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Management of human resources

Managing and developing employees

In 2018–19, we were effective in managing and developing employees to achieve entity objectives. This is demonstrated through information on developments during the year in relation to workforce planning, entry level programs, staff retention and turnover, training and development, and productivity gains.

Workforce planning

This year, we developed a three-year workforce plan to enable us to plan and be prepared for the workforce of the future.

In developing our plan, we reviewed our business plans to understand our future operating environment and organisational priorities. We considered our current workforce profile and forecast our workforce needs. We identified gaps between current and future capability and structural needs, and identified four strategies to address our findings:

  • build our capacity to meet changing business priorities
  • improve knowledge sharing and retention
  • enhance management capability
  • enhance workforce capability

In 2019–20, we will commence implementation of our workforce plan. We will continue to identify ways of developing our workforce in line with our identified strategies and through our people strategies, particularly our learning and development strategy and our recruitment strategy.

Entry level programs

In January 2019, we welcomed 13 new graduate employees into the department. Our entry level programs continue to provide a way to attract and recruit high calibre graduates with the skills and capabilities required to support the department. The 2020 graduate recruitment process has been aligned to the department’s capability and succession planning needs as outlined in the workforce plan and has a particular focus on the critical positions over the next one to three years.

Staff retention and turnover

Our staff separation rate during 2018–19 was 20.6% (111). This includes 52.3% (58) employees who went to another APS agency and 47.7% (53) who retired (9), resigned (42) and took redundancies (2).

2018–19 staff commencements and terminations




Non-ongoing — specified term


Non-ongoing — specified term


















Note: Data does not include casual employees or temporary transfers.

Training and development

In 2018–19, we continued our focus on policy fundamentals, leadership and management, and performance conversations to enhance the performance of our workforce. We have also continued to build cultural awareness within the agency, and project management capability. Concurrently, we commenced a new learning and development strategy.

Our new learning and development strategy will be implemented in the first half of 2019–20 and intends to empower our people to learn, develop and grow their expertise through on‑the-job experiences and from each other. We have placed an emphasis on building a culture of learning, deepening our expertise and knowledge of our domain, and enabling our people to respond in a rapidly changing environment.

In 2018–19, we have:

  • delivered training to support staff and managers to have constructive performance conversations
  • delivered our Leadership and Management Program to increase manager accountability, knowledge and confidence
  • delivered unconscious bias training and the Warumilang Cultural Awareness Training as well as continued to promote the Core Cultural Learning course developed by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies to contribute to a culturally inclusive work environment
  • partnered with the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University to build our policy expertise
  • increased our support to upskill the workforce through our studies assistance

In 2018–19, we introduced eight mandatory eLearning modules for all staff. These modules are required to be completed by all staff each year to support the department’s compliance obligations. The annual suite of compliance modules ensures all staff are informed of their key obligations, responsibilities and duties in their role within the department and as part of the APS. This will continue to be an annual focus, with further embedding within individual performance plans and performance conversations to ensure all staff are compliant.

Productivity gains

Our main capability development programs are evaluated using pre-and post-program data that measures shifts in participant learning and applicability of learning to work.

As an example, our Leadership and Management Program has shown notable improvements in post-program measures across key managerial responsibilities and attitudes towards team management. Both our performance conversation programs showed positive shifts in skills and confidence to engage in constructive performance conversations. Evaluation of our policy program showed relevance and applicability of the coursework to participants’ daily work.

Our revised learning and development strategy will include a matured model of evaluation of learning.

Disability reporting

Between 1994 and 2007–08, Australian Government entities reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007–08, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service Report and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at apsc.gov.au. From 2010–11, entities have no longer been required to report on any of these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy was superseded by the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020, which sets out a 10‑year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. Every two years, a high-level report tracks progress against each of the outcome areas of the strategy and presents a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first of these progress reports was published in 2014. Reports can be found at dss.gov.au.

Workplace diversity

Our three-year Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2016–2019 helps ensure our workforce reflects, respects and benefits from diversity. Our strategy aims to encourage commitment to diversity across the department. It outlines strategies for attraction, development and retention of a diverse workforce, including accountability for the measurement of outcomes.

Our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2016–2019 is actively supported by the following action plans:

  • Carers Action Plan
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Action Plan 2019
  • Disability Action Plan
  • Gender Action Plan 2017-18
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexual and other sexualities (LGBTQIA+) Action Plan
  • Reconciliation Action Plan

Departmental networks are an integral part of our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, together with SES Diversity Champions and staff representation on our Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

In the past year, we have continued to focus on recruitment and retention, to ensure that staff members with disability are supported in the workplace, in appropriate and meaningful positions that maximise their contribution. This included:

  • affirmative measures recruitment for a bulk APS 2 round
  • our involvement with the Australian Network on Disability, as a gold member of the network
  • celebrating International Day of People with Disability, by launching a new exhibition space in our Canberra office showcasing work by artists with disability in the region, in conjunction with the Belconnen Arts Centre
  • our Disability and Allies Network, which continued to host events to engage and inform staff on matters of inclusion and disability pride, including fundraising for an employee to participate in the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and hosting an event for International Guide Dog Day

Our 2020 Graduate Program recruitment campaign continued to encourage applications from people with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, LGBTQIA+ people, those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and those of mature age. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates or graduates with disability were invited to apply through affirmative measures.

Our Reconciliation Action Plan contributes to embracing a whole-of-department approach to building stronger internal and external relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, organisations and communities.

The United Nations declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages, raising awareness about the crucial role of languages. To contribute, our website featured stories and articles, which were also circulated to other departments and agencies. We supported NAIDOC week by being a partner for the ACT NAIDOC Awards night and sponsoring the Artist of the Year.

