The Public Service is a key part of the public sector, comprising 18.6% of the public
sector workforce and with 61,358 non-casual FTE at the 2018 census period. It is also
a key employer in regional areas. The balance of the location of employees between
metropolitan and regional areas has changed over time, with policies supporting the
movement of agencies out of office space in Sydney’s central business district and
focusing on regional employment.
The Workforce Profile collects the postcode and work suburb of all employees.
The following analysis is based on this data and is subject to its accuracy. All figures
exclude records where location cannot be determined due to missing suburb or
In Far West and Orana, 3.3% of employed persons are Public Service employees, the
highest representation of any region.
The percentage of Public Service employees of the total NSW workforce is 1.5% for
both metropolitan and regional areas.
Change over time
Figure 12.2 Proportional change in Public Service FTE distribution by region, 2011 to 2018 1,2
Between 2011 and 2018, Sydney West3 experienced the largest growth in proportion
of the Public Service, increasing by 1.1 percentage points. All regions within Sydney
West recorded an increase in share of FTE, with Parramatta recording the largest
share of the increase, changing from 12.2% in 2011 to 13.5% in 2018. The largest fall in
share of FTE, of 0.5 percentage points, was in Sydney East. The region within Sydney
East that recorded the largest share of the decrease was Sydney City and Inner South,
changing from 26.3% in 2011 to 25.6% in 2018.
The total share in FTE for regional areas decreased 0.6 percentage points, from 37.4%
in 2011 to 36.8% in 2018. Over the same period, the FTE share for metropolitan areas
increased from 62.6% to 63.2%.
The regions that recorded the largest actual Public Service FTE falls between 2011 and
2018 were Richmond – Tweed, decreasing 374 FTE, and Riverina, decreasing 413 FTE.
These decreases primarily related to reductions in Family and Community Services
due to the privatisation of Home Care Services and the transfer of disability services
to the private providers under the NDIS.
Regional profile of Public Service employees
The Industry cluster had the highest proportion of FTE working in regional areas, at
60.2% (see Figure 12.3). Employees were spread across all regions, with the highest
proportion located in the Central West (24.5%), mainly within Corporate Service
Partners and Primary Industries. More than a third of the workforce of the Justice,
Education, Family and Community Services, and Finance, Services and Innovation
clusters was located in regional areas. Premier and Cabinet had a low regional
presence, with 4.3% of the workforce located in the regions, while no Health or
Treasury employees were located in regional areas. It should be noted that Health
and Transport maintain a large regional presence in the Health Service and Transport
Service within the broader public sector.
Figure 12.4 shows the changes in regional presence from 2017. While there were
increases and decreases across the clusters, the overall proportion of the Public
Service working in regional areas remained unchanged, at 36.8%. Planning and
Environment, and Industry were the only two clusters with a decrease in the
proportion of Public Service FTE located in regional areas. The proportion in Planning
and Environment dropped by 3.9 percentage points, and Industry by 1.1 percentage
points. Education showed the highest increase in the proportion of Public Service FTE
in regional areas.
Table 12.1 Public Service in regional areas by cluster, non casual census period FTE 2018 (and change from 2017) 4,1
2018 has 4.2% missing region data compared with 0.4% for 2017, increase in missing data could impact reported change in regional representation.
Table 12.1 shows that across all regional areas, the Justice cluster had the highest
number of Public Service FTE (7,331), with 36.3% located in regional areas. Far West
and Orana had the highest FTE at 896, followed by the Hunter Valley excluding
Newcastle at 844. Corrective Services made up 53.7% of these employees.
Finance, Services and Innovation, Justice and Industry clusters all experienced
increases in FTE in regional areas in 2018. For all three clusters, the increases are
spread across regions. The highest increase in Finance, Services and Innovation was
on the Central Coast (77) which primarily related to an increase in the Long Service
Corporation. The highest increase in Justice was in the Hunter Valley excluding
Newcastle in Corrective Services (210), while the highest increase in Industry was
in the Central West (84) and related to increases in Corporate Service Partners and
Local Land Services.
The largest decrease in regional areas was in Family and Community Services (FACS),
primarily due to the transfer of disability services to private providers under the NDIS.
This affected all regional areas, ranging from a decrease in FTE of 212 in the Illawarra
region (14.2% of the overall decrease in FACS) to a decrease of 42 in Coffs Harbour –
Grafton (3% of the overall decrease). Education, and Planning and Environment were
two other clusters with notable decreases in regional FTE.
