The Department held its third annual Staff Survey on 16 November 2005 to measure primary staff motivation indicators, special interest issues and culture. The Department uses staff feedback to measure specific performance targets in the People Strategy 2004-07 and to develop action plans to raise overall motivation and productivity.
Eighty-seven per cent of staff present on the day participated in the survey. The results showed significant improvements from the previous year, particularly in how staff feel about their work, career and the organisation. The overall motivation tally score exceeded the Department’s target and, when benchmarked against other public sector agency users of the survey tool, the Department did considerably better on six of the seven motivation indicators and equalled the public sector user average on the seventh.
Performance Development Scheme
In 2005-06, the Department introduced new Performance Development Scheme guidelines, a four point rating scale for non-SES staff and an improved agreement template, which promote a clearer line-of-sight and alignment between individual effort, learning and development opportunities, and the Department’s corporate goals and priorities. They reinforce the principles of the Department’s Capability Map and provide all staff and their managers with the tools to have meaningful discussion about performance and development.
Recruitment and Selection
In 2005-06, the Department reviewed the selection process for all gazetted APS classification 1-Executive Level 2 vacancies that it introduced in May 2005, following feedback from staff and applicants. The review was conducted by a representative working group, which included the National Staff Participation Forum (the peak staff consultation body in the Department).
The review findings reinforced that staff support the strong alignment to the Capability Map and a standardised approach and objectivity, and recommended a simpler two-stage process. The Department implemented the review’s recommendations in May 2006, which included a new suite of more user-friendly supporting documentation. The process was endorsed by the Australian Employers’ Network on Disability. The Department will conduct a full evaluation of recruitment processes in December 2006.
Staff Training and Development
In 2005-06, the Department continued to invest in staff capability by providing a calendar of learning and development programs. The calendar included comprehensive financial management training for staff in the areas of financial services and financial management. These programs were provided as part of the drive to improve the financial capability of staff, to ensure the Department has a sound level of financial management across the organisation. In 2006, 46 staff completed either the Certificate or Diploma in the Government (Financial Management) program. In April 2006, 13 staff commenced the Diploma in Government (Financial Services) program. A total of 75 staff members have completed both programs since 2004-05.
The Department piloted a suite of three Program Management Advanced training courses in November 2005, which saw participants’ mean confidence ratings on all 26 of the key learning areas increase significantly. The training courses became a highlight of the Department’s training calendar, with 468 participants in 2005-06.
The Department also piloted a Negotiating in the Indigenous Context course in June 2006. Fifty staff from the Central and New South Wales Offices completed the course, which will be added to the Department’s training program in 2006-07.
Health and Life Strategy
The Department continued its commitment to providing a healthy work environment and encouraging a work-life balance through active promotion of initiatives under the Health and Life Strategy. These included the reinvigoration of ‘10K a Day’ to encourage staff to walk at least 10,000 steps each day, a Smoker’s Forum and the formation of a staff-led Smoking Working Group to develop sustainable quit smoking initiatives and support for staff.
The Department changed its employment arrangements to align with the introduction of WorkChoices legislation in late March 2006. For example, the Department developed new Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA) templates and supporting handbooks for all Senior Executive Service (SES) and non-SES staff, to comply with the policy parameters (AWAs are also offered on a case-by-case basis across classifications and locations as a means of addressing specific workplace needs and attracting and retaining staff).
Support for the National Health and Medical Research Council to negotiate a twelve month interim Certified Agreement, providing employment conditions as a separate agency after Machinery of Government changes, was also managed by the Department under the new legislation.
The Department’s current Certified Agreement, which provides the employment arrangements for most staff, will continue to operate until it expires in July 2007. The Department will then develop a new agreement that accords with WorkChoices and the Government’s Policy Parameters on Agreement Making.
Workplace Giving Program
On 30 June 2006, the Department launched a Workplace Giving Program, which is an initiative of the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership scheme. The program encourages individual and collective giving to the community, is voluntary, and allows staff to donate directly from their pay to 15 community partners chosen by staff.
The Department is committed to the principles of and action on workplace diversity. The Department’s ongoing employment rates of Indigenous Australians and people with a disability remain above the APS average. In 2005-06, the Department continued to work with the Australian Public Service Commission on a number of Indigenous development, recruitment and retention campaigns and programs, and actively participated in the Management Advisory Committee review of people with disability in the APS. The Department also worked with the Australian Employers’ Network on Disability, of which the Department is a financial member, to further advance employment opportunities for people with a disability.
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