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Staff

AIMS employed an average of 246.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) science and support staff during FY 2019–20, including 20.88 FTE under labour hire arrangements, 0.1 FTE casuals and 3.13 FTE temporary staff. In addition, AIMS engaged 44 FTE personnel via outsourced functions (see Table 7) and 2 FTE of secondments from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

The COVID-19 pandemic required our staff to adapt and respond quickly to changing conditions. Staff at all AIMS sites except for essential Townsville staff, transitioned to working from home during the week commencing 16 March. Our essential staff maintained the Townsville facility and National Sea Simulator. During this time, temporary staff were extended to December 2020 with productive work, to align with the Government principle of maintaining as many people in employment as possible. Phase 2 of the COVID-19 recovery plan commenced on 1 July 2020, which included staff returning to all AIMS sites, under strict COVID-19 social distancing controls and a preference for any staff who could continue to work from home, to do so.

Many of our scientists are world authorities in their field who have achieved international acclaim for their research. The work of the research scientists is supported by a variety of professional and technical support staff skilled in the following:

  • research support
  • laboratory and analytical services
  • data collection and data management
  • commercial and business development services
  • intellectual property portfolio management
  • engineering and field operations services
  • science communication
  • corporate support functions comprising human resources, financial, information services, supply and general management.

Where appropriate, AIMS contracts services. Currently, contracted services are for catering, cleaning, site maintenance, security and crewing marine research vessels.

AIMS core staff numbers

Table 7: Average Staffing Level Numbers (ASL)

2017-2018

2018-2019

2019-2020

Staff category

Female

Part-time

Total

Female

Part-time

Total

Female

Part-time

Total

Research Scientists

25

4

48

24

4

53

24

4

51

Townsville

18

4

29

16

3

32

17

3

32

Perth

6

-

13

7

1

16

6

1

14

Darwin

1

-

6

1

-

5

1

-

5

Research Support

22

2

59

21

2

58

22

3

61

Townsville

16

2

48

17

1

46

18

2

48

Perth

5

9

3

1

10

3

1

10

Darwin

1

2

1

2

1

-

3

Technical and corporate support

38

6

98

37

5

104

40

4

110

Townsville

32

6

85

31

5

89

34

3

97

Perth

6

-

10

6

-

12

5

1

12

Darwin

-

-

3

-

-

3

1

-

1

Total Staff (excluding casual and temporary)

85

12

205

82

11

215

86

11

222

Townsville

66

12

162

64

9

167

69

8

177

Perth

17

-

32

16

2

38

14

3

36

Darwin

2

-

11

2

-

10

3

-

9

Postdoctoral Fellows included in total*

4

-

13

5

-

12

5

-

10

Townsville

3

-

6

4

-

6

3

-

6

Perth

1

-

6

1

-

5

2

-

4

Darwin

-

-

1

-

-

1

-

-

-

Temporary and Casual staff

15

-

36

19

-

29

15

-

24

Townsville

13

-

33

18

-

26

11

-

19

Perth

2

-

3

1

-

3

4

-

5

Darwin

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Contractors

-

-

49

-

-

47

-

-

44

* Most PostDocs are joint appointments with other research organisations. These figures only reflect positions for which AIMS is the host employer

Staff Consultation

Staff consultation and communication takes place via a range of mediums such as all-staff meetings, emails and newsletters. The Joint Consultative Committee—comprising AIMS CEO (Chairman), a management representative (Chief Operating Officer), the Human Resources Manager, Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) representatives (internal), a CPSU organiser (external), and a staff representative—met three times in 2019–20. This committee provides a forum for discussion and consultation between management and staff representatives on issues that may affect staff conditions and entitlements.

In 2019-20, AIMS management, staff and their representatives negotiated a new Enterprise Agreement that will be in place until 2023.

Leadership Development

During 2019–20, AIMS continued with a significant leadership development program affording all staff the opportunity to participate.

Equal Employment Opportunity and Workforce Diversity

Our workforce diversity policy acknowledges differences and adapts work practices to create an inclusive work environment in which diverse skills, perspectives and cultural backgrounds are valued.

