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Human resource management

In 2020–21, the National Archives developed a Strategic Workforce Plan and Operational Workforce Plan, which consider the workforce that the National Archives will require over the coming five years to achieve its objectives, and how current and future employees can be attracted, retained and developed.

The plans are supported by a capability framework that was updated in 2020–21. The framework articulates the core organisational capabilities required to facilitate the delivery of outcomes. The framework expresses these as key behaviours, skills and attributes that apply to all roles, and highlights where particular specialised skills are required to support core business functions. The framework guides all parts of the employee life cycle, including role design, recruitment and selection, performance management, succession planning and learning and development.

Managing and developing employees

Workforce planning, staff turnover and retention

The number of ongoing employees at the National Archives rose slightly in 2020–21. 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 as at 30 June 2021 are provided in the tables in Appendix B. In summary, the workforce:

  • is predominantly female (56.6%)
  • includes part-time (23.4%) and temporary (17.4%) workers to ensure flexibility to achieve its objectives
  • is largely Canberra-based (71.8%) 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 2020–21 was 6.8%, which was an increase from the 2019–20 rate of 4.3% and includes all separations (terminations, redundancies, resignations and retirements) but excludes promotions and permanent transfers to other Commonwealth agencies.

Instruments of employment

In 2020–21, the National Archives Enterprise Agreement was the main employment instrument and there was a Public Service Determination 2020/5 in place in relation to remuneration increases for public service employees. A total of 375 employees were covered by the agreement.

Five Senior Executive Service (SES) employees were covered by determinations under subsection 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act), including one employee acting in a SES role.

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.

Senior Executive Service remuneration

The National Archives determines SES remuneration with regard to the annual APS Remuneration Survey. It complied with the Australian Government’s stay on remuneration increases for SES employees, withholding all increases and only deploying an increase after the stay was lifted in June 2021. 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.

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 its 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.

In 2020–21, work commenced on the replacement to the Workplace Diversity Program 2017–20 to ensure that the National Archives places a priority in engaging employment groups that traditionally experience high barriers to workforce participation.

The diversity program sets an Indigenous employment target of 3%. As at 30 June 2021, 1% 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. Online cultural awareness training packages developed by SBS were made available to staff, and have been built into the ongoing mandatory training program.

As at 30 June 2021, female employees made up 56.6% 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. As at 30 June 2021, 60% of the agency’s SES staff were female.

Of the staff who responded to the 2020 APS Employee Census, 8% identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, asexual and questioning (LGBTIQA+).

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

In 2020–21, 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 a range of individual courses or seminars, with more than 435 enrolments. The National Archives implemented a leadership development strategy to provide pathways for current and emerging leaders to develop their skills through a range of on-the-job and off-the-job methodologies.

The National Archives was able to resume some of its key face-to-face learning and development activities, including a leadership development program and induction. These were augmented by online delivery when required.

A mentor program was piloted in 2020–21, providing employees the opportunity to spend a series of sessions with an SES officer to discuss skills development and career progression while building strengthened relationships across the organisation. Following a review of the pilot, the program has been deployed as a regular leadership development initiative.

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 49 employees attended.

Delivery of four online digital archiving modules continued, with 200 completions of the digital archiving training. This provided a flexible way for employees to develop skills critical to the role of the organisation.

E-learning packages continued to be popular. All staff were required to complete the National Archives’ induction and five annual refresher courses. Staff completed 210 courses on the online learning platform LinkedIn Learning, either in lieu of or together with face-to-face training. The most popular courses addressed digital proficiency and stakeholder engagement.

The Studies Assistance Program supported 12 employees with financial assistance, study leave or both. Studies assistance has built organisational capabilities and provided an incentive for staff to further their education.

Health and wellbeing

The National Archives’ 2020–21 health and wellbeing calendar included in-house and external programs to engage staff in healthier work practices. The calendar included 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-embed status under the ACT Healthier Work initiative.

The National Archives continues to provide an Employee Assistance Program. Employees and their immediate family members access these services for both work-related and personal issues. Services include career advice, manager assistance and financial counselling.

Performance management

The National Archives’ 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 are provided to assist all employees to engage effectively in the performance management process. Resources are 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

In 2020–21, 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 training courses, activities and initiatives under its health and wellbeing program.

Significant effort was put into addressing issues identified in a 2018–19 Comcare audit. New and revised policies and procedures were implemented and provided to Comcare to demonstrate closure of all outstanding actions.

The National Archives continued to monitor government health directions in relation to the changing COVID-19 pandemic and maintained hygiene and social-distancing arrangements. It worked flexibly with staff to maintain their health and safety and the delivery of services. This included providing home-based work arrangements for staff at high risk and enabling staff to access vaccinations during paid work time.

In 2020–21, the National Archives had no compensation claims, and 212 staff received the influenza vaccination. See Table 5 for the National Archives’ work health and safety performance statistics.

Table 5: Work health and safety performance, 2018–19 to 2020–21





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 (WHS Act)




Incidents reported to Comcare under Part 3, Section 35 of the WHS Act




Investigations carried out, or notices given, under Part 10 of the WHS Act




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