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Commissioner to review hiring practices as Qld misses diversity marks


The Palaszczuk Government has quietly appointed a Special Commissioner to overhaul recruitment and employment practices, as it struggles to meet its own diversity targets.

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Two years after it was recommended by the Bridgman Review, and a year after legislation was changed to create the role, Queensland’s first Special Commissioner for Equity and Diversity has finally been appointed by the government.

Associate Professor Linda Colley, a human resource management and industrial relations expert, will take on the role at the Public Service Commission and report to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Colley is also chair of the Queensland Work Health and Safety Board and has published extensively on topics such as merit, tenure, job security, redundancy, gender and age at work, public management reform, privatisation, and the effects of austerity measure on public employment.

Her appointment honours a Palaszczuk government commitment to act on the recommendations of the Bridgman Review, which included having such a commissioner with the power to advise the Premier directly on “improving human resource practice, procedures and behaviour to improve equity and diversity in employment across the public sector; participation in public sector employment of particular communities including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people with disabilities and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; and methods to achieve gender pay equity and improved reporting of equity and diversity issues by government entities”.

Queensland is already meeting its targets for women in leadership positions and people from a non-English speaking background, but the latest workforce data revealed the proportion of people with a disability in the public sector (2.83 per cent) was below the target set for 2022 (eight per cent), as was the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (2.49 per cent compared to a target of three per cent).

The government has moved to update its women’s strategy, and even erect more statues to honour prominent women, but is yet to outline plans to lift performance in other areas. Colley is expected to produce regular reports to government.

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