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Workforce management

At an operational level, the Managing Director and Leadership Team are accountable for our workforce. They are committed to maintaining a skilled and productive workforce and a safe workplace contributing to high quality and professional outcomes.

During 2019–20 we focused on building organisational culture and capability to effectively lead and grow our people and to support the reform program. The initiatives implemented in 2019–20 included:

  • Introducing a capability framework to define the core capabilities required across the organisation and ensure employees understand the capabilities required for their role. The core capability framework is utilised to inform investment in our learning and development activities, recruitment activities, succession management and performance management.
  • Improving employee accountability through effective performance management. In September 2019 DHA launched the Performance and Learning Portal. This system supports the development of clear performance objectives and enables better alignment of employee effort to corporate priorities.
  • Introducing an online learning portal that provides modules supporting core capabilities and technical skills required across the organisation.
  • Enhancing management capability in performance management. We delivered approximately 20 structured performance management training sessions, supported 78 processes to address performance and behavioural issues, implemented two targeted coaching and conflict resolution programs in response to census results and developed a number of toolkits to raise performance management capability.
  • Implementing a more rigorous and proactive early intervention process that resulted in more structured case management support to injured and ill employees. Since the inception of the new process, no workplace injuries sustained during 2019–20 have yet progressed into a compensation claim and 31 employees successfully returned to their pre-injury duties.
  • Building a respectful and inclusive workplace through launching a Workplace Inclusion online training suite. DHA partnered with Job Access to conduct a review of our recruitment practices and process to ensure our roles are accessible for people living with disability.
  • Engaging two interns under the Indigenous Apprenticeship Program. This program provides the opportunity for DHA to provide a pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People seeking to start their careers in the APS.
  • Launching an internal employee mobility register, to provide opportunities for employees to enhance their capabilities and experience through moving to a new role.
  • Developing an operational workforce plan to build workforce capabilities required to deliver the refreshed business model.

Workforce summary

Employment conditions

The DHA Enterprise Agreement 2015 (EA) provides a suite of employment conditions, including leave entitlements, flexible working arrangements, learning and development opportunities and employee wellbeing and assistance programs.

The EA nominally expired on 10 January 2019, but continues to operate until replaced by a new agreement, or terminated by the Fair Work Commission. Rather than negotiate a new agreement, a decision was made to provide pay increases of two per cent per annum, to DHA employees under a determination made under section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999, an option available under the Australian Government’s Workplace Bargaining Policy 2018.

DHA will develop a new EA with employees and their representatives during the 2020–21 financial year.


DHA’s remuneration arrangements are unique because we are the only GBE to employ its employees under the Public Service Act 1999. As such, DHA plans and reports in accordance with the PGPA Act, related instruments and policies including the PGPA Rule, and the GBE Guidelines.

Our remuneration strategy supports the strategic purposes of the organisation, and enables performance based reward and recognition of capable employees. The remuneration strategy is aligned to market practice and supports the interests of our shareholders. Our remuneration is determined based on level and role.

In summary:

  • The EA sets out conditions of service for employees employed from DHA Level 1 to DHA Executive Level 2, including salary rates for new employees.
  • The remuneration and conditions of service of Senior Executive Service (SES) officers is set by the Managing Director in accordance with section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999.1
  • The remuneration of the Managing Director is set by the DHA Board in accordance with the parameters of the Remuneration Tribunal’s determination for Principal Executive Office holders (refer to section 50 of the DHA Act).2
  • The remuneration of Board members is decided upon by the Remuneration Tribunal’s determination for holders of part time public office (refer to section 17 of the DHA Act).
  • Each remuneration package consists of a base salary (or fees in the case of Board members) and employer superannuation contributions in accordance with applicable legislation and fund requirements.
  • Employees are paid allowances (e.g. travel and motor vehicle) in accordance with the EA or Remuneration Tribunal determinations for the Managing Director and Board members. Employees and the Managing Director accrue leave and may be entitled to a potential performance bonus.

Refer to Appendix B: Workforce statistics for more information about salary rates and full disclosure on executive remuneration.

Employee performance management framework and payments

During 2019–20 DHA implemented a new Performance Management Framework (the Framework) which captured the shared responsibility of employees and managers to foster a high performance culture. The Framework operates over a 12 month performance review cycle. To support the Framework, a new online performance and learning portal (the Portal) was implemented which mapped individual performance objectives against DHA’s strategy and organisational objectives.

