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Chapter Three: Management and Accountability

3.1 Our Governance

Comcare aims for excellence in its governance to promote public trust and confidence. Good governance for Comcare focuses on two key requirements:

  • performance—governance procedures and practices are designed to shape our results
  • accountability—governance procedures and practices are designed to demonstrate results to Comcare’s Executive, the government and stakeholders and to conform with applicable legislative and policy requirements in addition to the public expectations of transparency and integrity.

An established committee structure oversees the strategies and plans to improve our service delivery and capability. The key principles are:

  • committed to continuous improvement, driving transformation throughout the organisation
  • being performance orientated—planning for high performance through ambitious targets
  • being transparent, innovative and collaborative in minimising harm in the workplace, both now and into the future.

Comcare hosts a number of external consultation forums and participates in a range of external meetings to provide expert advice or gain insight and perspective.

Strategic planning

Comcare’s efforts are driven by our outcome—support participation and productivity through healthy and safe workplaces that minimise the impact of harm.

To deliver on our outcome in 2018–19, the Comcare 2018–2022 Corporate Plan (Corporate Plan) focussed our efforts around five strategic priorities and purposes:

  • leading workers’ compensation insurer
  • effective national regulator
  • excellence in scheme design and management
  • efficient and effective operations
  • drive innovation and better practice for the schemes.

Our performance measures against each strategic priority cascade from the Corporate Plan through our operational, business groups, team and individual performance plans.

The Corporate Plan is the primary planning document that commenced our annual performance cycle for 2018–19. Planning culminates in the annual publication of:

  • Comcare’s Corporate Plan for the next four years, inclusive of the non-financial performance measures
  • Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS), which sets out resourcing arrangements and performance measures over the same four-year period.

Performance against the targets set out in the Corporate Plan and PBS are monitored quarterly by the Executive Committee and the Audit and Risk Committee.

In 2018–19, Comcare implemented an approach to strengthening our research and innovation capability—a strategy to enhance knowledge of current and emerging trends, and address challenges that could influence the future of workers’ compensation and health and safety regulation.

Senior management committees

Under the PGPA Act, Comcare is a corporate Commonwealth entity with a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) as the accountable authority. The CEO has been assisted in the corporate governance functions by Comcare’s Executive team:

  • Deputy CEO/General Manager Corporate Management
  • General Manager Regulatory Operations
  • General Manager Scheme Management
  • General Manager Claims Management
  • General Manager Strategic Partnerships and Engagement (previously Strategic Research and Innovation)
  • General Manager Legal Group

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee, comprising the CEO and general managers, is directly responsible and accountable to the CEO in relation to:​

  • statutory obligations—recommending to the CEO or delegating the exercise of their legislative delegations for the administration of Comcare
  • corporate administration—making decisions on policy or actions to be taken with regard to Comcare’s:​
    • people and culture
    • assets and property
    • information systems and records management
    • compliance issues—including legislative and government policy obligations
    • marketing and communications
    • finance
    • external scrutiny
    • corporate governance, including reports from subsidiary committees
    • external relationships, including the Minister, portfolio department, Australian Public Service Commission, and Department of Finance.

Other committees directly responsible to the CEO, reporting through the Executive Committee, are:

  • People Committee
  • Technology and Information Management Committee
  • Finance and Investment Committee
  • National Health and Safety Committee
  • Security Committee.

Audit and risk committee

The CEO has established the Comcare and Seacare Authority Audit and Risk Committee in accordance with section 45 of the PGPA Act. The objective of the committee is to provide independent assurance and assistance to Comcare’s CEO on risk, the control and compliance framework, and external accountability responsibilities.

For 2018–19, the Audit and Risk Committee consisted of five independent members, including the Chairperson appointed by the CEO. Comcare’s senior executive, the Chief Financial Officer, internal audit officers and the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) regularly attend as observers.

Table 18: Attendance at Audit and Risk Committee meetings 2018–19

Name

Position in Comcare

Eligible to attend

Attended

Lisa Woolmer

Independent Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee

5

5

Graham Bashford

Independent Member of the Audit and Risk Committee

4

3

Kate Hughes

Independent Member of the Audit and Risk Committee

5

5

Dr Mike Vertigan

Independent Member of the Audit and Risk Committee

5

4

Kevin Noonan

Independent Member of the Audit and Risk Committee

1

1

Lisa Woolmer (Audit and Risk Committee Member and Chair)

Lisa Woolmer has a background in audit and accounting, including 22 years of professional services experience advising on governance, risk and assurance frameworks.

In her professional services career, Lisa worked extensively with federal, state and local government agencies, and across areas such as health, education, emergency services, water, gas and financial services. In addition to the ACT and Victoria, Lisa has worked in Tokyo and New York.

