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Diversity Council

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The APS has long been committed to progressing equity and diversity to ensure that the public service workforce is representative of the broader Australian community. Despite this commitment, two groups in particular continue to be drastically under-represented in the APS: Indigenous Australians and people with disability. Representation rates for both groups have been in steady decline since the late 1990s.

To redress this, the Secretaries Board established the APS-wide Diversity Council in early 2012. The Council provides visible, strategic leadership on diversity issues, and aims to motivate improvements in diversity outcomes, including employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians and people with disability, in the APS.

The Council is chaired by Dr Ian Watt AO, Secretary, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and comprises:

  • Ms Kathryn Campbell CSC, Secretary, Department of Human Services
  • Mr Drew Clarke PSM, Secretary, Department of Communications
  • Ms Jane Halton PSM, Secretary, Department of Health
  • Mr Chris Jordan AO, Commissioner of Taxation, Australian Taxation Office
  • Ms Renée Leon PSM, Secretary, Department of Employment
  • Ms Lisa Paul AO PSM, Secretary, Department of Education
  • Mr Finn Pratt PSM, Secretary, Department of Social Services
  • Mr Dennis Richardson AO, Secretary, Department of Defence
  • Mr Stephen Sedgwick AO, Public Service Commissioner (Deputy Chair)
  • Mr Roger Wilkins AO, Secretary, Attorney-General's Department.

The Council, which meets quarterly, held its first meeting on 16 March 2012, where members agreed on an initial range of strategies designed to bring visibility to diversity issues, share and promulgate best practice and monitor agency performance in improving workforce diversity.

Diversity Council latest news

Dates for 2014 Diversity Council meetings released

The dates for the 2014 Diversity Council meetings have been released as follows:

  • Tuesday 11 March
  • Wednesday 21 May
  • Wednesday 20 August
  • Wednesday 19 November 

For more information on Diversity Council meetings please contact


New workforce planning tool developed

The Commission has recently developed an APS-wide Entry and Exit survey, as tools to assist agencies with their strategic workforce planning needs. The surveys have been designed to collect data from all employees who chose to participate, but will also enable deeper analysis of attraction and retention information on people from key diversity groups.

In particular, the Diversity Council has acknowledged the need to reduce the APS’s gap in understanding the underlying factors that influence the attraction and, critically, the retention of Indigenous employees and employees with disability. These surveys aim to do this, while also collecting valuable workforce and benchmarking data for all APS employees.

The surveys will be administered and managed by the Australian Public Service Commission at no cost to agencies. Additional complementary services (for example, production of agency-specific reports) can be provided on a cost recovery basis. The entry and exit surveys are closely linked to the State of the Service Report employee census, and can be tailored to meet your agency’s specific workforce planning needs.

If your agency would like to participate, or if you would like more information, please contact Mr Tony Cotton, Director, Human Capital Research and Evaluation on 02 6202 3562 or email

Council endorses reasonable adjustment principles

Many people with disability rely on reasonable adjustments to participate on an equal basis with their colleagues and to compete on a level playing field for positions and promotions in the APS. In 2009, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 was amended to make it easier for people to access reasonable adjustments.. These amendments explicitly included reasonable adjustments in the tests for both direct and indirect discrimination and changed the onus of proof in relation to the defence of unjustifiable hardship in favour of the complainant.

In early November 2012, Dr Ian Watt, Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Chair of the Diversity Council wrote to all portfolio Secretaries advising them of the Council’s endorsement of a set of best practice reasonable adjustment principles to better support the management of reasonable adjustments across the APS:

  • When employees move between APS agencies, the gaining agency should be given the option to acquire from the losing agency any equipment or adaptive technology purchased by an agency for an individual as a reasonable adjustment. The general policy applicable to Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 agencies allows the transfer of an asset (with or without payment as negotiated) to another Commonwealth entity.
  • Agencies should favourably consider moving to a centralised funding model for reasonable adjustments involving equipment or adaptive technology. While practices vary, the current environment of budgetary pressure is likely to persist and re-examining reasonable adjustment funding models may contribute to improved purchasing efficiency for agencies.
  • Agencies should establish a single (senior) point for reviews of reasonable adjustment requests that have been denied, to ensure consistency and fairness.
  • Agencies should promote to their managers a stronger awareness of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations’ JobAccess Employment Assistance Fund, <>, and encourage consideration of the Fund for appropriate reasonable adjustment requests.

All agencies are strongly encouraged to adopt these best practice principles to help create a more supportive environment for people with disability within the APS. It is also expected that these principles will offer agencies some productivity gains by ensuring that employees have the assistance and equipment they need to perform at their full capability.

Diversity Council endorses Charter

Council members endorsed the following Charter as a visible representation of their commitment to diversity, both within their own agencies, and across the broader APS.

An APS that mirrors the diversity of the community it serves.
APS workplaces that are respectful, inclusive and value the diversity of their workforce.

  1. To be leaders and role models for diversity.
  2. To promote inclusive practices in all areas of our agencies’ business, and across the broader APS.
  3. To seek to reflect the diversity of the Australian community, at all levels of the workforce.
  4. To convey our commitment to diversity to our employees, and to all APS employees, and inform them of the practical implications of this commitment.
  5. To include a section in each Diversity Council member’s annual report describing our commitment to diversity (including strategies implemented, practices and results).

Diversity Council calendar

February – December 2014
Date Item
13 Anniversary of the National Apology
20 Diversity Council meeting
for more information, please send an email to
6 APS Indigenous Employment HR Forum
for more information, please send an email to
8 International Women's Day
11 Diversity Council meeting
for more information, please send an email to
20 National Close the Gap Day
21 Harmony Day
International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination
4–13 National Youth Week
7 World Health Day
12 State of the Service Employee Census opens
21 Diversity Council meeting
for more information, please send an email to
26 National Sorry Day
27–3 June National Reconciliation Week
3 Mabo Day
5 APS Indigenous Employment HR Forum
for more information, please send an email to
13 State of the Service Employee Census closes
19 Vinnies CEO Sleepout
20 World Refugee Day
6–13 NAIDOC Week
9 International Day of the World's Indigenous People
20 Diversity Council meeting
for more information, please send an email to
4 APS Indigenous Employment HR Forum
for more information, please send an email to
Indigenous Literacy Day
1 International Day of Older Persons
5–12 Mental Health Week
19 Diversity Council meeting
for more information, please send an email to
27 APS Indigenous Employment HR Forum
for more information, please send an email to
3 International Day of People with Disability


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