Our People Strategy 2018–2021 describes our approach to building a workforce that supports a world-class policy agency. In 2018, we developed the People Strategy Roadmap, which outlines the key deliverables against our four strategic priorities: strong leadership; driving performance and optimising talent; fostering flexibility, diversity and inclusion; and building cultural capabilities and engagement (Figure 3.2).
The People Strategy recognises the important influence our culture can have on our success in achieving the department’s purpose and objectives now and into the future. Our cultural traits—look forward, collaborate, work smarter, communicate openly, and trust—encapsulate how our people would like our department to operate, how we will work together to achieve our purpose, and what the community expects of us.
In 2018–19, the department offered professional development activities through approaches that included:
access to e-learning across a variety of technical and management areas
face-to-face cultural appreciation training
pilot Executive Level 2 and Senior Executive Service Band 1 leadership development training
face-to-face workshops relating to better mental health in the workplace
secondment and mobility opportunities through the Jawun Indigenous Corporate Leadership Program and Executive Level mobility rounds, as well as community secondments with local Indigenous organisations
a number of training programs to build policy, data and writing capability
mandatory fraud awareness and security training.
In 2019, the department developed and implemented our strategic workforce planning framework, which describes the role and key components of workforce planning and integrates it within the corporate and budget planning cycles. This is the first step in improving the department’s broader approach to, and capability in, workforce planning.
The department continues to provide entry-level program opportunities, including the graduate program and participation in the Indigenous Apprenticeships Program (IAP) to build capability and support succession planning.
The graduate program consists of two work placements over 10 months, on-the-job training and a structured learning and development program. IAP participants undertake a Certificate IV in Government while working full-time over a 12-month period.
Thirty graduates completed the graduate program in 2018, and five participants completed the IAP. As at 30 June 2019, there are 40 graduates and four Indigenous apprentices employed by the department. The department was also named the number one graduate employer in the government sector at the 2019 GradAustralia Awards.
Remuneration and conditions for Senior Executive Service (SES) officers are covered by section 24(1) determinations made by the Secretary under the Public Service Act 1999. These determinations provide for a total remuneration approach to SES remuneration and conditions. SES arrangements do not provide for performance pay. Table 3.1 shows the number of SES covered by section 24(1) determinations and Table E.18 in Appendix 5 shows the salary ranges for SES employees. Additional statistics on remuneration for key management personnel, senior executives and other highly paid staff are provided in tables E.1 to E.3 in Appendix E.
On 21 December 2018, following a period of consultation with employees, the department issued a section 24(1) determination for non-SES employees as an alternative to enterprise bargaining, in accordance with the Australian Public Service Commission’s Workplace Bargaining Policy 2018. The determination provides for pay rises of 2 per cent in April 2019, April 2020 and April 2021, while all other terms and conditions for employees continue to be provided under the Department of Education and Training Enterprise Agreement 2016–19.
Table 3.1 shows the number of non-SES employees covered under the Enterprise Agreement 2016–19 as their primary employment instrument, and Table E.18 in Appendix 5 details their salary ranges under the section 24(1) determination. The department also uses individual flexibility arrangements to secure expertise or specialist skills that are critical to business needs. As at 30 June 2019, 29 employees had individual flexibility arrangements in place. No non-SES arrangements provide for performance pay.
Appendix 5 provides statistics on employees by Indigenous status, classification, employment status and location, including breakdowns by gender.
Table 3.1: Number of SES and non-SES employees, by employment arrangement, at 30 June 2019
Section 24(1) determinations
Diversity and inclusion
The department has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion and building a workplace culture that embraces the unique skills and qualities of all our employees.
Our Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2017–2019, and the supporting Gender Equality Action Plan 2017–2019 and Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan 2018–2020, outline the department’s high-level actions addressing issues relevant to all diversity groups and are designed to build upon our inclusive workplace culture, retain our diverse workforce and support our employees to have a productive career.
The department will monitor and evaluate its progress against workplace diversity and inclusion targets via the Culture and Engagement Committee (formerly the People and Change Committee). The remit of this committee has been refined to include supporting, promoting and monitoring the development and implementation of the department’s diversity-related initiatives, as well as providing progress reporting and advice to the Executive Board.
