Chapter Twelve

Regional profile of the Public Service

The Public Service is a key part of the public sector, with 61,991 non-casual full-time equivalent (FTE) workers in the 2019 census period, accounting for around one-fifth of public sector employees. 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 collection includes the postcode and work suburb of employees and any analysis is subject to the accuracy of this data. Figures exclude records where location cannot be determined due to missing suburb and postcode data.

 

In the Far West and Orana region, 4.1% of employed persons were Public Service employees, the highest representation of all regions.

The percentage of Public Service employees of the total NSW workforce was 1.7% for regional and 1.6% for metropolitan areas.

Change over time

NSW regions

Region Share of FTE 2011(%) Share of FTE 2019(%) Change in share (pp)
1. Hunter Valley
excl. Newcastle
2.8 3.6 0.8
2. Mid North Coast 1.8 1.7 -0.2
3. New England & North West 2.7 2.3 -0.4
4. Far West & Orana 2.8 3.1 0.3
5. Coffs Harbour – Grafton 2.0 1.8 -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 4.7 -0.1

NSW Regions map

Sydney regions

Region Share of FTE 2011(%) Share of FTE 2019(%) Change in share (pp)
1. Sydney East 39.5 38.7 -0.5
2. Sydney West 23.0 24.9 1.9
3. Central Coast 3.3 3.3 0.0
4. Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 4.3 4.9 0.6
5. Illawarra 2.6 2.4 -0.2
6. Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven 1.4 1.5 0.1

Sydney regions map

Between 2011 and 2019, Sydney West3 experienced the largest growth in the proportion of employees working in the Public Service. This is an increase of 1.9 percentage points (pp). Within Sydney West, there was an increase in full-time equivalent (FTE) share in the Parramatta and South West regions. All other regions showed a minor fall, the largest being in the Outer West and Blue Mountains region, at 0.4pp. The largest fall in FTE share was in Sydney East, at 0.8pp. 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 25.9% in 2019.

The total share in FTE for regional areas decreased 1.1pp, from 37.4% in 2011 to 36.3% in 2019. Over the same period, the FTE share for metropolitan areas increased from 62.6% to 63.4%.

Regional profile of Public Service employees

 

The Planning, Industry and Environment cluster had the highest proportion of FTE workers in regional areas, at 50.5% (see Figure 12.3). Employees were spread across all regions, with the highest proportion located in the Central West (16.7%).More than a third of the workforce of the Customer Service, Education and Stronger Communities clusters was in regional areas. Premier and Cabinet had a low regional presence, at 2.1% of its workforce, while there were no Health, Treasury or Transport Public Service employees 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.

Table 12.1: Public Service in regional areas by cluster, non casual census period FTE, 2019 (and estimated change from 2018)4,5
Cluster Customer Service Education Planning, Industry & Environment Premier & Cabinet Stronger Communities
Region 2019 FTE Change from 2018 2019 FTE Change from 2018 2019 FTE Change from 2018 2019 FTE Change from 2018 2019 FTE Change from 2018
Capital Region 100 2 126 52 502 49 11 1 840 41
Central Coast 780 127 122 21 128 17 * * 1,009 2
Central West 597 -5 287 96 1,020 62 6 -7 986 21
Coffs Harbour – Grafton 79 -1 82 32 429 55 11 5 524 -6
Far West & Orana 53 8 144 38 576 27 25 6 1,135 45
Hunter Valley excl. Newcastle 309 -58 145 40 646 246 * * 1,144 87
Illawarra 112 6 286 111 198 34 * * 858 -43
Mid North Coast 53 4 116 29 240 30 * * 612 31
Murray 45 4 69 21 262 27 * * 180 -5
New England & North West 63 2 213 38 566 59 * * 577 -10
Newcastle & Lake Macquarie 475 94 301 154 563 103 5 -4 1,651 10
Richmond – Tweed 79 6 143 56 256 41 * * 492 -2
Riverina 57 -1 169 51 474 28 * * 556 36
Southern Highlands & Shoalhaven 43 -3 48 7 235 19 * * 601 55
Total regional areas 2,845 186 2,249 746 6,095 796 * * 11,167 263

* Numbers less than five are considered to be a data quality issue and have been suppressed

Table 12.1 shows that across all regional areas, the Stronger Communities cluster had the highest number of Public Service FTE workers (29,803), with 37.5% located in regional areas. Newcastle and Lake Macquarie had the highest number, at 1,651, followed by the Hunter Valley excluding Newcastle, at 1,144.

All regional areas and all clusters except Premier and Cabinet had an increase in FTE in 2019. For clusters, the increases are spread across regions. The Education cluster had the highest increase in FTE in regional areas, but this is likely impacted by 26.4% of their records missing location data in 2018. The Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region had the highest proportional increase, followed by the Illawarra and Central West regions. These three regions shared 48.3% of the increase, and the remaining increases were evenly spread across all other regions. The second highest increase in regional representation was in the Planning, Industry and Environment cluster.

