Communique No 2 - 21 December 2016

Communique No 2 - 21 December 2016

PM&C Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council
Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

On 14 December 2016, Secretaries had our second meeting about important work underway to support inclusive behaviours and diverse workforces within all agencies.

We want to drive real change across the service. In doing this we will:

  • Support all staff to do their best work, and
  • Create a public service that reflects the diversity of skills and perspectives within Australia’s population.

To hold us to account, we were again joined by our external members—Ms Kathryn Fagg (President of Chief Executive Women and a member of the Reserve Bank of Australia Board), and Professor Tom Calma AO (Adjunct Associate Professor at the National Centre for Indigenous Studies, at the University of Canberra). Ms Fagg and Professor Calma provide excellent insights on the challenges we’re confronting and enrich both our discussions and the policies we choose to pursue.

Gender Equality

One of the priorities of the Council is the implementation of the  APS Gender Equality Strategy.

  • Each department is facing different challenges in achieving gender equality.
  • Some departments need to work on representation at senior levels, whereas other departments are tackling complex issues, such as the interplay between gender and cultural background as a barrier to career progression.

At this meeting, we had a lively discussion about how departments are placed to achieve gender equality, with reference to the guidance provided through the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s diagnostic tool.

  • The diagnostic tool has helped us to determine our gender equality progress and performance against best practice indicators.
  • Most departments reported that they were tracking towards the middle of the scale.
  • The APS wants to attract and retain talented staff and encourage them to do their best work and we are competing with private sector organisations for top talent.
  • To be an employer of choice, the APS can, and must, do better.
  • Each department has, or is currently developing an action plan, informed by the use of the WGEA tool, detailing how they’ll be advancing this work. These plans will be published once complete.
  • Progress towards implementing individual agency action plans will be reported to future meetings of the Council.

Encouraging and Developing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff

Secretaries want to encourage and support more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to work within the APS and build a public service career, including undertaking roles within the SES. 

To support this aim, Secretaries have agreed to establish an Indigenous Talent Council to help develop the careers of high potential Indigenous staff within the APS and to provide enhanced pathways to senior leadership positions.

Work to establish this Council and support its considerations will draw on the experience of the Secretaries’ and Deputy Secretaries’ Talent Councils and will be undertaken in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff through the Indigenous Champions Network.

The Council will be sponsored by Kathryn Campbell, Secretary of the Department of Human Services (DHS).

The Chair of the Council will be Nadine Williams from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Secretary Campbell shared the excellent progress that DHS has made in implementing their ‘Elevate’ Reconciliation Action Plan.

  • DHS has undertaken some excellent work, partnering with communities at a local level to boost engagement and employment outcomes.
  • In recognition of their efforts, DHS is the first APS agency to achieve Reconciliation Australia’s ‘Elevate’ status—the highest possible designation for organisations undertaking this work.
  • All staff who are working on similar initiatives are welcome to get in touch with DHS to learn from their experiences.

Finally, Professor Calma noted that he continued his regular engagement with a recent meeting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander SES from across the APS. Professor Calma also provided the Council with an update on the Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity Program.

  • The Atlantic Philanthropies, founded by Chuck Feeney in 1982, is establishing a program to support the development of future global leaders with a priority being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in Australia.
  • The Australian Government has partnered with the University of Melbourne’s Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity Program to undertake this initiative.
  • Partnering in the program includes nominating five Indigenous EL staff to the program and hosting five industry placements in the APS annually. The first intake will be in the second half of 2017.

The Council will meet again in March 2017. In the meantime, all APS staff are encouraged to participate and contribute to activities underway within their agency.