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Section 3: Diversity

The APS Employment Database records diversity information in relation to gender, Indigenous status, disability status and employees from a culturally diverse background. With the exception of gender, the provision of this 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 similar 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. Data concerning all diversity metrics are reported in the Commissioner’s State of the Service Report.   

Employment data from the APS Employment Database shows that employee diversity is continuing to improve.

Figure 3.1: Diversity proportions of all APS employees, December 2000 – December 2019

Source:  APSED December 2019 Table 75

Indigenous

At 31 December 2019, there were 5,046 employees (3.5% of the whole APS) who identified as Indigenous, which is a drop of 286 Indigenous employees. Over the last 20 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 2019 calendar year, Indigenous employees were concentrated in Services Australia (33.6% of total Indigenous employees), the Australian Taxation Office (8.7%), the Department of Defence (7.7%) and the National Indigenous Australians Agency (6.1%).

Agencies that employed a high proportion of Indigenous employees amongst their staff were the Torres Strait Regional Authority (74.4%), Aboriginal Hostels Ltd (52.9%), the National Indigenous Australians Agency (25.5%) and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (25.0%).   

Of the 5,046 Indigenous employees at 31 December 2019, 75% (3,767) have job family data recorded. Of these, 1,688 (44.8%) worked in Service Delivery with 1,152 specifically employed in the Call or Contact Centre role.

At 31 December 2019, Indigenous employees were mostly located in Queensland (25.4%), the Australian Capital Territory (25.3%), New South Wales (17.6%) and the Northern Territory (11.9%). A high proportion of Indigenous employees were located in regional Australia (37.3% of Indigenous employees) in comparison to the total proportion of APS located in regional Australia (14.0%).

Indigenous employees are concentrated at lower classifications with almost half of Indigenous employees working at the APS 3-4 classification levels (Figure 3.2).

Figure 3.2: Classification breakdown by Indigenous status, 31 December 2019

Source:  APSED December 2019 Table 80

Disability

At 31 December 2019, there were 5,794 employees who identified as having a disability2, an increase of 59 employees (or 1.0%) from December 2018. The proportion of employees who identified as having a disability was 4.0%, an increase from 3.9% in 2018. The proportion of APS employees with a disability increased from a low of 3.3% in December 2012 (Figure 3.1).

Agencies that employ a high proportion of employees with a disability at 31 December 2019 were the National Disability Insurance Agency (13.0%), the Australian Public Service Commission (8.9%), the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (7.5%) and the Department of Social Services (7.1%).

Of the 5,794 employees with a disability at 31 December 2019, 84% (4,847) have job family data recorded. Of these, 1,926 (39.7%) worked in Service Delivery. In comparison, only 23% of employees without a disability were employed in the same job family. In particular, 22.4% of employees with a disability worked in the Call or Contact Centre role, which is more than double of that of employees without a disability (10.7%).

At 31 December 2019, 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 3.3). At the APS 3-4 classification, 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 classification.

Figure 3.3: Classification breakdown by disability status, 31 December 2019

Source:  APSED December 2019 Table 80

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 2019, 5.4% 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 11.1% in 2000 to 14.5% in 2019. However, there has been a slight drop from a high of 14.8% in 2014 (Figure 3.1).

Australia’s population includes many people who were born overseas, have a parent born overseas or speak a variety of languages. Together, these groups of people are known as culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) populations. 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 2019, 22.2% of APS employees were born overseas with 16.2% from a culturally and linguistic diverse country (non-English speaking). Since 2000, there has been an increase in the proportion of APS employees born overseas, especially those coming from non-English speaking countries (Figure 3.4). These trends mirror the Australian population with 29.4% of Australians being born overseas and 20.9% of Australians being from a culturally and linguistic diverse country (ABS Migration, Australia, 2017–18 (ABS cat. No. 3412.0) 2019). The proportion of APS employees born overseas is consistently lower than that of the Australian population (Figure 3.4).

Figure 3.4: Proportion of culturally and linguistically diverse employees, December 2000 – December 2019

Source: 31 December 2019 APSED and ABS Migration survey

Excluding APS employees born in Australia, as at 31 December 2019, most other employees were born in either Asia (46.0%) or Europe (29.1%). Since 2000, there has been a significant increase in employees from Asia and a corresponding decrease from Europe (Figure 3.5). 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 higher while all other regions have a slightly lower representation.

Figure 3.5: Proportion of APS employees born overseas, December 2000 – December 2019

The most common overseas country of birth as at 31 December 2019 was England (13.9%) although its proportional representation has declined from 24.9% in 2000. At 31 December 2019, seven of the top ten country of births were from the Asian region (APSED December 2019 Table 76). In particular, the proportion of employees born in India and China has increased over the last two decades.

Figure 3.6: Most common overseas countries of birth

Gender

The APS Employment Database classifies data into three categories of gender: Male, Female and X. ‘Gender’ represents individuals who are indeterminate, unspecified or intersex. The overall proportion of women in the APS was 59.7% at 31 December 2019. This is an increase from 59.5% in 2018. The proportion of women in the APS has increased steadily from 51.6% in 2000 (APSED December 2019 Table 75). Women make up an even higher proportion of non-ongoing employees (62.3% in 2019) but unlike ongoing employees, this proportion has changed little over the last 20 years (APSED December 2019 Table 75).

Women have reached, and in most cases exceeded parity with men at every level up to and including EL1 (Figure 3.7). The proportion of women is twice that of men at the APS 4 classification; however, there was a lower proportion of women at the EL 2 and SES levels than men. The proportion of women at the EL 2 level has continued to rise from 28.2% in 2000 to 48.6% as at 31 December 2019.

The proportion of women in the SES continued to rise, increasing from 45.5% to 47.0% over the last calendar year. In 2000, women only made up 25.9% of the SES.

During the 2019 calendar year, 54.8% 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%.

Women represent just 37.8% of the SES over the age of 55 and only 42.3% of ongoing separations during 2019 (APSED December 2019 Table 25 and table 64).

Figure 3.7: Proportion of APS employees by classification and gender, 31 December 2019

Source:  APSED December 2019 Table 10

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’.