Lisa is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a qualified accountant. She holds a Bachelor of Economics and Diploma in Japanese Business Communication from Monash University, and a Graduate Diploma in Employment Relations from the University of Canberra.

Lisa is also an Independent Audit Committee member for the Office of Public Prosecutions (Victoria), the Cities of Glen Eira, Whitehorse and Bayside (Melbourne). Lisa chairs the Audit and Risk Committees for the Mornington Peninsula Shire and Adult Community and Further Education Board (Victoria).

Graham Bashford (Audit and Risk Committee Member until February 2019)

Graham Bashford is the Managing Director of Bashford Consulting, a company specialising in strategic advice and business development to both private sector and public-sector organisations. Before this, Graham was the Deputy CEO of Centrelink for many years, with responsibility for running its network of 26,000 employees, delivering $64 billion worth of benefits to six million customers annually.

Graham has worked for the New Zealand Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and has expertise in the government insurance sector. His contribution to the Audit Committee is from a government insurance operational perspective, having led the operational recovery of the ACC for two years. Graham is the independent chair of the Audit and Review Committee of the Community Services Directorate of the ACT. He also holds a Bachelor of Science Honours in Physical Metallurgy.

Kate Hughes (Audit and Risk Committee Member)

Kate Hughes is the Chief Audit and Risk Officer at RMIT, with responsibility for the University’s internal audit, risk management, compliance and regulatory affairs functions.

Prior to this Kate was the Chief Risk Officer at Telstra, with global responsibility for the enterprise wide risk management, resilience, investigations, privacy, compliance and health and safety functions.

Kate has led international teams for 15 years and she has broad risk management, compliance, safety and governance experience in many sectors, including financial services, agribusiness, retail, manufacturing, public administration and telecommunications. Kate has also provided risk management and compliance consulting services on trade practices, employment and environmental issues.

Kate is a member of the VicRoads Risk and Audit Governance Committee, holding tertiary qualifications in commerce, applied finance and OH&S, and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Dr Michael Vertigan AC (Audit and Risk Committee Member until June 2019)

Dr Michael Vertigan AC brings a wealth of experience and high-level expertise in the private and public sector finance and superannuation markets, as well as significant public administration experience. Mike has held numerous senior financial and state public service positions in Tasmania and Victoria and is a former secretary of the treasury and finance departments in those states, secretary of Tasmania’s Department of Premier and Cabinet, and former chancellor of the University of Tasmania.

Since 1998 Mike has held a variety of senior board appointments, including the Chair position, across different business areas, and has also chaired a number of government expert panels. In 2004 Mike was awarded the Companion, Order of Australia Medal for his service to public administration, education and business and industry. Mike is currently a Director of the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC) and is the chair of the CSC Audit and Risk Committee.

Kevin Noonan (Audit and Risk Committee Member from April 2019)

Kevin Noonan has more than 40 years experience in technology-based governance, strategy and direction. This includes 28 years in the government sector as a Chief Information Officer, senior executive and manager, and a further 12 years as an international industry analyst.

Prior to joining the Comcare and Seacare Audit and Risk Committee in 2019, Kevin held the dual positions of Chief Analyst and Practice Leader for Ovum’s worldwide government practice. In this role he worked with government and industry executives in many locations around the world. Kevin also worked as a Head of Consulting at Intermedium, where he specialised in government sector industry development, and provided advice to executives from more than half the top 100 IT companies.

Fraud control

Comcare is fully committed to complying with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework 2014 (Fraud Control Framework) (in particular section 10 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014) to minimise the incidence of fraud.

Comcare’s CEO has certified that we:

  • prepare fraud risk assessments and fraud control plans
  • have in place appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation, reporting and data collection procedures and processes that meet our specific needs
  • take all reasonable measures to minimise the incidence of fraud and investigate and recover the proceeds of fraud against Comcare.

Fraud prevention

Comcare’s Assurance, Risk and Fraud Team investigators are authorised by the CEO to undertake investigations of criminal fraud and non-compliance regarding the claims and liability management functions of Comcare. All criminal fraud investigations are conducted in compliance with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework and the Australian Government Investigations Standards 2011. During 2018–19, the team received 138 referrals for investigation, compared with 152 notifications in 2017–18. The 22 matters that were finalised in the 2018–19 year resulted in a reduction of $8.8 million in claim liabilities.

There were two matters before the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution (CDPP) for prosecution and sentencing during the reporting period. One matter was finalised, with the offender receiving a two year sentence, released immediately on a two year good behaviour bond. The second matter is still before the court.

