Engagement with international organisations

The Department’s participation in international forums enables it to:

  • influence and evaluate international employment and labour market strategies
  • increase awareness of and collaboration on national and Asia–Pacific interests
  • promote an Australian government view internationally while meeting Australia’s international obligations
  • leverage international best-practice policies and ideas and share these across the Government.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Australia is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The Department is represented at the OECD by a Minister-Counsellor (Employment) who is a departmental officer. Engagement with the OECD enhances Australia’s capacity to develop employment policy and labour market programs in the context of global developments and practices.

Through the Department, Australia participated in a number of projects under the OECD Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Directorate’s Programme of Work and Budget in 2016–17. This involved contributing to reviews in a range of policy areas and to the release of the Connecting people with jobs: key issues for raising labour market participation report. The Department is currently participating in an OECD project entitled Boosting Local Employment and Economic Development in Indigenous Communities in Australia.

The Department participates in OECD policy forums to influence and promote OECD priorities on employment matters such as inclusive growth, the future of work and the review of the OECD Jobs Strategy. This work helps to ensure that Australia’s interests are reflected in OECD policy recommendations and projects.

The United Nations

The Department works with other Australian Government agencies to ensure that Australia meets its reporting obligations in relation to important international instruments. In 2016–17, the Department provided contributions to briefings and commented on proposed statements and draft resolutions for the UN Human Rights Council (Geneva), to ensure that Australia engages actively and effectively to meet its international obligations. It also provided briefing input to Australia’s appearance before the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in May 2017, being represented by the Minister-Counsellor (Employment).

In addition, in September 2016, the Department hosted a roundtable on policy settings for labour migrants, as part of the Australian country mission by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants.

International delegations

The Department hosted visiting international delegations from both government and non-government organisations with an interest in Australia’s public employment systems, workplace relations, occupational health and safety, and vocational education and training policies. Delegations in 2016–17 included officials from the Embassy of Japan; the President of the Institution of Diploma Engineers, Bangladesh; the Ambassador to the Philippines; the Director of the European Social Fund, Belgium; the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Manpower and his delegation, Singapore; and the Counsellor for Social Affairs and Employment at the Permanent Representation to the OECD, the Netherlands.

The Group of Twenty

The Group of Twenty is the leading forum for international economic cooperation and an important mechanism for global governance. The Department represents Australia in the G20 Employment Working Group, which discusses approaches to global employment challenges and coordinates preparations for the annual G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting. Employment Working Group participants exchange information about strategies and best practice in areas such as youth unemployment, boosting female workforce participation, responding to inequality, and enhancing employment services.

The G20 Labour and Employment Ministers met at Bad Neuenahr, Germany, on 18–19 May 2017. The Australian delegation was led by the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, the Hon Karen Andrews MP. At the meeting Ministers agreed to take practical action concerning the future of work, female employment, the labour market integration of migrants and refugees, and global supply chains.

Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation

In 2016–17, the Department continued its engagement with the Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation forum’s Human Resources Development Working Group. It participated in the High Level Policy Dialogue on Human Resources Development in the Digital Age in which a regional framework was adopted in Hanoi.

In 2017 the Department organised two APEC workshops to advance the broader APEC agenda on regional economic integration, connectivity, trade and the integration of women in the economy:

  • a workshop on the development of an APEC Labour Mobility Framework on 18–19 February 2017 in Nha Trang, Vietnam. The workshop formed part of the first APEC Senior Officials Meeting for the year and provided an opportunity for delegates to share perspectives on the role of labour mobility in meeting the demand for workers, boosting growth and adjusting to structural change
  • a workshop on improving quality employment opportunities for women on 6–7 March 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand. The workshop constituted a capacity-building opportunity for APEC member economies, with delegates considering practical strategies for empowering low-skilled women and discussing further priorities on this subject.