The Portal strengthened the governance of organisational performance by providing a more effective reporting functionality that contributed to:

  • improved accountability to ensure managers and employees are meeting their performance management responsibilities
  • increased transparency in monitoring progress and the application of performance ratings
  • snapshot of employee effort against corporate objectives and organisational outcomes
  • growth in the frequency and quality of employee performance conversations.

All employees employed for three months or more are required to prepare a performance development agreement (PDA). Formal performance reviews were conducted mid-year and at the end of the financial year to assess whether individual targets were exceeded, met or not met. This assessment informs performance bonus payments provided for in the EA.

In 2019–20, DHA adopted a more rigorous moderation process of each employee’s end of year performance rating and performance bonus. The process ensured there was consistency in performance assessments across DHA, and performance ratings were reflective of the achievement of individuals against DHA’s strategic priorities. Performance rating and bonus moderation were conducted by group managers and the Managing Director with consideration to DHA’s organisational performance and operating environment.

To further enhance management capability in performance management, manager and employee toolkits were developed which was supplemented with structured performance management training sessions. In 2019–20, we saw improved management capability and willingness to address performance and behavioural issues.

Managing Director

In accordance with the Tribunal’s Determination for Principal Executives Offices, the Managing Director is eligible for performance pay of up to 20 per cent of total remuneration. Performance requirements and related performance assessments are determined annually by the Board’s Nomination and Remuneration Committee and referred to the Board for approval.

Senior Executive staff

Senior Executive Service (SES) employees have traditionally had the opportunity to receive potential performance bonuses of up to 15 per cent of their annual gross base salary. The Managing Director reviews performance measures for SES employees at least biannually to ensure alignment with DHA’s organisational strategies, corporate goals and workforce resources. DHA is phasing out bonuses for SES employees, SES appointments made during the financial year do not have eligibility for a performance bonus.

Refer to Appendix B: Workforce statistics for further detail on performance payments.

Salary packaging

Board members are entitled to salary packaging, whereby they may elect to have all or part of their fees paid to a complying superannuation fund as a pre-tax salary deduction.

The Managing Director and all other staff are entitled to salary packaging, whereby they can elect to receive part of their salary in forms other than cash. At DHA, salary packaging options include cars (novated lease), additional superannuation and head office car parking. Salary packaging is subject to internal approvals.

Travel and related allowances

DHA coordinates Board members’ and the Managing Director’s official business travel and pays related allowances in accordance with the Tribunal’s principal determination for official travel by office holders. DHA uses whole of government procurement arrangements to access competitive travel rates for senior executive members and other staff ensuring value for money in accordance with the PGPA Act and Australian Government travel policies.

Flexibility arrangement

In accordance with Part F (Flexible Working Arrangements) of the EA staff members employed under the EA may agree to enter into an Individual Flexibility Agreement (IFA) to vary arrangements about when work is performed, overtime rates, penalty rates, allowances, remuneration and leave. An IFA must meet the genuine needs of DHA and the employee in relation to one or more of the aforementioned items and be agreed to by DHA and the employee in writing. IFAs are reviewed at least every 12 months.

Refer to Appendix B: Workforce statistics for further details on employment instruments.

Building a diverse workforce

This year DHA continued to drive awareness of diversity and inclusion to help ensure we have a workplace free from discrimination, where employees feel able to come to work in a safe and supportive environment where they can be themselves and contribute to DHA to their full potential.

Initiatives to build a diverse workforce are supported by the DHA Diversity and Inclusion working group (the working group). The working group comprises up to 12 self-nominated employees in different locations, business areas, roles and backgrounds. Members are expected to consult with and represent the views of employees at meetings and to support initiatives to improve inclusiveness in DHA.

The working group also provides advice to DHA on workplace and workforce issues impacting on the diversity of employees and that of the community in which we operate and meets quarterly or as required.

Some key highlights of diversity and inclusion activities included:

  • introducing affinity groups across DHA to help facilitate conversation about relevant topics and networking amongst colleagues
  • holding a virtual National Reconciliation Week event with special guests from the Indigenous Literacy Foundation to understand and promote the important work they do for Indigenous communities around Australia
  • partnering with JobAccess to review our current recruitment practices and ensure people living with a disability are confident to apply for jobs within DHA
  • implementing a LGBTQI+ Action Plan and appointing a LGBTQI+ Champion to support our LGBTQI+ community
  • launching a series of e-learning modules which focus on improving employees’ understanding of diversity including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, LGBTQI+, gender, age, disability and cultural diversity
  • engaging with the DHA Reconciliation Action Plan working group to develop DHA’s Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan.