Comcare continues to actively participate in the annual Commonwealth Fraud Liaison Forum. The forum is jointly managed by the Attorney-General’s Department and the Australian Federal Police.

Internal audit

The internal audit programme is a key element of the Comcare corporate governance framework. The programme provides assurance to the Audit and Risk Committee, the CEO and senior management. It adds value to what Comcare does by highlighting opportunities for improvement in statutory compliance, internal control, and efficiency and effectiveness of business processes.

Internal audit topics are identified through consultation with senior management and the Audit and Risk Committee. In deciding the final programme of internal audit work for the year, the Audit and Risk Committee considers the strategic and operational risk profile of Comcare and relevant audit reports published by the ANAO. The final programme included proposed topics for 2019–20 and 2020–21 to identify potential future audit coverage. The proposed topics will inform the development of subsequent internal audit programmes in conjunction with findings arising from the programme and changes to Comcare’s risk profile.

Consistent with 2017–18, twelve internal audits were presented to the Audit and Risk Committee in 2018–19. The audits completed covered the following topics:

  • relationships with key stakeholders
  • ICT penetration test of base services
  • incapacity payments
  • ICT system documentation review
  • human resources–recruitment
  • workplace rehabilitation provider approval framework
  • management and administration of medical and allied health service providers
  • contract management
  • premium setting process for employers
  • data governance
  • rolling compliance–Travel and financial delegations
  • ANU transition health check and lessons learned.

Recommendations arising from internal audits are tracked and reported to the Audit and Risk Committee to ensure accountability for addressing identified risks. During 2018–19 there were 55 recommendations, 21 recommendations are closed, 22 remain on track for completion by the original due date and 12 have revised due dates for completion.

Risk management

Comcare has embedded systematic risk management as part of its governance and planning processes and organisational culture. Comcare’s particular focus is on:

  • establishing a high-quality agency-wide risk management system
  • providing comprehensive training and development on risk
  • evaluating and improving risk performance
  • strengthening engagement with stakeholders on risk issues.

Comcare’s business planning framework is underpinned by strategic and group risk plans. Ongoing risk management is the responsibility of all Comcare Executive members. The Audit and Risk Committee reviews the risk management framework annually and regularly reviews strategic and group risk registers.

Comcare relies on a range of strategies to address risks, including managing stakeholder relationships, implementing sound project management and contract management practices, and building workforce capability. Comcare has seen sustained reductions in its insurance premiums due to its increased focus on risk management.

Ministerial directions

Comcare received no Ministerial Directions in 2018–19.

Government general policy orders

Comcare complied with the General Policy Order Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (Charging for Regulatory Activities) issued by the Minister for Finance on 24 August 2017.

Significant non-compliance with finance law

In 2018–19, there were no reports of any significant non-compliance with finance law reported to the Minister by Comcare under paragraph 19(1)(e) of the PGPA Act.

Freedom of information

Comcare is required to publish information to the public as part of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) Information Publication Scheme (IPS).

Comcare’s Agency Plan and other categories of information specified by the IPS are available at www.comcare.gov.au, via the Access to Information logo on the bottom of the homepage.

During 2018–19, Comcare received 364 freedom of information access requests which is a 49 per cent increase compared with the previous financial year.

Comcare received four requests for amendment or annotation of personal records.

Of the requests finalised in the financial year:

  • full access was granted in 89 cases
  • partial access was granted in 81 cases
  • access was refused in 109 cases
  • applicants withdrew their request in 60 cases
  • one case was transferred to another agency.

Comcare received 26 requests for internal review of access and amendment decisions. The original decision was affirmed in 21 of the reviews, five of the reviews varied the original decision, granting full access in two decisions and greater access in three decisions.

Privacy

Comcare is committed to meeting the highest standards when collecting, storing, using and disclosing personal information with all staff completing privacy training annually. Comcare primarily collects, uses and discloses personal information as reasonably necessary for, or directly related to its functions and activities under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act) and the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act).

Business areas are required to notify the Privacy team of any potential privacy breaches. During 2018–19, 115 notifications of potential breaches were received. Assessments concluded that breaches had occurred in 63 cases. This is a reduction of almost 25 per cent compared with the previous financial year.

No breaches were reportable under the Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme.

Feedback

Complaints

Comcare encourages stakeholders to provide feedback on Comcare’s services to ensure we can continue to deliver services that meet the needs of our stakeholders, including our licensees.

Complaints are assessed and any trends are monitored to ensure that Comcare can assist and resolve service issues swiftly if they arise.

During the 2018–19 financial year Comcare received 380 complaints compared to 506 in 2017–18. This represents a 25 per cent decrease from the previous financial year.

