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The APS Employment Database records diversity information in relation to gender, Indigenous status, disability status and employees from a culturally diverse background. With the exception of gender, the provision of this data is voluntary; therefore, not all APS employees have provided a response to each diversity field. As a result, diversity rates represent the proportion of employees who identify as belonging to that diversity group. This means that the diversity rates may be underestimated to a degree.

The APS employee census, which is an anonymous survey, tracks similar diversity information as the APS Employement Database, as well as number of employees who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and/or Intersex. Data concerning all diversity metrics is reported in the Commissioner’s State of the Service Report.

Employment data from APSED shows that the APS is continuing to improve its employee diversity.

Figure 3.1 – Diversity proportions of all APS employees from June 2000 to June 2019.

Source:  APSED June 2019 Table 72


At 30 June 2019, 3.5% of the APS identified as Indigenous. This is the highest proportion of Indigenous employees ever recorded for the APS. Indigenous representation has increased steadily from 2.6% in 2013, which is the lowest recorded proportion over the last 20 years (Figure 3.1).

At the end of the 2018-2019 financial year, Indigenous employees were concentrated in Services Australia (33.8% of total Indigenous employees), the Australian Taxation Office (8.9%) and the Department of Defence (7.7%). Agencies that employed a high proportion of Indigenous employees amongst their staff were the Torres Strait Regional Authority (72.8%), Aboriginal Hostels Ltd. (54.3%), the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (30.9%) and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (15.4%).

Of the 5179 Indigenous employed at 30 June 2019, 75% (3,927) have Job Family data recorded. Of these, 1,736 (44.2%) worked in Service Delivery and 1,200 were specifically employed in the Call or Contact Centre role.

At 30 June 2019, Indigenous employees were mostly located in Queensland (25.7%), the Australian Capital Territory (24.8%), New South Wales (17.9%) and the Northern Territory (11.5%). A high proportion of Indigenous employees were located in regional Australia (37.7%) in comparison to the total proportion of APS located in regional Australia (14.0%).

Indigenous employees are concentrated at lower classifications with almost half of Indigenous employees working at the APS 3-4 classification levels (Figure 3.2).

Figure 3.2: Classification breakdown by Indigenous status, June 2019


The proportion of employees who identified as having an ongoing disability was 3.7% at 30 June 2019. This figure increased from a low of 3.3% in 2013 to 3.8% in the years 2016-2018 before dropping to 3.7% in 2019 (Figure 3.1).

Agencies that employ a high proportion of employees with a disability at 30 June 2019 were the National Disability Insurance Agency (11.8%), the Australian Public Service Commission (9.5%), the Australian Research Council (8.2%) and the Department of Social Services (7.1%).

Of the 5,508 employees with a disability at 30 June 2019, 83% (4,571) have Job Family data recorded. Of these, 1,669 (36.5%) worked in Service Delivery. In comparison, only 22.8% of employees without a disability were employed in the same Job Family.  In particular, 20.1% of employees with a disability worked in the Call or Contact Centre role which is almost double that of employees without a disability (10.7%).

At 30 June 2019, the classification distribution of employees with a disability largely mirrored that of employees without a disability, with the exception of APS 3-4 and EL classifications (Figure 3.3). At the APS 3-4 classification, employees with a disability were in greater relative proportion than employees without a disability, while at the EL level the reverse is true. This difference may be explained by the high proportion of employees with a disability working in Service Delivery where most roles in this Job Family are at the APS 3-4 classification.

Figure 3.3: Classification breakdown by disability status, 30 June 2019

Cultural and linguistic diversity

APSED data has historically been collected to inform metrics labelled ‘Non-English Speaking Background (NESB)’. These metrics are split into two components: NESB 1 refers to people born overseas who arrived in Australia after the age of five and whose first language was not English; NESB 2 refers to children of migrants.  At 30 June 2019, 5.4% of the APS identified as NESB 1, while 9.1% were NESB 2. 

