The Australian Public Service is delivering on its legislative mandate and responding to the Australian Government’s vision for the country and the public sector, as well as significant changes in its operating environment.
- Major reviews and initiatives are underway across portfolios, to move from the response and recovery phases of the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent crises, to reform and renewal to position Australia for the future.
- APS Reform is a service-wide undertaking to strengthen and empower the public service and increase trust and confidence in Australia’s public sector institutions. In 2022–23 it involved more than 44 initiatives led by 12 agencies.
- An APS Capability Reinvestment Fund has been established and Round 1 is investing in major capability priorities. These include evaluation, gender impact analysis, First Nations cultural competency, and culturally and linguistically diverse capability. Also included are foresight, scenario and futures analysis, and developing deeper knowledge and networks in Asia and the Pacific.
- The APS is supporting a whole-of-government approach to deepening engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, using all elements of statecraft. The Australian Government has committed to the Luxembourg Declaration on Building Trust and Reinforcing Democracy to support action on key governance challenges facing democracies.
- The APS is working to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030. The Australian Government signed up to the world’s first Net Zero Government Initiative at the 27th annual summit of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) in November 2022.
- In 2022–23, levels of trust in Australian public services remained stable, with 61% of respondents to the Survey of Trust in Australian public services indicating they trust these services. More people (73%) report trust in the specific services they have used. Almost 3 in 4 respondents (72%) are satisfied with Australian public services. Fewer people were satisfied with public service processes such as wait times (64%), although a higher proportion (77%) received what they needed at the end of the process.
The APS is repositioning itself as a model employer, and its workforce is growing and highly engaged.
- Workplace conditions are being improved and modernised with the re-introduction of service-wide bargaining for 103 agencies. A review of the Maternity Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1973 is complete and the Government is considering the recommendations.
- The APS Employee Value Proposition is being defined and communicated, underpinned by research on the lived experiences of public servants and public perceptions of the APS as an employer. It will be complemented by flexible work principles, an APS location strategy and outcomes from service-wide bargaining.
- Work continues to understand and close the gender pay gap, and increase representation of First Nations people and people with disability in the APS workforce.
- Development of a new Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Employment Strategy is underway. In the APS workforce, representation of people born outside Australia is broadly comparable with the Australian population, but this is not reflected at more senior levels.
- The APS workforce continues to rebuild internal capacity, growing by 6.9% over the 2022–23 financial year.
- In the 2023 APS Employee Census, around three quarters of APS employees expressed job satisfaction (73%) and that their work gave them a sense of accomplishment (76%).
APS leaders are working to shape a culture with integrity at its core, and build a capable workforce with the knowledge, skills and behaviours to deliver for the Australian community.
- The National Anti-Corruption Commission has started operation, and new whistle-blower protections have been introduced. These initiatives are part of the Australian Government’s broad integrity agenda for the public sector.
- Reforms proposed in the Public Service Amendment Bill in June 2023 include provisions to strengthen accountability in the APS and embed stewardship as an APS Value.
- A taskforce of senior APS leaders examined system-wide improvements to support a pro-integrity culture at all levels. The Australian Government is considering its response to the Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme, and a central team based at the Australian Public Service Commission is examining alleged breaches of the APS Code of Conduct arising from the inquiry.
- The introduction of new standardised performance assessments for the Senior Executive Service give equal weight to outcomes and behaviours. Employee perceptions of the SES are measured in the APS Employee Census and published.
- The Secretaries Talent Council and Deputy Secretaries Talent Council continue to develop a strong and diverse leadership pipeline, with a focus on skills, experience and behaviours.
- Graduates are applying for APS jobs in record numbers, encouraged by multiple entry pathways. Cadetships, traineeships and opportunities to obtain vocational qualifications are also on offer.
- Increasingly, APS agencies are identifying and managing emerging critical skills shortages and labour market risks. Capability reviews help agencies to look forward, assess future state needs and mitigate predicted risks.
- The APS Academy and the APS Professions are supporting capability development for all employees, including building excellence in APS Craft – the core skills needed to deliver great policy and services.
The APS is critical to the past, present and future of Australia and its communities, working with partners to identify and respond to needs and aspirations around the country.
- The APS is connected with all levels of governments, non-government organisations, industry groups, businesses, community groups and the research sector. These partnerships save lives, solve problems, protect heritage and enhance the futures of people and places.
- Around 100 APS agencies bring specialist expertise to the table, applying knowledge and skills from a large range of professions and disciplines to global and domestic issues.
- APS agencies collaborate extensively with each other, to address policy, operational, regulatory and outreach aspects of specific issues.
As the challenges and opportunities facing Australia become more complex and demanding, the APS is being more proactive and joined up.
- Traditional indicators of progress are no longer enough, so broader measures are being used to better understand how Australia and its people are faring.
- The APS is looking further ahead, to consider what may affect Australia in the medium and long term, to support delivery of the Government’s policies and to share as much information as possible with the wider community.
- The APS needs to listen, as well as lead. Place-based and other flexible approaches are being implemented to improve service delivery and outcomes.
- The APS has an important role to play in major transformations currently underway, including the transition to a net zero economy, rapid changes in the availability and application of digital technologies and data, and a more complex geopolitical world.