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Our people

During 2019–20 DPS engaged in a strategic workforce planning process to determine the department’s future workforce and capability requirements. Context for the planning included:

  • the service needs of parliamentarians, building occupants and visitors, and how these may be likely to change
  • the internal departmental operating environment which includes an analysis of organisational and workforce risks, workforce supply and demand projections, and future capability requirements
  • external labour force analysis, given the broad range of trades and professions required to support a functioning Australian Parliament and the operations of Parliament House, and
  • the continued focus on organisational transformation driven by a commitment to service excellence and innovation.

The senior leadership teams from each division and branch participated in the process to achieve a whole-of-organisation view and to identify the specific future workforce needs associated with the diversity of the department’s specialist functions and operations.

A key output of the planning process was developing a Core Capability Framework— Creating a Culture of Service Excellence and Innovation. The capability framework is built around five themes:

  • responding to the needs of Parliament
  • leading in a dynamic service environment
  • enabling service delivery
  • engaging with the parliament, our colleagues and the community, and
  • personal brand.

Core capabilities complement technical and professional skills. Building these for all DPS staff will be central to sustaining high levels of performance, service excellence, a positive workplace culture and preparing our staff for change, innovation and uncertainty. DPS will embed this framework into job design, recruitment, performance management and career development.

The planning process also revealed that DPS faces a challenging operating outlook with increased complexity and diversity of stakeholder needs and expectations. This will require:

  • ongoing application of sound judgement in decision making, and
  • adapting to new and innovative ways of engaging and communicating with staff and stakeholders.

The ongoing use of existing and emerging digital technologies will drive shifts in cyber security risk, and the department will need to develop digital service delivery capabilities.

DPS workforce performance

​At 30 June 2020, DPS1 employed 1,031 staff (including staff on leave, secondment and inoperative staff), all based in Canberra. The DPS workforce comprised 856 ongoing employees (83 per cent) and 175 non-ongoing employees (17 per cent). Of the 175 non-ongoing employees, 101 are engaged for a ‘specified term or a specified task’ and 74 are engaged in ‘irregular or intermittent’ (casual) duties, as shown in Figure 25.

The number of ongoing employees rose by 23 this year, representing a three per cent increase in the ongoing workforce since 30 June 2019. In contrast the number of non-ongoing employees dropped by 33 representing a three per cent decrease in the same period.

The DPS workforce comprised the following full-time, part-time, sessional and casual work arrangements:

  • 84 per cent full-time
  • six per cent part-time
  • three per cent sessional, and
  • seven per cent casual (see Figure 26).

These types of employment arrangements are used by the department to support the nature and demands of the parliamentary sitting patterns. The department’s workforce statistics tables can be found at Appendix A.

Figure 25: DPS workforce composition—30 June 2020

Figure 25 DPS workforce composition—30 June 2020 A pie chart showing the department’s workforce composition for ongoing and non-ongoing staff
Figure 26: DPS employee working arrangements—30 June 2020

Figure 26 DPS employee working arrangements—30 June 2020 A pie chart showing the department’s ratio of full-time, part-time and casual staff

Table 35: Employment performance 2018–19 and 2019–20




Total number of staff employed (headcount)



Total number of staff employed (headcount excluding casuals)




Women (percentage of total workforce)



People with identified disability



(percentage of total workforce)



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander



(percentage of total workforce)



Staff with English as a second language (percentage of total workforce)



Health and Safety

Health and safety incidents (per 100 employees headcount)



Health and safety ‘near misses’ (per 100 employees headcount)



Number of health and safety representatives



Learning and Development

Number of staff undertaking studies assistance



Number of recorded attendances at DPS compliance training activities




Average number of days to fill vacancy (from advertising to delegate sign-off)



External ‘new engagement’ hires (percentage of total new ongoing hires)



Net recruitment rate*



*Net recruitment rate indicates whether the DPS workforce is growing (net

recruitment rate greater than 1) or contracting (net recruitment rate less than 1).

Workforce diversity

In 2019–20 DPS continued to focus on building and developing a diverse and inclusive workforce and recognising the contributions of our employees from diverse backgrounds. The statistics on employees who identify as Indigenous or as having a disability have both remained relatively steady this reporting year, demonstrating the department’s ongoing commitment to supporting workforce diversity.

The department launched its first internal Diversity and Inclusion Calendar in 2019, acknowledging and promoting a number of significant dates and events. Building on the success of the first calendar, the 2020 product was developed with a planned schedule of activities for each calendar event.

