The APS employment database records diversity information in relation to gender, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) status, disability status and employees from a culturally diverse background. Culturally diverse background in this chapter is mostly measured through data on non-English speaking background (NESB). With the exception of gender, the provision of diversity data is voluntary; therefore, not all APS employees have provided a response to each field. As a result, diversity rates represent the proportion of employees who identify as belonging to that diversity group, and actual diversity rates may be underestimated.
The annual APS employee census, which is voluntary and confidential, tracks diversity information as the APS employment database. Additionally the census captures the number of employees who respond and identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and/or Intersex. Diversity metrics, captured throughout APS workforce datasets are reported in the Commissioner’s State of the Service Report.
Employment data from the APS employment database shows that employee diversity has either plateaued or reduced slightly in 2020. This can mostly be explained by the large increase in casuals during 2020 in response to the bushfire emergency and COVID-19. Casuals have much higher missing data for diversity (60% or more) than other employees, and in some cases this has caused a proportional decrease despite actual diversity numbers not having dropped. For example, the number of employees from a non-English speaking background (NESB) increased by 113 in 2020 yet the proportional representation dropped from 14.8% to 14.4%.
Figure 3.1 – Diversity proportions of all APS employees from December 2001 to December 2020
Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
At 31 December 2020, there were 5,117 employees (3.4% of the APS) who identified as Indigenous, which is a drop of 19 Indigenous employees. Over the last 10 years, Indigenous representation has increased steadily from 2.5% in December 2011, which was the lowest recorded proportion (Figure 3.1).
At the end of the 2020 calendar year, Indigenous employees were concentrated in Services Australia (33.3% of total Indigenous employees), the Australian Taxation Office (9.3%), the Department of Defence (8.0%) and the National Indigenous Australians Agency (6.0%).
Agencies that employed a high proportion of Indigenous employees amongst their staff were the Torres Strait Regional Authority (74.4%), Aboriginal Hostels Ltd. (51.5%), the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (31.9%) and the National Indigenous Australians Agency (24.2%).
Of the 5,117 Indigenous employees at 31 December 2020, 80% (4,086) have job family data recorded. Of these, 1,710 (41.9%) worked in Service Delivery with 1,136 specifically employed in the Call or Contact Centre role.
At 31 December 2020, Indigenous employees were mostly located in Queensland (26.0%), the Australian Capital Territory (25.7%), New South Wales (17.4%) and the Northern Territory (10.4%). A high proportion of Indigenous employees were located in regional Australia (35.0%) in comparison to the total proportion of APS located in regional Australia (13.6%).
Indigenous employees are concentrated at lower classifications with almost half working at the APS 3-4 classification levels (Figure 3.2).
Figure 3.2: Classification breakdown by ATSI status, 31 December 2020
Indigenous employees on average have much shorter careers in the APS compared to non-Indigenous employees. This has been a consistent trend over the last 20 years with the difference widening in recent years (Figure 3.3). In 2020, the median length of service at separation for Indigenous employees was 4.0 years compared to 13.1 years for non-Indigenous employees. This is the largest gap in this metric over the last 20 years (Figure 3.3).
Figure 3.3: Median length of service at separation, Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees (2001 to 2020)
At 31 December 2020, there were 5,929 employees who identified as having a disability, an increase of 179 employees (or 3.1%) from December 2019. The proportion of employees who identified as having a disability was 4.0%, which is no change from 2019. The proportion of APS employees with a disability has increased from 3.2% in December 2012 (Figure 3.1).
Agencies that employ a high proportion of employees with a disability at 31 December 2020 were the National Disability Insurance Agency (12.9%), the Australian Public Service Commission (8.0%), the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (8.0%) and the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (7.7%).
Of the 5,929 employees with a disability at 31 December 2020, 87% (5,172) have job family data recorded. Of these, 1,916 (37%) worked in Service Delivery. In comparison, only 21.3% of employees without a disability were employed in the same job family. In particular, 19% of employees with a disability worked in the Call or Contact Centre role, which is double that of employees without a disability (9.4%).
At 31 December 2020, the classification distribution of employees with a disability largely mirrored that of employees without a disability, with the exception of APS 3-4 and EL classifications (Figure 3.4). At the APS 3-4 classifications, employees with a disability were in greater relative proportion than employees without a disability, while at the EL level the reverse is true. This difference may be explained by the high proportion of employees with a disability working in Service Delivery where most roles in this job family are at the APS 3-4 classifications.
Figure 3.4: Classification breakdown by disability status, 31 December 2020
Employees with a disability on average, have longer careers in the APS than employees without a disability. This has been a consistent trend over the last twenty years (Figure 3.5).
Figure 3.5: Median length of service at separation, employees with and without a disability (2001 to 2020).
