Communique No 1 - 21 July 2016

Communique No 1 - 21 July 2016

PM&C Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council
Tuesday, 06 September 2016

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

On 21 July, the first meeting of the Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council took place. The Council’s purpose is simple—to identify, share and drive initiatives that ensure the Australian Public Service (APS) is an inclusive and respectful workplace for everyone.

The Council was established to drive improvement in equality and diversity matters and to deliver an APS workplace culture that builds respect, fosters inclusiveness, and promotes diversity. To do so, all Secretaries are responsible for identifying and overcoming employment-related barriers and disadvantage on the basis of gender, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status, race or ethnicity, linguistically diverse background, disability, age, or sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.

As leaders of one of the largest employers in the nation, we are committed to driving meaningful change to improve diversity across the APS and make it an employer of choice for all Australians.

We are pleased to welcome our two external members to the Council, Ms Kathryn Fagg and Professor Tom Calma AO, whose insights and experience are invaluable additions to our discussions and the development of our forward agenda.

Our first meeting covered four main themes: 

  • achieving gender equality in the APS;
  • boosting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in the APS;
  • enabling flexible work in the APS; and
  • supporting APS staff experiencing domestic violence.

The Council made a number of commitments to initiate implementation of the APS Gender Equality Strategy launched in April this year. The Council agreed that each Secretary will develop their own action plan, including gender equality stretch targets, for their departments and measures to meet the G20 target to reduce Australia’s workforce participation gender gap by 25 per cent by 2025. These targets will be published, and progress against these targets will be measured and published annually. The Council also agreed to adopt the Panel Pledge, which will require us all to step up our advocacy for the higher representation of women at public and professional forums.

What is the Panel Pledge?

When you are invited to speak at or participate in a professional forum:

  • Request confirmation of who the other panellists/speakers/participants are, and how gender balance will be achieved;
  • Insist that as a condition of acceptance, you expect women to participate in a meaningful way;
  • Reserve the right to withdraw from the event, even at the last minute, should this not be the case when the speaker list is finalised; and
  • Offer names of women from within your organisation and network and, if helpful, point them to resources for support in finding women.

Source: Male Champions of Change

Another strong focus of the Council is the low representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in the APS. We are very lucky to have Professor Calma on the Council and we will benefit from his guidance on ways we can achieve greater Indigenous representation, retention and progression. Building cultural awareness is a core component of supporting Indigenous staff and the Council is excited that the CORE Cultural Learning program is being trialled at PM&C and DSS before being rolled out to the broader APS.

Enabling staff to successfully integrate their work and life commitments is key to maintaining a high-performing workforce. This is an area in which the APS can do more. The Council was pleased to hear the lessons learned from a number of flexible work initiatives already up and running across the APS, including the Flexible Work trial at DFAT. The flexibility to balance your job with your life outside of work is important and we encourage you to get involved with pilots and discuss ways you might work flexibly with your manager.

Finally, the Council discussed initiatives across the APS that support staff affected by domestic violence. There is without doubt much more we can do in this area. The APSC and PM&C shared recent work on a best practice domestic violence policy. However, as in so many areas, good implementation is critical. The Council agreed that Secretaries will implement best practice strategies to ensure our workplaces are as supportive and sensitive as possible for staff experiencing violence.

The Council will meet again before the end of the year to discuss progress in these four areas and other ways we can support broader diversity objectives in our organisations. And in addition, work is continuing through a number of communities of practice which have been formed between departments to share reflections and lessons on specific issues.

Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council
6 September 2016