Reconciliation Action Plan

In November the four parliamentary departments launched the third Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2019–2022 which outlines what the four departments will do to be more actively involved in the journey of reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Innovate RAP acknowledges Reconciliation Australia’s five dimensions of reconciliation:

  • race relations
  • equality and equity
  • institution integrity
  • unity, and
  • historical acceptance.

Together the parliamentary departments seek to achieve significant outcomes and momentum for reconciliation.

DPS recognises the importance of reconciliation in the workplace, and in relation to the unique work environment at Parliament House. RAP champions partner with a RAP Working Group to take carriage of initiatives and to ensure success is achieved.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy

In 2019–20 DPS participated for the first time in the Indigenous Apprenticeship Program (IAP) coordinated by Services Australia. IAP is a structured learning initiative that provides a formal qualification, paid work at DPS, broader future employment opportunities, and the chance to contribute to departmental outcomes. DPS placed one Indigenous participant in the Parliamentary Engagement Branch.

In October DPS partnered with the National Indigenous Australians Agency to host the Work Exposure in Government (WEX) event at Parliament House. The event brought more than 70 indigenous Year 11 and 12 high school students from across Australia to explore careers within the Australian Public Service. The event provided DPS with a chance to connect with young Indigenous people about career paths and entry-level programs within the department. The schedule included breakfast with ministers, an indigenous experiences tour, a DPS career paths presentation, a visit to Question Time, and a meet and greet with Prime Minister The Hon Scott Morrison MP.

Throughout 2019–20 eight recruitment rounds applied affirmative measures to increase Indigenous employment opportunities. These affirmative measure recruitment rounds were also circulated to a number of Indigenous recruitment agencies and community organisations to promote DPS career opportunities.

As part of cultural learning, throughout 2019–20 an all-day EVOLVE cultural awareness workshop was offered to DPS employees. A total of 23 staff participated in the first face-to-face workshop designed to deliver valuable content around the recognition and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories, knowledge and rights. Further face-to-face workshops were postponed due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

Parliamentary Service Indigenous Employee Network

The Parliamentary Service Indigenous Employee Network is a culturally rich and diverse group of First Australians. The network welcomed a new chair and secretariat during the year. It is continuing to gain momentum, increasing its membership, and providing peer and mentoring support amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees.

The initiative is an integral voice for support and guidance on cultural matters. It has played an instrumental role in developing and launching the:

  • new Innovate RAP 2019–2022
  • Acknowledgement of Country Card, and
  • Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country Protocols.

NAIDOC Week 2019 and National Reconciliation Week 2020

DPS celebrated NAIDOC Week 2019 by participating in the NAIDOC Touch Football competition as reigning champion. The Secretary was invited to open the event and Ngunnawal Elder Jude Barlow delivered the Welcome to Country. National Reconciliation Week 2020 was commemorated with an information and education campaign focusing on Australia’s reconciliation efforts.


Work continued throughout 2019–20 to develop the department’s first Accessibility and Inclusion Action Plan. The three-year plan outlines the department’s commitment to providing better opportunities and outcomes for people with disability by improving access and inclusion across five key areas:

  • relationships
  • the digital work environment
  • physical work environment
  • employment, and
  • governance.

The plan is in the final stage of consultation and will be implemented in the second half of 2020.

DPS is a Gold level member of the Australian Network on Disability (AND). In 2019–20 DPS used its membership to access:

  • specialised consultation hours with an AND disability expert
  • guidance documentation, and
  • bespoke disability confidence training sessions.

DPS participated in the AND Disability Champions Round Table meetings during the year, which are held each quarter. The department’s Diversity Champion is a member of the APS Disability Champions Network which meets quarterly and provides valuable insights into disability strategies being deployed across the APS.

Recruitment–entry-level programs

The diverse range of occupations within the department means that entry-level programs need to extend beyond traditional corporate roles and include specialised trades and vocational professions. In January 2018 the department launched its first apprentice program, originally employing eight apprentices across a range of trade qualifications including:

  • culinary
  • electrotechnology
  • air-conditioning and refrigeration
  • horticulture
  • plumbing
  • sports turf management
  • stone-masonry, and
  • carpentry.

The program is now in its second year and six candidates are currently completing their apprenticeships. The duration of this training depends on the apprentice and their trade qualification, with typical completion time-frames between three and four years.

DPS employed one participant in the Parliamentary Engagement Branch as part of the 2020 Indigenous Apprenticeship Program (IAP). IAP is a structured learning initiative that provides participants with:

  • a formal qualification
  • practical and paid work in DPS
  • broader future employment and academic opportunities, and
  • acknowledgement of their contribution to, and influence on, business outcomes.

