Go to top of page

Our people

The AFP continues to develop a workforce that reflects all elements of our community. We are focused on harnessing the inherent abilities of our diverse workforce through inclusion initiatives that enable our members to support the communities that they serve.

The AFP continues to place a high priority on the health, welfare and development of its personnel, supporting them to success in their roles.

Workforce overview

The AFP had 6,834 staff at 30 June 2020. This figure comprises:

  • 3,247 police officers
  • 829 protective service officers
  • 2,758 unsworn staff.

Forty-three per cent of employees were located outside the Australian Capital Territory, including 174 staff overseas and 29 serving in Commonwealth external territories.

The natural attrition rate has been steadily increasing over the past five years and remained at 4.9 per cent in 2019–20. The breakdown of this overall natural attrition rate was:

  • police officers—4.1 per cent
  • protective service officers—2.9 per cent
  • unsworn staff—6.3 per cent.

The overall proportion of female employees slightly increased in 2019–20, with women comprising 38.6 per cent of the workforce compared to 38 per cent in 2018–19. The proportion of women in Senior Executive Service (SES) roles increased from 36.5 per cent in 2018–19 to 41.9 per cent in 2019–20.

Further AFP staffing statistics are in Appendix B: Staffing statistics and executive remuneration .

Strategic workforce planning

In line with the AFP People Strategy, work commenced in February 2020 to develop function and command specific workforce plans to assist with understanding current and future workforce needs, capability gaps and skills shortages. These plans will be used to inform an agency-wide strategic workforce plan.

To further assist managers and commanders to understand their workforce, the AFP has invested in software to provide real-time data to aid in evidence-based decision-making. SAS Firefly has been developed to assist AFP managers to access real-time information about their workforce, and this development will continue to progress throughout 2020–21. Information on a range of metrics including leave, mandatory training, qualifications and higher duties, to name a few, has been included in the SAS Firefly reports that are available from a manager’s desktop.

Employment arrangements and remuneration

Enterprise Agreement

The AFP Enterprise Agreement 2017–2020 (EA) was approved by the Fair Work Commission on 19 May 2018 and it came into operation on 24 May 2018. The agreement has a nominal expiry date of 24 May 2021 and covers Band 1 to 8 employees.

Executive Level Enterprise Agreement

The AFP Executive Level Enterprise Agreement 2019–2021 (ELEA) was approved by the Fair Work Commission on 4 April 2019 and it came into operation on 11 April 2019. The agreement has a nominal expiry date of 11 April 2021. The Minister for Home Affairs and the Minister for Finance approved a two-year ELEA. This enables the AFP to review both the ELEA and the EA at the same time, with a view to creating a modern, streamlined employment framework.

Senior Executive Service remuneration

The AFP Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners (DCs) are statutory appointments made by the Governor‑General under section 17 of the AFP Act.

The Commissioner’s remuneration is determined by the Remuneration Tribunal, and the DCs’ remuneration is set out in an AFP Determination under sections 17(4A) and 20(2A) of the AFP Act. All other SES employees are engaged under section 24 of the AFP Act and declared under section 25 of the AFP Act to be senior executive AFP employees.

The terms and conditions of employment for SES employees are set out in individual AFP SES employment contracts. SES (including DC) salaries are reviewed annually by the Commissioner following performance assessments. Further information on AFP SES remuneration can be found in Appendix B.

Performance management

In 2019–20 the AFP Performance Management Team provided support to supervisors in managing 180 cases of underperformance, with a focus on performance improvement. The team provides advice on a range of complex people issues through performance coaching discussions. These discussions have resulted in 82 cases of performance being improved to a satisfactory level. There are 62 ongoing cases still requiring advice, support and resolution. Automation of email reminders for employees on probation has assisted in raising issues in a timely fashion for positive resolution.

In 2019–20 the AFP Performance Management Team developed and delivered 31 face-to-face performance workshops to 250 supervisors. These provided practical tips and techniques to assist supervisors to link performance and organisational outcomes, undertake meaningful and regular feedback sessions, identify and manage capability gaps, address behaviour issues, understand the linkages between health and performance, and understand how to develop effective performance improvement plans. These sessions complement presentations delivered at the AFP Team Leader Development Program.


With a focus on bolstering frontline policing, during 2019–20 the AFP graduated eight recruit programs, totalling 197 graduates. Included in this number were 118 police graduates, 19 of whom completed a lateral program for experienced investigators from other jurisdictions across Australia; and 79 protective service officer graduates. The new police members were deployed to the ACT and various national roles, primarily in Sydney and Melbourne. The new protective service officers were deployed to various locations within Australia.

Over the course of 2019–20 the AFP continued to make improvements in recruitment to deliver effective and efficient resourcing outcomes. Highlights include the establishment of a recruitment consultant role to work more closely with business areas and develop contemporary recruitment approaches for hard-to-fill niche unsworn positions; ongoing improvements to the AFP’s recruitment platform, MyCareer; and a review of the administration of special members to reduce red tape and provide business areas and regional commands with more flexibility in managing their workforce. A number of initiatives were also implemented to improve the outcomes of the AFP’s Directions Program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These included securing state-based positions to allow some participants to remain in their home location, providing career development coaching and raising the nationally recognised qualification to diploma level.

