Workforce Diversity Program 2013-2016

This page contains information on the Workforce Diversity Program 2013 - 2016

Page last updated: 24 October 2013

Diversity within an organisation has many benefits including increased innovation, improved understanding of - and service to - clients, and attraction of talent from the widest possible pool of potential staff. The department’s Workforce Diversity Program acknowledges and appreciates the differences in every employee and encourages diversity in our backgrounds, skills, talents and views to enrich our working environment and the quality of the work undertaken by the department. The department is committed to reflecting the diversity of the Australian community in its own workforce.

The benefits of diversity in the APS

Increased innovation

A diverse workforce, comprising staff with a range of different backgrounds and perspectives gives our organisation a broader range of ideas and insights to draw on in decision making and policy development. Diversity therefore makes good business sense.

Improved service to clients

If the department reflects the diversity of the Australian community in its own workforce, we will understand our clients better, which will lead to improved service. A diverse workplace will have better communication with its clients as it can be based on a deeper understanding of the needs of the community.

Competitive management practices

If we at the department value and capitalise on employee diversity, we will have a productive and fulfilling workplace which helps us attract and retain employees. This leads to savings in recruitment and training costs, as well as maintaining corporate knowledge and expertise.

Modelling what we promote

The department has a role in promoting principles of equity and productive diversity in the employment practices of Australian businesses it provides funding to. It is therefore important that the department, and the APS more widely, demonstrates these principles.

The department’s commitment

The department’s commitment to workplace diversity is stated in our Enterprise Agreement 2011-2014:

The department is an inclusive organisation that values fairness, equity and diversity consistent with the APS Values and Code of Conduct. The department will respect and value the diversity of its workforce, provide support and education to prevent and eliminate harassment and bullying and discrimination on the basis of race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction and social origin, in accordance with our obligations under section 351 of the Fair Work Act 2009.

The department has appointed two members of the Senior Executive Service to the roles of Diversity Champion and Disability Champion as a focus for progressing departmental action on diversity issues. As a further commitment to workplace diversity, we have also established the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Network and the Staff with Disability Network.

The department is an APS leader in the employment of people with a disability and is an active participant in the APSC RecruitAbility Scheme. As at 31 March 2013, 4.7% of departmental staff identified as a person with a disability compared to an APS rate of 2.9% (State of Service June 2012).

The 2011-12 State of the Service report states that women represent 57% of total staff in the APS and hold 39% of total SES positions. As at 31 March 2013, 70% of the total staff in the department were women and 59% of all SES positions were held by women.

The department also leads the APS in the employment of staff from non-English speaking background. As at 31 March 2013, 9.8% of staff identified as being from non-English speaking background compared to 5.3% across the APS (State of Service June 2012).

However, at 31 March 2013, 1.7 % of the department’s workforce identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent, compared to an APS rate of 2.1% (State of Service June 2012). To bring staff levels up to and above the APS average the department has appointed a Workforce Diversity Manager to undertake the development and implementation of policies and programs targeted at attracting and retaining our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff. The department is also participating in the APSC Indigenous Pathways Program and the DEEWR Indigenous Australian Government Development Program to attract and recruit staff.

The department’s new Reconciliation Action Plan 2013-2017 shows a commitment to reconciliation and “closing the gap” for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff. The Plan has 16 key actions including continuing to provide appropriate Cultural Education and Awareness training to all staff. This is a key initiative in ensuring a culturally aware workplace culture.

Purpose of the Program

The Workforce Diversity Program 2013-2016 outlines the department’s approach to:
  • fostering an inclusive culture of workplace diversity
  • recognising the advantages of, and helping make best use of, the diversity available in the workplace and the Australian community
  • improving attraction, retention and development of staff identifying with diversity groups
  • improving communication with and about staff who identify with diversity groups
  • helping prevent all forms of discrimination, consistent with Commonwealth law
  • eliminating any employment-related disadvantage for staff in the department on the basis of their identification as a member of a diversity group
  • reporting on the progress made by the department to internal and external stakeholders.


The People Strategy 2010-2015 commits the department to attract talented, skilled and diverse people through a streamlined and robust merit-based selection process and to provide flexible and competitive workplace conditions and exciting and important work.
The Workforce Diversity Program 2013-2016 was written in accordance with the APSC Workplace Diversity Guidelines and aligns with
  • the Department's Corporate Plan
  • Goal 1, 2 and 3 of the People Strategy 2010-2015
  • Section 81 of the Department of Health and Ageing’s Enterprise Agreement 2011-2014.
The Workforce Diversity Program 2013-2016 is a guiding statement of the department’s diversity aims and links the following departmental Action Plans:
  • Reconciliation Action Plan 2013-2017
  • Disability Workforce Action Plan 2011-2015
  • Agency Multicultural Plan 2013-2015.
It is informed by the following legislation:
  • Public Service Act 1999
    • Section 10 of the Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act) outlines Australian Public Service Values that are especially relevant to Workplace Diversity:
      • the APS is a public service in which employment decisions are based on merit (section 10:(b))
      • the APS provides a workplace that is free from discrimination and recognises and utilises the diversity of the Australian community it serves (section 10:(c))
      • the APS delivers services fairly, effectively, impartially and courteously to the Australian public and is sensitive to the diversity of the Australian public (section 10:(g))
      • the APS provides a fair, flexible, safe and rewarding workplace (section 10:(j))
      • the APS promotes equity in employment (section 10:(l)).