After the success of the 2019 graduate program, DPS placed five graduates across the Security, Communication and Corporate Relations, Corporate Operations and Property Services branches. These participants are currently undertaking a 12-month graduate development program. The program is comprised of various rotations, on-the-job training, project-based activities and external learning workshops. It has been specifically designed to build internal specialist skills, knowledge and experience.

Table 36: Entry level programs 2019–20

PS level

Number of participants

Indigenous Australian Government Development Program (IAGDP)

PSL 2 to PSL 3


DPS Graduate Development Program



Apprenticeship Program

PSL 1 to PSL 3


Workforce mobility and retention

During 2019–20 there were a total of 196 commencements and 205 separations. At 30 June 2020 the net recruitment rate was 0.96 (see table 37).

In 2019–20 the overall number of commencements decreased by two per cent (from 21.9 per cent in 2018–19 to 18.9 per cent in 2019–20).

While there was an overall drop in commencements, the number of ongoing commencements rose by 23, representing an increase of 2.4 per cent, from 9.5 per cent in 2018–19 to 11.9 per cent in 2019–20. The Security Branch continued to increase its capacity by recruiting additional Parliamentary Security Services Officers at the PSL 1–2 classification with 44 new commencements. The Parliamentary Engagement Branch also recruited 17 new employees.

Table 37: Overview of DPS commencement rates for staff from 2018–19 to 2019–20






Commencement rate*



Commencements (ongoing employees)



Commencement rate (ongoing employees)**



*Commencement rate is calculated by the number of employees recruited (commenced) as a percentage of the average headcount of the period.

**Ongoing commencement rate calculated by the number of ongoing employees recruited (commenced) as a percentage of the average headcount of the period.

In the same 12-month period, there were 205 employee separations—32 more than in 2018–19. Of these, 126 were ongoing employee separations, 16 more than in 2018–19. The ongoing employee separation rate from DPS was 14.9 per cent, up 1.5 per cent from 13.4 per cent in 2018–19.

Table 38: Overview of the DPS separation rates for staff from 2018–19 to 2019–20



Staff separations (headcount)



Employee turnover rate (total)*



Staff separations (ongoing employees)



Employee turnover rate (ongoing employees)**



*Turnover rate calculated by the number of total employees who left DPS during the period (voluntary and non-voluntary) as a percentage of the average headcount of the period.

**Ongoing turnover rate calculated by the number of total ongoing employees who left DPS during the period (voluntary and non-voluntary) as a percentage of the average ongoing headcount of the period.

Instruments of employment

The Department of Parliamentary Services Enterprise Agreement 2017 was the primary employment instrument in 2019–20. At 30 June 2020, a total of 1,015 employees were covered by the agreement and, of these, 48 had individual flexibility arrangements.

Fourteen Senior Executive Service (SES) officers were covered by determinations under subsection 24(1) of the Parliamentary Service Act 1999.

No DPS employees receive a bonus or performance pay.

Table 39: Australian Public Service Act 1999 employment arrangements current report period (2019–20)




Enterprise Agreement




Individual flexibility arrangements




Australian workplace agreements




Common law contracts




Determinations under subsection 24(1) of the Parliamentary Services Act 1999




Executive remuneration disclosure

The categories of officials covered by the disclosure include key management personnel and senior executives.

Remuneration policy, practices and governance

The Secretary’s remuneration is determined by the Presiding Officers under subsection 63(1) of the Parliamentary Service Act 1999, on advice from the Remuneration Tribunal.

The Parliamentary Librarian’s remuneration is determined by the Presiding Officers under subsection 38E(1) of the Parliamentary Service Act 1999, on advice from the Remuneration Tribunal.

SES employees are covered by determinations, which are determined by the Secretary under subsection 24(1) of the Parliamentary Service Act 1999.

Salaries for SES employees are generally set at rates within a salary band applicable to each SES classification.

SES salary ranges are reviewed annually taking into consideration a range of factors impacting remuneration across the Commonwealth Public Sector including:

  • APS Executive Remuneration Management Policy
  • APS Workplace Bargaining Policy
  • APS Remuneration Report
  • Remuneration Tribunal Determinations
  • current remuneration for SES officers, and
  • the DPS budget position.

The SES Remuneration and Performance Policy operates on an annual cycle in line with the financial year with pay rises taking effect from 1 July. SES employees’ salaries are reviewed by the Secretary at the end of each annual performance cycle and increases to base salary are based on satisfactory performance. The details of the DPS key management personnel, executive and other highly paid staff remuneration are included in Appendix A.

