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Capability development

Performance and development

We continue to drive positive employee performance and professional development through our Performance and Development Scheme, which centres on setting clear and achievable goals, a shared understanding of what is expected, and ongoing feedback and recognition. This year will be the last of the scheme in its current iteration. The agency is working to develop a new scheme that is simpler, easier to administer and further aligned to corporate priorities, shifting the focus to more authentic feedback and clearer performance expectations for employees.

The changes to the new Performance and Development Scheme will make the performance cycle less onerous, provide greater flexibility for an individual’s needs and help drive high performance. Along with a new Performance and Development Scheme, managers and employees will be provided with access to guidance material and ongoing coaching, training and support to help them get the best out of the performance cycle, with a focus on more effective performance conversations.

Learning and development

The Safe Work Australia Lead and Grow Strategy 2016–2019 finished in December 2019 and we are in the process of scoping a new learning and development strategy. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been delayed. However, a key element of the previous strategy has been maintained: access for all employees to $1,500 per calendar year for their professional learning and development. This individual learning and development budget gives each employee the opportunity to undertake learning opportunities relevant to the individual needs identified in their Performance and Development Agreement. This amount is additional to the agency’s formal studies assistance program.

In early 2020 the People Strategies section developed a learning and development calendar that offers a range of internal training, including mandatory training and ‘Learn from Others’ sessions. Two agency-specific management development programs were also developed: one for APS-level employees and one for EL 1 employees. Both programs focus on leadership, development and team management and aim to help employees in the next steps of their career. The development programs run over 3 months and are designed to be highly interactive and practical, using blended learning techniques. These courses have been temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We also understand the importance of building the capability of our employees and we continue to provide and engage in various developmental activities such as:

  • one-on-one and on-the-job training
  • online modules through LearnHub and LinkedIn Learning
  • access to leadership capability development through the Australian Public Service Learning Centre
  • external leadership programs to meet the specific needs of selected employees identified through the Performance and Development Scheme
  • formal study assistance
  • delivery of an internal policy development and writing course
  • opportunities for temporary transfers and secondments to other APS agencies, where available, and
  • access to external conferences and other training sessions.

Rewards and recognition

In 2019–20 we continued our Rewards and Recognition program, which is designed to foster a workplace culture that promotes and rewards exceptional performance that contributes to achieving Safe Work Australia’s objectives.

Each year our CEO acknowledges outstanding performance of special projects or achievement during the previous calendar year through the presentation of Australia Day Achievement Medallions.

In 2020 we celebrated the presentation of 2 Australia Day Achievement Medallions. The first award was presented to the Decision Regulation Impact Statement (DRIS) section, who were recognised for completing the regulatory impact assessment process on the recommendations from the 2018 Review of model WHS laws. The DRIS section considered a variety of information, including feedback from WHS regulators, data collected by the agency, and 102 submissions from the preceding Consultation Regulation Impact Statement.

The second award was presented to the Workers’ Compensation Policy section, who were recognised for the development of the National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030. This strategy is an ambitious 10-year action plan to improve return to work outcomes for people with a work-related injury or illness. It aims to better support workers through this process, and help stakeholders do the same.

Our current reward and recognition program is being reviewed as part of our review of the agency’s performance and recognition framework.

2020 Graduate Program

The Graduate Program is a key element of our talent pipeline and builds organisational capability. The program looks to engage graduates who are highly talented and motivated and who bring a diverse range of skills, knowledge and experience to the workplace.

Throughout the Graduate Program, participants are provided with interesting and challenging work, multiple internal work placements and access to professional development. Our graduates participate in the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) Graduate Development Program, which gives them the opportunity to experience working on a major project, establish networks with fellow graduates across the APS, and undertake challenging assessment activities.

Along with our own Graduate Program, we participated in the 2020 Indigenous Graduate Pathway Program run by the APSC, helping to provide a pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates to enter the APS.