The combined proportion of NESB 1 and NESB 2 employees has increased from 10.9% in 2000 to 14.5% in 2019. However, there has been a slight drop from a high of 14.7% in 2016 (Figure 3.1).

Australia’s population includes many people who were born overseas, have a parent born overseas or speak a variety of languages. Together, these groups of people are known as Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) populations. The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines the CALD population mainly by country of birth, language spoken at home, English proficiency, or other characteristics (including year of arrival in Australia), parents; country of birth and religious affiliation (ABS Standard for Statistics on Cultural and Language Diversity (ABS cat. No. 1289.0) 1999). Country of birth, first language spoken, mother’s and father’s first language, language spoken at home and year of arrival in Australia data elements are collected in the APS Employment Database. The APSC is currently reviewing its data collection to move towards metrics that more closely align with the CALD metrics used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

At 30 June 2019, 22.3% of APS employees were born overseas with 16.2% from a culturally and linguistic diverse country (predominently non-English speaking). Since 2000, there has been an increase in the proportion of APS employees born overseas, especially those coming from non-English speaking countries (Figure 3.4). These trends mirror that of the Australian population with 29.4% of Australians are born overseas and 20.9% of Australians are from a culturally and linguistic diverse country (ABS Migration, Australia, 2017–18 (ABS cat. No. 3412.0) 2019). The proportion of APS employees born overseas is consistently lower than that of the Australian population (Figure 3.4).

Figure 3.4: Proportion of culturally and linguistically diverse employees June 2000–June 2019

Source: 30 Jun 2019 APSED and ABS Migration survey

Excluding APS employees born in Australia, as at 30 Jun 2019, most other employees were born in either Asia (45.6%) or Europe (29.4%). Since 2000, there has been a significant increase in employees from Asia and a corresponding decrease from Europe (Figure 3.5). In 2010, the number of APS employees born in Asia outnumbered those born in Europe for the first time. Other country of birth regions make up less than 10% each and have only changed marginally over the last two decades. Compared to the Australian population, the proportion of APS employees born in Asia is relatively higher while all other regions have a slightly lower representation.

Figure 3.5: Proportion of APS employees born overseas at June 2000–June 2019

Source: APSED

The most common overseas country of birth as at 30 June 2019 was England (14.1%) although their proportional representation has declined from 24.9% in 2000. At 30 June 2019, seven of the top ten country of births were from the Asian region (Table 73). In particular, the proportion of employees born in India and China has increased significantly over the last two decades.

Figure 3.6 Most common overseas countries of birth

Source: APSED


The overall proportion of women in the APS was 59.6% at 30 June 2019. This is an increase from 59.0% in 2018. The proportion of women in the APS has increased steadily from 51.4% in 2000 (APSED June 2019 Table 72). Women make up an even higher proportion of non-ongoing employees (63.3% in 2019) but unlike ongoing employees, this proportion has changed little over the last 20 years.

Women have reached, and in most cases exceeded parity with men at every level up to and including EL1 (Figure 3.7). The proportion of women is twice that of men at the APS 4 classification; however, there was a lower proportion of women at the EL 2 and SES levels than men. The number of women at the EL 2 level has continued to rise and as at 30 June 2019 represent 47.7% of employees at that level, up from 27.1% in 2000.

The proportion of women in the SES continued to rise, increasing from 44.7% to 46.3% over the last financial year.  In 2000, women only made up 25.1% of the SES.

During the 2018–2019 financial year, 57.0% of employees joining the SES were women, which is the highest rate of female representation entering the SES cohort ever recorded. The 2014-2015 financial year was the first time that the number of women (75) entering the SES cohort outnumbered men (68). This trend has continued, except for 2016-2017 when the proportion of women was 49.5%.

Women represent just 37.3% of the SES over the age of 55 and only 43.8% of ongoing separation during the 2018-2019. If this trend continues, then it could be expected that the proportion of women in the SES will continue towards parity (APSED June 2019 Tables 46 and 61).

Figure 3.7: Proportion of APS employees by classification and gender, 30 June 2019

Source:  APSED June 2019 Table 10

Last reviewed: 
27 September 2019