Frequently asked questions

Select a question below to find out more:

NSW and Commonwealth legislation protects people from discrimination on the grounds of their sex; gender identity; sexual orientation; marital, parental or carer status; pregnancy; age; disability; race; and ethno-religious origin.

If you are experiencing discrimination at work, you should refer to your agency’s internal policy and procedure for more information. In the first instance, these matters are handled by individual agencies however, depending on the nature of the issue, other avenues for raising and addressing issues may be available. The Australian Human Rights Commission can provide advice if you are experiencing discrimination at work.

The term ‘reasonable adjustments’ is used because, under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, employers are obligated to make adjustments to accommodate an individual’s disability, unless that adjustment would result in unjustifiable hardship. Reasonable adjustments are also often called ‘workplace’ adjustments.

A workplace adjustment is a change to a work process, procedure or environment that allows a candidate or employee to:

  • perform the inherent or essential requirements of their job safely in the workplace
  • have equal opportunity in recruitment processes, promotion and ongoing development
  • experience equitable terms and conditions of employment
  • maximise productivity

Workplace adjustments may not require any expenditure; they may relate to working arrangements or working methods.

By collecting information about diversity, we are better able to achieve our aim of building a diverse and inclusive workforce reflective of the NSW community. Agencies and the Public Service Commission use the data collected to assess employee perceptions about diversity and inclusion and use the results to inform policy and practices aimed at building an inclusive workforce culture for all employees.

In accordance with the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998, particular care is taken with the collection, storage, use and disclosure of personal information in order to protect individuals’ privacy.

In their annual reports, Departments and statutory bodies must report on their workforce diversity achievements during the reporting year and their key workforce diversity strategies proposed for the following year (see Annual Reports (Departments) Regulation 2015 Schedule 1 and Annual Reports (Statutory Bodies) Regulation 2015 Schedule 1).

The 2016 workforce diversity benchmarks and targets are shown below. Please note that these benchmarks and targets are currently being reviewed with plans for revised 2017 figures.

Benchmarks compare the workforce composition against a standard, for example, comparing diversity of NSW public sector workforce against the demographics of the NSW working age population, whereas targets are set for the NSW public sector workforce and are to be achieved by a specific timeframe.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: 2.6%
    Target set by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) for all classification levels.
  • Women: 50%
    Benchmark of 50% for all classification levels, which will support the Premier’s Priority for women in senior leadership roles.
  • People with disability: N/A
  • People with disability who require work related adjustment: 1.5%
    EmployABILITY set a target to increase the employment of people with a disability requiring a workplace adjustment to 1.5%.

  • People whose first language was not English: 19%
    Based on ABS 2001 Census of Population and Housing.

Targeted and identified roles facilitate the employment of groups disadvantaged in employment.

Targeted Roles – although being from a particular group (e.g. people with disability) is not a genuine occupational qualification, the role is being targeted and advertised for people from a particular group to prioritise and improve employment outcomes.

Identified Roles – where being from a particular group (e.g. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) is a genuine occupational qualification for the role and only people from that group are eligible for appointment to the role.

To facilitate the employment of individuals from groups disadvantaged in employment:

  • merit selection requirements can be modified in relation to certain groups identified as being disadvantaged in employment under rule 26 of the Government Sector Employment (General) Rules 2014; and
  •  individuals of a particular race or age can be afforded access to facilities, services or opportunities to meet their special needs or to promote equal or improved access to those facilities, services or opportunities under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977.

The legal framework to promote equal employment opportunity (EEO) in the NSW public sector has been largely unchanged since it was introduced in 1980. Significant progress has been achieved in addressing the historic disadvantage experienced by particular groups in society when looking for employment. However, the highly prescriptive planning process of EEO may have resulted in the diversity objectives and initiatives of some agencies separating from strategic workforce planning in many instances, rather than being integrated into it. Further, the employment context for some groups on which EEO focused has changed over the years.

The GSE Act changes the NSW public sector’s approach for workforce diversity by broadening the concept of diversity and integrating it within each agency’s workforce planning, rather than operating as an add-on. It allows the PSC and agencies to focus on outcomes rather than process. The GSE Act:

  • repeals Part 9A of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 and reflects a wider, more contemporary concept of workforce diversity, including but not limited to gender, cultural and linguistic background, Aboriginality and disability
  • enshrines in legislation the responsibility of Department Secretaries and agency heads for their organisation’s conduct and management, including making the agency head responsible for workforce diversity within their organisation, and ensuring it is integrated into strategic workforce planning, which will in turn support business planning and customer service
  • requires the Public Service Commissioner to provide periodic reports on workforce diversity, and enables the Commissioner to make rules regarding workforce diversity that are binding on Department Secretaries and agency heads.

Following the commencement of the Government Sector Employment Act 2013 (GSE Act), and its repeal of Part 9A of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (ADA), NSW government sector agencies are no longer required to prepare and implement Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) plans.

Agencies must continue to comply with all other legislative requirements not covered by the GSE Act and its supporting instruments, including the remaining sections of the ADA.

‘Inherent requirements’ is a term used in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (ADA), Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and Age Discrimination Act 2004. This legislation prohibits discrimination in employment because of a person’s age or disability is in many circumstances. However, it may not be unlawful to refuse to employ a person if, because of their age or disability, they are unable to carry out the inherent requirements – essential duties – of the job.

It is the responsibility of the employer to clearly spell out the essential duties of the position being advertised and what type of work the employee is expected to do.

The Australian Human Rights Commission states that the inherent requirements of a role will vary depending on what the job is. They may include:

  • the ability to perform tasks which are essential to perform a job productively and to the required quality
  • the ability to work effectively in a team or other organisation
  • the ability to work safely.

We are working towards making all roles in the NSW government sector flexible, on the basis of “if not, why not”, by 2019. Given the diversity of work in the sector, different forms of flexible working will suit different operating environments.

Any queries relating to flexible working, including why a request was not approved, should be directed to your agency’s internal HR.

An Acknowledgement of Country is generally offered at the beginning of a meeting, speech or formal occasion. In addition to the initial Acknowledgement of Country, some speakers may also elect to offer their personal Acknowledgement of Country at the start of their own presentation.

An Acknowledgement of Country can be done by everyone, Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal people, to pay respect to the fact that one is on Aboriginal land. Official NSW government sector events or ceremonies should begin with a Welcome to Country.

A Welcome to Country is a very specific Aboriginal cultural protocol that allows for an Aboriginal Elder, at the beginning of the event, to welcome all of the participants at the event to the country of their people and their ancestors.