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Diversity and the organic growth of APS Asia capability

For the APS, drawing on the diversity of Australia's population is essential to delivering the requirements of government and meeting the needs of citizens. A diverse workforce brings a range of perspectives to bear in challenging conventional thinking, encouraging different approaches to problem solving and fostering innovation.

As Australia's diversity has shifted over time, so too has the diversity and cultural capability of the APS. Figure 8.2 shows that the representation of ongoing Asian-born APS employees has steadily increased over the last 15 years. In 2000, Asian-born Australians made up 6% of Australia's population.12 In the same year, Asian-born APS employees13 made up 5.3% of all ongoing APS employees whose country of birth was known14 and 6.9% of ongoing engagements in the year ending June 2000. In 2011, 9% of the total Australian population were born in Asia. In 2011, Asian-born APS employees represented 7.5% of all ongoing employees whose country of birth was known and 10.5% of ongoing engagements.

Figure 8.2 Ongoing non-English speaking background employees born in Asia, 1999 to 2013

Source: APSED

Figure 8.3 shows that the proportion of Asian-born APS employees has increased over the past 15 years.

Figure 8.3 Engagements and separations—ongoing Asian-born employees, 1999 to 2013 15

Source: APSED


Australia's changing multicultural society has benefited the APS. In seeking to build a vibrant workforce representing the wider diversity of the nation, the APS has organically developed a workforce with Asia capability and insights. While employment data indicates the APS has been progressively attracting Asian-born employees, the future challenge for the APS will be to continue to attract and retain these employees in a market where their Asia capability is increasingly valued by all employers.


12 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Social Trends, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, (2001).

13 Australian Government, Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, (2012), p. 290. Asia refers to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macao, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

14 The country of birth was known for 79.4% of all ongoing employees.

15 The proportions used in this figure refer to all APS employees whose country of birth is known. In 2013, this was 79.4% of all ongoing employees.

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018