Table 12.2: Proportion of Public Service employee records with missing postcode or suburb names, 2018–196
cluster Missing data 2018 (%) Missing data 2019 (%)
Customer Service 0.5 0.2
Education 26.4 0.1
Planning, Industry & Environment 3.9 0.5
Premier & Cabinet 4.0 3.7
Stronger Communities 0.0 0.0

Regional profile of Public Service senior executives

Regionally based Senior Executive roles provide a career path for employees working in regional areas, who have the benefit of understanding the local context when it comes to policy and program development and implementation. In 2019, 13.8% of Public Service senior executives were based in regional areas. This was around one-third of the number of Public Service employees based in regional areas (36.9%).

  • Executives in regional areas

    13.8%

    in 2019 (11.2% in 2018)

 

The proportion of senior executives in regional areas increased 2.6pp from 2018 (11.2%). The Central West had the largest proportion (23.9%) of senior executives of all regional areas, with the majority (78.5%) of the executives in this region working in the Planning, Industry and Environment cluster.

Around 2.5% of records for senior executives were missing the postcode, down from around 10% in 2018. Premier and Cabinet had the largest amount of missing location data in Senior Executive records, limiting the ability to analyse their movements.

Table 12.3: Proportion of Public Service senior executive records with missing postcode or suburb names, 2018-197
Cluster 2018 (%) 2019 (%)
Customer Service 1.7 0.4
Education 44.2 0.3
Planning, Industry & Environment 4.5 2.2
Premier & Cabinet 14.2 14.2
 

At a cluster level, 53.3% of senior executives based in regional areas were in the Planning, Industry and Environment cluster. The next highest number was in Education, which had 25.4% of regionally based senior executives.

Table 12.4: Number of senior executives by region, census headcount, 2018–198,9
Region 2018 2019 Change
Capital Region 11 18 7
Central Coast 9 21 12
Central West 50 65 15
Coffs Harbour – Grafton 5 10 5
Far West & Orana 13 18 5
Hunter Valley excl. Newcastle 11 28 17
Illawarra 17 24 7
Mid North Coast 4 5 1
Murray 6 7 1
New England & North West 18 15 -3
Newcastle & Lake Macquarie 19 30 11
Richmond – Tweed 7 11 4
Riverina 15 13 -2
Southern Highlands & Shoalhaven 6 7 1
Total regional areas 191 272 81

There were 81 more senior executives in regional areas in 2019 compared to 2018. The number increased in all clusters except Stronger Communities and Premier and Cabinet, which both had decreases of two senior executives in 2019. The largest increase across regions was in Education, where an increase of 46 senior executives was distributed across all regions in the cluster. Much of this increase is likely due to improvements in Education’s location data, which increased the number of valid records.

The Hunter Valley region, excluding Newcastle, showed the largest increase in the number of senior executives (17) followed by Central West (15). The main contributor to the increase in the Hunter Valley excluding Newcastle was the Planning, Industry and Environment cluster, which increased from 7 senior executives in 2018 to 20 in 2019.10 In the Central West, the increase was distributed across different agencies. Education was the largest contributor in this region, increasing from one to six.

Table 12.5: Number of senior executives in regional areas by executive Bands 1–4, census headcount, 2019
  SE Band 1 SE Band 2 SE Bands 3–4
Regional 240 27 5
Metropolitan 1,310 317 79
 

Analysis of the number of senior executives by band reveals a lower proportion of higher-band roles in regional areas. Regional areas accounted for 15.5% of Public Service Band 1 senior executives, while the proportion of Band 2 and Band 3 senior executives in regional areas was around half this level.

Only three regional areas had Band 3 senior executives – Central West, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, and Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven – and these were all in the Planning, Industry and Environment cluster. Band 2 senior executives were spread across regions, with most in the Central West region (25% of overall Band 2 executives in the regional areas). Mid North Coast and Murray were the only two regions with no Band 2 senior executives. There were Band 1 senior executives in all regional areas. The highest number was in the Central West, with 56 (23%). The majority of these (43) were in the Planning, Industry and Environment cluster.


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 Australian Bureau of Statistics population concordance tables. For the purposes of this table, 2019 FTE is reported using this same methodology to allow for a more accurate comparison.
2 Around 0.4% of data collected in 2019 have missing postcodes, compared to just 0.02% missing postcodes in 2011.
3 Sydney West comprises the SA4 areas of Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury; Blacktown; Outer South West; Outer West and Blue Mountains; Parramatta; and South West.
4 Around 0.4% of 2019 records were missing postcode and suburb data compared with 4.2% for 2018; this change could impact reported change in regional representation.
5 Data are presented in the 1 July 2019 cluster structure, and change from 2018 should be considered indicative only. Some parts of departments and agencies that moved under machinery of government changes effective 1 July 2019 are not able to be identified in 2018 data, so changes from 2018 are estimates.
6 All public servants in Health, Transport and Treasury were in Sydney.
7 All public servants in the Health cluster were in Sydney.
8 Numbers have been suppressed where FTE is less than five.
9 Of 81 senior executives in the change, 46 belong to the Education cluster. A key contributor to this increase could be that there was less missing location data relating to Education (44.2% in 2018 vs 0.3% in 2019).
10 The 2018 figure for Planning, Industry and Environment is an estimate based on the new cluster structure after the Machinery of Government changes.