5 Diversity

  • Diversity response rate


    in 2018 (+1.0 pp vs. 2017)

  • People whose language first spoken as a child was not English – estimate


    in 2018 (-0.3 pp vs. 2017)

  • People from racial, ethnic and ethno-religious minority groups – estimate


    in 2018 (-0.8 pp vs. 2017)

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people – estimate


    in 2018 (+0.5 pp vs. 2014)

  • Employees reporting disability – estimate


    in 2018 (-0.2 pp vs. 2017)

  • Employees reporting disability requiring adjustment – estimate


    in 2018 (-0.1 pp vs. 2017)

Diversity response rates

The collection of diversity data via the Workforce Profile relies on employees selfreporting their diversity characteristics to their employing agency. The proportion of the workforce providing this data varies across the sector (see Table 5.1) and a range of factors can affect the response rate. Lack of updates by employees and transition to new human resources (HR) information systems can impact overall results.

Table 5.1: Diversity response rate by cluster, 2017–18

Cluster Diversity response rate 2017 (%) Diversity response rate 2018 (%) Change (pp)
Education 77.8 80.3 2.5
External to government sector 74.1 74.4 0.3
Family & Community Services 53.7 55.2 1.5
Finance, Services & Innovation 83.0 77.4 -5.6
Health 84.9 85.9 1.0
Industry 59.3 53.1 -6.2
Justice 77.4 77.0 -0.4
Planning & Environment 78.6 78.8 0.2
Premier & Cabinet 73.5 72.8 -0.7
Transport 58.5 57.7 -0.8
Treasury 72.7 76.2 3.5
Total public sector 77.2 78.2 1.0

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples

In 2018, an estimated 3.3% of non-casual employees identified as being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, a slight increase from 3.2% in 2017. The number and proportion of employees in this group has increased progressively over the past decade (see Figure 5.1).



Across salary bands, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees remained steady or increased in each band in 2018. The highest increases were in the General Scale and Grade 3/4 bands, with increases of 0.3 percentage points in each of these bands.

The NSW Public Sector Aboriginal Employment Strategy 2014–2017 aims to improve the distribution of Aboriginal employees at all levels of the sector, with an aspirational target of 1.8% representation across all classifications by 2021. Figure 5.2 shows progress made since 2014 toward achieving this target. The target has been achieved in grades 5/6 and 7/8, but grades 9/10 and 11/12 remain below target. Based on the performance since the beginning of the strategy, it is projected that the target will be achieved in these grades by 2021.

Figure 5.2 NSW public sector Aboriginal employment – representation by grade, 2014 and 2018

Please use the tabs to explore other years



In addition, one of the Premier’s Priorities introduced in 2015 was to double the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in senior leadership roles by 2025, from 57 in 2014 to 114 across the government sector. In 2018, there were 87 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in the senior leadership cohort.

All but one cluster either maintained or increased its number of Aboriginal senior leaders during 2018. For more information on Aboriginal senior leaders see the ‘Leaders’ section.

People with disability

In December 2017, the NSW Government announced Jobs for People with Disability: A plan for the NSW Public Sector, The plan introduced the target of doubling the representation of people with disability in the NSW public sector from an estimated 2.8% in 2016 to 5.6% by 2027.

As at the census date in 2018, an estimated 2.5% of public sector employees identified as having a disability, a decrease of 0.2 percentage points from the 2017 estimate. A key contributor to this decrease was the transfer of disability services from Family and Community Services to private providers under the NDIS, as this workforce had a relatively high proportion of people with disability compared to the sector.

It is important to note that the decreasing representation of people with disability is not a recent trend. The number and proportion of employees in this group has been declining since 2008, as shown in Figure 5.3. The Victorian2, Queensland3 and Western Australian4 public sectors have also reported a decline across a similar period, while the Australian Public Service5 and Tasmania6 are the only jurisdictions across the country to demonstrate slight increases in disability representation in recent times.



The median tenure for people with disability was 14.1 years, which was higher than for the public sector overall (9.0 years). When age cohorts are compared, the representation of people with disability in the sector increases markedly with age. Figure 5.4 highlights that the proportion of people with disability increases incrementally with each age group.

Figure 5.4: Proportion of all employees with disability by age band, 2018

Please use the tabs to explore other years



This is a contributing factor to the decline of the representation of people with disability. There were a higher proportion of employees aged 55 years and over when compared to the total sector (39.3% vs. 23.9%) and retirements accounted for 18.9% of separations for people with disability compared to 11.8% for the total sector.

Table 5.2: Commencements, exits and moves, employees with disability vs. total sector, 2018

Commencement rate (%) Exit rate (%) Movement within public sector (%)
Employees with disability 5.9 10.2 1.4
Total public sector 8.9 7.9 1.7

There are also differences in the rates of commencements and exits of employees with disability compared to the total sector (see Table 5.2). The exit rate of employees with disability is 2.3 percentage points higher than for all employees in the sector, and the commencement rate is 3 percentage points lower. In effect the sector has not been able to recruit sufficient numbers of people with disability to negate those departures. If these trends continue, together they will create a barrier to reaching the target of 5.6% by 2027. In addition, a lower proportion of employees with disability move between different agencies (-0.4 percentage points) than those without disability. It will be important to monitor these trends as strategies are implemented across the sector, to support the employment of this cohort.

People who first spoke a language other than English

An estimated 18.1% of the public sector’s non-casual workforce in 2018 identified that their first spoken language as a child was not English. This marks a decrease of 0.3 percentage points from 2017 (see Figure 5.5). Nearly half (43.4 %) of all employees in this diversity group also identified as being from a racial, ethnic or ethno-religious minority group.



The headcount for this diversity group increased across all salary grades from 2013 to 2018 (see Figure 5.6). The median age of these employees in 2018 was 43 years compared to 44 for the public sector overall. The median tenure for this diversity group was 7.1 years compared to 9.0 years for the whole public sector.



Racial, ethnic and ethno-religious minority groups

In 2018, an estimated 12.4% of the NSW public sector’s non-casual workforce identified as being from a racial, ethnic or ethno-religious minority group, a decrease of 0.8 percentage points from 2017 (see Figure 5.7).

It is estimated that more than half of this overall decrease is due to a decrease in Transport’s employee diversity data following the agency’s transition to a new HR information system. Transport reported that work is continuing within the cluster to improve data quality by encouraging employees to update their diversity data.



Figure 5.8 demonstrates that this diversity group had a higher representation in all salary bands in 2018 except for the lowest two bands. Notably, in this diversity group there was equal representation in the senior executive salary band, suggesting that the leadership of the NSW public sector was representative of the wider community in terms of racial, ethnic and ethno-religious minority groups.




1 Diversity estimates (see glossary on diversity estimation method)
2 Victorian Public Sector Commission, The State of the Public Sector in Victoria 2016–2017, Victorian Government, 2017
3 Queensland Public Service Commission, Working differently – Empowering disability confidence summary report, Queensland Government, January 2018
4 Public Sector Commission, 2017 State of the sectors, Government of Western Australia, October 2017
5 Australian Public Service Commission, APS Employment Data 30 June 2018 release, Australian Government, 2018, https://www.apsc.gov.au/aps-employment-data-30-june-2018-release
6 Department of Premier and Cabinet, Employee Surveys, Tasmanian Government, 2018, http://www.dpac.tas.gov.au/divisions/ssmo/Employee_Surveys