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Corrections and Public Safety


This page provides high level information and data on the Corrections and Public Safety industry which comprises the following industry sectors:

For more information on any of the above, please visit the respective sector page.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

Employment in the Public Order and Safety Services industry has grown between 2000 and 2019, reaching a peak of approximately 198,700 in 2018 and falling to 195,800 in 2019. Employment levels in the Defence industry have remained more consistent, with a rise from 2000 to 2005 and a peak of around 34,300 in 2012. In 2019 there were around 25,000 employed in this industry. It is projected that employment levels in both industries will rise between 2019 and 2024, though the rise will be stronger for the Public Order and Safety Services industry, predicted to reach around 205,400.

Police are the largest proportion of the Public Order and Safety Services workforce, at just under 30%. Employment levels for all occupations in the Public Order and Safety Services industry are projected to increase between 2019 and 2024. The strongest increase is expected for Security Officers and Guards (16%). For analysis of Defence occupations, see the Defence sector page. Note due to exemptions, training data for this industry is limited, and should be considered as a general trend indicator.


Program enrolments in Corrections and Public Safety-related qualifications fluctuated between 2015 and 2018, with a notable increase in enrolments recorded between 2017 and 2018, from approximately 13,890 up to around 15,280. Program completions have steadily increased year on year, from close to 4,150 in 2015 up to 5,860 in 2018. A consistent yearly increase has also been noted for subject-only enrolments in this industry, reaching approximately 176,490 in 2018.

Industry insights on skills needs

Job vacancy data indicates that the top generic skills in demand for the Corrections and Public Safety industry are:

  • Communication skills
  • Planning skills
  • Microsoft Word
  • Problem solving
  • Research.

This data also identifies Security Officers and Guards, and Police as the top occupations in demand, with the Commonwealth government and New South Wales government listed as the top employers for the industry.

Two general trends identified in the Corrections and Public Safety industry by the Corrections IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast and the Public Safety IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast is the impact of technological development across industries, and the importance of soft skills.

Workers are required to use continuously updating digital technologies, and in areas such as Police or Defence, organisations must address technology-related crime. In some cases, this adds complexity to existing roles, requires new skills, or creates new roles which require workers with high levels of digital literacy.

Soft skills were emphasised in the Corrections IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast in a variety areas, including  managing offenders’ physical and mental welfare, particularly with prison models shifting towards rehabilitative services; using soft skills to encourage offender participation in VET programs, so as to reduce the chances of recidivism; and using soft skills to build rapport and sympathy with offenders to enable effective communication and the resolution or de-escalation of conflicts. In addition, the Public Safety IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast highlighted the importance of soft skills for the Police and Defence sectors.

For specific analysis of skills needs in this industry, see the respective sector pages.

Links and resources

Industry associations and advisory bodies

ACT Corrective Services

Australian Council of State Emergency Services

Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience

Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency

Australian Federal Police

Australian Government Department of Defence

Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council

Corrective Services New South Wales

New South Wales Police

Northern Territory Correctional Services

Northern Territory Police

Probation and Community Corrections Officers’ Association

Queensland Corrective Services

Queensland Police

South Australia Police

South Australian Department for Correctional Services

Tasmania Police

Tasmania Prison Service

Victorian Department of Justice and Regulation

Western Australia Department of Justice

Western Australia Police



ACT Parks and Conservation Service

Australian Red Cross

Australian Road Rescue Organisation

Australian Government Department of Defence

Forestry Corporation of New South Wales

Forestry Tasmania

Forestry SA

G4S Australia

GEO Group Australia Pty Ltd

Geoscience Australia

HQ Plantations Pty Ltd

Life Saving Victoria

Melbourne Water

New South Wales State Emergency Service

SA State Emergency Services

Serco Australia

Surf Life Saving Australia

Tasmania State Emergency Service

Victoria State Emergency Service


Employee associations

Australian Prison Officers Association

Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguard Association Inc.

Australian Services Union

Community and Public Sector Union

Defence Force Welfare Association

National SES Volunteers Association

Police Federation of Australia

Public Service Association NSW

United Firefighters Union of Australia - UFUA (For information see relevant state branches and sector websites)

United Firefighters Union of Victoria (UFU VIC)

United Firefighters Union of Western Australia (UFU of WA)

United Firefighters Union of South Australia (UFU of SA)

United Firefighters Union of Queensland (UFUQ)

United Firefighters Union of Tasmania (UFUA TAS)

United Firefighters Union of Australian Capital Territory (UFUA ACT)

United Firefighters Union of Australia - Aviation (UFUAV)


Licensing / Regulatory bodies

Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Safe Work Australia

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit 760 Defence Industry and 771 Public Order and Safety Services Industry, employment projections to May 2023
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2023
    • 1391 Commissioned Officers (Management)
    • 1392 Senior Non-commissioned Defence Force Members
    • 3231 Aircraft Maintenance Engineers
    • 4411 Defence Force Members - Other Ranks
    • 4412 Fire and Emergency Workers
    • 4413 Police
    • 4421 Prison Officers
    • 4422 Security Officers and Guards
    • 5311 General Clerks
    • 8999 Other Miscellaneous Labourers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 1 November 2018

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit 760 Defence Industry and 771 Public Order and Safety Services Industry, 2000 to 2018, May Quarter.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 3 digit 760 Defence Industry and 771 Public Order and Safety Services Industry, and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET activity, 2018 Program Enrolments by Correctional Services Training Package, Defence Training Package, Police Training Package and Public Safety Training Package.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2019, Labour Insight Real-time Labour Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2019,

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2016 and June 2019 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
    • Community and Personal Service Workers
    • 771 Public Order and Safety Services, excluding 7712 Investigation and Security Services.
  • Employers
    • 4422 Security Officers and Guards 
    • 4413 Police
    • 4421 Prison Officers
    • 4117 Welfare Support Workers
    • 4114 Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses
    • 771 Public Order and Safety Services, excluding 7712 Investigation and Security Services.
Updated: 31 Mar 2020
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