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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 considers they are consistent with the effective performance of the function of the agency.

During 2020–21, ASD continued to use a shared-service arrangement with the Department of Defence to supplement specialist human resource functions provided internally. During 2020–21, ASD continued to develop the role of human resources and its contribution to organisational objectives through a range of recruitment, retention and work health and safety (WHS) activities.

These activities support the attraction, retention and growth of ASD staff.

Recruitment

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

At the end of the 2020–21 financial year, ASD employed 2,165.46 full‑time equivalent staff[1]. ASD’s ongoing separation rate was 9.2 per cent in 2020–21.

The attraction of quality employees with the specialist skills required to deliver ASD’s mission will always be one of ASD’s top priorities. During the year, ASD continued to strengthen processes which ensure ASD has a pipeline of candidates—in the most efficient manner possible—who are high quality, have a pathway into the agency, and who meet necessary security clearance requirements.

In parallel, ASD has developed and piloted a recruitment model aimed at identifying high volumes of candidates with specialist skill sets.

In light of the ongoing impact of COVID-19, ASD continued to use selection methods such as online assessments and video interview options, ensuring recruitment and subsequent on-boarding was able to continue.

[1] This number includes all active full-time and part-time, ongoing and non-ongoing employees engaged for a specified term or task.

Entry-level programs

In 2020–21, ASD engaged in the whole-of-government Digital Apprentice and Cadet Programs facilitated by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA). As a result, ASD employed 41 cadets and 24 apprentices as part-time staff while they completed their studies.

ASD also participated in the Defence Graduate Program (part of the Defence Policy and Intelligence Pathway). The Defence Graduate Program allows graduates across all degree disciplines to apply for permanent employment within ASD. During 2020–21, 89 graduates joined ASD across three streams: 45 analysts, 13 corporate and 31 technologists.

Retention

Learning and development

ASD designs and delivers bespoke training to support ASD's mission, and facilitates access to external development opportunities for ASD staff. Training and learning requirements are reviewed and evaluated regularly to ensure ASD's workforce is suitably skilled to meet current and future capability challenges. Training includes courses focused on intelligence and cyber skills and skill applications unique to the classified environment, together with a range of external training.

Due to COVID-19-related spacing restrictions, face-to-face training held during 2020–21 was very limited and courses were delivered by other methods where possible.

In response to constraints related to COVID-19, ASD liaised with course instructors and external providers to create virtual or online versions of their face-to-face courses. ASD continued to enhance, expand and uplift curated training packages to Learn@Home. This allowed ASD to continue delivering vital training to staff during the periods when face-to-face delivery was not possible.

During 2020–21, the Mission Training Programs Team facilitated access to training for ASD staff with 4,725 enrolments on courses which comprised the following:

  • online technical and cyber courses including SANS, Red Hat, Pluralsight and Hack the Box, totalling 702 student enrolments
  • programming, networking, infrastructure and specialist skills courses including eLearning and virtual seminars, totalling 2,683 enrolments
  • National Centre for Intelligence Training and Education, totalling 52 enrolments in various programs
  • Virtual Entry Level Analyst Training, totalling 1,288 enrolments in courses within this new training program designed for entry-level analysts.

The Foundations Training Program continued to provide new starters with an understanding of concepts key to ASD’s work and is intended to provide a baseline knowledge for ASD staff. New modules were added including maximising online research and cyber security skills. Since it commenced, 304 unique users accessed the course content with the telecommunications content having the most unique enrolments at 198 participants.

Gemini Program

The Gemini Program uplifts analyst trainee skills faster and earlier, while reducing training overhead on mission areas. Gemini is the first step on a career path to be amongst the best intelligence, language and cyber analysts in the world. Recruits gain vital experience and direct insights to prepare for the analyst work they will be doing at ASD. It underpins ASD’s goal of meeting significant growth goals over the next decade and is delivering on the requirement to build ASD's analyst capability.

The Gemini Program commenced as a pilot in October 2020, with cohorts quickly following in February and April taking the recruit numbers on the program to 52. A further 55 recruits are slated for the program in the second half of 2021. The July cohort features the launch of the Counter Cybercrime Training Mission in support of the existing ASD Counter Cybercrime effort.

Leadership

ASD has continued to promote leadership development in 2020–21, focusing on activities to strengthen ASD’s Senior Executive Service (SES) capability. For the broader workforce, ASD continued to facilitate access to existing training from the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC), Department of Defence and the Office of National Intelligence.

Staff consultation

During 2020–21, ASD continued to consult with employees and their representatives through the Joint Staff Consultative Group and Workplace Relations Forum on key employment matters such as conditions of employment and policy reform. ASD’s two consultative committees play an important role in sharing ideas and information between management and employees, and promoting a constructive workplace culture.

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 participates in annual benchmarking for:

  • the Multicultural Access and Equity Report.
  • the Australian Workplace Equality Index.

ASD’s employee networks form an essential part of creating a diverse and inclusive culture, providing peer-to-peer support for staff and corporate inclusion initiatives.

ASD has an overarching SES champion for diversity and inclusion, and SES champions for established employee networks on Women in Leadership, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, LGBTQ+ inclusion, and parents and carers.

ASD also has emerging employee networks on neurodiversity, multiculturalism and working with a disability.

Gender and sexuality

As of 30 June 2021, ASD’s SES comprised 14 women and 24 men.

ASD continued to corporately support Diversity and Inclusion events during the year. For this reporting period, ASD held events to mark National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week, Harmony Week, International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), and Wear It Purple Day.

Closing the gap – 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 2020–21, ASD held a flag raising ceremony when, for the first time, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags were raised alongside the Australian national flag in front of ASD’s main building in the Russell precinct. The ceremony marked the significance of introducing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at the entrance to ASD's headquarters, in recognition of First Australian people.

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 NIC, wider government and First Australian organisations.

Flexible roles and parenting outreach

In the 2020–21 reporting period, ASD introduced a new Flexible Work Policy to emphasise and normalise the use of home-based work across ASD. ASD is committed to supporting its employees in maintaining a positive work-life balance, and the policy provides employees with a range of flexible work options. In particular, the policy emphasises ASD’s expectation that all employees should work flexibly, particularly working from home and ensuring meetings are held at times that support family commitments.

The types of flexible work arrangements currently available in ASD include flexible working hours, time-off-in-lieu, home-based work, 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 in managing 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 differentlyabled, by connecting them via peer-to-peer support networks. ASD staff are also encouraged to access communities and networks in the wider Defence portfolio.

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