Recruitment Market Research and Communications Project

Acting on the Commissioner’s intent to ensure the AFP is fit for purpose now and into the future, the AFP engaged Host/Havas to conduct market research with members of the Australian public in order to identify perceptions of a career with the AFP, particularly in entry-level policing and specialist protective services.

The project focused specifically on three key target groups: women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities. This research, combined with a thorough review of law enforcement and defence agencies as well as stakeholder engagement, will inform the development of a communications/attraction strategy for the AFP. While there is a focus on recruitment and how to attract the best and most diverse pool of candidates, at a later stage the project will also focus on the AFP’s brand more broadly.

Diversity and inclusion

The AFP Cultural Reform—Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2016–2026 identifies diversity as a core element of modern policing and includes targeted initiatives to create a level playing field in the AFP for women; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people; people with disability; and people with linguistically diverse backgrounds.

During 2019–20 the AFP supported a number of initiatives to progress inclusive practices in the organisation. These initiatives included:

  • participation in the Australian Network on Disability Access and Inclusion Index
  • participation in the Australian Workplace Equality Index
  • participation in Mardi Gras and other Pride events
  • leadership of the 21st Australasian Council of Women and Policing, held in Canberra in September 2019, which was attended by more than 500 delegates from more than 20 countries. The theme was ‘Collaboration—The future belongs to us’.

The AFP continues to progress inclusion in the organisation and retain the support and identity of its five primary diversity networks:

  • Malunggang Indigenous Officers Network
  • Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers Network
  • AFP Ability Advisory Network
  • National Women’s Advisory Network
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Network.

Reconciliation Action Plan

The AFP’s inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) continues to be implemented and provides a framework to support the national reconciliation movement and frontline Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander police members and staff. Recognising our outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander police members and staff is an important component of the plan in action.

The next phase of the RAP has commenced with the formation of the Reconciliation Working Group to ensure collaboration and consensus in building our policing future together.

During 2019–20 the AFP progressed a range of initiatives relating to the RAP. For example:

  • Two AFP Darwin members were announced as recipients of the Ben Blakeney Memorial Award for their demonstrated commitment and drive in support of strengthening partnerships, promoting diversity and raising awareness of Indigenous issues, as well as promoting career advancement for Indigenous employees
  • In May 2020, AFP members from across Australia came together to recognise and celebrate National Reconciliation Week, demonstrating the theme ‘In This Together’.

Disability reporting

The National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 is Australia’s overarching framework for disability reform. Reporting on the strategy is available on the Department of Social Services website. It acts to ensure the principles underpinning the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are incorporated into Australia’s policies and programs that affect people with disability, their families and carers.

Disability reporting is also included in the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) State of the Service reports and the Australian Public Service (APS) Statistical Bulletin, which are available on the APSC website. The AFP subscribes to reporting at a high level (Portfolio) and embraces the strategy’s focus areas to improve outcomes for people with disability.

Work health, safety and rehabilitation

To ensure due diligence and compliance in accordance with the WHS Act and associated regulations, the Work Health and Safety Team conducted three audits internationally and four audits nationally. The AFP was compliant with the WHS Act in all audits undertaken.

During 2019–20 the AFP notified Comcare of 18 incidents under section 38 of the WHS Act. Comcare issued five notices pursuant to section 155 of the WHS Act. The AFP provided the requested information in response to these and did not receive any subsequent provisional improvement notices.

In late 2019 the AFP had its first advanced work health and safety management system audit conducted by Comcare. The audit covered 108 criteria and was conducted over a two-week period. The AFP achieved a good compliance rate of 74 per cent. A corrective action plan has been established to review the nonconformances and observations, which will be addressed and actioned in 2020–21.

Support services

The AFP has an extensive range of support services available to members and their families. Support services are provided by a range of skilled professionals including psychologists, chaplains, social workers, health and fitness advisers, nurses, mental health nurses, rehabilitation case managers and welfare officers. This network of services provides support to members affected by stress of work or personal pressures and can help facilitate pathways to professional help or other forms of assistance where required.

In 2019–20, a number of key initiatives were undertaken to better support AFP employees, including:

  • increasing the presence of support services in regional and remote areas, including engagement of additional regional nurses
  • establishing a telehealth model of service delivery
  • increasing the number of mental health practitioners
  • improving members’ Comcare claim experience
  • continuing specialist Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) training
  • educating members about how to support their own health and wellbeing and that of their colleagues, family and friends.

Learning and development

The AFP Learning Strategy provides for a principles-based approach to learning, including the premise that learning is critical for success. As part of the strategy the AFP adopted a 70:20:10 learning model, recognising that 70 per cent of learning is informal ‘on the job’ experience; 20 per cent is coaching, mentoring and developing through others; and 10 per cent is formal learning.

