What is the Australian Public Service (APS)?

There are three levels of government in Australia—local, state/territory and Commonwealth, or Australian Government. Each level of government is supported by their own public service, with the Australian Government being supported by the Australian Public Service (APS).

There are more than 200 separate APS organisations, employing over 300,000 people. It includes large agencies that provide a broad range of services across the country through to small agencies working on specialised issues in one sector of society. It is responsible for developing and regulating laws, developing policies and programs to support many areas of the community, protecting Australia's borders and enhancing Australia's economy.

Some of the functions you may be familiar with include:

  • Australia's welfare system which is administered by the Department of Human Services;
  • the National Broadband Network which is oversighted through the Department of Communications;
  • our mail delivery system through Australia Post;
  • TV and broadcasting rules and regulations overseen by the Australian Communications and Media Authority; and
  • maintaining Australia's voting and electoral system through the Australian Electoral Commission.

There are also a lot of things done by the APS which you might be surprised about. Did you know these facts?

  • The Australian Federal Police and Defence Force personnel are part of the Australian Government.
  • The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) invented WiFi, plastic bank notes and a wellbeing diet.
  • The Australian Sports Commission drives participation in sport and has been integral in the development of Australia's sporting stars.

Behind every aspect of life in Australia is an Australian Government employee

Some of us work in Canberra, but many don't. The majority of APS jobs are outside Canberra, in locations that include capital cities, regional centres, rural areas and overseas.

A full listing of Australian Government agencies can be found at australia.gov.au.

Future challenges for the APS

Australia's prosperity will be significantly influenced by the ability of the APS to tackle future domestic and global challenges as it moves through the 21st century, including:

  1. the growing complexity of policies and program commitments to meet government priorities and the needs of the Australian community;
  2. the changing demographics of the labour market;
  3. the increasing pace of technological change;
  4. effects of globalisation;
  5. rising financial constraints; and
  6. impacts of skills shortages.

These challenges add a level of complexity to the work the APS undertakes, and it will become increasingly important to recruit people who are flexible, adaptive, innovative and can continue to respond to the challenges Australia faces in the future.


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