We have sustained our focus on Indigenous employment, by continuing the development of our Employment Strategy, with a focus on increasing employment participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Our contribution to increasing the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees to meet our target of 4.5% is progressing. At 30 June 2019, we had 24 employees who identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person (4.24% of our workforce). Employees who identify as Indigenous presents statistics from 30 June 2018 and 30 June 2019.

Employees who identify as Indigenous

Total at 30 June 2018

Total at 30 June 2019









Note: Data includes inoperative staff (inoperative staff are those staff recorded as being on leave without pay at 30 June for a total period greater than 90 days).

The Pride and Allies Network continued to promote inclusion of people who identify as LGBTQIA+. In 2018–19, the network has promoted inclusion through internal events such as supporting LGBTQIA+ children and loved ones, participating in external all-APS events and promoting resources for managers and supervisors within the department including a manager’s guide to LGBTQIA+ workplace inclusion.

In 2017, our Gender Action Plan 2017–2019 was well-received within the department and across the APS as a benchmark example. We are now preparing to design a new plan which will outline aspirational but attainable actions and objectives, and will be informed by our progress in implementing the plan.

In 2018–19, the Gender Equality Network continued to organise activities to raise awareness and staff engagement in relation to gender issues, including facilitating staff cohort attendance at events, such as the She Leads Conference, Australian Gender Economics Workshop 2019 and the All About Women festival, and hosting talks by distinguished women in art, letters, politics and community work.

Our Cultural and Linguistic Diversity (CALD) Network continued its work promoting and engaging on matters that impact people from a culturally and linguistically diverse background. The network delivered on all action items identified in our CALD Action Plan, which is linked to our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

Terms and conditions of employment

Enterprise Agreement

Our Enterprise Agreement was re-negotiated in August 2018 and came into effect on 1 February 2019. In accordance with the Secretary’s determination of 31 January 2019, eligible staff received a 2% pay increase with effect from 24 October 2018. The agreement, which nominally expires on 1 February 2022, covers all non‑SES staff employed under the Public Service Act 1999. At 30 June 2019, the Enterprise Agreement covered 527 staff.

Individual flexibility arrangements

A total of 17 non-SES employees had an individual flexibility arrangement in place during 2018–19. These were provided to recognise skill, additional responsibility, additional hours worked and salary maintenance.

Australian workplace agreements and common-law contracts

We have no workplace agreements or common-law contracts in place.

Executive remuneration

Section 17AD(da) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014(PGPA Rule) requires the annual report to include information about executive remuneration.

Public office holders

The Secretary’s remuneration and terms of employment is determined by the Remuneration Tribunal. It reviews the Departmental Secretaries — Classification Structure and Terms and Conditions Determination annually.

The remuneration and terms of employment for the full-time members of the Classification Board, including the Director and Deputy Director, are also determined by the Remuneration Tribunal. It reviews the Remuneration Tribunal (Remuneration and Allowances for Holders of Full-time Public Office) Determination annually.

Senior Executive Service (SES)

The terms and conditions of employment for SES staff are contained in individual determinations made under subsection 24(1) of the Public Service Act. These instruments set the remuneration and employment conditions for SES staff and provide for non-salary inclusions relating to leave arrangements and entitlements, superannuation, salary sacrifice and travel.

The department’s SES Remuneration Policy provides SES employees with information about their remuneration arrangements. The policy should be read in conjunction with an employee’s determination.

The Secretary will determine an SES employee’s annual salary and any increases that are applied. The main principles guiding the remuneration of SES staff within the department are:

  • to attract and retain high-quality SES
  • rewarding individuals according to their assessed contribution and performance against corporate objectives
  • providing remuneration that is competitive within the APS and complies with the APS Executive Remuneration Management Policy
  • providing a remuneration regime that is equitable, consistent and fair

Non-salary benefits provided to employees

Employees may access a range of salary sacrifice benefits including:

  • membership fees and subscriptions to professional associations
  • home office expenses
  • financial counselling fees
  • disability/income protection insurance premiums
  • self‑education expenses (work related)
  • superannuation
  • motor vehicle (for private use) by way of Novated Lease
  • portable electronic devices
  • airline lounge benefits

In addition, we provide our employees with a range of non-salary benefits including activities targeting health and wellbeing, support for professional and personal development, access to flexible work arrangements and a range of unpaid leave entitlements.

Flexibility arrangements

Our commitment to working flexibly is clearly articulated in our People Plan and our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

Workplace flexibility encompasses how we work in the office and allows staff to match their workspaces with their work type, through use of quiet spaces, collaboration places and technology. It also includes structures to manage surge capacity, and flexible job design and work practices.

We have a number of flexible work arrangements in place that allow for staff to work in locations other than the office (for example, working from home) to manage work–life balance. We also have a number of staff who work part-time.

Our technology, which includes laptops for all employees, soft phones and Skype for Business, underpins and enables our flexible work arrangements.

Staff engagement

We continue to be focused on building an organisational culture in which our values and behaviours make the department a great place to work. Targeted activities aimed at building staff engagement and embedding culture are delivered through the staff-led networks including the:

  • CALD Network
  • Carers Network
  • Disability and Allies Network
  • Flexible Work Arrangements Working Group
  • Gender Equality Network
  • Indigenous Staff Network
  • Parental Leave Working Group
  • Pride and Allies Network
  • Social Club
  • Vacation Care Working Group

These networks meet regularly to ensure individual network or group events are aligned with our broader cultural objectives.

In addition to staff-led networks, we have established departmental networks, of which staff are nominated by their colleagues or self-elect to be members, providing opportunities to contribute towards the operation and cultural development of the department. These networks include the:

  • Diversity and Inclusion Committee
  • Health and Safety Committee
  • Workplace Consultative Committee