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Diversity and inclusion

The department is the face of Australia to the world. Our staff must represent the breadth of talent and diversity of the Australian people, a diversity which is a core national strength.

We are committed to a safe and inclusive workplace. Senior Canberra-based diversity champions provide high-level support and work with staff networks. The department’s Diversity and Inclusion Framework provides practical actions to build an inclusive culture that supports our people to be their authentic selves and reach their full potential.

The 2019 Australian Public Service Employee Census results indicated that 85 per cent of staff (both APS and locally engaged staff) who responded believed the department is committed to creating a diverse workforce, and 89 per cent believed their work colleagues behave in an accepting manner towards people from diverse backgrounds.

We are improving employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples by implementing our Indigenous Recruitment and Career Development Strategy 2016–2020. In 2019–20, 3.09 per cent of our APS employees identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, with 118 ongoing Indigenous APS employees (see Appendix 1: Staffing overview). We applied affirmative measures for Indigenous Australians in bulk recruitment at the APS6 level and for a specialist EL1 position.

We recruited a new Indigenous careers adviser to work with Indigenous employees to identify and pursue career development opportunities, provide strategic advice to senior leaders, and improve cultural competency in the department’s broader workforce.

Our Disability Action Strategy 2017–2020 is building the representation of people with disability in our workforce. In 2019–20, 125 of our APS employees reported a disability (3.24 per cent). This was lower than the 2019 APS Employee Census, where four per cent of those who responded identified as having a disability. We applied the RecruitAbility scheme in all our recruitment processes and conducted bulk affirmative measures (disability) recruitment at the APS6 level. Disability reporting details under the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 are available at www.dss.gov.au

We provided disability confident training to staff, managers and recruitment panels. We also supported staff with disability to participate in the department’s International Skills Development Program.

In June 684 APS employees reported being from a culturally and linguistically diverse background—17.78 per cent of our APS employees. According to the 2019 APS Employee Census, 43 per cent of staff who responded (including locally engaged staff) were born overseas, and 41 per cent spoke a language other than English at home. During Harmony Week in March, we launched a ‘Faces of Diversity’ intranet page for staff to share their stories.

According to the APS Employee Census, five per cent of our employees identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, gender diverse and/or intersex (LGBTI). In June the Secretary appointed a new LGBTI Champion, confirming our commitments set out in our LGBTI Strategy 2018–2021. We participated in a range of initiatives to improve inclusion in Australia and at our posts. We are a member of Pride in Diversity and participate in the annual Australian Workplace Equality Index.

We refreshed our Women in Leadership (WIL) strategy—to be launched in 2020–21—to enable WIL to reach every corner of the department and for change to be embedded in our culture. We reached new heights in gender equality in the Senior Executive Service and with our heads of mission overseas. As COVID-19 tested our usual ways of working, we increased our uptake of flexible, agile and inclusive work practices introduced through the WIL agenda.