Cultural and linguistic diversity
APS employment data has historically been collected to inform metrics labelled ‘Non-English speaking background (NESB)’. These metrics are split into two components: NESB 1 refers to people born overseas who arrived in Australia after the age of five and whose first language was not English; NESB 2 refers to children of migrants. At 31 December 2020, 5.3% of the APS identified as NESB 1, while 9.1% were NESB 2.
The combined proportion of NESB 1 and NESB 2 employees has increased from 11.4% in 2001 to 14.8% in 2019. However, the combined proportion of employees with a NESB status have dropped to 14.4% in 2020 (Figure 3.1). This proportional decrease is mostly due to the significant increase in casual staff in 2020 who commonly do not report diversity data. The number of employees with a NESB status has actually increased by 113.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines the CALD population mainly by country of birth, language spoken at home, self-reported English proficiency, or other characteristics including year of arrival in Australia, parents; country of birth and religious affiliation (ABS Standard for Statistics on Cultural and Language Diversity (ABS cat. No. 1289.0) 1999). Country of birth, first language spoken, mother’s and father’s first language, language spoken at home and year of arrival in Australia data elements are collected in the APS employment database. The APSC is currently reviewing its data collection to move towards metrics that more closely align with the CALD metrics used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
At 31 December 2020, 22.2% of APS employees were born overseas with 16.1% from a culturally and linguistic diverse country (non-English speaking). Since 2001, there has been an increase in the proportion of APS employees born overseas, especially those coming from non-English speaking countries (Figure 3.6). These trends mirror that of the Australian population with 29.7% of Australians being born overseas and 20.9% of Australians are from a culturally and linguistic diverse country (ABS Migration, Australia, 2018–19 (ABS cat. No. 3412.0) 2020). The proportion of APS employees born overseas is consistently lower than that of the Australian population (Figure 3.6).
Figure 3.6: Proportion of culturally and linguistically diverse employees December 2001 – December 2020
Excluding APS employees born in Australia, as at 31 December 2020, most other employees were born in either Asia (46.6%) or Europe (28.5%). Since 2001, there has been a significant increase in employees from Asia and a corresponding decrease from Europe (Figure 3.7). In 2010, the number of APS employees born in Asia outnumbered those born in Europe for the first time. Other country of birth regions make up less than 10% each and have only changed marginally over the last two decades. Compared to the Australian population, the proportion of APS employees born in Asia is relatively high while all other regions have a slightly lower representation.
Figure 3.7: Proportion of APS employees born overseas at December 2001–December 2020
The most common overseas country of birth as at 31 December 2020 was England (13.6%) although their proportional representation has declined from 24.3% in 2001. At 31 December 2020, seven of the top ten country of births were from the Asian region (APSED December 2020 Table 78). In particular, the proportion of employees born in India and China has increased over the last two decades.
Figure 3.8: Most common overseas countries of birth
The APS employment database classifies data into three categories of gender; Male, Female and X. ‘X’ represents individuals who are indeterminate, unspecified or intersex. The overall proportion of women in the APS was 59.9% at 31 December 2020. This is an increase from 59.7% in 2019. The proportion of women in the APS has increased steadily from 52.6% in December 2001 (APSED December 2020 Table 77). Women make up an even higher proportion of non-ongoing employees (63.4% in 2020) but unlike ongoing employees, this proportion has changed little over the last 20 years (APSED December 2020 Table 77).
Women have reached, and in most cases exceeded parity with men at every level up to and including EL1 (Figure 3.8). For the first time, women have also achieved parity at the SES Band 1 classification although there was a lower proportion of women at the EL 2 (49.2%), SES Band 2 (44.1%) and SES Band 3 (46.2%). The proportion of women is greater than 60% for all APS classifications up to APS 5 and 58.6% at the APS 6 level. The proportion of women at the EL 2 level has continued to rise from 29.3% in December 2001 to 49.2% as at 31 December 2020.
The proportion of women in the SES continued to rise, increasing from 47.0% to 48.9% over the last calendar year. In 2001, women only made up 26.8% of the SES.
During the 2020 calendar year, 58.7% of employees joining the SES were women. The 2014 calendar year was the first time that the number of women (26) entering the SES cohort outnumbered men (25). This trend has continued, except for 2017 when the proportion of women was 48.2%. The proportion of women joining the SES in 2020 was the highest ever recorded.
Women represent just 39.8% of the SES over the age of 55 (APSED December 2020 Tables 27) and only 42.2% of ongoing separations during 2020.
Figure 3.9: Proportion of APS employees by classification and gender, 31 December 2020
 For data collection purposes, all APS agencies use the Australian Bureau of Statistics Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings 2003 definition, according to which ‘… a person has a disability if they report that they have a limitation, restriction or impairment, which has lasted, or is likely to last, for at least 6 months and restricts everyday activities.