NSW public sector takes aim at Indigenous employment targets with three-point strategy

By Stephen Easton

Tuesday July 16, 2019

The New South Wales government aims to have 114 senior leaders from Indigenous backgrounds in the state’s public sector by 2025, up from a current figure of about 87.

Another target is to have Indigenous people make up 3% of non-executive ranks. This will result in about 13,000 Aboriginal people or Torres Strait Islanders getting jobs in the NSW public sector in the next six years, according to Don Harwin, who is both Minister for the Public Service and Employee Relations and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.

These goals are backed up by the state government’s new Aboriginal Employment Strategy, which sets out a series of actions towards three aims:

  • “Building a talent pipeline by attracting more Aboriginal peoples to work in the NSW public sector and helping them advance their careers
  • “Improving Aboriginal cultural capability by teaching all public sector employees to respect and accommodate cultural differences
  • “Engaging with our Aboriginal workforce to help us meet our targets. This section details the actions we will take to implement each of these elements.”

The senior leadership target of 114 was set by Premier Gladys Berejiklian earlier this year. One of her new set of 14 Premier’s Priorities is to have a “world-class public service” with a more diverse workforce. The idea is to double a 2014 baseline figure of 57 and Berejiklian’s website tracking progress against the goals shows a 2018 “actual” figure of 87.

By 2025 the Premier also aims to have women in 50% of senior public-sector leadership roles and people with disabilities making up 5.6% of the government-funded workforce.

The proportion of people with disabilities is only about 2.5% and has been trending down over the past 10 years so that target looks like the hardest to meet, but the number of women and Indigenous people in senior leadership positions are both trending upwards.

Under the previous 2014-2017 strategy the overall workforce representation of Indigenous people increased from 2.6% to 3.3%.

Harwin said about 400,000 workers across the sector would also get to learn more about Aboriginal culture as a related measure to boost Aboriginal employment under the new strategy.

“NSW needs a strong and inclusive public service that reflects the diverse communities and cultures it serves, from leadership to junior staff members,” the minister said.

The state government is already a leader in “progressing Aboriginal employment” but has more work to do, according to NSW public service commissioner Emma Hogan.

“This strategy builds on our strong foundations with more comprehensive actions and ambitious targets to fundamentally change the face of the NSW public sector,” Hogan said.

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