The skills, experience and commitment of our employees are critical to our performance. Developing our existing workforce continued to be a high priority for the PBO in 2018–19, as well as maintaining our ongoing recruitment, secondment and graduate programs.
Details of the classification level, employment status and gender of the PBO’s employees are presented in Appendix A.
During the year we focused on leadership development for employees at all levels
to enhance the leadership skills and capabilities across the PBO. We also focused on strengthening the resilience of our workforce in the lead-up to the general election.
The continued development of employees’ technical capabilities was a priority during the year. This was provided through a mixture of on the job learning and coaching, attendance at courses and seminars, and job rotations through different functional teams. In particular, we exposed our research teams to an increased volume of policy costing work, to maximise our capability and flexibility to respond to the increased costing work leading up to and during the election period.
A key component of the development of technical skills was the continuation of an internal seminar series aimed at analytical staff. Presenters for these sessions included internal subject matter experts and external speakers.
We delivered essential corporate training through our online learning management system, in areas including security awareness and information management.
The PBO has an ongoing secondment program with Commonwealth agencies, involving secondments both to and from the PBO. This is aimed at enhancing our capacity through the development of employees’ skills in specific policy areas, and developing relationships with Commonwealth agencies. This program provides participants from other agencies with an increased understanding of our role and exposure to a broad range of policy areas and budgetary issues.
During 2018–19, the PBO participated in the Parliament of Australia graduate program. The program allows participants from APS graduate programs to undertake a secondment of up to six months with the PBO to learn about the role and functions of the PBO, as well as the Parliament generally. Twelve graduates from the 2018 and 2019 programs were placed with the PBO in 2018–19.
The PBO’s SES employees are engaged under individual determinations under subsection 24(1) of the Parliamentary Service Act, with their remuneration and superannuation salary set under common law agreements.
All non-SES employees are engaged under common law agreements.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer is engaged as a full-time public office holder under section 64X of the Parliamentary Service Act. The Parliamentary Budget Officer’s remuneration is determined by the Remuneration Tribunal.
The salary ranges for SES are determined with regard to public sector benchmarks.
The PBO implemented remuneration increases for non-SES employees for the three year period commencing 1 December 2017. The remuneration proposal was agreed with the Australian Public Service Commissioner, with associated productivity offsets. This was undertaken in accordance with the Australian Government’s workplace bargaining policy. Commensurate increases were implemented for SES employees.
The PBO did not make any performance payments to employees during 2018–19. Under the PBO’s Performance Management Framework, increments through the PBO’s salary ranges are based on performance achievements.
Employees have access to a number of non-salary benefits including study assistance, and access to salary sacrifice arrangements. The PBO provides SES employees with a mobile phone and tablet. Employees also have access to the Capital Hill Early Childhood Centre in Parliament House, on-site gym facilities and free car parking.
Work health and safety
The following information for the 2018–19 reporting period is provided in accordance with Schedule 2, Part 4 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act).
All new employees undertook an induction program, which included information on work health and safety issues, an outline of the legislative and policy framework, and information on their obligations as employees.
The PBO has appointed Health and Safety Representatives. A Health and Safety Committee, chaired by Ms Karen Williams, Assistant Parliamentary Budget Officer, Corporate Strategy Branch, met quarterly.
The PBO provides sit-to-stand workstations to encourage healthy work practices. Support is provided to employees to ensure correct workstation setup and, where appropriate, professional expertise is sought to complement existing practices.
The PBO has an Employee Assistance Program to provide access to free confidential professional counselling services to assist staff and their families with any personal or work-related matters, and offer guidance and advice to managers on staff management.
During the election period, the PBO implemented additional strategies to support employees, including resilience training.
During 2018–19, one incident was reported to Comcare in accordance with section 35 of the WHS Act, and the PBO took remedial action to mitigate the risk. Comcare conducted an investigation into this incident. Comcare did not issue any notices under the WHS Act.
Commitment to reconciliation
The four parliamentary departments continued to progress actions identified in the 2016–18 Australian Parliamentary Service Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). The RAP works to build relationships, respect and opportunities between the Parliamentary Service and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
In 2018–19, representatives across the four departments worked together to draft the new 2019–22 RAP. The new RAP will be implemented in the second half of 2019 following endorsement from Reconciliation Australia.
The departments each have a RAP Champion, who together comprise the Parliamentary Service RAP Champions Group. The RAP Champions Group meets periodically to review and monitor progress against the RAP. At 30 June, the PBO’s RAP Champion was Mr David Tellis, Assistant Parliamentary Budget Officer, Revenue Analysis Branch.
Parliamentary Service Indigenous Employee Network
During 2018–19, the PBO supported the Parliamentary Service Indigenous Employee Network (PSIEN). The PSIEN provides a safe, supportive environment for all Parliamentary Service employees to meet and express their views, experiences and concerns pertaining to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues both professionally and personally. The PSIEN increased its profile during the year, growing its membership and providing peer and mentoring support amongst Indigenous staff. The PSIEN coordinated a Parliamentary Service event to launch National Reconciliation Week in May 2019 and played a key role in the development of the Australian Parliament’s Acknowledgement of Country card.
Share our Pride learning module
One of our actions under the RAP is to engage our employees in cultural learning opportunities to increase their understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories and achievements.
Within the first few months of their employment with the PBO, all new employees undertake the Share our Pride online learning module, developed by Reconciliation Australia.
Jawun Indigenous Community Australian Public Service Secondment Program
Jawun is a not-for-profit organisation managing secondments from corporate and government partners to Jawun Indigenous partner organisations.
In the previous reporting year, one of our Parliamentary Executive Level 1 employees participated in the 2018 Jawun Indigenous Community APS Secondment Program, which involved a six-week placement in the Goulburn-Murray region of Victoria. The PBO will be participating in the 2019 program during 2019–20. The objectives of these placements are to increase both the employee’s and the PBO’s cultural awareness and broader awareness of Indigenous matters, and provide positive outcomes for the Indigenous communities.
Our participation in the program contributes to the commitment to establish respectful, sustainable and enduring partnerships between the parliamentary departments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples under the RAP.