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General Manager's overview

The past 12 months has seen the COVID-19 pandemic continue to cause significant disruption to Australian workplaces. The tireless efforts of our Members and staff have enabled us to deliver high quality services throughout the reporting cycle.

Operational performance
Notwithstanding the ongoing disruption caused by the pandemic, we achieved strong results against our portfolio budget statement performance indicators. We held conciliations in unfair dismissal applications in a median of 21 days from lodgment and approved applications for enterprise agreements without undertakings in a median of 14 days. Our timeliness performance also improved in most other case types during the reporting period. In addition, we continued to help employers and employees to adopt flexible work arrangements by varying a significant number of modern awards and by dealing with workplace disputes in the JobKeeper jurisdiction until its end in March 2021.

Supporting our people
The health of our people continues to be a priority. We encourage and support flexible working arrangements and have implemented a flexible Working from Home Policy to better support the individual circumstances of our staff.

With most Members and staff working remotely for extended periods, we have implemented several support programs and activities to assist during this period of increased stress and uncertainty. We introduced a seminar series of inspiring speakers called Sharing Stories, and online social activities to promote engagement and interaction. We have also rolled out targeted training throughout the pandemic to foster resilience and diversity within our workforce.

Improving access to justice
In addition to achieving strong results across core activities, we continued to review and improve the services provided to employers, employees and their representatives. Driven by user-experience research and an ongoing commitment to working closely with our stakeholders, we progressed or completed several important initiatives that will underpin service improvements into the future:

Modern Awards Pay Database
Consistent with our commitment to making modern awards more accessible, we publicly released a comprehensive record of the dollar values for the minimum rates of pay, allowances and penalty rates in 121 modern awards and 34 modern enterprise awards and state reference public sector modern awards for a six-year period.

Organisational and digital reforms for our future service delivery
As part of our organisational restructure we established a new Digital Transformation Team. Bringing together business experts and technology specialists, this team’s sole focus is to work with our users to improve access to justice and reduce regulatory burden through digital interventions. During the reporting period we also prepared for the rollout of a major case management system upgrade, which sets an important foundation for future digital innovation.

Online Hearings
Remote hearing technology continued to play an increasingly important role in our service delivery. Over the past 12 months, we conducted almost 70 per cent of hearings and conferences online.

We were instrumental in establishing the Australian Online Hearing Practice Group (AOHPG) to promote best practice in online hearings and conferences across Australian justice institutions from many jurisdictions. A key priority of the AOHPG, in partnership with Microsoft, has been to develop a version of the Microsoft Teams platform that specifically meets the needs of the justice sector.

Website redevelopment
Drawing on user-experience research, we completed the foundational work to build our new website. Our objective is to ensure the new website is accessible to all Australians through intuitive design and by providing clear information written in plain language. The new website will be launched in the year ahead.

Data and analytics capabilities
Increasingly, we are using insights gained from data analytics to drive performance improvement and inform service design. Through the use of analytics, digital technologies and contemporary public administration practices such as human-centred design and behavioural insights, coupled with close collaboration with our users, we will continue to transform our services to meet the evolving needs of the Australian community.

Thank you
The work of the Commission would not be possible without the expertise and dedication of our greatest asset – our people. I am deeply thankful to all Members and staff for their commitment to serving the Australian community.