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 Management and human resources

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A capable, engaged and agile workforce that can perform and excel in a complex and ever-changing environment is central to the department’s ability to achieve its objectives. By working innovatively and in developing our people, the department aims to deliver results that will improve collective and individual productivity and enhance our ability to deliver high-quality, responsive support and advice to ministers.

Human resources

Learning and development

The department supports a culture of learning, and has entered the final phase in implementing the Learning and development plan 2012–15, including launching the LEAD Directory to help managers and leaders identify timely development opportunities. We focus on ensuring people have the skills, capabilities and attitudes to achieve the department’s outcomes, with a particular emphasis on strengthening manager capability.

The department offered more than 400 programmes as part of its learning calendar, including compliance training, new starter inductions and core skills training. It also continued to offer training to staff of smaller portfolio agencies. Courses are regularly evaluated to ensure that objectives are meeting employees’ development needs. The department builds internal leadership capability through initiatives including leader-led activities and leadership forums, intensive leadership programmes and programmes offered by the APSC.

The department’s study assistance programme is an investment in skill and knowledge. It helps achieve organisational objectives by providing staff with opportunities to complete studies and gain professional qualifications with departmental support. Staff are assisted with the completion of studies through financial reimbursement or study leave.

Employment programmes

The Graduate Development Program is a major initiative of the department’s emphasis on building its future leadership capability. In January 2015, 34 graduates completed the programme, and 35 graduates commenced in February 2015. The programme focuses on three stages of learning—gaining confidence in the department and the APS, building capability and developing future leaders. It ensures that graduates are equipped with the capabilities to transition to well-rounded policy, legal and project officer roles by the end of their graduate year. The programme is reinforced by additional support for graduate supervisors, recognising the vital role they play in coaching and developing graduates. Support for graduate supervisors provides the broader benefits of enhancing management and leadership skills across the department.

The department participates in the Australian Government ICT Apprenticeship Program, with two ICT apprentices and one ICT cadet commencing in January 2015.

The Summer Intern Program saw 34 university students complete an eight-week programme from December 2014 to February 2015. The intern cohort included three students with a disability as part of the Stepping Into… Program, facilitated by the Australian Network on Disability for university students with disability.

Performance management

The performance management framework supports employees and managers in a genuine and meaningful performance process, ensuring individuals are responsible and accountable for their own performance (and for providing a supportive performance environment) and that staff are engaged in their work. The framework, which incorporates quarterly check-ins, ensures at least four dedicated performance conversations a year, shifting the focus to regular and ongoing performance conversations supported by a range of resources and tools. We continue to review and refine the performance management process to support a culture in which staff see performance management as a positive, relevant and valuable activity.

Managers are supported with a tool kit and a series of performance management events. In 2015 the department also launched the Manager’s Network, which aims to strengthen management capabilities, knowledge and skills through peer learning.

A diverse workforce

The department recognises that a diverse workforce makes us more innovative and productive and enriches organisational culture. We remain committed to encouraging and maintaining a diverse, safe and inclusive work environment where all staff are respected, valued and supported.

We support employee networks across a number of diversity groups including Indigenous, women’s, disability, culturally and linguistically diverse, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex. These aim to raise awareness about diversity issues across the department and provide support to employees from diverse backgrounds.

Disability Action Plan

The department’s Disability Action Plan (DAP) outlines a commitment to providing a supportive, confident and inclusive work environment to attract, retain, support and develop the career aspirations of employees with disability, and for carers of people with disability.

The DAP has particular significance because creating an accessible and inclusive workplace is central to our mission of achieving a just and secure society. Beyond our mission, the department play a critical leadership role as the Australian Government agency responsible for human rights, including the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The four focus areas of the plan are a culture of inclusion, accessibility, recruitment, retention and development, and leadership for people with disability. Further information is available on the website at www.ag.gov.au/about/pages/workplacediversity.aspx.

Changes to disability reporting in annual reports

Since 1994, Australian Government departments and agencies have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007–08, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the APSC’s State of the service report and the APS Statistical bulletin. These reports are available at www.apsc.gov.au. Since 2010–11, departments and agencies have no longer been required to report on these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been superseded by the National Disability Strategy 2010–20, which sets out a ten-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high-level two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the strategy and portray how people with a disability are faring. These reports can be found at www.dss.gov.au.

