Go to top of page

50 years of APS employment data: 1966-2016

We know much about the historical composition of the APS thanks to 50 years of information held in the Australian Public Service Employment Database (APSED).

The APSED data demonstrates both slow, progressive demographic changes, as well as seismic shifts as a result of government policy.


In the 1960s, the Service became the largest employer of graduates in Australia, but also included some highly specialised roles - French Polishers, Light House Keepers, and even a Panel Beater–First Class.

Women made up 23.3 per cent of the service, and 92 per cent of them were employed at APS 2 or below. The majority of women were employed as typists and clerical assistants.

By the 1980s, typing and shorthand specialists had become a thing of the past, and today only 2.5 per cent of ongoing women in the Service are employed at APS 2 or below.

Women reached numerical parity with men for all APS employees in 1999.

It was in 1973 that the 'Commonwealth Public Service' was renamed the 'Australian Public Service. But the biggest single change in the makeup of the Service was in 1975, when the Postmaster-General's Department moved out of the APS, taking with it 121,966 employees, or 44 per cent of the entire APS.

On 1 July 1994 self-government in the ACT transferred 7,237 permanent employees to the ACT public service, this included housing, planning, and municipal services like waste management and road works.

As the Australian workforce has aged so has the workforce of the APS.  Over the past 50 years, the APS has become 8.5 years older – the median age has jumped from 34.5 to 43.

We have uploaded the 1965–1966 Public Service Board Annual Report to our website so you can learn more about the Service in 1966.

We celebrate the forethought of the Commonwealth Public Service of 1966 that created what we now know as the Australian Public Service Employment Database.

Last reviewed: 
11 May 2018