Reflect Australia’s Diversity: New CALD employment strategy aims to transform APS leadership

"With half of our population born overseas or having a parent born overseas, it's critical that our APS leadership mirrors the community it serves."

The Albanese Government has unveiled a comprehensive strategy aimed at enhancing cultural and linguistic diversity within the senior ranks of the Australian Public Service (APS).

The initiative, outlined in the newly published Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Employment Strategy and Action Plan by the Australian Public Service Commission, targets increasing representation and reducing barriers for CALD employees in leadership positions.


Despite the APS reflecting Australia’s broad cultural and racial diversity, there is a noticeable decline in representation at higher levels, accompanied by increased reports of discrimination and racism among CALD staff. Addressing this imbalance, the new strategy sets a significant goal to boost CALD representation in the Senior Executive Service (SES) to 24% within the next four years.

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Senator Katy Gallagher, Minister for the Public Service emphasised the urgency of this initiative, “With half of our population born overseas or having a parent born overseas, it’s critical that our APS leadership mirrors the community it serves.”

“We are committed to leveraging the rich skills and experiences of our CALD employees and dismantling the obstacles they face in advancing their careers.”

The action plan outlines five key measures to foster a more inclusive and diverse public service:

  1. Whole of APS Standards: Implementation of an APS Statement of Leadership to Support Cultural Diversity, ensuring all workplaces uphold standards of cultural respect and safety.
  2. Cultural Understanding: Development of an APS-wide Interagency CALD Champion Network, along with a curated collection of multi-media learning resources to enhance cultural understanding across the APS.
  3. Leadership and Management: Integration of cultural capability training and active sponsorship of CALD employees to build a more inclusive leadership within the APS.
  4. Recruitment and Progression: Modernization of recruitment and promotion processes to ensure a comprehensive and rigorous understanding of merit.
  5. Representation: Establishment of a reportable benchmark of 24% CALD representation in the SES to monitor progress and accountability.

Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles highlighted the broader significance of the strategy.

“Our multicultural diversity is a cornerstone of our national identity and strength. It’s imperative that our public service reflects this diversity at every level to truly serve its best.”

Assistant Minister for Public Service, Patrick Gorman also voiced strong support for the initiative, describing it as a pivotal step for the APS and the Australian community at large.

“This strategy is not just about representation; it’s about creating an environment where all public servants can thrive and contribute effectively. By doing so, we make the APS a model employer and a true reflection of the society it serves.”

The strategy marks a proactive effort by the Albanese Government to address and eliminate systemic barriers to inclusion within the APS, ensuring that the public service can benefit from the diverse perspectives, knowledge, and capabilities that a culturally diverse workforce brings.

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