Office of the Special Commissioner, Equity and Diversity

Establishing the Office of the Special Commissioner, Equity and Diversity was a key recommendation of the Review of public sector employment laws–A fair and responsive public service for all to:

  • understand and address gender-based pay disparities in the Queensland public service
  • guide improvements to policy, procedures and practice that improve employment outcomes for:
    • women
    • people with disability
    • Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples
    • culturally and linguistically diverse people
  • contribute to work designed to prevent and manage sexual harassment.

About the Special Commissioner, Equity and Diversity

Dr. Linda Colley, Special Commissioner, Equity and Diversity

Dr. Linda Colley was appointed as Queensland’s first Special Commissioner, Equity and Diversity in late 2021.

Dr. Colley is a former Professor at Central Queensland University, a former Chair of the Queensland Work Health and Safety Board and has worked in the public, tertiary, and finance sectors. She is an accomplished researcher with skills in policy and policy analysis as well as completing extensive research across all Australian jurisdictions in gender, public sector management, and employment policy and practice.

As Special Commissioner, Dr. Colley’s first two years focussed on gender-based disparities and supporting the Queensland Government’s commitment to providing equal access to rewarding careers in safe and supportive workplaces for women. The Office of Special Commissioner (OSC) supported agencies to undertake their first equity and diversity audit, using workforce data to identify inequities and develop plans to address them.

More about Dr. Linda Colley Linda Colley | LinkedIn

Initiatives to improve gender equity and diversity

The Special Commissioner, Equity and Diversity reports through the Public Sector Governance Council (PSGC) to the Premier. In 2021, the Premier has approved a work plan that included key initiatives to:

  • influence central laws, policy, and strategy
  • develop an equity and diversity evidence base and increase awareness
  • establish and monitor agency accountability measures
  • establish supporting architecture such as consultative advisory mechanisms
  • reduce the gender pay-gap
  • support women in leadership initiative
  • enhance flexible working initiative
  • inclusive recruitment and selection initiative
  • supporting safety and wellbeing initiative including workplace sexual harassment
  • support equity in retirement initiative.

These key initiatives, delivered in partnership with Queensland public sector organisations, will model good practice for the broader Queensland labour market.

Supporting the sector to meet the Public Sector Act 2022 obligations to promote equity, diversity, respect and inclusion, the OSC works with organisations to better understand and address equity and diversity issues. The annual equity and diversity audit process allows agencies to understand:

  • potential inequalities that are occurring
  • causes of identified inequalities
  • how to best address inequalities.

All agencies are supported to audit their current workforce and given access to equity and diversity data to inform priorities and future action.

Find out about other Queensland Government initiatives that support workplace inclusion and diversity.

Equity and diversity audit process

The Office of the Special Commissioner developed an equity and diversity audit process, to support agencies to analyse their workforce data and other relevant data to identify equity and diversity challenges. The process includes:

  • interactive equity and diversity datasets provided to sector organisations annually
  • audit report requirements
  • 2024 audit guide to assist sector organisations to interrogate and interpret equity datasets and translate the analysis into their 2024 audit report.

The Office of the Special Commissioner supports the equity and diversity audit process through:

  • an audit guide and an example section of how to write up an equity and diversity data analysis
  • information sessions to public sector entities and Government own corporations
  • support and feedback to agencies in the drafting of audit reports
  • guidance to agencies on converting audit findings into planned measures and solutions
  • organisation or whole-of-sector audit refresher sessions
  • conversations with the Special Commissioner, executive leadership groups and equity and diversity champions across the sector.

Inclusive recruitment and selection

Public sector chief executives’ obligations to address equity and diversity, respect and inclusion, are outlined in Chapter 2 of the Public Sector Act 2022.

A key lever for building a diverse workforce is through inclusive and accessible recruitment processes and practices. The updated Recruitment and selection (Directive 07/23) provides a progressive approach. The Special Commissioner works with the sector to support implementation of the directive.

Office of Special Commissioner focus for 2024

In addition to progressing the approved OSC workplan, additional focus for the Special Commissioner in 2024 includes:

  • supporting employment and careers for Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the public sector, in collaboration with the Public Sector Commission (PSC)
  • better understanding the factors underpinning the sector’s success in reducing the gender pay gap
  • supporting agencies to address occupational segregation
  • supporting the PSC and the public sector LGBTIQ+ steering committee to guide improved employment outcomes and experiences for the LGBTIQ+ workforce, addressing issues identified in the LGBTIQ+ Action Plan
  • sponsoring a respect and inclusion initiative, in collaboration with the PSC.