The public sector and the future of inclusive employment

6 Jun 2023

What was your first job and how did you get it?

This was the opening question posed to the 100-odd crowd at IPAA Victoria’s in-person event The public sector and the future of inclusive employment on Thursday 11 May 2023.

Delivered in partnership with PwC, this critical event provided a platform for sector leaders to share the latest insights and best practice about inclusive employment and what considerations need to be made to ensure job retention in an ever-evolving landscape.

Esteemed speakers Lisa Buckingham, Deputy Secretary, Employment and Small Business Group, Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions, Ali Wastie, Chief Executive Officer, Bass Coast Shire Council, and Daniel Burke, Partner, PwC’s Strategy& team each provided a unique perspective to the conversation threads on the importance of addressing inclusive job opportunity creation and selection, future ways of working, and shifting employment patterns in a climate-changed world.

Using the ocean as a metaphor to illustrate the nuances of the labour market, event host Nick Chiam, Partner, PwC, set the scene noting that within the deep reaches of the ocean lie disadvantaged individuals who are the most difficult to effectively engage when it comes to employment.

In keeping with the event’s theme, Lisa Buckingham delivered a presentation on Jobs Victoria, a state employment program that assists individuals to find work or employers to find staff. Since 2020, Jobs Victoria has supported over 54,000 people in the workforce, including 14,900 youth, 2,700 Aboriginal Victorians, and 18,100 culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) individuals.

According to Lisa’s address, the 3.6% unemployment rate masks significant inequality across Victoria and across cohorts, including young people, Aboriginal Victorians and people with a disability. The presentation indicated that geosocial drivers, cultural backgrounds, bias, racism and discrimination are all  factors that contribute to unemployment and continue to need attention.

Providing a regional and local government lens, Ali Wastie talked about the innovative leadership culture at Bass Coast Shire, which has led to the implementation of a number of new initiatives to drive more inclusive access to jobs. This includes parental leave for 16 weeks and one year of super for staff members at Bass Coast and working-from-anywhere arrangements to reduce on-the-road travelling time. These landmark decisions were culturally driven and demonstrateD how strong leadership can make a real and immediate difference in inclusive employment at the local level. Ali also candidly spoke about the statistics and  prevalence of gender-based violence in her Shire’s region  and the many ways in which Bass Coast seeks to support and empower its staff.

The topic of green jobs and the impacts of employability due to the climate crisis was explored by Daniel Burke. Referring to PwC’s Green Jobs Barometer for the UK, Daniel was able to explore the relative occurrence and likelihood of green jobs based on place and industry changes over time. Bringing the conversation to the home front, Daniel alluded to how the creation of green jobs in regional Victoria, particularly Gippsland, is likely to certain levels, but also due to the nature of the changing roles many will predominantly remain typically male-dominated roles.

To cap off the event, the audience asked the panel various questions, with one being: What does inclusive employment look like in five years? Some key insights provided by the speakers included:

  • A younger generation of workers will come through the ranks who are motivated by values, including equality and inclusivity.

  • While recognising that there is a long way to go, attitudes of inclusivity and diversity in leadership will become further embedded in organisations and within the VPS.

  • The sunset of traditional roles and the creation of green jobs will have greater impacts in metropolitan and regional parts of Victoria, which may affect underrepresented segments of the labour force.

IPAA Victoria would like to sincerely thank all of the speakers, attendees, and PwC Australia for this invaluable session. We look forward to continuing to drive these important conversations in the future.

Event speakers

Lisa Buckingham Deputy Secretary, Employment and Small Business Group, Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions

Lisa Buckingham has more than 20 years’ experience across the Victorian and Commonwealth Public Services in a range of sectors including defence and national security, industrial relations, human services, health, and public sector and place-based reform.

The ESB Group brings together Jobs Victoria, Small Business Victoria, Employment Policy and Strategy, and Business Operations and Digital Services. Lisa was appointed General Manager of Working for Victoria in March 2020 – a $500m job creation fund established to support Victorians who lost their jobs, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In February 2021 she was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Jobs Victoria, and became Deputy Secretary Jobs Victoria, Secure Work and Inclusion in February 2022. Lisa was also the inaugural CEO for Jobsbank, a not for profit organisation established in 2019 to support inclusive employment practices in Victoria.

Ali Wastie Chief Executive Officer, Bass Coast Shire Council

Ali Wastie has held the position of Chief Executive Officer at Bass Coast Shire Council since 2019 and is also the Chair of Alpine Resorts Victoria. She has broad experience across the Arts, Education and Public Service and Local Government and  is an accredited executive coach, mediator and alumnus of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Previously, she has held leadership roles across the Victorian Public Service and Local Government including roles as Director for City Communities at Melbourne City Council and Director for Social and Economic Development at Yarra Ranges Council.

Ali is a current Board member of South Gippsland Hospital, One Gippsland, Destination Phillip Island, Destination Gippsland and Bass Coast Country University.

Ali is an accomplished media presenter and is a sought-after public speaker. In 2019 she was named one of IPAA Victoria’s top 50 Public Sector Women in the established category. She is passionate about developing high performing teams and creating a workplace culture that is innovative, empowered, strategic, trusting and fun.

Daniel Burke Partner, PwC’s Strategy& team

Daniel Burke is a Partner in PwC’s Strategy& team. Prior to moving to Australia last year, Dan was a Partner with PwC UK and led the firm's consulting work with central government departments. Dan has extensive experience advising senior clients on major transformation and reform programmes.

Daniel specialises in working with senior leaders to create consensus around transforming public services, particularly where organisations are required to collaborate across traditional boundaries to improve outcomes for citizens.

Dan was sponsoring partner for PwC’s Future of Government programme which worked with senior officials to explore a range of critical issues, including how to secure a fair transition to a green economy. He has also published thought leadership on tackling inequality through place based interventions and sponsored PwC's 'Good growth for cities' report.