1010.0 - ABS Workplace Diversity Action Plan, 2013-2017  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/05/2013  First Issue
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This document was added 12/04/2013.


ABS supports all forms of diversity which include, but are not limited to, “differences in gender, age, language, ethnicity, cultural background, disability, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and family responsibilities. In the workplace, it also encompasses differences between individuals in educational level, life experience, work experience, socio-economic background and personality.” (Australian Public Service Commission definition).

Workplace diversity is about creating a respectful and inclusive work environment that values and utilises the contributions of all employees, as well as addressing disadvantage or discrimination experienced by particular diversity groups within the workplace.

The ABS Workplace Diversity Action Plan (WDAP) 2013-2017 has been built on the principle that a diverse workforce is innovative, productive and improves services. The ABS seeks to be representative of the Australian community and to make the fullest possible use of the range of diverse backgrounds, perspectives and talents of all our staff.


The legislative framework underpinning the ABS WDAP 2013-2017 includes:

  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975;
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984;
  • Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986;
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992;
  • Public Service Act 1999;
  • Fair Work Act 2009;
  • Carer Recognition Act 2010;
  • Work Health and Safety Act 2011; and
  • Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012.

Additionally, Section 18 of the Public Service Act 1999 and the Australian Public Service (APS) Commissioner's Directions 2013 require all agencies to establish workplace diversity programs to assist in giving effect to the APS Employment Principles.

Australian Government targets and APS-wide initiatives, for people with disability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, also inform employment strategies contained in the ABS WDAP 2013-17.

An APS target of 2.7 per cent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation by 2015 has been set by the Australian Government, in support of the Council of Australian Government (COAG) National Partnership on Indigenous Economic Participation. The APS Employment and Capability Strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employees has been considered in developing this WDAP. This will help inform Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recruitment and retention initiatives.

The APS has responded to the COAG National Disability Strategy, which has a key policy objective of improving the workforce participation of people with disability, by releasing the As One Strategy (May 2012) to support the employment of people with disability in the APS. The As One Strategy has been also been considered in developing this WDAP.

Advice and direction from the Australian Government's Diversity Council on diversity issues, including the recommendations from the current 'job readiness' and 'retention' projects for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people with disability, will be considered in the evaluation of the ABS WDAP 2013-17 and in the development of future Plans.

Our role as a statistical service provider is also governed by the Australian Government's Access and Equity Strategy and the National Disability Strategy framework. This is to ensure that our statistical products, services and data collection processes are accessible to people with disability and people of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds in our community.


The ABS Enterprise Agreement 2011-2014 states that "Consistent with the APS Values, the ABS is committed to the principles of fairness, equity and diversity in employment. All ABS employees have a responsibility to uphold and demonstrate these principles in the conduct of their day to day work." The ABS Interviewers Enterprise Agreement 2011-2014 states that "the ABS is committed to the principles of fairness, equity and diversity in employment." These commitments are supported through the ABS Workplace Diversity Action Plan 2013-2017 which details actions designed to support and encourage a diverse workforce.

A successful WDAP has benefits for individuals, teams and the organisation overall. These benefits include:
  • improved workplace relations and engagement;
  • increased productivity and innovation;
  • better relationships with clients and stakeholders; and
  • the ABS being an employer of choice.

The ABS WDAP 2013-2017 was developed in consultation with ABS staff including, employees with disability, carers of people with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees, senior management and directors accountable for actions, local employee consultative forums and the Community and Public Sector Union.

Consideration of APS diversity initiatives and targets and strong feedback during consultations resulted in the inclusion of some targets (e.g. the Commonwealth target of 2.7 per cent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation) that may be difficult to achieve in the current tight financial environment, when recruitment levels are expected to be very low.

Progress on the deliverables of the ABS WDAP 2013-2017 will be regularly reviewed and reported on annually. They will be modified where necessary to ensure actions and targets remain relevant over the life of the Plan.

The ABS Workplace Diversity overarching strategies for 2013-2017 are:

Strategy 1: Strengthen a respectful and inclusive work environment and culture
Strategy 2: Improve our ability to attract, recruit and retain people of diverse backgrounds and targeted under-represented diversity groups*
Strategy 3: Improve our understanding of workplace diversity issues and increase the analysis and utilisation of workplace diversity metrics
Strategy 4: As a statistical services provider, ensure accessible services, products and data collection practices are provided for people with disability and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

*see End note for more information on targeted under-represented diversity groups