are senior executive role models who act as advocates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. They work closely with Indigenous employees and with each other to effect change within agencies and the broader APS.

Figure 3.

Ongoing employees: separation rate 2006 to 2015

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Per cent

June

Figure 3 is a line chart showing .

The proportion of engagements of ongoing employees who identify as Indigenous has increased significantly over the past ten years. There were dramatic increases over the past two years. This is largely due to the continuation of Indigenous recruitment programs during a period of low recruitment activity in the APS.

Figure 4.

Ongoing engagements: percentage identified as Indigenous

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

Per cent

June

Figure 4 is a line chart showing .

With a large workforce dispersed across Australia and with a range of effective strategies already in place, the APS is well placed to establish itself as a leader in Indigenous employment. The APS will continue to implement and assess the impact of recruitment strategies intended to improve the Indigenous employment outcomes.

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

[1] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Indigenous are used interchangeably to refer to Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.