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A Diverse Workforce

At Defence we believe a diverse workforce is essential to strengthen our capability. We achieve outcomes by drawing on the different strengths, attributes and characteristics of the many individuals who make up our teams.

We are committed to a culture that is fair and inclusive. A robust and agile Defence organisation relies on every person having the opportunity to contribute to their full potential.

'Diversity' is broader than the labels of gender, age, language, ethnicity, cultural background, disability, sexual orientation and religious beliefs; it is a way of thinking and an approach to delivering the best results. Through diversity we gain the varied perspectives needed to tackle complex problems and come up with innovative solutions. Recognising this, Defence is committed to creating an inclusive environment which values, respects and draws on the diverse backgrounds, experiences, knowledge and skills of our people.

Employees from Diverse Backgrounds

In Defence, our people come from a range of different cultures and religious beliefs. We understand that each culture and religion has special festivities that are important to them, and their families. We encourage our people to negotiate miscellaneous leave arrangements with their supervisors, in advance, so they can join their family and friends to celebrate their cultural or religious festivities.

Indigenous Members in Defence

Defence offers many opportunities for Indigenous people looking for a career in the APS in a range of locations across Australia.

Defence is committed to increasing Indigenous personnel in both the military and the APS workforce. The Directorate of Indigenous Affairs is dedicated to working with Indigenous communities to improve access to education and career opportunities through our recruitment, scholarships and community engagement programs.

Our Indigenous members can take part in the Defence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Network (DATSIN). The DATSIN provides employees an opportunity to build contacts and friendships with other Indigenous employees in Defence. The DATSIN also helps shape Indigenous initiatives in Defence through an annual conference held in Canberra.

Indigenous employees in Defence are also entitled to two days miscellaneous leave per calendar year to take part in NAIDOC week activities.

Women in Defence

Defence actively encourages women employed within the organisation to realise their personal and professional goals and pursue career opportunities.

Carmel McGregor, formerly head of Defence People Group, was the author of the Review of Employment Pathways for APS Women in the Department of Defence before she officially joined the Defence senior leadership team.

Carmel is a strong advocate for improving employment opportunities for women. Defence continues to work on a range of initiatives to help and support women so they can gain the skills and experience to allow them to consider undertaking more senior leadership roles.

Defence is actively working to ensure that our culture, polices, and procedures reflect the needs of both men and women to have the support they need to balance their work and family commitments.

People with Disabilities

Defence is a disability confident organisation. We have a range of initiatives in place to address barriers to employment or promotion for people with disability. These initiatives range from entry-level employment, participating in whole-of-government initiatives and the provision of information technology programs and workstation modifications to ensure people with disability are included and can pursue their career aspirations.

All employees in Defence can also participate in the internal Disability Network if they are interested in working to address disability issues in our organisation.


Jane was surprised at the level of support she received as a female APS member in Defence.

Jane was prepared for anything when she joined Defence as a Procurement and Contracting Officer, what she didn’t expect was a culture that encouraged new ideas and collaboration.

'Outside of Defence, I struggled with working in the very male dominated area of hardware retailing. It was seen as a weakness to be too ‘feminine’. Finding the balance of maintaining my sense of self as well as having credibility as a woman, was the key. Given my past experiences in male-dominated work cultures, I felt fully prepared to tackle whatever came my way within Defence. However, very early on I came to realise that there was none of the male-orientated behaviour that I had expected- in fact it was quite the opposite. There were large numbers of women within my branch, especially at senior levels. I always felt like my opinions were heard, even when discussing concepts outside my level of understanding, such as the procurement of aircraft or tanks. I was not excluded from such areas as I had been in my previous positions outside of Defence'

'Defence offers so many career options; flexibility, the chance to increase your knowledge and skills sets and a variety of positions in very interesting areas. The options available to women in the workplace and the access to flexible working arrangements put Defence far ahead of many other organisations.'

Jane is a single mum, and has had continuous support from her supervisor to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

'As a sole parent, I juggle child-care and school commitments with my job. I am fortunate that Defence has many different opportunities for me to continue to work whilst dealing with these issues. I also have a very supportive management team and my supervisor has suggested other flexible working arrangements I had not thought about.'

'I have recently commenced a 9-day fortnight so I can spend more time with my child, as well as undertaking school volunteering and being able to schedule regular medical appointments. My Director and I looked at other options, such as working longer days or working from home, but this option suited our family requirements better and my managers were happy to support my decision.'

Jane also had the opportunity to attend a range of training courses and seminars to help her progress throughout her career; and mentor others.

'I have undertaken many short courses but was fortunate enough to have been nominated by my Regional Director to attend a Women and Leadership conference. I look forward to sharing the knowledge I gained from the conference to coach and mentor others. It has also inspired me to continually strive for increased learning opportunities, whether it is from formal studies or through other means.'