Table 19: The most frequent categories of complaints during 2018–19

Area

Percentage of total

Communication

28%

Claims management process

30%

Timeliness

23%

Claims Management Pilot complaints

During 2018–19 Comcare received 37 complaints relating to the Claims Management Pilot Programme with the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

The 37 complaints account for 10 per cent of all complaints received, which represents no change from the previous financial year. The pilot program concluded on 8 December 2018.

Compliments

During 2018–19, Comcare received 77 compliments on the services we provide.

In-house facilitation

Comcare offers an Alternate Dispute Resolution Process for claims related disputes known as in-house facilitation (IHF).

The IHF process brings parties in a claims related dispute together, with a view to resolving the issues through a facilitated discussion and developing a mutually agreeable outcome.

There were four facilitations in the 2018–19 financial year all of which resolved the dispute.

3.2 External scrutiny

External audit

No external audits were conducted during 2018–19.

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC)

Freedom of Information requests for review

The Information Commissioner received 20 requests for reviews of FOI decisions made by Comcare. Five reviews were finalised as follows:

  • two finalised under s54W(a)(i) of the FOI Act
  • two withdrawn by the applicant
  • one affirmed Comcare’s decision.

Privacy complaints
Seven privacy complaints were made to the OAIC. Four were closed as follows:

  • one complaint was closed as Comcare had adequately dealt with the matter
  • three complaints were withdrawn by the applicant.

Commonwealth Ombudsman

Comcare received eight formal investigation enquiries from the Commonwealth Ombudsman in 2018–19. This represents a 27 per cent decrease from the previous financial year.

Six investigations were finalised with the Commonwealth Ombudsman deciding in all cases that no further review of the matters was warranted.

3.3 Our People

Our workforce profile

At 30 June 2019 Comcare had employees based in various locations in Australia which included Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Newcastle, Adelaide and Perth.

In comparison to 2017–18, our workforce has decreased in total headcount by 8.5 per cent from 637 to 583 employees.

Table 20: Comcare workforce profile as at 30 June 2019

Size

2017–18

2018–19

Percentage change

Number of employees

637

620

-2.7%

Full-time equivalent employees

608

556

-8.6%

Diversity of workforce1

Percentage change

Women

(percentage of total workforce)

63%
(399 of 637)

56.6%

(351 of 620)

-6.4%

Women in leadership

EL 2 and SES
(percentage of EL 2 and SES cohorts)

46%
(24 of 52)

46%
(24 of 52)

-

People with disability
(percentage of total workforce)

3.6%

(23 of 637)

3.4%

(21 of 620)

-0.2%

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
(percentage of total workforce)

1.1%
(7 of 637)

1.1%

(7 of 620)

-

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) employees (percentage of total workforce)

16.0%

(102 of 637)

15.5%

(96 of 620)

-0.5%

1 Data based on paid headcount and workforce diversity data relies on self-identification.

Table 21: Ongoing headcount of employees—current and previous report period

Male

Female

Total

Full time

Part time

Total

Full time

Part time

Total

2018–19

2017–18

2018–19

2017–18

2018–19

2017–18

2018–19

2017–18

2018–19

2017–18

2018–19

2017–18

2018–19

2017–18

NSW

14

14

0

0

14

14

4

6

4

2

8

8

22

22

Qld

9

10

0

0

9

10

5

8

3

2

8

10

17

20

SA

3

4

0

0

3

4

6

7

3

2

9

9

12

13

Tas

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Vic

52

55

4

5

56

60

58

65

19

16

77

81

133

141

WA

10

11

0

0

10

11

4

5

0

0

4

5

14

16

ACT

108

110

12

13

120

123

184

204

66

74

250

278

370

401

NT

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Overseas

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

196

204

16

18

212

222

261

295

95

96

356

391

568

613

Note: Nil employees identified their gender as indeterminate.

Table 22: Non-ongoing headcount of employees—current and previous report period

Male

Female

Total

Full time

Part time

Total

Full time

Part time

Total

2018–19

2017–18

2018–19

2017–18

2018–19

2017–18

2018–19

2017–18

2018–19

2017–18

2018–19

2017–18

2018–19

2017–18

1

1

0

0

1

1

0

1

0

1

0

2

1

3

1

1

0

0

1

1

1

0

0

0

1

0

2

1

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

1

0

0

0

1

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

6

0

1

2

7

7

5

0

2

7

7

9

14

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

11

7

3

2

14

9

23

24

2

1

25

25

39

34

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

16

15

3

3

19

18

31

31

2

4

33

35

52

53

Note: Nil employees identified their gender as indeterminate.