Development Process

The Workforce Diversity Program 2013-2016 was drafted in consultation with diversity organisations with which the department has membership, including:
  • Pride in Diversity
  • Reconciliation Australia
  • The Australian Network on Disability.
Internal stakeholder input was sought from members of the Staff with Disability Network, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Network, the People Committee, as well as staff located in Central Office and State and Territory Offices.


In addition to the responsibilities for specific actions outlined below, every departmental employee has the following responsibilities under the APS Code of Conduct (Section 13 of the PS Act):
  • an APS employee, when acting in the course of APS employment, must treat everyone with respect and courtesy, and without harassment (section 13(3))
  • an APS employee must at all times behave in a way that upholds the APS Values and the integrity and good reputation of the APS (section 13(11)).


The milestones and progress of this Program will be reported to internal stakeholders on an annual basis including:
  • Staff with Disability Network
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Network
  • People Committee
  • Executive Committee.
External reporting will occur as appropriate, including to the Australian Public Service Commission as part of the departmental response to the State of the Service Survey and through the relevant sections of the department’s Annual Report.

Our Values

The department’s 2010-2013 Corporate Plan outlines the values that are important to the department:
  • An apolitical, impartial and professional environment
  • The importance of achieving results for the Government and the community
  • Delivering services to the public fairly, effectively and impartially
  • Transparency, accountability and responsiveness
  • A workplace that is fair and free of discrimination
  • Diversity and equity in employment
  • The highest ethical standard
  • Innovation
  • Respect.

Our goals

The Workforce Diversity Program identifies three goals in regard to diversity that will assist us to meet challenges and deliver departmental outcomes:

Goal 1 To raise awareness and increase commitment to workplace diversity across the department.
Goal 2 To increase our attraction, recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce.
Goal 3 To provide a supportive working environment that meets the needs of a diverse workforce.

All departmental staff members play a role in achieving these goals. The actions we take as an organisation, as leaders, as managers and as individuals are outlined on the following pages under each goal, with a set of high-level indicators to assess progress in delivering these improvements.

Goal 1

To raise awareness and increase commitment to workplace diversity across the organisation.

What we will do

  • Ensure that the importance of maintaining a diverse workforce is communicated widely within the Department and externally, and emphasised in the performance planning and evaluation of managers.
  • Ensure days of significance are promoted and recognised for diverse groups in the department via the development of a diversity calendar.
  • Update, implement and promote the Reconciliation Action Plan, Disability Workforce Action Plan, Agency Multicultural Plan and Mature Age Workforce Action Plan.

How we will measure our success

  • Evidence that manager’s publicly communicate and commit to diversity principles.
  • Identified days of significance are recognised and promoted to all staff in a timely manner.
  • Annual status reports on the implementation of actions in the Diversity, Disability, Mature Age, Multicultural and Reconciliation Plans are provided to stakeholders.
  • Feedback on the accessibility and useability of the Diversity, Disability, Mature Age, Multicultural and Reconciliation Plans from key stakeholders.
  • Feedback on events from key stakeholders.

Goal 2

To increase our attraction, recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce.

What we will do

  • Promote and support the roles of the Diversity Champion and Disability Champion.
  • Ensure recruitment and retention practices and processes support and encourage workforce diversity.
  • Actively increase the representation of diverse groups employed through the department’s recruitment activities by participating in Australian Government employment schemes and entry level programs.

How we will measure our success

  • Percentage of staff with a diverse background increases over the life of the Program.
  • Reduced turnover rates for staff with a diverse background over the life of the Program.
  • Evidence that diversity at senior levels is also increasing
  • Survey results and feedback from staff networks indicate a higher awareness of the Diversity Champion and Disability Champion, and evidence that these roles are having a positive impact.

Goal 3

Provide a supportive working environment that meets the needs of a diverse workforce.

What we will do

  • Promote participation in Cultural Education and Awareness training to all staff.
  • Implement and promote learning and development programs that assist managers to understand their obligations and empower them in their people management decision making and actions.
  • Support proactive management of staff wellbeing through the Health and Life Strategy and other appropriate activities.
  • Provide support and assistance to Staff Networks for staff with diverse backgrounds.
  • Promote flexible working conditions under the Enterprise Agreement 2011-2014.

How we will measure our success

  • An additional 10% of staff to complete the Department’s Cultural Education and Awareness training package in 2013-14.
  • Tools and resources are available to support managers to apply the principles of good management when interacting with a diverse workforce.
  • Survey results and feedback indicate better management of staff and a higher awareness of diversity issues.
  • Staff from a diverse background access flexible working arrangements as necessary.
  • Feedback from, participation in, and activity levels of Staff Networks.
  • Attendance and feedback from annual Staff Network conferences.