Non–salary benefits

Non-salary benefits available to DPS employees include influenza vaccinations, free membership to the Parliament House Health and Recreation Centre, access to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and parking. Other benefits that may be available include laptop computers, tablets, mobile phones and airline lounge membership.

Learning and development

Our staff’s capability is being built through a number of job related technical training programs to help develop broader organisational capabilities. Learning and development programs are aligned to the corporate plan and strategic themes. To broaden staff’s understanding of learning and development, DPS promotes the 70:20:10 learning principles—learning and development are most effective when there is a balance between on-the-job learning (70 per cent), mentoring, coaching, and peer learning (20 per cent), and formal learning (10 per cent).

Formal training and development

In 2019–20 there were 3,626 recorded attendances for DPS corporate training compliance activities. Mandatory compliance training accounted for 77 per cent of all training activities.

DPS coordinated 61 in-house, face-to-face training sessions, which were attended by 1,096 employees. Of these 61 training sessions, 14 were facilitated by external providers.

Leadership development

As part of leadership development, DPS offered PEL2, PEL1 and PSL6 staff the opportunity to participate in the Public Sector Management Program through a competitive nomination process. Three staff commenced the 15 month program in October 2019 and on successful completion will obtain a Graduate Certificate in Business (Public Sector Management).

Studies assistance

DPS supports employees to undertake tertiary studies administered through the DPS Studies Assistance Policy. DPS supported 34 employees to undertake a range of tertiary studies during the year. A total of 1,548 hours of study leave was provided to employees, and $36,321 in financial contributions was made.

Organisational culture and employee engagement

Culture change in the department is being driven by a broad range of activities that follow organisational development principles—an objective-based approach to systematic change that will enable the department to build and sustain a future culture of service excellence and innovation.

A broad range of culture change activities have been designed, developed and implemented over the last two years with more planned for 2020 and beyond. These recognise that culture change is a large scale organisational undertaking, and that it can take years before tangible change can be measured. The department has adopted an approach that features a set of incremental and integrated interventions aimed at not only changing the culture, but also building organisational capability and strengthening organisational performance.

Throughout 2019–20 the department focused on strategic workforce planning, employee induction and team leader training.

Strategic Workforce Planning

Strategic workforce planning is a process to ensure organisations understand their current and future workforce requirements and are able to identify and implement strategies to mitigate identified workforce risks.

The strategic workforce planning process is also a key lever to help drive cultural change. For the department, the planning scenarios used throughout the process were specifically designed to focus on continuous innovation and service excellence.

Workforce capability analysis was undertaken throughout the planning process. Core capabilities are the essential behaviours, skills, knowledge, abilities and attributes required for an organisation to deliver on its vision, mission and purpose. They are relevant to all staff in any role and complement job-specific technical capabilities. Analysing capability levels provides a solid baseline for future workforce planning and management, and is critical to implement change successfully.

The department has developed a core capability framework that describes the attitudes, behaviours and capabilities that are critical to a culture of service excellence and continual innovation. Using the core capability framework, the strategic workforce planning process confirmed the DPS workforce has the following strengths:

  • Living Our Values–acting with integrity, upholding the parliamentary service values, being ethical and professional in all that we do to service the Parliament of Australia.
  • Being Accountable–taking responsibility for our own actions, delivering results, adhering to legislation and governance frameworks, and proactively managing risk.
  • Being Inclusive–demonstrating a commitment to diversity and cultural intelligence by being respectful and responding appropriately to individual and cultural differences.
  • Managing Ambiguity–maintaining focus and energy, even under adversity and during times of uncertainty or change.
  • Delivering Results–using resources appropriately to provide high-quality professional services, advice and facilities to support the Parliament, our staff and community.

The planning process guided a range of human resource activities for the medium to long term. Establishing a ‘People Plan’, increasing core capability development, strengthening the department’s employee value proposition, and assisting with future business planning will ensure the department continues to transform and strengthen its culture.

Employee Induction

Formal staff induction activities were expanded during 2019–20. All new departmental staff now attend a one-day interactive workshop that is focused on:

  • outlining and discussing values, culture, behaviour and conduct expectations
  • introducing design integrity concepts and learning about the construction and history of the Australian Parliament House
  • explaining the departmental structure, functions and approaches to governance
  • completing mandatory training topics on workplace health and safety, and physical and information technology security, and
  • meeting with members of the senior leadership team.