Formal training delivery

The AFP College is a registered training organisation (RTO) in accordance with the Vocational Education and Training Quality Framework. This enables the AFP College to deliver and award nationally recognised qualifications and accredited vocational education and training courses domestically and regionally to our appointees and law enforcement partners. Qualifications currently on the AFP College scope of registration are:

  • Certificate IV in Government Investigations
  • Certificate IV in Protective Services
  • Diploma of Policing
  • Diploma of Police Intelligence Practice
  • Diploma of Police Search and Rescue Coordination (Marine/Land)
  • Diploma of Intelligence
  • Advanced Diploma of Surveillance
  • Advanced Diploma of Police Close Personal Protection
  • Advanced Diploma of Police Investigation.

In 2019–20 the AFP College awarded 295 qualifications to AFP appointees. As the only RTO within the Home Affairs portfolio, the AFP is uniquely placed to support its partner agencies by awarding qualifications to their employees. In 2019–20 the AFP delivered critical intelligence training through a partnership with the Australian Crime Intelligence Commission (ACIC), resulting in 81 ACIC employees and 115 AFP appointees being awarded a Diploma of Intelligence.

Training delivery and support

Leadership training

In 2019–20 the AFP supported a range of leadership training initiatives, including:

  • delivery of the AFP Team Leader Development Program to 98 current or emerging AFP Team Leaders to develop their decision-making and leadership skills
  • participation in specialist leadership courses with institutions such as the Australian Institute of Police Management and the National Security College.
AFP Tertiary Study Assistance Scheme

The AFP encourages appointees at all levels to pursue lifelong learning in order to meet the current and future demands of their roles. In 2019–20 the AFP Tertiary Study Assistance Scheme (ATSAS) supported 275 AFP appointees to study and gain qualifications that are relevant to their current roles or career development. The most common areas of study related to law, cybersecurity and leadership. ATSAS support included financial aid to assist with the cost of course fees.

Coaching and mentoring

Coaching and mentoring initiatives supported by the AFP in 2019–20 included:

  • participation in the Women in Law Enforcement Strategy Mentoring Program, which supports women pursuing executive-level careers in law enforcement. The program is sponsored by the Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Forum
  • delivery of internal mentoring programs
  • launching a coaching network comprising 60 coaches trained to support employees with personal and professional growth and to strengthen their leadership skills.

Investigations training

The AFP Investigator’s Development Continuum describes a clear pathway from new member through to senior investigating officer. The AFP’s investigator development programs are aligned to higher education qualifications and provide participants with an opportunity to demonstrate a high level of investigative skills, practices, decision-making and knowledge.

As part of the continuum, the AFP delivers:

  • the Federal Police Development Program to develop foundational skills and knowledge to perform the role of an AFP police constable
  • the Lateral Recruit Program for experienced police officers joining the AFP
  • the Detective Training Program, which provides members with skills and investigative techniques including crime scene management, search warrant and controlled operation applications. In 2019–20 the AFP awarded the inaugural Detective of the Year award to recognise AFP detectives who demonstrate excellence, commitment, outstanding perseverance, innovation and leadership
  • senior investigating officer training, which focuses on increasing investigative leadership skills and capabilities
  • the Management of Serious Crime Program, which provides a forum for senior crime managers to share their skills and enhance their capabilities to effectively lead and manage complex, serious and organised crime investigations.

A picture of a piece of paper stuck to a wall with 'investigative mindset' and a list of attributes.
Attributes of a good investigator

Improved instructions to support investigative capability

In order to support the front line, the AFP ensures its investigative instructions are subject to continuous improvement. As a result of recommendations outlined in the Lawler Review, the AFP has worked with external partners to remediate its suite of instructions, including its investigations standards. As a result, the relevant learning curricula are currently being modified.

Building capability of our partners

Whole-of-government arrangements and international engagements strengthen our ability to work together with partners to combat evolving crime threats and challenges posed by a rapidly changing environment. The AFP continues to lead efforts to build capability across the Commonwealth and internationally.

In 2019–20 the AFP supported a range of initiatives including:

  • Commonwealth Fraud Investigations Capability (CFIC)—The AFP established the CFIC Project to identify the learning and development needs of our fellow Commonwealth agencies and international partners and build a sustainable framework for enhancing the Commonwealth response to fraud through interagency cooperation and collaboration.
  • Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC)—Established as an expertise exchange hub with 32,468 alumni representing 80 countries, JCLEC has created an unparalleled body of knowledge, experience and cooperation. JCLEC contributes to capacity and capability building efforts throughout the Asia-Pacific region to deter and respond to emerging threats of transnational crime. In 2019–20 there were 160 activities conducted in JCLEC, located in Indonesia, which is the highest number to date.
  • Management of Serious Crime (MOSC) Program—The MOSC Program is offered to senior crime managers from various agencies within Australia and overseas. The program enables members to share skills and experiences in the management and leadership of investigations of serious and complex criminal matters, with an emphasis on strengthening partnerships both nationally and internationally.