Communique No 10 - March 2019

Communique No 10 - March 2019

PM&C Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council
Friday, 29 March 2019

Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council

Logo for Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council

The Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council met on 15 March to discuss practical initiatives to build a more inclusive and diverse Australian Public Service (APS).

Building Inclusion in the APS

Mr David Kalisch delivered a presentation on the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ ongoing transformation program, and focussed on how a more inclusive organisational culture can improve agency performance. Key learnings included:

  • The critical value of metrics to understand the actual and desired culture and create a compelling case for change.
  • The role of middle-management to create an environment that supports cultural change within teams.
  • The leadership practices which empower staff to manage risk.
  • The value of fast feedback structures to encourage inclusion.

The Council will form EL2-level Project Steering Groups for departments to collaborate and progress inclusion initiatives out-of-session, and showcase best practice initiatives at future Council meetings.

Preventing Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment in Procurement

The Council is unequivocal in their censure of any form of sexual exploitation, abuse or harassment. The Council agreed to explore a whole-of-government approach to address sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment through APS procurement practices, which could apply to Commonwealth entities, Government contractors and partners. The Council noted the opportunity to leverage the APS’ significant purchasing power to influence cultural change on this issue.

Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy and Indigenous Senior Executive Service (SES) Network

Co-chairs of the Indigenous SES Network joined the Council to discuss the Network’s insights on the continued disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous leadership in the APS. They noted entry-level programs have successfully supported a large number of Indigenous staff to enter the APS, but more work is needed to retain and develop Indigenous staff to support progression to middle management and then senior ranks. The Council agreed to the Indigenous SES Network reporting back to the Council on an annual basis.

The Council will explore further retention and development strategies as part of the next Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy, which the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) will develop in 2019. The Council noted the value of the Strategy as a catalyst for change, and discussed areas of focus for the new Strategy. The Council agreed to a framework for developing the new Strategy, and to the APSC exploring opportunities to centralise best practice resources for increasing Indigenous employment across the APS.

APS Mental Health Project

Dr Heather Smith updated the Council on progress of the APS Mental Health Discovery project. The Project will review data received from 100 APS agencies and report back to the Council later this year.