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 Chapter 14 - Human resource management


Human resource management


In 2011-12 the People and Corporate Support Branch introduced several new people management strategies, including:

  • Introduction of a strategic recruitment model for the filling of vacancies across the department in a targeted and timely manner. Strategic recruitment uses comprehensive assessment centres to assess large numbers of candidates that result in an increased field of quality candidates. The merit pools generated by each strategic recruitment round were used throughout the department and reduced the number of individual positions being advertised each week. Strategic recruitment rounds also attracted a larger field of applicants and were completed in fewer days than individual processes.
  • A new departmental Enterprise Agreement 2011 was negotiated and implemented.
  • There was significant revision to policies relating to the new work health and safety laws
  • The drafting of a Learning and Development Plan (to be launched in July 2012) providing a framework for a learning and development culture that will result in improved performance, individual growth and organisational benefit.
  • Design and implementation of a new marketing campaign including the use of social media to promote the recruitment for the 2013 Graduate Program resulted in the highest number of applications ever received for the program in the department.

Staff profile

Figure 14.1: Departmental staff numbers from 2007 to 2012, at 30 June 2012


Table 14.1: Staffing trends, 2006-07 to 2011-12

  2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12
Total staff 1329 1544 1547 1554 1522 1503
Ongoing 1135 1353 1387 1395 1394 1420
Non-ongoing 160 148 123 118 128 83
Irregular/intermittent/casual 34 43 37 41 31 29
Average age 36 38 38 38 38 38
Average length of service (years) 3.7 3.7 4.1 4.2 4.4 4.9
Proportion female (%) 58.4 64 63.5 62.3 61.4 62.8
Proportion male (%) 41.6 36 36.5 37.7 38.6 37.2
Proportion part-time (%) 6.3 7.7 7.6 8.3 10.5 10.1
SES 80 78 94 78 75 78
EL1 and 2 equivalent 514 608 625 651 700 654
APS 1-6 equivalent 701 858 826 784 773 771
Total excluding casuals 1295 1501 1510 1513 1522 1503


Workforce planning

During the year, the department continued to build its workforce planning capability, and focused on obtaining a broader and more accurate view of trends in its workforce, current and future capability gaps and critical roles, and positioning itself for future workforce needs.

In addition to this, the department undertook other key workforce planning activities including:

  • incorporating targeted resourcing discussions with Senior Managers into its annual Business Planning Process
  • finalising a new Learning and Development Plan placing a greater focus on employees' target areas for development linked to the capabilities required to meet expectations and responsibilities in their roles.


The department continued to develop its employment programs, including the Graduate Program, Summer Intern Program and Indigenous Traineeship and Cadetships. The department also committed to participate in Disability Employment Programs and will continue to develop its recruitment capability in relation to targeted diversity groups.

This year the department used social media and online advertising as marketing tools for the 2013 Graduate Program, launching a Facebook page and uploading a graduate-specific video to the department's YouTube channel. Advertising was targeted at popular online forums rather than the more traditional media used in previous years. This revised marketing strategy resulted in the highest number of applications received for the program as well as the ability to showcase to a broader audience the range of employment programs available.

Staffing retention and turnover

In 2011-12, the department experienced an employee-initiated turnover rate of 14.4 per cent. This includes resignations from the Australian Public Service, movements to other agencies, retirements and voluntary early cessations of non-ongoing contracts

The department's separation rate for ongoing employees in 2011-12 was 11.4 per cent. This includes all separations for ongoing staff - including terminations, redundancies, resignations and retirements - but does not include movement of ongoing staff to other agencies. Approximately 44 per cent of the department's separations for ongoing staff in 2011-12 resulted from staff moving to other agencies.

