International Engagement


The Department of Education, Skills and Employment (formerly Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business) engages with relevant international forums such as the OECD, ILO, G20 and APEC to promote Australia’s national interests and help develop evidence-based domestic policies that support the creation of a strong and diversified Australian economy.


On 2-3 May 2019, Australia will host the APEC Labour Mobility Statistics Forum, as part of a broader APEC agenda to improve the collection, distribution and use of labour mobility data and labour market information in the region.

From 31 January – 1 February 2018, the International Labour Organization’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific hosted a Conference on Women and the Future of Work in Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand. The accompanying report, Gamechangers: Women and the Future of Work in Asia and the Pacific, was released on 27-28 September and is available on the International Labour Organization website.

From 28 October – 8 November 2018, the International Labour Organization held the 334th session of its Governing Body Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. The Governing Body meets three times a year in Geneva and discusses a number of policy, legal and administrative issues on international labour.

Australia is a deputy member of the Governing Body for the 2017-2020 term. Two Canberra-based departmental representatives will be representing Australia at Governing Body, along with Ms Margaret Kidd, Australia’s Representative to the ILO.


The Department of Education, Skills and Employment's engagement with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) provides the means to influence international economic and labour market agendas and contribute to global policy dialogue on employment, workplace relations, small business and deregulation issues. Maintaining a permanent presence at the OECD creates opportunities to grow awareness and collaboration on domestic and regional interests and policy objectives, and exchange best practices, ideas and research to inform our domestic evidence base.

Australia’s productivity and participation agenda has been influenced by the department’s engagement with the OECD. Over the past 15 years or so, the OECD has provided an intellectual framework for Australia’s employment and activation policies. Australia is closely involved in the work of the OECD promoting structural reform to support long-term growth and wealth creation.

Australia maintains a Permanent Delegation to the OECD in Paris, led by the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the OECD, Mr Brian Pontifex. The Minister-Counsellor (Employment) is part of the Delegation and represents the Department of Education, Skills and Employment in all OECD activities relating to employment, workplace relations, small business and deregulation.


The principal objective of Australia’s engagement with the International Labour Organization (ILO) is to advance, protect and promote Australia’s broader national interests, by ensuring Australia’s views are reflected in the ILO’s deliberations and outcomes.

The main aims of the ILO are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues. The ILO also supports countries working towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In support of its goals, the ILO offers unmatched expertise and knowledge about the world of work, acquired over almost 100 years of responding to the needs of people everywhere for decent work, livelihoods and dignity. It serves its tripartite constituents - and society as a whole - in a variety of ways, including:

  • Formulation of international policies and programs to promote basic human rights, improve working and living conditions, and enhance employment opportunities
  • Creation of international labour standards backed by a unique system to supervise their application
  • An extensive program of international technical cooperation formulated and implemented in an active partnership with constituents, to help countries put these policies into practice in an effective manner
  • Training, education and research activities to help advance all of these efforts

The Australian Representative to the ILO represents Australia’s interests at the International Labour Conference and other international meetings.

Visit the International Labour Issues page for more information.

OECD Minister-Counsellor (Employment) and Australian Representative to the International Labour Organization

The roles of the OECD Minister-Counsellor and Australian representative to the ILO are shared by Ms Margaret Kidd PSM who was appointed to the position in July 2016. Previous Minister-Counsellors include Ms Janine Pitt (2013-2016), Ms Margaret Pearce (2010-2013), Ms Oon Ying Chin (2008-2010) and Ms Louise McDonough (2005-2008).


The Group of Twenty (G20) comprises 19 countries plus the European Union. It 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. Employment Working Group officials exchange information about strategies and best practice in shared policy interests such as structural adjustment, youth unemployment, boosting female workforce participation and enhancing employment services.

The G20 Employment Working Group will meet several times in 2019 under the Japanese presidency to work towards policy recommendations on employment, including on demographic change, gender equality and new forms of work. This work will be performed in anticipation of the annual G20 Leaders' Summit (to be held 28-29 June in Osaka) and the G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting (to be held 1-2 September in Matsuyama). Find out more about the G20 Employment Working Group.

Australia hosted the G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting in Melbourne in 2014, with one of the major outcomes being an agreement on policy priorities for boosting female participation in the workforce and a goal to reduce the gender gap in participation rates by 2025.

Most recently, G20 ministers met in Mendoza Argentina on 6-7 September 2018, with commitments made to:

  • promoting skills and lifelong learning;
  • promoting labour formalisation and decent work;
  • strengthening efforts and international cooperation on eliminating child labour and related matters;
  • ensuring social protection systems adapt in the context of the future of work; and
  • promoting better labour market integration of persons with disabilities.

Saudi Arabia will host the G20 in 2020.

Australia’s progress on its commitments can be found in annual Employment Plans; while G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Declarations can be found on the G20 website.

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Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a regional economic forum of 21 economies, supported by a secretariat and thematic working groups and committees. The department participates in a wide range of projects with APEC colleagues over time, ranging from female employment to workforce strategies and active labour market policies concerning a range of population groups. In 2018-19, the department continued its contribution to the Human Resources Development Working Group agenda, including:

  • Leading a regional project on developing the capacity of APEC economies to collect and share labour mobility statistics and labour market information. The project will involve a baseline study and a consultative forum to be held in Chile. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is funding this project;
  • Promoting the implementation of the 2017 APEC Economic Policy Report on Structural Reform and Human Capital Development through further project activity, a number of the report's recommendations align with the department's priorities for assisting workers to adapt to structural changes in the economy. The report can be downloaded from the APEC website; and
  • Cooperating on the implementation of the APEC Framework on Human Resources Development in the Digital Age, which sets policy priorities for the future of work, lifelong learning, social protection and support for workforce transitions.


Australia was a founding member of the United Nations in 1945 and has been active in the organisation ever since. We work closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as other key agencies, to ensure Australia meets its international obligations inherent in membership of the United Nations. Visit the UN page for further information.

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

In 2015, Australia and other United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This is a comprehensive and forward-looking global strategy for addressing recurring and emerging issues faced by the world today and into the future. The agenda has a set of 17 thematic goals and 169 targets, with Goal 8 (promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment) particularly relating to the department’s portfolio responsibilities.

Member states are encouraged to take concerted actions with domestic and international stakeholders to make progress towards these goals by 2030. Australia conducted its first Voluntary National Review of the 2030 agenda in 2018 and presented the report to the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. One of the key highlights of the review is Australia’s success in achieving strong employment growth in 2017–18. As Goal 8 intersects with other goals, Australia’s progress towards the 2030 agenda will largely depend on sustained economic growth, high levels of employment and labour productivity.