People plan

The Comcare People Plan 2016–2019 (People Plan) sets the strategic direction across all aspects of people management. It continues our commitment to building a capable and high performing workforce to deliver on organisational objectives, both now and in the future.

Key People Plan activities completed in 2018–19 include:

  • further refinement and maturation of the Capability Framework
  • workforce planning activities and support provided to business areas undergoing change, including the endorsement of Comcare’s Position Categorisation Framework and Organisational Change Management Plan
  • continued refinement and implementation of the Leadership Development Series and design of the 2019 Leadership Development Programme
  • endorsement of the People Strategy 2019–2022 and launch of Comcare’s Reconciliation Action Plan 2018–2020 and Accessibility Action Plan 2018–2020.

Workplace diversity

Comcare is committed to cultivating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture that supports and champions difference and ensures everyone has an equal opportunity to participate, contribute and realise their full potential. We will achieve this commitment by implementing actions identified in Comcare’s strategies, Reconciliation Action Plan 2018–2020, Accessibility Action Plan 2018–2020 and celebrating diversity events throughout the year.

Key achievements that support diversity and inclusion include:

  • the release of Comcare’s Transgender Policy and Guidelines, including the introduction of Trans and Gender Diverse training
  • Comcare being recognised as a mental health first aid (MHFA) skilled workplace, with more than 10 per cent of employees trained in MHFA and an established Mental Health Contact Officer Network
  • participation in a range of employment programs designed to support employees who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander or as having a disability, including:
    • Australian Government Indigenous Lateral Entry (AGILE)
    • 2018–2019 Indigenous Australian Government Development Program (IAGDP)
    • Indigenous Entry Level Apprenticeships Program (IAP)
    • 2019 Australian Government Indigenous Graduate Recruitment Program (AGIGRP)
    • Australian Network on Disability Stepping into Program
    • Continued implementation of the Women in Leadership Program and sponsoring employees’ attendance at external International Women’s Day events nationwide.

Diversity Working Group

Comcare’s Diversity Working Group is a team of employee volunteers who are passionate about diversity in Comcare. Working Group members have an important role in promoting and supporting Comcare’s diversity plans. Comcare continues to have an appointed senior manager as a Diversity Champion who provides leadership and support for diversity initiatives and acts as sponsor for the Diversity Working Group.

The Working Group is responsible for developing Comcare’s Diversity Calendar and coordinating identified events to promote and increase awareness.

Events that were celebrated in 2018–19 include:

  • NAIDOC week
  • R U OK? Day
  • International Day of Older Persons
  • World Mental Health Day
  • International Day of People with Disability
  • Harmony Day
  • World Health Day
  • International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia
  • National Reconciliation Week.

Remuneration and conditions of service

The Comcare Enterprise Agreement 2016–2019 (Enterprise Agreement) sets out the terms and conditions of employment and salary scales for APS employees working at Comcare. It applies to all ongoing and non-ongoing APS employees at the APS 1 to Executive Level 2 (or equivalent) levels. The Enterprise Agreement provided remuneration increases of six per cent over three years, with the last two per cent increase being paid in April 2018.

The CEO issued a section 24(1) Determination made under the Public Service Act 1999. This Determination provides all eligible employees covered by the Enterprise Agreement with a salary increase of six per cent over three years as below:

  • two per cent on 12 April 2019
  • two per cent on 12 April 2020
  • two per cent on 12 April 2021

A review of existing workplace arrangements will commence in 2020 to ensure consistency with the APSC’s Workplace Bargaining Policy and legislative requirements.

The CEO determines the terms and conditions of employment for all Senior Executive Staff (SES) employees in Comcare. Determinations are based on individual capability and job requirements and are made under section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999.

Table 23: Information about remuneration for key management personnel

Short term benefits

Post employment benefits

Other long term benefits

Termination benefits

Total Remuneration

Name

Position Title

Base Salary

Bonuses

Other benefits and allowances

Superannuation contributions

Long Service leave

Other long-term benefits

Susan Weston

CEO

91,156

-

-

16,151

849

-

-

108,155

Jennifer Taylor

CEO

210,101

-

-

38,510

9,184

-

-

257,795

Lynette MacLean

General Manager

208,843

-

24,920

39,190

4,241

-

277,195

Justin Napier

General Manager

209,854

-

24,920

33,146

6,530

-

-

274,450

Aaron Hughes

General Manager

208,307

-

24,920

38,806

6,508

-

-

278,541

Natalie Bekis

General Manager

204,779

-

24,920

31,849

3,875

-

-

265,423

Matthew Swainson

General Manager

149,575

-

19,065

21,167

10,635

-

-

200,443

James McKenzie

General Manager

66,709

-

10,064

9,514

1,271

-

-

87,557

Kim Ward

General Manager

125,858

-

15,623

19,131

1,497

-

-

162,110

Anthony Middlebrook

General Manager

207,176

-

23,195

29,264

9,584

-

32,362

301,581

Note: 1. The amounts above reconcile to Note 4.2: Key management personnel remuneration in the financial statements

