27 October 2022

Greater diversity in the APS is part of the budget plan

| Chris Johnson
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Sam Mostyn and Katy Gallagher

Chair of the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce Sam Mostyn at the group’s inaugural meeting with Senator Katy Gallagher in September. Photo: Katy Gallagher.

While this week’s federal budget provides for a decent jump in Australian Public Service numbers – more than 7500 new positions created, representing a 4.4 per cent hike in APS numbers – the diversity of new employees is also set to increase.

“Striving for diversity, inclusion and a sense of belonging in the APS is important for our people, the values we model, and outcomes for the Australian public,” Public Service Minister Katy Gallagher said in the budget papers.

“In order for the APS to appropriately serve the Australian community, it needs to reflect the diversity of that community.

“The government has identified increased representation of First Nations peoples, gender equality and disability employment as clear priorities.”

Diversity graphic

Diversity in the APS by numbers. Image: APSC

The government’s recently launched Affirmative Measure Recruitment Hub, providing resources to help agencies recruit First Nations people, now has 300 members involved in APS recruiting. These recruiters are drawn from more than 50 agencies across the sector, as well as some from state and territory governments.

The Minister said the government was committed to increasing First Nations employment in the APS to 5 per cent by 2030 (up from 3.5 per cent in 2021).

READ ALSO Federal Budget: Spotlight on public service jobs and spending

It is also insisting on gender equality, including taking action to address the gender pay gap in the APS.

“The National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality will provide a roadmap for whole-of-government action over the coming years and be supported by the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce for the advancement of women’s economic equality and to achieve gender equality,” Senator Gallagher said.

“The task force will provide independent advice to the government on a broad range of issues facing women in Australia and includes eminent women with a range of diverse backgrounds, experiences and expertise.”

Over the next four years, $276 million will go towards strengthening the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water to enable it to implement the government’s climate action plan.

Indigenous affairs agencies also receive a decent fillip, mostly through funding boosts to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The National Indigenous Australians Agency will get $3.8 million over four years and more staff, along with small staffing increases to the Torres Strait Regional Authority, Aboriginal Hostels Limited, and Indigenous Business Australia.

PM&C will also get $45 million to help roll out government policies, focusing on regional initiatives.

Services Australia will lose its increased staffing numbers associated with the COVID pandemic.

APS capability and waste-ending plan will be funded with $73 million.

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Back in the olden days, when APS recruitment was centralised in Rec Ops at the Public Service Board and later in the APS Recruitment Office which was part of the CES network, there were officers whose specific role it was to place people from targeted groups into APS roles.

The ones that spring to mind were Indigenous people, people with disabilities and also trainees and apprentices.

Since recruitment was devolved back to the departments, we’ve seen classification creep so APS 4 grads are the new “entry level” which means there’s no base level for people to enter at (viz. APS 1, 2 and 3), and people from the targeted equity groups are few and far between as a result.

William Newby2:05 am 28 Oct 22

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, represent just 3.3% of the total Australian population (ABS 2019b).
The APS already exceeds this number in their employment; these quotas seem to be very selective, an obvious example: despite employing 16,000 more females than males across the APS their focus remains on “eminent women”.
The division this program creates is nothing positive and does not deliver an APS that is truely representative of the Australian population, it is one that focuses on themes and gimmicks!
If there truely were a “National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality”, this could only be a bad thing for the over represented female numbers currently serving within the APS?

It’s not efficient to hire from just one group:
They should limit candidates who fit all the boxes, this is the fastest way to increase diversity.

Wanted: Retired First nations LGBTIQA+ non-binary persons speaking no English born overseas, with a disability and caring responsibilities.

Why does employees who speak have double percentages?

Hang on!
At the 2021 Census, 3.2% of the Australian claimed to be indigenous. If 3.5% of the APS is already indigenous, why does it need to increase to 5%? That’s not representative!
Likewise, if 60% of the APS is female, why does that need to be higher? Women represent just over 50% of the population.
I think the defintions for equality and representative need to checked by the APS powers-that-be. This proposal smacks of equality and diversity quotas masquerading as preferential treatment.

merakoinahin2:30 pm 27 Oct 22

White women – pretty much the only beneficiaries of all this talk about diversity.
Compare a white woman born and brought up in Australia to a migrant man from Africa. Who gets all the benefits – the white women.

The first UK government with no “white males” lasted 44 days. Why make this an issue at all?

Diversity of political thought is the only “diversity” that really matters. My experience with the APS is that they generally all think exactly the same way: Basic factory settings; believing that government is always a force for good.

If there was a 50 cent fine any pollie, bureaucrat or ABC commentator used the word “DIVERSITY” the budget would be balanced in no time.

So we already have more members of the APS who are women or indigenous than their proportion of the overall population but we still need more programs to target their increased employment because it will promote “diversity”?

Do the people that come up with this ridiculous stuff actually realise how stupid these programs really are?

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