APS secretaries revive Indigenous staff network for SES officers


A staff network for Commonwealth senior executives from Indigenous backgrounds has been resurrected after over four years of inactivity as part of a bid to retain and promote more Indigenous public servants. The network will be supported by former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Dr Tom Calma and Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd.

Several federal agencies support Indigenous staff networks among their own employees. A spokesperson for the Australian Public Service Commission told The Mandarin a government-wide version for SES officers formed in 2009 but “lapsed” in 2012. The commission’s latest newsletter announced the group was being revived to “explore how to better retain and progress Indigenous Australians in the APS” partly by drawing on employment data to identify and develop talented Indigenous public servants.

Last July, the Secretaries’ Equality and Diversity Council decided to re-establish the network, a decision that “reflects the commitment of APS leaders to Indigenous issues and in Closing the Gap in the APS workforce” according to the APSC. Members of the network have  held an initial meeting since then and committed to:

  • supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to forge strong careers in the APS
  • working together to identify the specific areas where they can maximise influence for the benefit of Indigenous peoples and for the APS.

The commission says members of the network “recognise they have a unique opportunity to promote Indigeneity and diversity within the APS” and will work closely with the related Indigenous Champions Network “to help achieve synergies across agencies” as well as contributing to implementation of the APS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy.

APS commissioner John Lloyd is co-sponsoring the SES network with University of Canberra chancellor Dr Tom Calma, who is an elder of the Kungarakan people of the Northern Territory, and the APSC is also facilitating connections between the re-launched SES group and existing departmental Indigenous staff networks.

The commission’s 2015-16 State of the Service data shows that just 2.9% of APS employees self-identified as Indigenous, and 0.6% of those were SES officers, with the majority working at the lower end of the classification scale.

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