Note: 2. During the reporting period there were no other senior executive not already included as key management personnel in the table above

Table 24: Information about remuneration for other highly paid staff

Short‑term benefits

Post employment benefits

Other long‑term benefits

Termination benefits

Total remuneration

Total remuneration bands

Number of other highly paid staff

Average base salary

Average bonuses

Average other benefits and allowances

Average superannuation contributions

Average long service leave

Average other long‑term benefits

Average termination benefits

Average total remuneration

$220,001- $245,000

2

148,270

0

300

26,579

7,464

0

47,522

230,135

Note: NIL for other remuneration bands

Reward and recognition

Reward and recognition plays an important role in shaping Comcare’s culture. The Comcare Reward and Recognition Policy provides the framework under which we recognise and reward the efforts and achievements of individuals and teams. This policy reflects a culture of demonstrating appreciation and recognition of employees at all levels, and across all areas of the organisation.

The policy aims to reinforce many of the priorities outlined in the Comcare People Plan and provides a framework to:

  • encourage greater teamwork and collaboration in our organisation
  • demonstrate positive workplace behaviours that align to Comcare’s values
  • promote innovative thinking and initiative
  • motivate employees to make meaningful contributions
  • support a performance-based culture and to contribute to a more productive and satisfying work environment
  • commemorate the achievement of significant service to the APS.

Australia Day Awards

Comcare’s Australia Day Awards are supported by the National Australia Day Council and signify the highest level of recognition for our employees. The awards acknowledge people who go above and beyond the requirements of their roles and consistently demonstrate excellence. Recipients join a celebrated group of APS employees who have made a national contribution in the course of their service. On Wednesday 23 January 2019, one team and five individuals were presented Australia Day Awards recognising their achievements in the categories of Leadership, Diversity and Collaboration.

CEO’s Awards

Comcare CEO Awards were presented on Tuesday 10 July 2018. These awards recognise high performing teams and individuals who have consistently gone above and beyond expectations to achieve a significant positive impact for the organisation, employees with workplace injuries or illnesses, colleagues or other key stakeholders. In total, three individuals and two teams received a CEO Award in 2018. This award ceremony also offers an opportunity to recognise employee’s contributions and service to the Australian Public Service (APS) by presenting employees who have reached 25 years APS service with a certificate of recognition. In 2018 two employees were recognised.

Leadership, learning and development

Improving leadership across all aspects of Comcare’s business continued to be a priority area and was identified in the Comcare 2018–22 Corporate Plan and People Plan 2016–19. The Leadership Development Series (the Leadership Series) was based on the four cultural priority areas:

  • being trusted, empowered and accountable
  • having commitment and focus
  • being collaborative
  • being a learning organisation.

In 2018 the Leadership Series was rolled out to all APS 6 employees and APS 5 employees whose nomination to attend was supported by their General Manager, building further leadership capability across the organisation. Employees participated in a year-long programme of pre-workshop activities, four-half day workshops and post-workshop sessions to assist with continuous learning.

The next phase of leadership development in Comcare will continue to build upon our cultural priority areas and equip leaders with the skills and confidence to have challenging conversations, lead through change and coach for performance. These themes were selected based on an environmental scan of upcoming priorities and the programme will be offered throughout 2019.

We remain focused on building capability across Comcare through delivering organisation wide learning programmes targeted to capability needs identified through Performance Development Plans (PDPs) and workforce planning discussions. These are delivered through the Comcare learning and development training calendar.

Corporate fundamental training continues to be a requirement to ensure all employees are aware of their corporate responsibilities as a Comcare employee, including work health and safety responsibilities. Throughout 2018–19, 196 courses were offered, and these included the Leadership Series, SRC Act Legislative Training Modules, Corporate Fundamentals, Indigenous Cultural Awareness training and a range of other courses to meet organisational development needs.

3.4 Work health and safety management

Comcare is committed to the health, safety and wellbeing of its employees. We realise this commitment through the continued development and implementation of our work health and safety (WHS) and injury management system processes, strategic plan and the health and wellbeing programme. Furthermore, this commitment is reflected in the 2018 Australian Public Service (APS) Employee Census where Comcare had achieved an overall wellbeing index result of 77 per cent, which was 11 per cent higher than the APS average and 7 per cent higher than medium sized agencies.

