Diversity and inclusion report 2022
Our differences make us stronger
Diversity — of background and life experience as well as in expertise and view points — creates challenge, provokes thought and encourages change. It provides different insights, which are especially valuable in tackling the complex and ambiguous problems faced by government each day.[a]
Diversity and Inclusion in the APS: Embrace it, share it, and celebrate it!
"We have a responsibility to create a workforce that represents and best serves the Australian community" - Mr Peter Woolcott AO, Commissioner, Australian Public Service Commission[i]
Welcome to the inaugural annual APS diversity and inclusion report.
Striving for diversity, inclusion and a sense of belonging in the Australian Public Service (APS) is important for our people, the values we role model, and outcomes for the Australian public and Government.
Change continues to impact the way we deliver for the government, citizens and communities. The unprecedented pace of change and disruption globally, and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has heightened expectations of the public service and there is an imperative to embed diversity and inclusion so that we deliver effective outcomes for the government and Australian community (APS Workforce Strategy 2025; OECD 2011[ii]). Quite simply if we are to serve the entire Australian community, we need to reflect that community.
The research is clear: diversity and inclusion is a powerful enabler of performance, and APS agencies that leverage diversity and inclusion will be better positioned to adapt to future challenges and increase productivity (Hunt et al 2020[iii]; Bourke & Dillion 2018[iv]). The APS needs diversity in the workforce to deliver innovative policy and services and to maintain the high regard for our integrity and citizen-centric focus.
When diversity is missing, important ideas are missed. Issues arise in implementing policies and delivering products and services because those creating them are working from a single perspective. Diverse and inclusive leaders, teams, and workforces are better positioned to create new ideas that improve outcomes for our community.
This report is intended to assist D&I and HR practitioners and others that are working in the diversity and inclusion space and those who are interested in diversity and inclusion issues. The report provides an overview of the current state of diversity and inclusion in the APS. We feature insights, opportunities for improvement and present case studies of current practice.
Responsibility for diversity and inclusion strategy actions sits with individual agencies, that said the Australian Public Service Commission sets the strategic direction and has a responsibility to tell the overarching story of change across the APS. This report begins to tell the story of the APS as a whole and where there may be opportunities for change, complemented by examples of diversity and inclusion actions taken by individual agencies. This report will allow agencies to benchmark their individual achievements against the broader APS. Our Diverse Workforce provides a snapshot of the current state of diversity in the APS. The rest of the report dives deeper, exploring the stories behind these figures, and charting the journey of the APS as we strive for diversity, inclusion and a sense of belonging for all employees.
"Workplace environments that demonstrate cultural integrity drive better policy development and service delivery outcomes, to better meet the needs to the Australian community” - Mr Peter Woolcott AO, Commissioner, Australian Public Service Commission[v]
Data used in this report
The APS Employee Census is an annual survey which collects APS employee opinions and perspectives on important issues in the workplace. Unless otherwise stated, Census data in this report is from the 2021 APS Employee Census.
The APS Employment Database (APSED) stores the employment data of all current and former APS employees including diversity status and education levels. Unless otherwise stated, APSED data in this report is from the 30 June 2021 APSED release.
The APS Agency Survey is an annual survey of APS agencies with at least 20 employees employed under the Public Service Act 1999. Unless otherwise stated, this report uses data from the 2021 APS Agency Survey.
Agency Health Checks are targeted diversity and inclusion data collections conducted by the Australian Public Service Commission. All Commonwealth agencies are invited to provide information, but participation is not compulsory.
The APSJobs website is the primary platform for government agencies to advertise vacant positions. Metadata from advertised positions is used to monitor the use of diversity and inclusion recruitment measures.
Notes on this data
In 2021 the question asking if people identified as a member of the LGBTIQA+ community was expanded from previous years to include a wider range of individuals. Specific references were made to queer, questioning, intersex and asexual that were not mentioned in previous years. This should considered when making comparisons between years.
It should be noted that most of the data used in this report was collected during the 2021 period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Working from home was still a frequent event, with lockdowns happening across Australia at various times. These dynamics are likely to have impacted on individual mental health and team dynamics for employees across the APS. Although COVID-19 was not specifically asked about in the data collections, the collected data exist within this context and the influence the pandemic has had should be considered when interpreting trends over time.
Icons used in this report
Information prefaced by this symbol indicates a point of interest that warrants discussion in the agency.
Information prefaced by this symbol indicates an opportunity area for agencies and/or the APS as a whole.
Our diverse workforce
|Employee Headcount 153,945|
|3.5% First nations people|
|22.3% Employees born overseas|
|19.3% Employees who speak a language
other than English at home*
|62% Work outside the ACT|
|40% Have caring responsibilities*|
|4.1% to 9.3%* Employees with a disability|
|14.7% Employees born in a non-English
|47.2% Mature age|
|0.5% Gender-non binary or uses a different term*|
33% care for children
10% care for parents
3% care for their partner
|Patterns of work
80.6 % Full time
13.9 % Part time
5.5 % Casual
61% work outside the ACT
*Derived from the 2021 APS Employee Census
|Classification||Women %||Men %||First Nations people %||Employees with a disability %|
[a] Commonwealth of Australia, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2019, Our Public Service, Our Future. Independent Review of the Australian Public Service p.216.
[i] Australian Public Service Commissioner’s message, Australian Public Service Disability Employment Strategy 2020-25 p. vi
[ii] OECD (December 2021) “Foster diversity in the public service” (5 December 2011) in Public Servants as Partners for Growth Towards a Stronger, Leaner and More Equitable Workforce: Organisation for Economic Development Cooperation and Development
[iii] Hunt, V.; Prince, S.;Dixon-Fyle & S. Dolan, K. (2020) Diversity wins: How inclusion matters: McKinsey & Company
[iv] Bourke, J. & Dillion, B. (2018) “The diversity and inclusion revolution”, Issue 22, January 2018: Deloitte Review
[v] Australian Public Service Commissioner’s message, Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workforce Strategy 2020-2024, p.2