Reconciliation Action Plan

The department has 2.2 per cent of its ongoing workforce that identifies as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. The Reconciliation Action Plan outlines our commitment to fostering an environment in which everyone has the same opportunities and may be included in the workforce. The plan includes the commitments, actions and targets that combine to ensure we accept and are actively engaged in supporting Indigenous employees. Further information is available on the website at www.ag.gov.au/about/pages/workplacediversity.aspx.

 Agency Multicultural Plan

Of the total department’s workforce, 5.9 per cent comes from a non-English speaking background. We are committed to understanding Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) population in order to appropriately reflect the needs of these communities in all of our work, including the development and delivery of policy, programmes and services. Further information is available on the website at http://www.ag.gov.au/About/Pages/MulticuturalAccessandEquityPlan.aspx.

Workplace agreements

The Attorney-General’s Department Enterprise Agreement 2011 commenced on 28 September 2011 and nominally expired on 30 June 2014. The expired agreement continued to operate for the duration of 2014–15 while bargaining for a new enterprise agreement occurred.

The enterprise agreement provides for the remuneration and employment conditions for all non-SES employees. It allows individual flexibility arrangements (IFAs) to apply to individual employees to enable working hours, leave, allowances, overtime rates, penalty rates and remuneration arrangements to be tailored to individual circumstances. At 30 June 2015, 1,718 employees were covered by the enterprise agreement, with 46 employees covered by IFAs.

Negotiations for a new enterprise agreement took place throughout 2014–15, with a proposed agreement put to vote in June 2015. The proposed enterprise agreement was not accepted by staff, and negotiations will continue in 2015–16 in line with the Australian Government Public Sector Workplace Bargaining Policy.

Non-salary benefits provided to employees

The department, through its industrial arrangements with employees, permits employees to flexibly package their remuneration to combine both monetary and non-monetary benefits. The main non-salary benefits for which an employee can choose to sacrifice salary include a motor vehicle acquired through novated lease arrangements and additional employer superannuation contributions.

Performance pay

No performance pay arrangements apply in the department.

SES remuneration

Remuneration for SES employees is established in accordance with the AGD SES Remuneration Policy and given effect through individual determinations made under section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999.

At 30 June 2015, there were 69 SES employees covered by section 24(1) determinations. Salary levels for SES employees are generally set at rates within a salary band applicable to each SES classification—however no salary band exists for the SES Band 3 classification. Remuneration for SES Band 3 employees is established having regard to the Executive Remuneration Policy developed by the APSC.

The main components of SES remuneration are salary, employer superannuation contributions and car parking. During 2012–13, the department’s Executive Board took a decision to cease the Executive Vehicle Scheme and applied an adjustment to base salary to compensate for the loss of access to an Australian Government leased vehicle for personal use. The implementation of the Executive Board decision was completed in March 2015.

Staff profile

Table 6: Staffing trends (headcount) from 2010–11 to 2014–15
  2010–11 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15
TOTAL STAFF 1,640 1,527 1,491 1,713 1,787
Ongoing 1,480 1,420 1,295 1,366 1,328
Non-ongoing 129 83 170 318 411
Irregular/intermittent/casual 31 24 26 29 48
Average age (years) 38 38 38 37 37
Average length of AGD service (years) 4.4 4.9 4.8 4.3 4.5
Proportion female (%) 62.3 62.5 62.7 65.8 66.7
Proportion male (%) 37.7 37.5 37.3 34.2 33.3
Proportion part-time (%) 10.4 10 13 13.3 13.3
Proportion Indigenous (%) 1.5 1.8 1.9 2.3 2.2
Proportion with a disability (%) 1.4 1.3 1.9 1.8 1.6
Proportion from a non-English speaking background (%) 5.7 6.3 6.2 6.1 5.9
SES 77 78 64 65 69
EL1 and 2 equivalent 658 657 633 667 657
APS 1–6 equivalent 905 792 768 981 1,061
Total excluding casuals 1,609 1,503 1,465 1,684 1,739

Note: At 30 June of each year. Classifications based on substantive positions.

Staff turnover and retention

During 2014–15 the department’s ongoing separation rate was 7.4 per cent. The rate includes all separations for ongoing staff and consists of terminations, redundancies, resignations and retirements. It does not include movement of ongoing staff to other agencies or machinery-of-government transfers.

The employee-initiated turnover rate for 2014–15 was 15.3 per cent. This includes resignation from the APS, movement to other agencies, retirements and voluntary early cessation of non-ongoing contracts. It does not include voluntary redundancies.

