Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees
The representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees has been growing steadily in the NSW public sector, from an estimated 1.9% of the workforce in 2006 to 2.9% in 2014.
Figure 9: Estimated representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, 2006-14
The highest proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees are in Family and Community Services (9.5%), Planning and Environment (6.5%), Justice (3.6%) and Education and Communities (3.4%). All other service clusters are below the sector average. Currently, the majority of employees work in lower grades and are under-represented at senior levels, with only 0.4% of senior executives identifying as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person.
The NSW public sector is now ahead of the Council of Australian Government target of 2.6% by 2015. Moreover, 80% of Aboriginal respondents reported that equal employment opportunity is provided in their organisation. Perceptions of commitment to creating a diverse workforce were very positive across the sector (88%), while Aboriginal respondents were slightly less positive regarding these perceptions (84%).
Despite the encouraging results in overall proportions, the Public Service Commissioner and department secretaries have determined that more can be done to increase the number of Aboriginal employees and their representation in a broader range of roles, from entry-level roles right through to senior executive roles.
A new NSW Public Sector Aboriginal Employment Strategy 2014–2017 has been developed in consultation with agencies. It focuses on attracting and retaining Aboriginal employees, supporting career development and progression and improving Aboriginal cultural competency in the workplace. Importantly, the last element of the strategy will require agencies to gather more information to improve data on the capabilities, aspirations and development needs of Aboriginal employees. This, in turn, will assist with defining the initiatives agencies will need to adopt. The new strategy does not impose a prescriptive approach and will work as a model that uses and shares proven practices.
It links together the NSW Government's plan for Aboriginal affairs – OCHRE (opportunity, choice, healing, responsibility, empowerment) – with the new opportunities brought about by the current reforms to pursue major gains for Aboriginal employment, retention and career development in the public sector.
Implementation has commenced with the delivery of an Aboriginal Career and Leadership Development Program in 2014 for employees from mid to senior level, to facilitate career and leadership development for Aboriginal employees who aspire to leadership roles.