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People Capability

Human resource management

ASD employees are engaged under the ISA. In accordance with the ISA, ASD adopts the principles of the Public Service Act 1999 in relation to employees to the extent to which the Director‑General ASD considers they are consistent with the effective performance of the function of the agency.

During 2019–20, ASD continued to utilise a shared service arrangement with the Department of Defence to supplement the provision of specialist human resource functions provided internally. Across 2019–20, ASD strengthened the role of human resources and its contribution to organisational objectives through a range of recruitment, retention and work health and safety (WHS) activities.

ASD is committed to building its workforce to be professional, accountable and responsive, with programs in place to drive high-quality leadership outcomes.


ASD is focusing on attracting, retaining and developing the workforce we need today and into the future.

At the end of the 2019–20 financial year, ASD employed 1,952 full‑time equivalent staff. ASD’s ongoing separation rate was 8.1 per cent in 2019–20.

The attraction of high-quality and specialised candidates to meet ASD's mission continues to be one of ASD's highest priorities. During the year a number of enhancements were made to ASD’s recruitment systems and processes. In particular, improvements were made to enable greater transparency for selection panels and authorised delegates to monitor the progress of recruitment requests and track candidates as they move through the mandatory security clearance requirements.

In parallel, improvements to ASD’s selection approach facilitated recruitment at scale for a number of critical technical roles including cyber operators and intelligence analysts required to support ASD's missions.

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, ASD transformed selection methods to include a number of online assessments and video interview options, ensuring recruitment and subsequent onboarding was able to continue.

Entry Level Programs

In 2019–20, ASD engaged in the whole-of-government Digital Apprentice and Cadet Programs facilitated by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA). As a result, ASD employed 29 cadets and 13 apprentices as part-time staff while they completed their studies.

ASD also participated in the Defence Graduate Program (Defence Policy and Intelligence Pathway). The Defence Graduate Program allows graduates across all degree disciplines to apply for permanent employment within ASD. During 2019–20, 66 graduates joined ASD across three streams: 39 Analysts, 6 Corporate and 21 Technologists.


Learning and Development

ASD designs and delivers bespoke training to support ASD's mission, and facilitates access to external development opportunities for ASD staff.

During 2019–20, ASD’s tailored training reached over 1,700 staff and focused on intelligence skillsets and skill applications unique to the classified environment.

Face-to-face training ceased in early March 2020 in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic. As an alternative, ASD provided access to Learn@Home, a series of curated training content to support self-paced professional development. From March to May, ASD published seven Learn@Home guides covering leadership and professional development topics, including self-awareness, building resilience and working remotely. A Learn@Home guide was also published to develop the skills of ASD's technical and analyst staff in a work‑from‑home capacity. This guide is separated into different mission skills training categories:

  • Language
  • Analysis
  • Technical: Cyber Security
  • Technical: Networking, Coding & Other
  • Geopolitics and Signals Intelligence Reading
  • Project Management & Systems Engineering

As part of Learn@Home offering, ASD also produced the:

  • Unclassified Cyber Security and Sigint Games model, involving the participation of 60 work-from-home analysts and compliance specialists. The Games is a comprehensive series of unclassified, open source activities & challenges to train analysts.
  • ASD Foundations Training in a remote work-from-home format. The foundations training consists of knowledge pillars underpinning the work of ASD, including critical thinking, geopolitics, telecommunications, public service, leadership and team skills, and data literacy.


ASD’s approach to leadership development in 2019–20 has focused on providing executive coaching for SES, and facilitating access to existing training from the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC), Defence and ONI for the broader workforce.

Staff Consultation

During 2019–20, ASD sought to prioritise open communication and staff engagement when significant decisions are made, particularly decisions relating to employment. This shift has seen a review into the functions of the Joint Staff Consultative Group (JSCG), a consultative forum at the enterprise level between ASD and employee representatives. The revised JSCG encouraged greater sharing of information, communication on relevant issues and the exchange of ideas between management and employees.

Diversity and inclusion

ASD is committed to a respectful and inclusive workplace where it is safe for its people to bring their whole selves to work. ASD’s strength, resilience, and creativity derive from differences in age, backgrounds, caring responsibilities, cultures, neurodiversity, physical abilities, religions and sexualities.

