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Human resource management

Work continued to reshape the capacity and capability of the agency’s workforce during 2019–20, including through the development and implementation of digital archiving capability online training materials available to all staff on demand. Four e-learning modules (Digital Formats, Metadata, Digital Archiving and Digital Preservation) were made available on Learnhub, the agency’s online learning platform, in January 2020 along with complementary external modules and videos.

Further assessment of the National Archives’ culture principles (The Archives Way) was undertaken to ensure that they are embedded across the agency. A manager’s toolkit was developed to provide assistance in moving the organisation towards more innovative ways of working, and improved leadership and management at all levels.

Challenges through the year included the impacts of bushfires, a destructive hailstorm in the ACT and COVID-19 on National Archives staff.

The National Archives’ response to COVID-19 has included:

  • the introduction of work-at-home arrangements for all staff (the incidence of work from home continues to vary according to each location and jurisdiction of the agency’s offices)
  • the rapid rollout of ICT infrastructure and systems to support remote working by staff, supported by protocols and measures to support cybersecurity
  • a weekly newsletter developed and issued to staff to offer up-to-date information and resources to help them manage their workloads, work from home and maintain good mental health.

Managing and developing employees

Workforce planning, staff turnover and retention

The number of ongoing employees at the National Archives rose slightly during 2019–20. There was an increase in the number of temporary employees due mainly to project work, but the workforce was carefully managed within the National Archives’ constrained financial resourcing.

National Archives workforce demographics at 30 June 2020 are provided in the mandatory tables in Appendix B: Human resources statistics. In summary, the National Archives’ workforce:

  • is predominantly female (57.4 per cent)
  • uses flexibility to achieve its objectives, employing both part-time (22.3 per cent) and temporary (21.0 per cent) workers
  • is largely Canberra based (71.8 per cent), but has a geographical footprint in every capital city
  • has a classification profile that sits within the parameters of the optimal APS management structures.

The separation rate for ongoing employees in 2019–20 was 4.3 per cent, which was a decrease from the 2018–19 rate of 15.6 per cent, and includes all separations such as terminations, redundancies, resignations, retirements and movements to other Australian Government entities. The 2018–19 rate was much higher mainly due to the voluntary redundancy program run during that year, which accounted for almost half of the ongoing separations.

Instruments of employment

During 2019–20, the National Archives of Australia Enterprise Agreement 2017–20 was the main employment instrument. A total of 385 employees were covered by the agreement, including two employees acting in Senior Executive Service (SES) roles. Three Executive Level employees and one APS level employee had individual flexibility arrangements covering remuneration in place under clauses 10–15 of the agreement. Four SES employees were covered by determinations under subsection 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act).

No employees in the National Archives have provisions for performance pay.

Mandatory tables relating to the National Archives’ employment arrangements and salary details are provided in Appendix B: Human resources statistics.

Senior Executive Service remuneration

The National Archives determines SES remuneration with regard to the annual APS Remuneration Survey. Base salaries are negotiated between the Director-General and individual SES employees under subsection 24(1) determinations of the PS Act. Each SES employee develops an individual work plan with the Director-General and is assessed against a five-point scale rating system.

A range of non-salary benefits is available to SES employees, subject to the nature of the work performed and approval arrangements. Benefits may include the provision of laptop computers, tablets and mobile devices; airline lounge membership; a car-parking fringe benefit; and support for professional development. No bonuses are payable to SES employees.

Outside the SES, there were no other highly paid staff whose total remuneration exceeded the threshold amount for the reporting period.

Mandatory tables relating to executive remuneration are provided in Appendix C: Executive remuneration statistics.

Workforce strategies

Inclusion and diversity

The National Archives places a high value on reflecting the diversity of its clients and stakeholders and embracing the diverse skills, perspectives and experiences of the agency’s staff to improve service delivery.

The objectives of the National Archives’ Workplace Diversity Program 2017–20 are to:

  • raise awareness of workplace diversity in the National Archives
  • attract, recruit and retain employees from diverse backgrounds
  • provide a workplace that is free from discrimination, promotes health and wellbeing at work, and recognises and values diversity
  • embed workplace diversity principles into management and work team practices
  • ensure that the National Archives’ collection, which is reflective of Australia’s cultural diversity, is accessible to all
  • comply with government and legislative requirements.

The program sets an Indigenous employment target of 3 per cent. At 30 June 2020, 1.3 per cent of National Archives employees identified as Indigenous. The agency is continuing to look for innovative ways to increase overall Indigenous workforce participation.

The National Archives is continuing to build employees’ cultural capability by including Core Indigenous Awareness modules developed by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in mandatory staff training. During 2019–20, Core Indigenous Awareness training completion rates rose significantly, including 142 staff members who went ahead to complete the entire program of 10 modules.

At 30 June 2020, female employees made up 57.4 per cent of the National Archives’ workforce. In some agencies, women make up the majority of the workforce only in certain functions or classifications; at the National Archives, however, the number of female staff remains high across all classifications and women are well represented at senior levels. At 30 June 2020, 71 per cent of the agency’s SES staff were female.

Six per cent of National Archives staff who responded to the 2019 APS Employee Census identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and/or intersex (LGBTI+).