The department has a number of highly active and engaged employee networks, including the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Network, the Ability Network, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employee Network, the Pride Network and the Women’s Network. These networks continue to play an important role in promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives, providing support and resources to staff, and recognising diversity days of significance.
The department has a number of senior-level champions who work to represent the department at external diversity forums, raise awareness of diversity issues, and promote initiatives that support inclusive practices for people from diversity groups.
Indigenous business is everyone’s business
The department supports the Government’s priority to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and business to build a better future and improve opportunities. The department develops and delivers education policies and programs by working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, respecting their cultures and building our own cultural capability. We proudly support the Government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy so we can foster Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business, create jobs and employ more Indigenous Australians. Our employees are encouraged to embrace and value the important contribution Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples make to our department and wider Australian society.
The department’s Indigenous Business is Everyone’s Business Committee is driving efforts to embed the department’s philosophy of ‘Indigenous business is everyone’s business’ across all aspects of our work. The committee’s responsibilities in 2018–19 included:
implementing the actions outlined in the department’s Reconciliation Action Plan 2018–2020
monitoring the implementation of the Indigenous Procurement Policy
embedding the ‘Indigenous business is everyone’s business’ philosophy.
Reconciliation Action Plan
The department’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2018–2020 provides the framework through which the department commits to practical actions that build respectful relationships and create opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Our RAP is in the ‘Stretch’ category of Reconciliation Australia’s Reflect, Innovate, Stretch, Elevate framework. It supports our people to deepen their cultural understanding through building an environment based on respect, trust, positive relationships, equality and opportunities for all people.
The department’s RAP has five key initiatives designed to inject more vitality into our department’s culture, building our capability and going the next step in advancing reconciliation. In support of a strong Stretch status, these five initiatives demonstrate a significant, broader contribution to reconciliation in Australia that reflects our distinctive position as the Commonwealth Government agency with primary responsibility for education and training.
Work health and safety
The department is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all employees, and takes a proactive approach to health and safety management through effective communication and consultation, and systematic identification, assessment and control of risks.
During 2018–19, the department worked closely with Comcare to review and make continuous improvements to its work health and safety management system. This included quarterly reporting to the Executive Board on work health and safety performance. During 2018–19, the department provided due diligence training for Senior Executive employees defined as officers under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act), as well as information sessions for other Senior Executive employees.
The department’s Work Health and Safety Committee is the primary consultative mechanism to ensure the department has effective measures in place to support workers’ health and safety. The committee meets bimonthly and was established in accordance with Division 4 (sections 75–79) of the WHS Act. The department also has a national network of health and safety representatives, and a national employee support officer network.
All employees have access to online resources, including a Health and Wellbeing Hub that provides comprehensive health and wellbeing information to support everyone in the workplace to identify hazards and manage risks.
The department also launched its Health and Wellbeing Framework and Mental Health Action Plan 2019–2021. These two documents recognise the department’s commitment to psychosocial health and wellbeing in the workplace.
During 2018–19, work health and safety was supported through activities that included:
Mental Health in the Workplace seminars
R U OK? Day activities
Men’s Health seminar recognising Men’s Health Week
delivering a national influenza vaccination program.
Table 3.2 sets out the type of work health and safety incidents in 2018–19, and provides a comparison to incidents in 2017–18. In 2018–19, there were two notifiable incidents under section 38 of the WHS Act. There were no investigations or actions taken under Part 10 of the Act.
Table 3.2: Number of work health and safety incidents, 2017–18 and 2018–2019
Mechanism of incident
Falls on the same level (including trips and slips)
Repetitive movement with low muscle loading
Other muscular stress
Hitting objects with a part of the body
Unspecified mechanisms of injury
Being hit by moving objects
Fall from a height
Single contact with chemical or substance (excluding insect and spider bites and stings)
Exposure to mental stress factors
Note: These figures are sourced from the department’s online incident reporting system, which uses the Type of Occurrence Classification System to identify the overall action, exposure or event that best describes the circumstances of the incident. The classification system is endorsed by Safework Australia and is typically used by most workers’ compensation jurisdictions across Australia, including Comcare.