Communique No 11 - July 2019

Communique No 11 - July 2019

PM&C Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council
Monday, 05 August 2019

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

The Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council (the Council) met on 4 July 2019.

Australian Human Rights National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces

The Council welcomed Ms Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, who shared themes emerging from the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces. Ms Jenkins led a discussion on how the Australian Public Service (APS) may work to address the outcomes of the Inquiry, both as a major employer and as a driver of key legislative and regulatory frameworks. The Council noted their unequivocal censure of any form of sexual exploitation, abuse or harassment.

APS Strategic Framework of Diversity and Inclusion

Three Commonwealth diversity strategies are under development in 2019. This presents an opportunity for the APS to define a strategic inclusion and diversity framework that supports and reflects an APS of the future. Members participated in an engaging discussion about future directions for strategies, drawing on experiences from departments’ inclusion and diversity work programs.

Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy: The Council agreed to progress the strategy as a priority. The Council agreed to establish a steering group consisting of Senior Executive Service (SES) officers, Executive Level 1 (EL1) officers and Australian Public Service Level 6 (APS6) officers and for agencies to nominate high potential staff to participate in a project-based team in the APSC, to develop the next strategy. The Council noted the strategy will aim to consolidate best practice employment programs, improve retention rates and build equity in promotion opportunities for Indigenous employees, particularly into SES ranks.

As One: Making it Happen APS Disability Employment Strategy: The Council discussed future directions for this strategy in response to the Government’s election commitment of increasing APS employment for people with disability to 7 per cent by 2025. The Council noted issues around defining the broad range of disability and the potential stigma associated with disclosure. It was acknowledged the APS does not offer a clear value proposition for people with disability to seek employment in the APS and, in many cases, to disclose the nature of their disability. The Council noted the opportunity to draw on insights from the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

Balancing the Future: The Australian Public Service Gender Equality Strategy: The Council noted progress has been made against the strategy, and this work will form the foundations for the next strategy, which will need to consider out-dated cultural norms and higher uptake of flexible work by women than men.

Inclusion Spotlight: Department of Veterans’ Affairs

The Council noted the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) presentation on their cultural transformation program, which aims to build greater connection between DVA and the community and people DVA supports. The presentation highlighted the importance of role modelling employment practices, building trust with community through people, processes and technology, and maintaining momentum through change.

Report Backs and Updates

The Council agreed to defer the topic of Preventing Sexual Exploitation Abuse and Harassment in Procurement until the findings of the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces are handed down.

The Council noted the EL2-led inclusion project steering groups have been established and are making positive progress collaborating on initiatives out-of-session to build inclusive work practices across APS departments.