Activities and achievements

Key result area 1 - Build and support quality practices in equity and diversity management

Consultancy service

The DEOPE plays a key role in providing information on equity and diversity trends and good practice through a customised consultancy service. The consultancy service provides advice and assistance to public authorities on:

  • developing EEO management plans
  • developing guidelines, planning and evaluation tools
  • evaluating the effectiveness of plans and strategies
  • improving diversity data collection methods
  • meeting compliance requirements.

In 2012/13, the workforce planning and diversity team continued working with public authorities through a customised consultancy service and agency portfolio model. While the priority of staff was to assist public authorities with the development of their workforce and diversity plans, advice was also provided to agencies on how to progress the implementation of their plans. Consultancy activity also involved presentations to a number of agency corporate executive meetings in order to provide a summary on public sector workforce strengths and gaps that were identified in a mid-point review of Strategic directions for the public sector workforce 2009−2014 and to engage with agency executives and reinforce the importance of workforce planning and the diversity agenda.

In 2012/13, the DEOPE interacted with 130 public authorities, 140 local government authorities and four public universities. The range of interactions included data collection through to consulting on the development and evaluation of EEO management plans as well as running information sessions and forums.

Compliance assessment

Public authorities are required to have an EEO management plan as per section 145 of the EO Act. Evaluations of EEO management plans provided to the DEOPE were undertaken to determine the extent to which EEO management plans adequately satisfied the specific requirement of that provision. The DEOPE was satisfied that all public authorities maintained compliance with this requirement and, consequently, the DEOPE did not undertake any investigations under section 147 of the EO Act.

Integrated planning

During 2012/13, the DEOPE continued to support the implementation of the Public Sector Commissioner’s Circular 2011-02: Workforce planning and diversity in the public sector. This circular encourages public sector agencies to integrate the requirements of section 145(2) of the EO Act and workforce initiatives into a single integrated workforce and diversity plan.

Workforce and diversity planning tools

The DEOPE has continued, in collaboration with the Commission, to promote the collaborative efforts of public authorities in the sharing of workforce and diversity planning tools and resources.

As a result, agencies from across the sector have contributed good practice examples of workforce planning documents that promote equity and diversity. The Commission has also identified a variety of agency EEO management plans that showcase good practice.

These resources can be found in the workforce planning toolkit, accessible on the Commission’s website. New resources added to the workforce planning toolkit in 2012/13 include:

  • Aboriginal cultural learning framework (Department of Health)
  • Aboriginal economic participation strategy (Government of Western Australia)
  • Aboriginal employment action plan (South Metropolitan Health Service)
  • Graduate program information (Department of Finance)
  • Inclusive employment forum - video and transcript (Public Sector Commission)
  • Multicultural health website (Department of Health)
  • Pay equity toolkit (Department of Commerce)
  • Western Australian youth mentoring reform strategic framework (Department for Communities)
  • Women in leadership strategy (Western Australia Police)
  • Women’s report card (Department for Communities)
  • Exemplar EEO management plans (various agencies).

Key result area 2 - High quality, accurate, and timely reporting


The DEOPE reports on the progress of public authorities towards the achievement of a diverse workforce under section 143 of the EO Act. The Commission supports the DEOPE through the collection, management and evaluation of diversity data. The data is used in planning, reporting and improvement of equity and diversity programs across the public sector.

Workforce data

A key focus of the DEOPE during the reporting period was to work, in collaboration with the Commission, with authorities to improve the accuracy of diversity data. The DEOPE engaged with the Department of Health and the Department of Education, and other large entities, to improve response rates to a voluntary diversity questionnaire managed by authorities. Work focused on reviewing and amending the methods used for equity and diversity surveying and reporting. These amendments have improved the accuracy of diversity statistics, particularly the underrepresentation of employees in some diversity groups. While this has had many benefits, it has resulted in the identification of some previous over-reporting of the representation of people with disability in the Department of Health. Given the size of the Department of Health’s workforce, the correction for this year has impacted whole-of-sector figures and creates an impression of a decline in representation when in fact, it is more indicative of the effect of past over-reporting of employees with disability across the Department of Health. This is evident in Tables 1 and 5 on pages 22 and 26 of this report.

Workforce data improvement project - officers in 50d positions

The EO Act contains provision for lawful positive discrimination in situations where a person’s equal opportunity status is determined to be an essential criterion for performance of the functions.

The term used in section 50 of the EO Act is “a genuine occupational qualification’ and section 50(d) establishes a legitimate condition in situations where the “genuine occupational qualification involves (d) providing persons of a particular race with services for the purpose of promoting their welfare where those services can most effectively be provided by a person of the same race’.

