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Attraction and retention of diverse staff

The goal of the Whole-of-government ICT strategic workforce plan 2010–2013 is to support agencies to better plan, develop and manage a qualified, satisfied and flexible ICT workforce, while providing an attractive career path for ICT professionals in the APS. Recommendation 2.1.1 of the plan requires the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) to “provide whole-of-government policy options for agencies to attract and retain diverse staff.” The factsheets below, developed by the APSC in conjunction with APS agencies, are intended to meet this recommendation.

Both employees with disability and Indigenous employees have low levels of representation across the APS, and for this reason, these factsheets focus on these two specific groups. These factsheets give agencies some practical suggestions on what to do to increase levels of representation for people with a disability and Indigenous employees (and people who may identify as both).

In 2008–09, the representation of ongoing employees with disability in the APS was 3%. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, approximately 20% of the population have a reported disability. Due to definitional differences, this figure cannot be directly compared with representation in the APS. It is, however, essential that the APS actively promotes the employment of people with disability to reflect the diversity of the broader Australian community.

Indigenous representation in the APS has also been low, and in 2008–09 was 2.1%. In response, the Government has set a target of at least 2.7% (by the year 2015) for Indigenous employment in the Commonwealth public sector. This target slightly exceeds the national Indigenous working age population share of 2.6% and is part of a wider government commitment to closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage. While some agencies already exceed this target, the onus is on all portfolios and their agencies, both APS and non-APS, to consider whether the Indigenous employment strategies they have in place are getting the right results.

Diversity in the APS covers gender, language, ethnicity, cultural background, age, sexual orientation, religious belief and family responsibilities. Diversity also refers to the other ways in which people are different, such as educational level, life experience, work experience, socio-economic background, personality and marital status. Workplace diversity is one of the APS greatest strengths. Successful management of diversity means creating an environment that values and uses the contributions of people with different experiences, backgrounds and perspectives. A wide range of different perspectives can add to an agency’s innovation and creativity as well as overall productivity. It also ensures that by reflecting the diversity of the broader Australian community, the APS is able to better understand and respond to its needs.

This advice is intended to complement the policies and procedures that agencies already have in place, not override them. The factsheets may also highlight activities or programs agencies may not be aware of.

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Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018