There were large regional movements in the Planning and Environment and Education
clusters. However, these had notably higher proportions of missing location data in
2018 than 2017 which is likely impacting the results (see Table 12.2).
Table 12.2 Proportion of Public Service employees with missing postcode or suburb data, 2017–18
*All public servants within Health are located in Sydney
Regional profile of senior executives in the Public Service
Executives in regional areas
in 2018 (12.6% in 2017)
Regionally-based senior executive roles provide a career path for employees located
in regional areas and can utilise the benefit of understanding of local context in policy
and program development and implementation. In 2018, around 11.2% of all Public
Service senior executives were based in regional areas. This was around a third the
level of all Public Service employees who were based in regional areas (37.2%).
The proportion of senior executives in regional areas decreased 1.4 percentage
points from 2017 (12.6%). The Central West had the largest proportion (26.2%) of
senior executives of all regional areas, as the Industry cluster had 24 senior executives
employed with Primary Industries and a further 19 executives in Corporate Service
Partners in this region.
Around 10% of records for senior executives were missing the postcode or suburb, up
from 2.5% in 2017 (see Table 12.3). Education and Planning and Environment had the
largest increase in missing location data in senior executive records, limiting the ability
to analyse their movements.
Table 12.3 Proportion of senior executives in the Public Service with missing postcode or suburb data, 2017-2018
*All public servants within Health are located in Sydney
At a cluster level, 42.9% of senior executives based in regional areas were in the
Industry cluster. The next highest number was in Planning and Environment, which
had 16.8% of regionally based senior executives.
Table 12.4 Number of senior executives by region, census headcount, 2017–18
There were 27 fewer senior executives in regional areas in 2018 compared to
2017. The largest decreases across regions related to the Planning and Environment
and Education clusters. However these are likely being impacted by their higher
proportions of missing location data in 2018. There were seven fewer senior
executives in Finance, Services and Innovation in regional areas compared to 2017.
The largest decrease was on the Central Coast in SafeWork NSW (with three fewer
senior executives). Premier and Cabinet also recorded a decrease of seven senior
executives in regional areas, however this stemmed from a data-quality issue in 2017.
The only cluster to have an overall increase in senior executives was Industry, with
10 more in the regional areas. Increases occurred in the Central West (five), Newcastle
and Lake Macquarie (four), and the Capital region (two). The increase in the Central
West was primarily in Corporate Service Partners (four) and Primary Industries (four).
In Newcastle and Lake Macquarie the increase was in Crown Lands and the Water
A higher proportion of executive appointments in metropolitan areas contributed
to a relative decrease in the representation of senior executives in regional areas.
Increases occurred in the Office of Environment and Heritage, Planning and
Environment, Skills and Economic Development, and Service NSW. The majority
(eight) of the newly appointed senior executives work in Parramatta, followed by
the City and Inner South regions.
Analysis of the number of senior executives by band reveals a lower proportion
of higher-band roles in regional areas.
Table 12.5 Number of senior executives in regional areas by executive bands 1–4, census headcount, 2018
According to 2018 data, 12.8% of Public Service Band 1 executives are located in
regional areas. This proportion drops to 6.2% for Band 2 executives and 6.9% for Band
3 and Band 4 executives.
Only five regional areas had Band 3 executives: Central West (in the Industry cluster),
Illawarra (in Justice), Newcastle and Lake Macquarie (in Industry, and Planning and
Environment), Richmond – Tweed (in Family and Community Services) and Southern
Highlands and Shoalhaven (in Planning and Environment). Band 2 executives were
spread across regions except for Far West and Orana, Mid North Coast, Murray, New
England and North West, and Riverina. Band 1 executives were located in all regional
areas. The highest number was in the Central West, with 41 senior executives. Three
other regions had fewer than five Band 1 executives. The Industry cluster had the
highest number of Band 1 and Band 2 executives based in regional areas, with 43.0%
of regional Band 1 executives and 42.9% of regional Band 2 executives.
1 The FTE figures are indicative only as in 2011 the only location data item collected was postcodes. This
data did not align with SA4 boundaries as one postcode can overlap boundaries. FTE is apportioned
across relevant SA4s using weightings as per ABS population concordance tables. For the purposes of
this table, 2018 FTE is reported using this same methodology to allow for a more accurate comparison.
2Around 4.2% of data collected in 2018 have missing postcodes, compared to just 0.02% missing postcodes in 2011
3 Sydney West comprises SA4 areas of Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury, Blacktown, Outer South West, Outer West and Blue Mountains, Parramatta and South West
4 Numbers have been suppressed where FTE is five or less