This provision has been used by a number of agencies to support Aboriginal employment initiatives and to ensure that certain services are provided by Aboriginal people. In early 2013, the DEOPE met with agencies to discuss discrepancies between the number of section 50(d) positions reported by the agencies and the number of Aboriginal employees reported through the HRMOIR workforce data. The initiative to reconcile these two related data sets led to improved identification in the diversity sample for key agencies employing significant numbers of Aboriginal employees.

How does your agency compare?

“How does your agency compare?’ reports provide an opportunity for public authorities to benchmark their workforce profiles against the public sector. In 2013, the DEOPE provided “How does your agency compare?’ reports to public sector entities with more than 100 employees. Similar reports were prepared and distributed to the four public universities.

Key result area 3 - Performance partnering

Presentations and diversity networks

The DEOPE delivered a range of presentations and engaged in a number of activities to support the diversity agenda across the public sector. This included:

  • curriculum and course leadership for “Foundations of government human resources, module two: Diversity in the public sector’
  • presenting at the “Graduate future leaders program, module one: Raising your diversity IQ’ (July 2012)
  • presenting at the Human Resources Managers Forum-Disability employment in the public sector (June 2013)
  • supporting the Public Sector Commissioner’s International Women’s Day luncheon to celebrate the accomplishments of women in leadership across the public sector (March 2013).

Inclusive employment − people with disability forum

During Disability Awareness Week in December 2012, a forum recognising the International Day of People with Disability was jointly hosted by the DEOPE, the Commission and the Disability Services Commission (DSC).

The forum was facilitated by Ms Deborah Kennedy, a former Australian Broadcasting Corporation television newsreader, with 70 audience members participating in a panel discussion on inclusive employment strategies for people with disability.

Panel guests included Dr John Byrne, Director Corporate Services from the Department of Environment and Conservation, Ms Suzanne Colbert, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Network on Disability and Ms Monique Williamson, Executive Director, Community and Sector Development at DSC.

Topics and questions fielded by the panel ranged from how to attract and retain people with disability, addressing perceived obstacles, interviewing tips and workplace adjustments.

The DEOPE talked about positive achievements in the representation and distribution of people with disability employed in the public sector and a partnership with DSC to develop practical tools and resources to support the Disability employment strategy 2013-­2015.

Aboriginal employment

Through membership on the Aboriginal Employment Strategy Governance Group, the DEOPE continued to support the implementation of the Aboriginal Employment Strategy 2011-2015 for the Western Australian public sector.

The strategy is Western Australia’s commitment to the Council of Australian Governments’ Indigenous Economic Participation National Partnership and is the blueprint for achieving Western Australia’s commitment to increase Aboriginal public sector employment to 3.2 per cent by 2015.

The implementation of the strategy commenced in December 2011. Since that time significant progress has been achieved in meeting the objectives of “Theme 2: Attract Aboriginal people’. Under this theme the Commission established an “Aboriginal traineeship program’ (ATP). This is an integrated employment, training and mentoring service coordinated by the Commission. The ATP provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 25 years of age and under, with an opportunity to develop public administration skills and competencies through a Certificate II and III in Government.

To date three metropolitan intakes have resulted in seven trainees securing ongoing employment with host agencies. In July 2013, the fourth metropolitan intake will see 32 trainees placed in public sector entities. The second regional intake will also commence in July with 20 trainees placed in public authorities in regional Western Australia.

Public Sector Commission staff

Public Sector Commission staff

Disability employment strategy

During 2012/13, the DEOPE, in collaboration with the Commission and DSC, worked on the development of the Disability employment strategy 2013-2015.

The PSEPD reference group was established to provide advice and guidance, and to monitor the implementation and success of the strategy. During the strategy’s development, a review was undertaken of strategies in place to attract, recruit, and retain people with disability in the public sector. This gave particular attention to:

  • the representation of people with disability employed in the public sector
  • barriers throughout the process of employment, from application, to appointment, to workplace support
  • the role of the Commission and DSC in supporting the strategy across the public sector.

Key result area 4 - Effective staff, systems and processes

The DEOPE supports the Commission on broader policy initiatives designed to integrate functions and improve systems and processes. During the reporting period, the DEOPE participated on a steering group responsible for overseeing the development of a whole of Commission workflow and case management database. The project was delivered on time and on budget. Implementation of the new system in 2013/14 will support improved information sharing, effective case management, efficient monitoring of trends in enquiries, compliance assessment and areas relevant to the DEOPE functions.


Page last updated 15 July 2014