ASD’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2019–2022 is supported by a Diversity and Inclusion team and provides enterprise-level guidance to drive cultural change, achieve workforce capability requirements, and align diversity and inclusion activities with strategic and corporate plans. ASD has an overarching senior executive (SES) champion for diversity and inclusion, as well as SES champions for each employee network.

ASD’s employee networks form an essential part of creating a diverse and inclusive culture where all staff feel valued, respected, welcomed and safe, including:

  • The ASD+ Network - supporting gender and sexual diversity communities including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex employees
  • The ATSI@ASD Network - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Network, supporting First Australian employees
  • The Parent and Carers’ Network - supporting employees with parenting responsibilities
  • The Women's Leadership Council - supporting gender equity.

The Department of Defence is a member of the Diversity Council of Australia and Pride in Diversity. ASD employees use the tools and services provided by these networks to help guide best practice initiatives and actions in workplace diversity and inclusion. In 2019–20, ASD supported its employee networks to mark thirteen days of significance and deliver numerous knowledge sharing and engagement events and initiatives to the workforce.

Gender and sexuality

In 2019, ASD maintained gender parity in the Senior Executive Service with 18 women and 19 men.

ASD also undertook a broad range of internal initiatives to improve gender equality. The Women’s Leadership Council delivered a number of events under the theme ‘Accessible Leadership,’ including supporting a National Intelligence Community panel event for International Women’s Day 2020, and hosting Dr Elizabeth Broderick for a speaking event to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2019.

In 2019, 50 ASD staff undertook Ally training with Pride in Diversity, which aims to explain the importance of LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion, outline appropriate terminology and explore challenges faced by LGBTQ+ employees. In 2020, ASD received participation status with the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI), which is the first step of four tiers in AWEI's LGBTQ+ inclusion employer support program. ASD+ led a number of initiatives to mark days of significance including the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia 2020, and Wear it Purple 2019.

Closing the gap between Australia’s First Peoples and the wider Australian population

ASD takes pride in recognising and respecting the Traditional Owners of the lands and in acknowledging Elders past, present and future. ASD is committed to delivering on the Government’s objective to ‘close the gap’ between First Australians and the wider Australian community and contribute to the national reconciliation journey. This work is supported by a dedicated working group, who are working to create opportunities for, and stronger relationships with, First Australians.

In 2019–20, ASD progressed work against the development of a Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan, marked Reconciliation Week 2020, NAIDOC Week 2019, and partnered with the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) to mark the 2019 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

ASD demonstrates respect for First Australian peoples, cultures, lands, and histories through leveraging online cultural awareness training from the Department of Defence, engagement in cultural activities, and providing opportunities for First Australian employees to connect with colleagues and networks from the National Intelligence Community (NIC), wider government and First Australian organisations.

Flexible roles and parenting outreach

ASD is committed to supporting its people in maintaining a positive work-life balance, and we take an 'if not, why not?' approach to flexible work. This approach emphasises an employee's ability to request a flexible working arrangement and to discuss this with their manager. The onus is on managers to demonstrate why a role cannot be filled flexibly, rather than an employee demonstrating why it can.

The types of flexible work arrangements currently available in ASD include flexible working hours, time off in lieu, alternative working environments (telework), part-time work, and shift work.

ASD supports the Parenting Outreach program, which was established by the Parent and Carers’ Network to help new parents keep up professional and personal networks while on longer-term leave. Both the Parent and Carers’ Network and Parenting Outreach program provide support to assist parents to manage the balancing act upon their return to work, including through the use of flexible work arrangements.

Disability reporting

The National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 sets out a 10‑year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with a disability, promoting participation and creating a more inclusive society. A high-level, two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the strategy and show how people with disability are faring. The first of these progress reports was published in 2014, and can be found on the Department of Social Services website at www.dss.gov.au.

ASD's reporting of the number of employees with disability or chronic illness relies on individuals self-identifying. One of the ongoing challenges is the reluctance to report for fear of stigma and negative stereotypes associated with disability in the workplace. ASD provides support to people who identify as Neurodiverse and as differently abled, by connecting them via peer-to-peer support networks. ASD staff are also encouraged to access communities and networks in the Defence portfolio.

Appendix C provides information on the diversity of ASD's workforce, including statistics on people with a disability.