12 Regional profile of the Public Service

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 postcode data.

 

 

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

 

NSW regions

Region Share FTE 2011 (%) Share FTE 2018 (%) Change in share (%)
1. Hunter Valley
excl. Newcastle
2.8 3.4 -0.6
2. Mid-North Coast 1.8 1.7 -0.2
3. New England & North West 2.7 2.4 -0.3
4. Far West & Orana 2.8 3.2 0.4
5. Coffs Harbour – Grafton 2.0 1.9 -0.1
6. Richmond – Tweed 2.0 1.6 -0.4
7. Capital Region 3.0 2.5 -0.4
8. Riverina 2.5 2.1 -0.4
9. Murray 1.3 0.9 -0.3
10. Central West 4.8 4.9 0.1

NSW Regions map

Sydney regions

Region Share FTE 2011 (%) Share FTE 2018 (%) Change in share (%)
1. Sydney East 39.5 39.0 -0.5
2. Sydney West 23.0 24.2 1.1
3. Central Coast 3.3 3.4 0.1
4. Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 4.3 4.8 0.4
5. Illawarra 2.6 2.5 -0.2
6. Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven 1.4 1.5 0.1

Sydney regions map

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

Region Education Family & Community Services Finance, Services & Innovation Industry Justice Planning & Environment Premier & Cabinet
Capital Region 79 165 111 178 624 272
(-18) (-102) (10) (7) (-17) (-19)
Central Coast 101 386 654 64 611 56
(-3) (-112) (77) (-1) (26) (32)
Central West 191 231 624 813 733 134 13
(-20) (-188) (24) (84) (7) (-18) (4)
Coffs Harbour - Grafton 52 138 97 152 406 192
(-22) (-42) (8) (6) (30) (-7)
Far West and Orana 117 185 60 244 896 304 7
(-19) (-71) (9) (-2) (117) (-13) (0)
Hunter Valley exc Newcastle 105 213 367 292 844 108
(11) (-106) (10) (12) (206) (-238)
Illawarra 175 287 136 71 623 74 8
(-61) (-212) (-12) (10) (12) (-15) (0)
Mid North Coast 87 144 55 76 438 133
(-26) (-85) (-5) (8) (24) (-33)
Murray 48 88 46 160 97 72
(-4) (-105) (5) (8) (2) (-4)
New England and North West 176 208 74 397 372 117
(-13) (-100) (13) (24) (-1) (-8)
Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 150 996 442 276 642 151 6
(-81) (-153) (76) (53) (18) (36) (0)
Richmond - Tweed 87 217 92 160 259 65
(-28) (-84) (3) (-9) (20) (10)
Riverina 118 182 72 338 332 115 -
(-20) (-57) (16) (-7) (3) (-9)
Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven 42 84 49 98 454 123 -
(1) (-76) (13) (-1) (54) (-18)
Total regional areas 1,527 3,524 2,878 3,319 7,331 1,915 60
(-302) (-1,494) (247) (192) (502) (-303) (4)

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

Cluster Percentage of cluster missing data 2017 Percentage of cluster missing data 2018
Education 0.0 26.7
Family & Community Services 0.0 0.1
Finance, Services & Innovation 0.7 0.2
Health* 6.2 4.4
Justice 0.0 0.0
Planning & Environment 0.1 5.8
Premier & Cabinet 9.3 7.4

*All public servants within Health are located in Sydney

Regional profile of senior executives in the Public Service

  • Executives in regional areas

    11.2%

    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

Cluster Percentage of senior executives with missing postcode/suburb data, 2017 (%) Percentage of senior executives with missing postcode/suburb data, 2018 (%)
Education 0.0 44.4
Finance, Services & Innovation 2.8 0.0
Health* 6.1 4.7
Planning & Environment 0.0 8.1
Premier & Cabinet 19.0 17.6

*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

Region 2017 2018 Change 2017-18
Capital Region 10 11 1
Central Coast 16 9 - 7
Central West 55 50 - 5
Coffs Harbour - Grafton 8 5 - 3
Far West and Orana 15 13 - 2
Hunter Valley exc Newcastle 23 11 - 12
Illawarra 22 17 - 5
Mid North Coast 5 4 - 1
Murray 7 6 - 1
New England and North West 10 18 8
Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 17 19 2
Richmond - Tweed 11 7 - 4
Riverina 11 15 4
Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven 8 6 - 2
Total regional areas 218 191 - 27

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 Division (four).

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

SE Band 1 – directors SE Band 2 – executive directors SE Band 3–4 – deputy secretaries and secretaries
Regional 164 21 6
Metro 1,122 316 81
 

 

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.


Notes

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