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Organisational Structure

Our ability to deliver the outcomes set out in the White Paper is closely linked to the capability of our most valuable asset—our people. Our focus is on ensuring that the department is the most productive and high-performing organisation we can be, where all staff feel valued, supported and able to contribute their best.

We revised the department's organisational structure and allocated our people and efforts to align with White Paper priorities (see Departmental Overview, p. 14).

Workforce strategy

We are rolling out our new workforce strategy. It sets out a contemporary human resources business model and forward-looking workforce management settings for developing our workforce from 2018–2022. We need strong capabilities to help us maximise opportunities, guard our interests, respond quickly to crises and emerging issues, and bring the world back home to inform domestic policy. Delivering the full benefits of the strategy will take time.

In the early days of its rollout, the strategy has strengthened our capacity to quickly mobilise the right staff to address key priorities and emerging challenges and opportunities. For example, over the reporting period staffing resources were redirected to taskforces delivering priorities such as the White Paper and the high-speed undersea cables initiative.

Diplomatic Academy

The work of our Diplomatic Academy underpins the workforce strategy. The academy is a leading-edge learning and development hub. Its curriculum gives staff across government the skills and capabilities they need to support an ambitious international engagement agenda.

After a two-year establishment process, the Foreign Minister launched the Diplomatic Academy on 11 May. Our purpose-built premises comprise nine training rooms, collaboration spaces, a multi-purpose auditorium and a language training facility. The academy’s curriculum includes the department’s pre-posting training, e-learning and the International Graduate Program. The program, which ran twice in 2017–18, provides an academic and practical training program for our graduates and junior diplomats from international foreign ministries. From the commencement of delivery of its annual curriculum in the new premises on 5 February 2018 up to 30 June 2018, the academy hosted 316 learning and development programs and events. In 2017-18, 123 staff from other APS agencies participated in the academy’s diplomatic tradecraft programs.

The Diplomatic Academy’s Language Faculty oversees training and maintenance of language skills, which are a core capability for the department. As at 30 June 2018, there were 761 serving officers with proficiency across 31 languages. In 2017–18, 168 officers studied 23 languages in preparation for their postings to language designated positions overseas. The academy also commenced a comprehensive review of curricula across all languages, and refined services to support language skills across APS agencies.

Our global workforce

The department has offices in every Australian state and territory capital, with 2,916 APS staff working in Australia and 869 APS employees serving at our overseas posts (see appendix 1, p. 224).

The department also employs 2,298 locally engaged staff in our overseas missions. Local staff provide invaluable expertise for consular and passport matters, policy development and support, and corporate support.

The department’s Enterprise Agreement sets out the terms and conditions for non-SES APS employees. The current agreement is due to expire on 17 December 2018. During the reporting period, the department undertook extensive consultations with staff in preparation for bargaining on a replacement agreement, which is expected to be voted on later this year.

SES staff are employed under the terms of a determination made by the Secretary under section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999. Key SES personnel remuneration is set out in Note 6.2 of the financial statements (p. 198).

Table 9: Employment Arrangements of SES and non-SES employees




Enterprise agreement



Individual flexibility arrangements


Australian workplace agreements


Common law contracts


Determinations under subsection 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999








* The Secretary and the Director General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office have not been included in the above figures as they are Statutory Appointments.

The department also provided a range of non-salary benefits including influenza vaccinations, on-site gym facilities in Canberra and some overseas missions, and prioritised access to childcare in Canberra.

Our locally engaged staff are employed under section 74 of the Public Service Act 1999. Where possible, they are employed under individual employment contracts, operating under common terms and conditions in each country. These terms and conditions are developed in accordance with a common template across all our posts, with scope for changes where required under local labour law.