Staff remuneration

Table 7: Salary ranges as at 30 June 2015
Classification Salary range under the
Enterprise Agreement
Section 24(1) Determinations
SES Band 3 n/a $338,000
SES Band 2 n/a $247,460 – $287,500
SES Band 1 n/a $175,904 – $224,673
Executive Level 2 $115,778 – $174,819 n/a
Principal Legal Officer $115,778 – $161,869 n/a
Executive Level 1 $95,154 – $128,778 n/a
Senior Legal Officer $95,154 – $115,778 n/a
APS Level 5–6 $69,056 – $97,601 n/a
APS Level 4 $61,910 – $70,842 n/a
Legal Officer $55,550 – $87,601 n/a
APS Level 3 $55,550 – $59,952 n/a
Graduate APS $55,139 – $56,515 n/a
APS Level 1–2 $43,957 – $55,164 n/a
Cadet APS (practical training) $43,095 – $47,626 n/a
Cadet APS (full-time study) $23,511 – $23,511 n/a

Note: Where a salary level for a particular classification appearing in column two above exceeds the maximum salary applicable to a classification set out in Schedule 1 of the enterprise agreement, this is the result of an employee in receipt of supplementary salary under an IFA under clause 3.54 of the enterprise agreement.

Compliance with the agency’s obligations under the Carer Recognition Act 2010

The department promotes an awareness and understanding of the Statement for Australia’s Carers through inclusion of the statement on the department’s intranet, thus making it available to all employees. The department is cognisant of, and has regard to, the statement in reviewing internal human resources policies. The department’s human resource policies overall are consistent with the statement.

Work health and safety

The department is committed to providing and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace for all employees and to meeting obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988.

Health and Safety Committee

The department’s Health and Safety Committee continued to work on minimising and eliminating hazards and risks as well as promoting work health and safety. The committee met four times during 2014–15, with key consideration given to reviewing WHS policies and procedures, establishing a WHS Management System (WHSMS), and strategies supporting prevention of workplace discrimination, bullying and harassment. Minutes of meetings were published on the department’s intranet.

WHS management framework

Our WHS management framework comprises a suite of policies, procedures and guidelines, including a WHSMS. The WHSMS was developed as an expanded means for managing risk and minimising injury in the department.

The Workplace Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying Policy was also revised and updated after extensive consultation.

Reporting of incidents and enforcement measures under the WHS Act

Table 8: Reporting of incidents and enforcement measures under the WHS Act
Incidents and enforcement measures Number
Section 38: Notifiable Incidents One incident was reported under section 38 of the WHS Act
Part 10: Enforcement Measures (Improvement Notices, Prohibition Notices, Non-disturbance Notices, Remedial Action and Injunctions) No investigations were conducted by the Regulator or enforcement actions taken under Part 10 of the WHS Act
Part 11: Enforceable Undertakings No Enforceable Undertakings under Part 11 of the WHS Act applied to the department’s operations

Other initiatives

Engagement strategies supporting a culture free from discrimination, harassment and bullying were implemented. They included expanding the Harassment Contact Officer Network, promoting the revised Workplace Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment Policy, and delivering Inappropriate Workplace Conduct training.

The department conducted regular workplace inspections during 2014–15. Inspections conducted by Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) assisted with identifying hazards and potential risks in the workplace, and provided opportunities to improve safe work practices. Trained HSRs continued to conduct basic ergonomic workstation assessments for employees, while more complex workstation and workplace assessments were facilitated by a panel of external providers. During 2014–15, 335 workstation assessments were conducted for staff, with 90 conducted internally by HSRs.

Under our Health and Wellbeing Programme influenza vaccination was conducted during March and April 2015, with 715 employees electing to receive vaccinations. Financial reimbursement options for eye-sight testing, quit-smoking solutions, health and wellbeing activities and related equipment also contribute to the health and wellbeing of employees under the programme. In addition, a series of events and seminars promoted Safe Work Australia Month in October 2014.

The department continued to maintain an Employee Assistance Program for all employees. The programme provides free, confidential and professional counselling services and trauma/critical incident debriefing to help resolve work and other issues that may affect an employee’s work performance and/or wellbeing.

Workers’ compensation performance

Our focus during 2014–15 was to minimise premium increases by implementing effective WHS and employee rehabilitation measures. The department remains dedicated to implementing early intervention strategies for injured employees (for both compensable and non-compensable injuries). Our workers’ compensation premium for 2014–15 was 0.62 per cent of payroll costs. This performance compares favourably to other similar sized agencies.