Health and safety initiatives

Throughout the year, Comcare undertook various initiatives to ensure it provides a healthy and safe workplace, which included:

  • delivery of health and wellness program events
  • training employees in mental health first aid
  • reviewing and delivery of the Early Intervention Programme
  • reviewing and monitoring of our WHS management system
  • modernisation of WHS training material and distribution of awareness material
  • continuation of the sit-stand programme
  • conducting quarterly workplace inspections.

Sit-stand study

In the previous two annual reports, Comcare reported on its participation in a long-term study into the effectiveness of software-based prompts influencing sit/stand desk usage. In October 2017, Comcare finalised its participation in the study by providing the final dataset. The final paper documenting the results of the study was published in September 2018. Comcare has continued to utilise the sit-stand programme in 2018–19.

Health and wellbeing

Comcare believes in empowering its employees to incorporate healthy lifestyle choices into their daily lives and provides support in the form of a health and wellbeing reimbursement. In 2018–19, 54.5 per cent of eligible employees claimed this reimbursement and continue making healthy lifestyle choices outside of the workplace.

There have been a number of health and wellbeing activities that occurred throughout the 2018–19 period. These included:

  • Comcare provided voluntary health checks that focused on addressing physical activity, mental health, nutritional health, alcohol consumption, smoking and other modifiable chronic disease risk factors. One hundred and thirty-two (132) employees participated in this national event and 17 per cent of these were referred to their treating medical practitioner for further investigation
  • Comcare held a six-week, 10,000 steps challenge during National Safe Work Month, to promote the importance of being physically active. During this period, one hundred and sixty-nine (169) employees achieved a combined total of 52,869,763 steps
  • Comcare provided its employees access to an annual influenza vaccination. For the 2018–19 period, 284 employees received the vaccination
  • Comcare invited a guest speaker for World Mental Health Day, to talk about their personal experience in overcoming mental health challenges and contribute to empowering others to overcome challenges in their own lives
  • Comcare held a three week, Chews of Change Challenge during February and March 2019 to promote the importance of healthy nutritional choices. One hundred and seventy (170) employees participated in the campaign with 86 per cent of those reporting a shift to making healthier nutrition choices.

Mental health first aid training

To ensure support is provided to our employees, Comcare continued to provide mental health first aid training for the second year in a row for at least one team member from each team across the organisation. These team members make up Comcare’s Mental Health Contact Officer network. The continued commitment and promotion of this contact network is believed to have enhanced employee awareness.

In January 2019, Comcare was awarded gold accreditation status in the Mental Health First Aid Australia Skilled Workplaces Initiative for the second consecutive year. Comcare is proud to be the first Australian Government agency to be awarded this accreditation.

Review and monitoring of our WHS management system

During 2018–19, Comcare continued to review work health and safety management with 10 management system documents being reviewed. This systematic review process and ongoing process implementation contributed to Comcare observing an audit conformance rate of 93.5 per cent. The audit was against the full National Audit Tool of 108 criteria compared to the previous years which were assessed using the Intermediate National Audit Tool of 53 criteria.

WHS training and awareness

During 2018–19, Comcare invested resources in digitising WHS training materials into an eLearning format. For example:

  • customer aggression is a primary risk for the organisation and as such employees who perform frontline services are provided biennial face to face Managing Aggressive and Distress Customer training. Comcare developed an eLearning module to complement the face-to-face training
  • Comcare’s WHS Team Talk programme was launched in 2017. The Programme was moved to a digital platform in 2018–19. Comcare has empowered managers to select an appropriate WHS team talk relevant to their team’s WHS risk profile and to facilitate a team discussion. Overall, Comcare achieved an average implementation rate of 73 per cent.

Workplace inspections

During 2018–19, Comcare completed 42 of 44 scheduled workplace inspections of its office sites. A total of 76 corrective actions were identified, with 80 per cent of these relating to property issues, e.g. light globe replacement.

Employee Assistance Program

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP), provided by Assure Programs, provides telephone and face‑to‑face access to confidential individual counselling that supports the psychological wellbeing of employees and their families. In addition to individual counselling, a Manager’s Hotline, online information, onsite trauma and critical incident counselling, conflict resolution and mediation support services are available.

In 2018–19 the EAP usage rate was 17.27 per cent of the total Comcare workforce. The percentage of Comcare employees attending was 83 per cent, with 17 per cent of consultations for non-Comcare employees (family members).

The primary reasons for accessing this service was personal (68 per cent) and work-related issues (32 per cent). These figures indicate that of those employees accessing the EAP, personal issues continue to be the significant factor for attendance.