Training Programs

A series of team leader training programs were designed and delivered for the Parliamentary Security Service during 2019. The two day programs were for new team leaders and covered self-awareness, emotional intelligence, active listening skills, managing difficult conversations, building teams and performance management.

The department released an online training package—Being Professional in the Parliamentary Service—which is mandatory for all new recruits. Compliance with this training is reported to the DPS Executive Committee. This online package describes the behaviours required for all staff to work consistently in accordance with the Australian Parliamentary Service Values, Employment Principles and Code of Conduct. It also illustrates how these guide day to day decision making and behaviour, both inside and outside of Parliament House.

A new organisational culture training program was piloted and implemented in 2019. The Creating a Positive Culture Workshop is a face to face initiative that provides motivational information and practical techniques to create a more positive personal and professional culture in the workplace. Participants are equipped to contribute to cultural transformation by developing the mindset required to create, lead and maintain a positive, solutions focused culture.

Annual Employee Engagement Census

DPS once again participated in the APS Employee Census in 2019. A total of 575 employees responded, with a response rate of 59 per cent.

The 2019 census results are generally consistent with the 2018 results. The census indicates staff:

  • strongly believe in the purpose and objectives of the department (+5 per cent increase over 2018)
  • will suggest ideas for improvement (+3 per cent increase over 2018), and
  • are willing to work beyond what is required in their job to help the department achieve its objectives (+3 per cent increase over 2018).

Note: DPS’ census results are not included in the Australian Public Service Commission’s annual State of the Service Report or annual Agency Survey Report.

Work Health and Safety (WHS)

The bushfire crisis and COVID-19 pandemic resulted in significant activity for DPS during 2019–20, including:

  • providing advice and assistance
  • developing guidance material for DPS staff and managers
  • distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks, hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial wipes
  • introducing physical distancing requirements, and
  • increasing our cleaning regime.

WHS activities and initiatives

The DPS Early Intervention Scheme (EIS) supports staff experiencing acute injury or illness. The EIS—combined with ongoing active rehabilitation case management— has reduced the department’s Comcare workers’ compensation premium.

DPS also participated in a cooperative project with Comcare on WHS incident management. The project developed an audit tool to assess WHS incident management practices in Commonwealth agencies and assessed DPS against the audit tool. Comcare found that DPS has a documented legislatively compliant system to manage WHS incidents, and demonstrates a positive commitment to WHS.

Consultation on WHS issues

DPS maintains a high level of consultation on WHS issues. Staff are represented on health and safety committees that monitor and advise on WHS programs.

The DPS Peak WHS Committee meets quarterly. It focuses on reviewing WHS policies and procedures and takes a strategic approach to WHS management across DPS. Individual branches also hold their own WHS committee meetings.

The DPS Contractors’ WHS subcommittee meets quarterly, and provides a valuable mechanism to address WHS issues related to the work performed by the large number of contractors at Parliament House.

DPS Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) are part of the department’s network that also includes Harassment Contact Officer (HCOs). At 30 June 2020 DPS had 26 HSRs and 13 HCOs.

WHS training

A range of WHS related training was provided throughout the year, including generic induction and refresher sessions for staff and managers. Approximately 610 staff participated in generic WHS training programs.

A new e-learning package for WHS awareness refresher training has now been developed and will be available in 2020–21.

Incident reporting and investigation

Ninety incident reports were submitted by DPS employees during 2019–20. Two incidents were notified to Comcare in accordance with section 35 of the WHS Act. Incidents were examined by DPS and remedial action was taken where necessary. Comcare did not conduct any investigations into incidents during 2019–20.

No Provisional Improvement Notices were issued under section 90 of the WHS Act. No notices were issued under Part 10 of the WHS Act. No enforceable undertakings were issued under Part 11 of the WHS Act.

Nurses centre

The Parliament House nurses centre operates on sitting days. DPS employs a full-time Registered Nurse to ensure continuity of care for attendees.

During non-sitting periods, the nurse is responsible for auditing and maintaining first aid kits and equipment throughout Parliament House, as well as a range of WHS related activities, including coordinating health promotion and health surveillance activities for DPS staff.


  1. The workforce statistics contained in the following tables are based on information from the DPS payroll system as at 30 June 2020. The workforce report data was extracted on 8 July 2020. Workforce figures provided apply to the 2019–20 financial year. The workforce profile data includes all DPS employees (including employees on leave, secondment and inoperative staff) and excludes all contractors. These are point in time indicators and do not adjust for seasonal fluctuation, such as parliamentary sitting periods. Data has been rounded to one decimal place and as such may not add up to exactly 100 percent on certain tables and graphs.