Table 9: Premium rates comparison, 2011–12 to 2014–15
Premium rate (%) 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15
Attorney-General’s Department 0.21 0.64 0.68 0.62
All agencies (average) 1.41 1.77 1.81 2.12

Asset management, purchasing and grants

Asset management

Management of the department’s assets is governed by the Secretary’s Instructions on asset management and aligns with government best practice. The department has documented asset management policies and procedures and maintains asset registers. A three-year rolling stocktake is carried out to verify their accuracy. The department’s fixed asset base includes office fit-outs, purchased and internally developed software, computer equipment, infrastructure and centrally held library materials.


The department’s procurement policies and practices reflect the principles set out in the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs). We focus on:

  • value for money
  • encouraging competition
  • the efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of government resources
  • accountability and transparency
  • compliance with other Australian Government policies.

A central procurement advisory unit within the department provides advice to staff involved in procurement activities. The unit undertakes quality assurance testing of procurement activities across the department. The unit periodically reviews all procurement related documentation and training material to ensure consistency with the CPRs and other policies that interact with procurement. The department utilises a procurement module within our financial management information system to enhance administrative workflows and procurement compliance.

Small to medium enterprises

The department supports small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and small enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance’s website: www.finance.gov.au/procurement/statistics-on-commonwealth-purchasing-contracts/

The department recognises the importance of ensuring that small businesses are paid on time. The results of the Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business are available on the Treasury’s website: http://www.treasury.gov.au. The department supports the use of SMEs through various means including:

  • an electronic invoice processing system used to facilitate on-time payment performance
  • use of template contracts for both low-risk and higher-risk procurements
  • compliance with the Government’s Supplier Pay on Time or Pay Interest Policy
  • SMEs being able to request payment by credit card for procurements valued at $10,000 or less.


The department engages consultants where it lacks specialist expertise or when independent research, review or assessment is required. Consultants are typically engaged to investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem, carry out defined reviews or evaluations, or provide independent advice, information and/or develop creative solutions to assist in the department’s decision-making. Prior to engaging consultants, the department takes into account the skills and resources required for the task, the skills available internally and the cost-effectiveness of engaging external expertise. The decision to engage a consultant is made in accordance with the PGPA Act and related regulations including the CPRs and relevant internal policies.

During 2014–15, 40 new consultancy contracts were entered into, involving total expenditure of $2.916m. In addition, six ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the 2014–15 year involving total expenditure of $0.416m. Annual reports contain information about expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website (www.tenders.gov.au).

Table 10: Expenditure on consultancy
Financial year 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15
Expenditure ($m) 3.375 3.991 3.331

Contracts—ANAO access clauses

During 2014–15 the department had six contracts over the value of $100,000 that did not provide for the Auditor-General to have access to the contractor’s premises.

Table 11 : Contracts
Name Purpose Value ($) Reason
Medina Property Services Accommodation Services 136,000 Supplier Contract
Peter Rowland Catering Event and Catering Services 114,000 Supplier Contract
AAPT Limited Fixed Voice Services 176,000 Supplier Contract
UXC Saltbush ICT Data Security Protection 280,440 Supplier Contract
Radisson on Flagstaff Venue Hire 250,000 Supplier Contract

Note: The department has not included in the table above other arrangements that were in the nature of non-statutory appointments and/or employment contracts.

Contracts—AusTender exempt

Departments are required to advise if any contract in excess of $10,000 (inclusive of GST) or a standing offer has been exempted by the Secretary from being published on AusTender on the basis that it would disclose exempt matters under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). The fact that the contract has been exempted and the value of the contract or standing offer must be reported to the extent that doing so does not in itself disclose the exempt matters. During 2014–15 the department had three contracts to a value of $0.509m which were exempt from being published in AusTender on the basis that to do so would disclose exempt matters under the FOI Act.

Advertising and market research

Under section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 the department is required to disclose payments of $12,565 or more (inclusive of GST) to specific types of organisations. These organisations are advertising agencies, market research organisations, polling organisations, media advertising organisations and direct mail organisations. During 2014–15 the department conducted two advertising campaigns. There were no payments to direct mail or polling organisations. Details of payments to the other categories of organisations are in Table 12.