Early intervention

Comcare continues to focus on reducing injury claims through active injury prevention strategies and provision of early intervention. The early intervention programme provides timely and tailored support to employees and includes provision of short-term treatment (physical or psychological), access to EAP support, workplace rehabilitation providers, workplace assessments and fitness for duty medical assessments.

As part of the early intervention programme, Comcare provides workstation assessments for all new employees upon commencement, with 139 conducted in 2018–19. During 2018–19, 76 assessments were conducted for existing employees reporting pain or discomfort as a prevention strategy.

Notifiable incidents

During the reporting period Comcare notified the regulator of one notifiable incident and was not involved in any statutory enforcements or investigations.

Workers’ compensation claims

In total there were three workers’ compensation claims for Comcare employees accepted in 2018–19. This is an increase from the one accepted claim in 2017–18. The average weeks lost time increased from 0.2 weeks in 2017–18 to 2.9 weeks in 2018–19.

3.5 Financial review

Key financial results

Comcare had a small operating deficit of $0.4 million in 2018–19. Notwithstanding, the small deficit, Comcare’s premium scheme results continue to improve. Comcare has achieved a further actuarial release in 2018–19, reducing the premium claims provision by $111.5 million, which has improved Comcare’s funding ratio from 116 per cent to 131 per cent.

The favourable result is due to Comcare’s continued efforts to be the leading workers’ compensation insurer, and by investment in initiatives that have driven better return to work outcomes, implementing improvements in claims management and placing greater focus on return to and recovery at work. Comcare’s cost recovered activities including work health and safety regulation, scheme management services and support of the SRCC have been delivered once more with no increase in licence fees or regulatory contributions.

Table 25: Comcare financial operating result

2018–19

2017–18

2016–17

2015–16

2014–15

$m

$m

$m

$m

$m

Workers’ compensation premiums

242.3

285.2

382.5

414.7

491.8

Other cost-recovery revenue

35.5

36.0

35.9

36.0

35.3

Interest and other revenue

36.1

32.4

33.4

29.5

28.3

Revenue from government

60.3

56.8

61.0

66.2

65.3

Claim payments

(234.3)

(255.2)

(264.7)

(281.8)

(293.4)

Administration costs (business-as-usual)

(98.5)

(96.8)

(98.6)

(99.7)

(100.1)

Administration expenses (projects)

(4.2)

(5.8)

(9.3)

(7.5)

(2.9)

Administration costs (finance costs)

(2.2)

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Surplus of revenue over expenses

35.0

52.6

140.2

157.4

224.3

Movement in claims provisions and appropriations receivable

Provisions for outstanding claims liabilities (see 1 below)

81.7

301.9

454.4

75.3

(86.0)

Available funding from movement in claims provisions (see 1 and 2 below)

(117.1)

(346.8)

(127.2)

20.4

26.5

Surplus/(deficit) on continuing operations

(0.4)

7.7

467.4

253.0

164.8

Net equity

23.0

22.9

15.3

(452.1)

(709.4)

Cash and cash equivalents

1,005.1

1,028.2

979.8

820.3

677.6

1 In 2018–19 Comcare adjusted the comparative balances following the identification of a misstatement in the 2017–18 provision for common law asbestos-related disease claims and third-party claims recoveries receivable.

2 Available funding reduced due to favourable movements in premium and common law asbestos-related claims provision in 2016–17, 2017–18 and 2018–19.

Premium scheme

The financial performance of Comcare’s premium scheme has further improved in 2018–19, with the funding ratio improving from 116 per cent to 131 per cent.

Table 26: Comcare Historical Funding Ratio

2018–19

2017–18

2016–17

2015–16

2014–15

$m

$m

$m

$m

$m

Funding ratio

131%

116%

102%

84%

76%

The favourable result was achieved through growth in premium assets and a reduction in premium liabilities.

Premium scheme assets increased by $57.5 million due to underspends in benefit payments and administration expenses, and from the notional return earned on Comcare’s Commonwealth Retained Funds. Premium scheme liabilities reduced by $111.5 million due to revisions to incapacity and medical recovery projections.

This represents the fourth successive year in which Comcare has achieved a release in the valuation of premium claims liabilities. Comcare’s net premium scheme liabilities have now reduced by $1.2 billion over the past four years.

Table 27: Comcare Historical Net Premium Liabilities

2018–19

2017–18

2016–17

2015–16

2014–15

$m

$m

$m

$m

$m

Net Premium Liabilities

1,665

2,192

2.421

2,758

2,826

The favourable outcome was achieved despite unfavourable changes in economic conditions which had an adverse impact on the scheme’s results.

Due to the strong financial results in recent years, Comcare has significantly reduced premiums. The average 2019–20 premium rate is 0.85 per cent of wages, which is less than the Comcare target of 1.1 per cent.