Counting diversity for a truly representative ACT Public Service


Tomorrow Andrew Braddock MLA will call on the ACT Government to improve how the ACT Public Service recruits, retains and supports people from all cultures and backgrounds. 

“A great workforce reflects the community it serves”, said Andrew Braddock MLA, ACT Greens Spokesperson for Multiculturalism. “Diversity should be reflected in all aspects of public life, including the ACT Public Service.

“The ACT Greens want to ensure our public service provides equal employment opportunities to all Canberrans regardless of their cultural background. 

“However, I’ve heard from the migrant and refugee communities that they don’t see themselves represented in the leadership of the public service, and many don’t feel welcome to apply for public service jobs.

“The way we currently collect data means that it is hard to understand exactly how big this problem is – but we do know that the pay gap for public servants who identify as culturally and linguistically diverse is about 7% - around the same as the overall gender pay gap.

“The ACT Public Service has been very successful in increasing the recruitment, retention and promotion of women over time. Now we want them to create an evidence-based strategy for doing the same across Canberra’s refugee and migrant communities. 

“The ACT Public Service needs to examine best practice examples across the globe – this may include actively encouraging diverse candidates to apply,  de-identifying applications, and anti-racism training - so we can be confident that the ACT Public Service truly represents the full diversity of our community.” 

Quotes from Sandra Wright, CEO of Settlement Council of Australia

“People of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are often treated the same in the data, but they can have very different experiences of exclusion. For example, a second-generation migrant who has only ever spoken English is treated the same as a first-generation migrant for whom English is their second language. A person who came to Australia as a refugee having missed years of formal schooling, is treated the same as someone who came to Australia with formal qualifications.

“To truly reflect the diversity of our community, the ACTPS must hire across the full diversity of experiences. Without breaking down the data further, we risk mostly benefitting the least disadvantaged and least excluded among those who are culturally and linguistically diverse.

“We don’t need to wait for the data to be collected to start making changes. Good practice in hiring people from minority cultures should be implemented no matter what the statistics are.”

Quotes from Mrs Nishi Puri: Chairperson of the Multicultural Association of Canberra and president of GOPIO (global organisation for people of Indian Origin). 

“Many friends pointed out that they sit at one level for a long period of time whereas their Australian counterparts rise quickly in ranks. Most of them are also denied acting roles even though they are more qualified and suitable for the role.

“Most of the CALD community is sitting at lower to medium levels in public service and very few make it to the top. Women in particular feel grateful that they have a job and hardly ever speak up.

“The CALD community feels that they do not have an equal employment opportunity in the public service and it is very tokenistic.”