Communique 13 – February 2020

Communique 13 – February 2020

PM&C Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council
Thursday, 16 April 2020

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

The Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council (the Council) met on 7 February 2020.

APS Mental Health Capability Project (the Project) Interim Report

The council noted that the Project will provide departments with guidelines, advice, education and training. It will consider mental health prevention and management, and aim to align with the APS Disability Employment Strategy 2020-2025.

Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council Governance

The Council agreed that strategic inclusion and diversity matters will be elevated to the Secretaries Board, in place of the Council, and that the newly established COO Committee will be leveraged to drive inclusion and diversity across the APS and within agencies at an operational level.

Members agreed to these changes in light of recommendations from the APS Reform Agenda to strengthen the primacy, role and performance of the Secretaries Board. Members recognised the positive role the Council had played in providing the APS with a platform to address inclusion and diversity in recent years, and that through the Council there had been a significant shift in how the APS deals with inclusion and diversity. Members agreed that inclusion and diversity must now be incorporated into the core strategic decision making body of the APS – the Secretaries Board – in order to drive better outcomes across the APS. The new approach will maintain Secretary-level oversight of strategic inclusion and diversity matters.

To support this change, the newly established Chief Operating Officer (COO) Committee will be also leveraged for driving inclusion and diversity at an operational level across the APS. This further reflects recommendations from the APS Reform agenda to increase the span of control to reflect the type of work being managed and have decision-making at the lowest practical level.

The Council thanks Professor Tom Calma and Kathryn Fagg for their time on the SEDC.

APS Reform Agenda: Inclusion and Diversity Recommendations

The Deputy Chair noted the Government’s commitments made in response to recommendations from the APS Reform Agenda, including:

  • A continued focus on the three renewed APS-wide strategies, including the APS Disability Employment Strategy, the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workforce Strategy, and the APS Gender Equality Strategy;
  • Doing more across the APS to retain and recruit older Australians, which will be considered as part of the forthcoming APS Workforce Strategy;
  • Secretaries Board harnessing the APS200 in delivering on strategies, including focusing on a mindset that genuinely welcomes different views and perspectives;
  • Secretaries Board continuing to support special measures recruitment rounds for diversity groups building on the success of Indigenous special measures recruitment round at SES level in 2018 at PM&C; and
  • The Government’s position that additional goals and strategies beyond these approaches are not currently seen to be necessary to advance this work (as stated in the Delivering for Australians report).

APS Strategic Frameworks: Review of Commonwealth Diversity Strategies (Indigenous and Disability)

The Council noted the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy is currently being finalised ahead of its launch.

The Council endorsed the APS Disability Employment Strategy 2020-2025 Framework, with a view to bringing the draft Strategy to the COO Committee and then to the Secretaries Board for consideration. Members discussed barriers towards APS staff disclosing their disability in the workplace. The Council praised the assistance of Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Ben Gauntlett, in progressing the Strategy.