Reading the numbers

Employees provide their diversity status (e.g. age, gender, cultural background, disability) through on-boarding processes, or voluntary questionnaires that may be available to them throughout the year. People may choose to not disclose their diversity status for many reasons, such as fear of discrimination.

When an employee chooses to provide their diversity status, it is known as a valid response, regardless of what the employee discloses. The total number of valid responses may be less than or equal to the total number of employees (headcount) in an authority. An authority’s number of valid responses is usually less than their headcount due to employees choosing not provide their diversity status, or not being provided with the opportunity to do so.

As employees enter and exit authorities, and choose to provide their diversity status year to year, the valid response rate of an organisation fluctuates. Ideally, authorities would collect valid responses from all employees at the same time to ensure maximum valid responses and accuracy. 

This fluctuation presents some challenges in reading the representation rate 2 data. A decrease in representation may mean more disclosures from a particular diversity group, while at the same time, more from the workforce in general. While it provides a general view of workforce diversity, a decreasing representation rate is often assumed to mean fewer employees from a particular diversity group, which may not be accurate.

All percentage figures quoted in this report have been rounded to one decimal place.

As an example, 12 241 local government employees or 50.3 per cent of the workforce provided diversity information to their authority during 2016. In 2017, 16 929 or 69.3 per cent disclosed. This increase provides a more accurate picture of workforce diversity in the local government sector.

The increase in valid responses in 2017 results in a lower Aboriginal representation rate of 1.7 per cent from 2.1 per cent in 2016. This is despite an increase in disclosure from 18 Aboriginal employees (263 in 2016, compared with 281 in 2017) from local governments.

Representation of  Aboriginal Australians  in local governments

2 Representation rate (expressed as a percentage) shows the number of valid responses for a diversity group as a proportion of total valid responses.


Page last updated 14 September 2017