Table 12: Payments to advertising, market research and other designated organisations
Name of organisation Payment ($) Purpose Key
Mitchell & Partners Aust Pty Ltd 568,144 Non-campaign government advertising C
Adcorp Australia Limited 18,335 Non-campaign government advertising C
Mitchell & Partners Aust Pty Ltd 1,564,837 National Security Campaign advertising C
GfK Australia Pty Ltd 59,950 Tracking evaluation research for the National Security Campaign B
Di Marzio Research Pty Ltd 69,850 Concept testing for the National Security Campaign B
Di Marzio Research Pty Ltd 50,324 Concept testing for the National Security Campaign B
Di Marzio Research Pty Ltd 82,775 Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) Campaign market research B
Mitchell & Partners Aust Pty Ltd 1,053,733 ACORN Campaign advertising C
Colmar and Brunton Pty Ltd 87,780 Evaluate the effective of the public awareness campaign for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse B
Mitchell & Partners Aust Pty Ltd 123,953 Living Safe Together website and online reporting tool promotion C
We Are Social Pty Ltd 25,026 Countering Violent Extremism social media research B


A: Paid to a creative advertising agency to develop advertising campaign.

B: Paid to a market research organisation.

C: Paid to a media advertising organisation for placing government advertising (both campaign and non-campaign) in the media.

Grant programmes

The department manages its grants programmes in accordance with the Australian Government’s legislative framework, the Commonwealth Grant Rules and Guidelines and the department’s grant management procedures. Information on grants awarded by the department is available at www.ag.gov.au/about/grants. In 2014–15 the department published information on the grants registers for 15 departmental grant programmes and 16 for the Ministry for the Arts.

Attorney-General’s Department

  • Australia – New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee
  • Community Legal Services Programme
  • Countering Violent Extremism to Prevent Terrorism
  • Disaster Resilience Australia Package
  • Family Relationships Services Programme
  • Financial assistance towards legal costs and related expenses
  • Financial assistance towards legal costs and related expenses—Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
  • Financial assistance towards legal costs and related expenses—Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Programme
  • Financial assistance towards legal costs and related expenses—Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption
  • Grants to Australian Organisations Programmes
  • Legal Aid Programme—Legal Aid Commissions
  • Native Title Respondents Scheme
  • One-off grant to support the International Cyber Policy Centre
  • One-off grant to support the 2014 Pacific Islands Law Officers’ Network meeting
  • Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Ministry for the Arts

  • ANZAC Centenary Arts & Culture Fund
  • Arts and Cultural Development
  • Arts Training Organisations
  • Australian Government International Exhibitions Insurance Programme
  • Creative Partnerships Australia
  • Indigenous Culture Support
  • Indigenous Employment Initiative
  • Indigenous Languages Support
  • Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support
  • National Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach Programme
  • National Cultural Heritage Account
  • One-off grant to support the Annual Congress of the International Federation of Film Archives
  • One-off grant for an education programme based on the Islamic Museum of Australia’s art and cultural collection
  • One-off grant to support the Armstrong Siddeley 40760 Restoration project
  • Prime Minister’s History Prize
  • Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.

Ecologically sustainable development

The department is committed to each of the five principles of sustainable development (integration, precaution, intergeneration, biodiversity and valuation) identified in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act), where they apply to our operations. In 2014–15 the department continued to mitigate the effects of our impact on the environment by:

  • electronic document management systems and web-based information-sharing tools that reduce or eliminate the need to print and retain paper copies of documents
  • videoconferencing to reduce the need for local, interstate and international travel
  • reviewing leased buildings and encouraging building owners to improve energy performance
  • ensuring that new leases entered into comply with the Australian Government’s energy policy
  • procuring energy efficient equipment and lighting solutions, including a smart lighting system that activates only when areas are occupied
  • recycling facilities in all work areas.

The department has established the Green group to champion environmentally friendly work practices and initiatives. The Green group works to provide the leadership, motivation and information needed to raise awareness and increase participation in environmentally friendly work practices and initiatives, including:

  • promoting and encouraging environmentally sustainable work practices
  • raising awareness and understanding of environmental issues for the department
  • providing information to the department about environmental initiatives
  • providing a forum for staff to discuss environmentally sustainable work practices.

The integration of energy efficiency practices into our organisation and planning processes allows us both to reduce our energy costs and decrease consumption of valuable resources. The department reports under section 516A of the EPBA Act on how our activities accord with, and our outcomes contribute to, the principles of ecologically sustainable development, as well as the effect of our activities on the environment. Further information on the environmentally sustainable development principles can be found at www.environment.gov.au.

Freedom of information

Information publication scheme

Agencies subject to the FOI Act are required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme. This requirement is in Part II of the FOI Act and has replaced the former requirement to publish a section 8 statement in an annual report. The department’s website (www.ag.gov.au) displays a plan showing the information we publish in accordance with the scheme requirements.

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