The 2019 APS Employee Census found that a majority of employees believe that the National Archives is committed to creating a diverse workforce, and an increasing number of employees felt that the agency supports and actively promotes an inclusive workplace culture (a 4 per cent improvement from the previous census). The agency also registered improved results in related areas: 93 per cent of staff (up by 5 per cent) stated that people in their work group behave in an accepting manner towards people from diverse backgrounds; there was a 5 per cent increase in staff stating that their SES manager actively supports people of diverse backgrounds; and 87 per cent of staff (up by 2 per cent) stated that their supervisor actively supports people from diverse backgrounds.

Online training programs are available to staff on managing mental health risks at work; diversity and discrimination; building disability confidence; and the multicultural learning program developed by SBS. The National Archives continues to look for innovative ways to support and promote the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Disability reporting

The National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 is Australia’s overarching framework for disability reform. It acts to ensure that the principles underpinning the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are incorporated into Australia’s policies and programs that affect people with disability, their families and their carers.

All levels of government will continue to be held accountable for the implementation of the strategy through biennial progress reporting to the Council of Australian Governments or its successor body. Progress reports can be found at dss.gov.au.

Disability reporting is included in the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service reports and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at apsc.gov.au.

Learning and development

During 2019–20, the National Archives provided a comprehensive suite of professional development programs aimed at building both individual and organisational capability. The corporate professional development calendar provided all staff with the opportunity to undertake 44 individual courses or seminars, with more than 500 enrolments.

Corporate training requirements and requests were determined through individual work plan discussions or identified in the Cultural Action Plan and expertise development and capability frameworks. Staff were encouraged to attend training sessions held by the Australian Public Service Commission and the Attorney-General’s Department, which 78 employees attended.

An Executive Level leadership program was to be delivered in the last quarter of the financial year. However, the program was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As well as the leadership program, all other face-to-face training was cancelled or postponed during the last quarter of 2019–20, and the focus moved to online training.

During 2019–20, the National Archives’ Digital Archives Taskforce developed four online digital archiving modules to integrate into the agency’s e-learning platform. Once the agency moved to work-from-home arrangements in response to the pandemic, the four modules, along with annual refresher training, were the primary focus for professional development.

There were 528 completions of the digital archiving modules and a further 408 completions of other recommended digital archive training, including modules from Pericles and the Australian Society of Archivists.

E-learning packages continued to be popular with staff in 2019–20. All staff are instructed to complete the National Archives’ induction and four annual refresher courses. Staff completed 552 courses on the online learning platform LinkedIn Learning, either in lieu of, or together with, face-to-face training. The most popular courses addressed working from home, digital capability and project management.

Thirteen employees were supported through financial assistance, study leave or both, as part of the National Archives’ Studies Assistance Program in 2019–20. Studies assistance has built organisational capabilities and provided an incentive for staff to further their education.

Health and wellbeing

The National Archives’ 2019–20 health and wellbeing calendar included several inhouse and external programs to engage staff in healthier work practices. The calendar incorporated charity drives and awareness, physical health activities, mental health awareness and influenza vaccinations. Each state office received a subsidy to spend on healthier work practices. The National Archives’ health and wellbeing program achieved platinum status under the ACT Healthier Work initiative.

Performance management

The organisation’s performance management framework facilitates effective performance conversations. Performance review and development are supported to ensure that the National Archives has the skills and capabilities it needs into the future. The performance management scheme applies to all employees and includes mid-cycle check-ins and an end-of-cycle review and rating. Regular informal performance conversations are also encouraged.

Performance conversation guides were developed and published in 2019–20 to assist all employees to engage effectively in the performance management process. Additionally, resources were provided to managers to help them identify and address underperformance.

Probation continues to be applied as a condition of engagement for all new ongoing and non-ongoing employees.

Work health and safety

During 2019–20, the National Archives continued to demonstrate a commitment to providing and maintaining a safe and healthy working environment for all employees through workplace audits, support for injured and ill workers, and a range of training courses, activities and initiatives under the agency’s health and wellbeing program.

A correction action plan continues to be worked through to address a number of issues identified in a 2018–19 Comcare audit. Specifically, due diligence training was provided to SES officers; procedures were developed to define the agency’s work health and safety processes to reduce risk including hazard identification, risk assessment and use of a hierarchy of controls to manage risk; and a number of policies were drafted including the Drug and Alcohol Policy, Electrical Safety Policy and Personal Protective Equipment Policy.

Through contracted services from an external provider, the Employee Assistance Program was maintained to provide professional counselling for employees and their immediate family members experiencing personal or work-related problems. A service providing managers with help to resolve workplace issues is also available.

During the last quarter of 2019–20, the National Archives’ main work health and safety focus was in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 Task Force established to manage the agency’s response to the pandemic supported staff as they transitioned between office and home-based working arrangements.

During 2019–20, the National Archives had three accepted compensation claims (Table 8). The mechanisms of injury were falls, trips and slips, and body stressing.

There was a large increase in the number of employees receiving the influenza vaccination during 2019–20, from 197 in 2018–19 to 264.

Table 8 I Work health and safety performance, 2017–18 to 2019–20




Investigations conducted that relate to businesses or undertakings by the National Archives, including any notices received under part 10 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011




Incidents reported to Comcare under part 3, section 35 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011




Investigations carried out, or notices given, under part 10 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011




Work-related incidents notifiable as per the National Archives’ work health and safety incident reporting and hazard management policy




Number of staff who received the influenza vaccination




Number of accepted compensation claims