State of the service

Representation of diversity in the APS: Indigenous Australians and people with disability

The APS recognises the importance of, and is committed to, increasing the representation of diversity groups in its workforce. Employees from diverse backgrounds bring a range of unique experiences and skills to the APS which better enables the APS to support all Australian people.

The APS is devoted to supporting the recruitment and retention of employees from diverse backgrounds.

The APS has implemented a number of initiatives aimed at improving employment experiences and outcomes for a range of diversity groups, including Indigenous Australians and people with disability.

The Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy aims to increase and improve Indigenous employment within the Commonwealth public sector.

Similarly, the aim of the As One: Making it Happen, APS Disability Employment Strategy 2016-19 is to increase the representation of employees with disability across the APS, including Indigenous people with disability.

Both strategies focus on recruiting, developing, supporting and including Indigenous employees and employees with disability.

At 30 June 2017, 3.2 per cent of the APS workforce identified as Indigenous. The Indigenous representation rate has increased over the previous ten years. The APS is on track to meeting its contribution of around 3.8 per cent to the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander target by 2018.1

Figure 1: Representation of Indigenous employees, 2003 to 2017

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

After a 10 year decline in the proportion of employees with disability from 4.2 per cent in 2003 to its lowest point of 3.2 per cent in 2012 and 2013, the representation of people with disability in the APS has steadily increased over recent years. At 30 June 2017, 3.6 per cent of the total APS identified as having a disability.

Figure 2: Representation of people with disability, 2003 to 2017

Paper icon representing the learn more page Learn more about this chart: view data for Figure 2.

A proportion of respondents to the 2017 APS employee census who identified as being Indigenous and/or with disability reported that their status was not recorded within their agency’s human resource management system. Respondents most commonly cited the following reasons for not sharing their diversity status:

  1. never having been asked to share this information;
  2. a decision that their Indigenous or disability status was not relevant to or impacted their work;
  3. a desire for their Indigenous or disability status to remain private; and
  4. concerns around the possibility of experiencing discrimination.

In 2017, 74 per cent of APS agencies actively encouraged their employees to update their diversity information in human resource management systems. Most agencies did so at least annually.

The APS is committed to monitoring the representation of diversity groups to more accurately understand its workforce. This understanding will enable agencies to implement appropriate strategies for workplace culture and social inclusion. Such strategies aim to better support their employees from diversity groups and see that they can continue to make important and meaningful contributions to the work of the APS.

1. http://www.apsc.gov.au/publications-and-media/current-publications/commonwealth-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-employment-strategy


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