Local Government: Australia’s Economic and Workforce Powerhouse

The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government, based at the University of Technology Sydney, will launch Australia's first, extensive profile of the local government workforce, next week.

Centre Director, Associate Professor Roberta Ryan says the report explodes the myth that local government is only about roads, rates and rubbish.

"Local Government is, in fact, an Australian powerhouse, punching above its weight in terms of its contribution to the nation's economy and social fabric, particularly in regional, rural and remote Australia.  

"Local government is a big business.  Australia's 556 local governments employ nearly 200,000 people in a diverse range of roles across the country.  Together, Australia's local governments spend more than $30 billion annually," A/Prof Ryan said.

In a number of rural and remote Local Government Areas across Australia, local government is either the top, or one of the top, employers.

Other key findings include:

  • More than 4.5 percent of the local government workforce across Australia is Indigenous. The figure surpasses both state and territory governments (two percent), the federal government (1.5 percent), and the private sector (1.3 percent). Nationally, local government has exceeded the Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) public sector indigenous employment target of 2.6 percent.
  • The local government workforce is ageing and, on average, is older compared with other government and industry sectors. According to the ABS Census, 37 percent of the local government workforce is aged 50 years or over, compared to the Australian labour force average of 29 percent. Correspondingly, the proportion of local government employees aged less than 35 years is much lower than the Australian average.

Profile of the Local Government Workforce is free to download from www.acelg.org.au, next week.