Workforce agreements

Enterprise agreements

The Attorney-General's Department Enterprise Agreement 2011 came into operation on 28 September 2011 and nominally expires on 30 June 2014. Terms and conditions of employment for all non-SES employees are covered by the agreement. The agreement contains individual flexibility arrangements and other clauses to enable remuneration and conditions to be tailored for individual employees in particular circumstances. At 30 June 2012, 1,532 employees were covered by this agreement.

Key features of the agreement include:

  • a 4 per cent base salary increase and further increases of 3 per cent from 1 July 2012 and 2 per cent from 1 July 2013
  • productivity payment of $1,000 subject to achieving redistribution of departmental resources through the Efficiency Program
  • increase to the Health and Wellbeing Allowance from $150 to $300 per annum
  • availability of higher duties allowance for employees within APS Level 1-2 or APS Level 5-6 broadbanded positions
  • removal of the first pay point in the EL 2/PLO salary structure
  • a guaranteed 15.4 per cent employer superannuation contribution
  • flexible working arrangements for parents.

Section 24(1) determinations

Terms and conditions for all current SES employees are covered by individual determinations made under section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999. Remuneration for an SES employee, as set out in the section 24(1) determinations, includes base salary, an Executive Vehicle Scheme vehicle or cash-in-lieu, a car park and superannuation.

Non-salary benefits provided to employees

The department, through its industrial agreements with employees, permits employees to flexibly package their remuneration to combine both monetary and non-monetary benefits. The key 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. This financial year the ability to salary package interest-only investment loans has been introduced.

Salary rates

Table 14.2: Salary ranges under the department's Enterprise Agreement 2011 and SES Remuneration Policy at 30 June 2012

Classification Salary range under the EA ($) Salary range under the SES RP ($)
SES Band 3


245,000 - 300,000
SES Band 2 200,000 - 240,000
SES Band 1 160,000 - 190,000
Executive Level 2 110,202 - 125,518


Principal Legal Officer 110,202 - 125,518
Executive Level 1 90,572 - 110,202
Senior Legal Officer 90,572 - 110,202
APS Level 5-6 65,730 - 83,382
APS Level 4 58,928 - 63,983
Legal Officer 52,875 - 83,382
APS Level 3 52,875 - 57,065
Graduate APS 52, 484 - 53,793
AGD Graduate Broadband 52,875 - 83,382
APS Level 1-2 41,840 - 52,508
Cadet APS (practical training) 41,020 - 45,333
Cadet APS (full-time study) 22,379 - 22,379


Note: EA = Enterprise Agreement; RP = Remuneration Policy; n/a = not applicable.

Performance pay

Performance pay is not available to non-SES employees under the department's Enterprise Agreement 2011 nor to SES employees under the section 24(1) determinations.

No performance pay was paid in 2011-12.

Learning and development

The department remains committed to knowledge and learning and to producing well-supported and productive staff. An internal schedule of training courses continues to be offered, with over fifty courses offered to staff to develop capabilities aligned to the Australian Public Service Commission's Integrated Leadership System (ILS). The majority of courses are presented in the department's contemporary learning facilities. Courses are presented by internal instructors (subject matter experts) and a panel of external providers that provide the latest techniques in training and that have been fully briefed on the department's expected deliverables. The course offerings are continually monitored and the feedback evaluated to ensure training is relevant and meets the department's needs.

During the second half of 2011-12, the department produced a Learning & Development (L&D) Plan which provides a framework for a learning and development culture that will result in improved performance, individual growth and organisational benefit. The L&D Plan identifies the department's unique learning and development environment offered to individuals:

  • interesting and challenging national interest work across policy, program and corporate functions, providing potential for a variety of roles and breadth as well as depth of capabilities, knowledge, skills and experiences
  • a mix of decentralised learning and development opportunities in professional and technical areas managed by divisions and centralised learning and development opportunities in general and department-specific areas managed by the corporate centre
  • opportunities to learn in the workplace from recognised subject matter experts, effective leaders and experienced mentors
  • a culture that supports and encourages both formal and on-the-job, relationship-based continual learning and development.