DHA’s reconciliation actions are supported by the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) working group. This group comprises 12 employees who self-nominate through an interest in reconciliation and making reconciliation a positive force for cultural, work practice and core business changes. Members are expected to play a proactive role in raising awareness and sharing information across DHA.

The RAP working group also includes DHA’s RAP Champion, Paul Groenewegen, the Chief Financial Officer and meets at least quarterly to discuss and evaluate reconciliation initiatives within DHA.

Table 4.6: Workforce summary 2018–19 and 2019–20





Total number of staff employed1



Wages expense ratio



Diversity (as a percentage of the workforce)2

Identify as a male



Identify as a female



Identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander



Identified as having a disability




Staff retention and turnover rate




Staff engagement3



1. Figures include ongoing and non-ongoing staff at their substantive classification as at 30 June 2019 or 30 June 2020. Inoperative staff (those on long term leave), staff engaged through an employment agency and Board members are excluded.
2. Diversity figures as identified by staff. These figures exclude the Managing Director and Board members. No staff have identified as Indeterminate.
3. As measured by our Enagement Employee Index score in the APSC employee Census. Results for 2019–20 is unavailable as the survey was delayed due to COVID-19.

Developing our workforce and people

We are committed to developing the skills and knowledge staff need to undertake their current role and build capability to meet future challenges.

Formal learning and development

Staff can access a range of formal learning to develop their leadership skills, personal effectiveness or functional capability. In addition, staff must complete mandatory training on matters of legislative and policy compliance. In 2019–20, all staff were required to complete refresher modules on governance and compliance, with a completion rate of 97 per cent across the organisation.

Programs are delivered via e-learning, face to face or a blend of both. They are presented by external providers and internal specialists, ensuring we have the right balance of expertise and corporate knowledge to provide staff the personal development they need to be successful in their role.

The Performance and Learning Portal implemented in 2019–20 provides a wide range of online learning modules supporting the development of core capabilities and technical skills across the business.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a large range of online courses dealing with remote work and effectively managing remote teams were ‘pushed’ to employees and managers to facilitate a smooth transition to this new way of working across the business.

Approximately 20 structured performance management training sessions were held to raise the performance management capability of DHA managers.

Studies assistance

We encourage ongoing staff to undertake relevant formal study in approved fields relevant to our business operations. Where approved, staff are supported through financial assistance, paid study leave and paid exam leave. In 2019–20, 39 employees undertook supported studies.

Recruitment and panel training

During 2019–20, DHA delivered a comprehensive training workshop targeted to DHA employees involved in recruitment activities. This included training to become a panel member of a selection committee or a hiring manager. The one day workshop was delivered in house. It covered understanding and commencing recruitment, the selection process and how to get the best candidate for a role. The workshop continued to support DHA’s recruitment platform and was attended by 20 employees during the course of the year.

Table 4.7: Learning and development 2018–19 and 2019–20




Percentage of salaries spent on training staff



Internal learning events completed by staff



Staff undertaking supported studies



1. Supported study includes study, research, training or other educational activities conducted in Australia by a higher education provider or registered training organisation.

Engaging with our employees

DHA’s commitment to consult with employees is outlined in the DHA Enterprise Agreement 2015 and includes the operation of a Staff Consultative Group (SCG). The SCG comprises 20 elected employee representatives, a Community and Public Sector Union representative, and a management representative. Secretariat support to the SCG is provided by DHA.

The SCG meets quarterly and provides a forum for discussion between employees and management on workplace issues. Through representatives of the SCG, staff members are encouraged to raise workplace concerns and suggestions and work cooperatively to discuss issues and recommend solutions.

Maintaining a safe workplace

We are committed to maintaining the highest possible standard of health and safety for everyone who enters our workplace, whether it is in an office, a construction site or one of the properties in our portfolio.