The Institute’s staffing policies and procedures align with the requirements of the Equal Employment Opportunity (Commonwealth Authorities) Act 1987. Designed to ensure that workforce diversity and equality of opportunity are fundamental operating principles for AIMS, they include:

  • regularly reviewing employment policies and practices, and providing ongoing instruction for user groups
  • promoting AIMS as an equal opportunity employer in all recruitment advertisements placed in online media and on our website
  • supporting equity of access and providing amenities for people with disabilities in AIMS’ public access facilities such as conference rooms, theatre, library, cafe and display areas
  • constructing new facilities that support equity of access
  • catering to staff and visitors with a disability, and providing a wheelchair, if required, on public tours of AIMS
  • having mechanisms in place to handle complaints and grievances (formal and informal) to address issues and concerns raised by staff and visitors.
Table 8: Staff numbers in equal employment opportunity categories

EEO category

Proportion of total staff (%)

2015–16

2016–17

2017–18

2018–19

2019–20

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

0.5

1.31

0.98

2.05

2.18

Non-English-speaking background

15.3

16.44

16.78

14.67

15.1

Staff with disability

1.5

1.84

1.68

1.59

1.32

Women

36.8

37.25

41.36

41.32

39.23

Inclusiveness and Diversity in the Workplace

Our workforce initiatives support the wider Australia Public Service undertakings on Indigenous employment, diversity and gender equity. In continued efforts to be awarded Athena Swan Bronze Award certification, AIMS is continuing to demonstrate a solid foundation for improving gender equity and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff. This includes:

  • an assessment of gender equality in the institution, including quantitative (staff data) and qualitative (policies, practices, systems and arrangements) evidence and identifying both challenges and opportunities
  • a four-year action plan that builds on this assessment, information on activities that are already in place and what has been learned from these
  • the development of an organisational structure, including a self-assessment team, to carry proposed actions forward.

The application for the award is part of AIMS’ plan to support continuous career improvement for individuals across all gender groups in higher education and research over the next four years, helping to create a more inclusive society.

Code of Conduct

AIMS has a Code of Conduct to which the Council, management, staff and visitors are required to adhere. The Code complies with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2014. New Council members, staff and visitors are briefed on the Code during induction.

Workplace Behaviour

Management, staff and visitors at AIMS share responsibility for providing and working in an environment free of harassment and other unacceptable forms of behaviour. In accordance with the AIMS Code of Conduct, staff are required to treat others with courtesy, respect, dignity, fairness and equity, and to have concern for their rights, freedoms and individual needs. A high standard of behaviour is expected and AIMS has a set of principles outlining the way staff are expected to behave towards others.

Workplace harassment contact officers are available throughout AIMS to discuss, in confidence, matters of concern regarding harassment and associated issues raised by a staff member. AIMS received no formal reported cases of harassment in 2019–20.

Public Interest Disclosure (Whistle-Blower Policy)

AIMS has a whistle-blower policy designed to facilitate effective notification, assessment and management of the disclosure of serious wrongdoings in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013.

AIMS strongly encourages reporting of serious wrongdoing and will take appropriate and necessary action to uphold the integrity of the Institute and to promote the public interest. To achieve our goals and obligations in this regard, AIMS is committed to creating and maintaining an environment and culture in which the disclosure of serious wrongdoings is fully supported and protected. There were no formal reported public interest disclosure cases in 2019–20.

National Disability Strategy

AIMS is committed to ensuring that people with disabilities are given opportunities for independence, access and full participation. AIMS assesses cases individually and endeavours to implement the most appropriate measures to assist people with disabilities.

AIMS’ physical resources continue to be upgraded to meet access needs for people with disabilities, which includes building modifications and the construction of new facilities.

Employee Assistance Program

Lifeworks is contracted by AIMS to provide an independent employee assistance program. The program is free to staff, their family members, and students and provides for up to six sessions to assist with issues of:

  • relationship and family problems
  • maximising performance
  • depression, anxiety and stress
  • conflict and communication
  • children or family member concerns
  • grief and bereavement
  • elder care issues
  • addiction
  • work–life balance
  • career path issues
  • retirement
  • work stress.

Participants can refer themselves or be encouraged by a colleague, supervisor, human resource staff or workplace health and safety staff to access the program. The use rate during 2019–20 was 10.9 per cent, consistent with the previous year. Analysis reveals that staff accessed the service primarily for issues of a personal nature.