Director's message

Fiona Roche

As the Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment (DEOPE), I am pleased to present my annual report. In doing so, I acknowledge the achievements made by public authorities1 in relation to the requirements of Part IX of the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (EO Act) over the reporting period.

The promotion of equal opportunity in public employment reinforces the Government's commitment to reflecting diversity in the community and recognising the value of individual differences. This year's report outlines the activities of my office in the preceding year and highlights progress in outcomes for diversity groups in public authorities.

A key highlight this year is the improvement in distribution across salary levels for people with disability in all sectors. For Aboriginal Australians,2 representation in the public sector is 2.9%, which continues to be one of the highest for public sector workforces across Australia.

In 2014, I worked with five public sector entities to identify the challenges and issues faced in increasing the representation of Aboriginal employees in the public sector. I found that employment initiatives are most successful when there is senior executive ownership and accountability for performance with respect to achieving diversity outcomes. Additionally, aligning Aboriginal employment initiatives with workforce and strategic planning is a critical success factor.

This year has seen an increase in the representation of women in public sector management, at the chief executive level in local government authorities, and at tier 3 management levels in public universities and other authorities (such as government trading enterprises, the Police Force and electorate offices).

Improving the representation of women in senior leadership roles remains an important priority. To contribute to supporting women in leadership, I hosted a public sector diversity forum in March this year, in which I shared the research findings of a study by the Public Sector Commission into the motivations, beliefs, goals, internal conflict and values of women in public sector leadership positions, and explored with senior executives some of the challenges to encouraging women into management.

The forum considered how senior executives, both as decision makers and role models in their authorities, can contribute to a positive change. Attendees benefited from hearing from two senior public sector leaders, Mr Richard Sellers (Director General of the Department of Mines and Petroleum) and Ms Gail McGowan (then Deputy Director General State Initiatives, Department of State Development, and now Director General of the Department of Planning) about their views and experiences. Themes arising from the forum included the importance of strong organisational values and a positive culture that respects diversity, and the need for a proactive approach to flexible work practices. These themes are informing the development of strategies to assist public authorities to achieve a better representation of women in leadership.

This year saw an increase in the proportion of youth employed in local government authorities and mature workers in some sectors. Harnessing the corporate knowledge and experience of mature workers and engaging with the next generation entering into public employment remains a priority. I anticipate continuing to work with the Commission on targeted programs to improve outcomes for these groups over the coming year.

I conclude with thanking public authorities for their commitment to improving workforce diversity and their contribution to the information in this report.

I also thank the Public Sector Commissioner, Mr Mal Wauchope, for his continued support, and my team for their dedication to advancing the equity and diversity agenda.

I look forward to continuing to engage with public authorities and other stakeholders to improve the representation and distribution of diversity groups in public employment.

Fiona Roche

Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment

1 Public authorities refers to public sector entities and non-public sector authorities (such as local government authorities, public universities and other authorities including government trading enterprises, the Police Force and electorate offices).

2 The term 'Aboriginal Australians' respectfully describes persons of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent who identify as such and are accepted as such by the community in which they live.

Page last updated 2 October 2014