Table 4.8: WHS performance 2018–19 and 2019–201




Total recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR)2



Lost time injury frequency rate



Total incidents reported



Work health safety incidents









ADF members or dependants



1. Incidents are reported from the date of occurrence. Figures in Table 4.8 can vary from previous DHA Annual Reports as incidents which occurred in one financial year may be reported in another year, incidents may be reclassified following investigation, or figures may be varied following greater data analysis (i.e. to remove duplicate reports). The variances are not considered material or statistically significant.
2. TRIFR is the number of recordable injuries per million work hours.

Table 4.8 provides a comparative overview of our work, health and safety (WHS) performance in 2018–19 and 2019–20. In 2019–20:

  • We exceeded the TRIFR benchmark target of fewer than seven. The majority of incidents were slips, trips and falls by staff in the field and required minimal time off. Proactive safety campaigns were undertaken to mitigate further incidents and staff were reminded of applicable safe work processes.
  • The total number of incidents reported declined. This was largely due to a change in the process for recording potential gas leaks to improve the accuracy of incident reports. All potential gas leaks reported are now assessed by the Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ) team in the first instance to determine whether they are WHS related incidents or standard maintenance requests.
  • The total number of WHS incidents increased. The largest variance related to ADF member and dependant reporting of incidents. This is attributed to greater home based work during the bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic.

Refer to Appendix C: Work, health and safety for more detailed information on DHA’s WHS performance in 2019–20.

Response to bushfires

During the 2019–20 bushfire season, the south east coast of Australia experienced extreme weather conditions resulting in a significant number of bushfires burning simultaneously across New South Wales (NSW), the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. We issued safety alerts to staff, provided personal protective equipment and amended our operations by deferring all non-essential inspections. There were no reports of injuries to DHA staff or ADF members.

Response to hailstorms

During January 2020, some ACT suburbs and parts of the surrounding NSW area were affected by a significant hailstorm. We issued safety instructions to staff immediately following the storm to prevent injury in the wake of considerable vehicle and property damage. A small number of DHA staff members and a contractor endured minor injuries as a result of the storm and received medical attention.

Response to the COVID-19 pandemic

DHA activated our Business Continuity Plan in early March 2020 to safeguard staff and the ensure continuity of service to ADF members and their families in light of the pandemic. In accordance with government and health advice, we implemented various health, safety and welfare policies and procedures to support staff, including an interim COVID-19 home based work policy which enabled the majority of staff to transition to home based work. Staff were permitted to take some equipment home to facilitate, so far as reasonably practicable, a suitable ergonomic set up. In addition, a rostering system allowed critical staff working from DHA offices to adhere to strict Government enforced physical distancing requirements. We also ceased non-critical inspections, repairs and maintenance as needed to safeguard the health and wellbeing of staff and ADF members.

Contributing to our community

Individual giving

In July 2016, we launched DHA CommUNITY, a program of corporate initiatives designed to help employees support each other and the communities we live in. Key initiatives of the program included:

  • Workplace Giving Program whereby all employees have the opportunity to voluntarily donate to charities through a once off or fortnightly donation directly from their pay.
  • Shared Benefits Scheme whereby employees can donate an amount of their accrued personal leave to a registry for the benefit of other employees who require an extended leave of absence, most often due to serious personal or family illness. More than 662 hours of personal leave was donated to the Shared Benefits Scheme during the reporting period.
  • DHA partnered with the Indigenous Literacy Foundation early in 2020 by including this charity in our Workplace Giving Program. DHA recognised National Reconciliation Week 2020 by supporting the Indigenous Literacy Foundation’s 'Great Book Swap'. By participating in the Great Book Swap DHA employees donated $560 to help close the literacy gap in remote Indigenous communities.

In 2019–20, DHA employees made donations to the following organisations:

  • Assistance Dogs Australia
  • Beyond Blue
  • Fred Hollows Foundation
  • Cancer Council Australia
  • Legacy Australia
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation
  • RSPCA Australia
  • Indigenous Literacy Foundation
  • Salvation Army
  • Starlight Children Foundation Australia
  • Soldier On.


Employees are encouraged to undertake volunteer work in the local community and, subject to operational requirements, may enter into a flexible work agreement or take paid or unpaid leave to do so.


  1. Senior executive service roles are benchmarked with comparable roles in the market. External benchmarks are determined by researching disclosed data from relevant Australian listed companies, the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC), industry data and other GBEs.
  2. The Remuneration Tribunal is an independent statutory body established under the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 that oversees the remuneration of key Commonwealth offices.