A refreshed Mentoring Program was re-launched to the department to promote the benefits of being part of a mentoring relationship and to help employees get the most from the program. A number of tools were created, including an online database of potential mentors to assist employees in establishing a mentoring relationship.

In 2011-12 the department's Leadership Program continued to strengthen. The SES Leadership Forums provided SES staff with an opportunity to network while undertaking strategic planning using a whole-of-department approach. The department also continued to use Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) leadership programs in developing its SES. The Executive Level 2 Development Program has to date provided over half of the department's Executive Level 2 and Principal Legal Officers with an opportunity to have an independent assessment of their strengths and development needs. This program provides participants with feedback on their current capabilities and helps to identify future learning and development needs.

Through a study assistance program, the department provides financial assistance and leave to staff for ongoing external professional development that may lead to a formal qualification. The department also participates in the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation Scholarship. This scholarship is governed by the APSC and supports high-performing executive level staff to undertake PhD studies at the Australian National University. Employee Suzanne Akila is currently a participant on this program.

Staff recognition

The reward and recognition arrangements acknowledge and celebrate outstanding contributions by employees to the Attorney-General's strategic goals, and commitment to departmental values and behaviours. The department has a formal non-salary reward and recognition program, with award ceremonies to staff including Secretary's Award, Deputy Secretaries' Awards (three), Academic Achievement Award, and the Australia Day Awards.

The annual Secretary's Award recognises individuals and teams that have demonstrated excellence in achieving outcomes beyond general expectations. Deputy Secretaries and managers present other awards for excellence. Recipients may have:

  • demonstrated a high level of dedication and loyalty over and above that which is required to achieve the business goals of the department
  • made an outstanding contribution that had a positive and important impact on corporate objectives or reputation
  • worked collaboratively across divisional boundaries
  • demonstrated innovation and creativity in developing intellectual property.

The Academic Achievement Award recognises an departmental student who excels in both academic achievement and work performance. The Australia Day Achievement Award acknowledges Australians who have demonstrated outstanding personal achievement throughout the year. Divisional recognition awards are also encouraged.

A full list of 2011-12 award recipients is in Appendix 7.

Work-life balance

The Attorney-General's Department Enterprise Agreement 2011 provides flexible working arrangements to help employees balance their work and other responsibilities. The department's employment conditions policies include the following flexible working arrangements for staff:

  • part-time work (including guaranteed access to part-time work for three years following the birth or adoption of a child)
  • job sharing
  • home-based work
  • flextime and other flexible working hours arrangements
  • flexible leave arrangements, including fourteen weeks paid maternity, adoption and foster-care leave, two weeks paid parental leave (for non-primary carers of a newborn or adopted child)
  • the option of purchasing additional leave or taking leave at half pay.

Additional policies and initiatives that support flexible working arrangements include:

  • a health and well-being program, including an allowance for all employees
  • availability of a carer's room
  • study assistance.

Staff survey

The department seeks to improve employee engagement with the culture and leadership of the organisation and a number of initiatives were implemented:

  • The Secretary commenced holding regular sessions which are an opportunity for the Secretary to engage with staff.
  • Employees can post questions, feedback or suggestions to the Secretary via the department's intranet.
  • The EL2 Development Program was implemented. It focuses on enabling managers to identify the development needs of their staff.
  • The Strategic and Divisional Business Plans were developed with participation from staff.

Workplace diversity

The department continues to develop and implement strategies to strengthen workplace diversity. This year the department appointed a Reconciliation Champion to raise awareness of the important issue of reconciliation. The department also appointed a Disability Champion to encourage and support employees within the department to develop and implement inclusive workplace practices for people with disability.

This year the department continued to focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and the employment of people with disability. The department supported the work undertaken by the Women's Network and participated in events such as Harmony Day, NAIDOC Week, Reconciliation Week and National Families Week.

National Disability Strategy

The department is committed to providing opportunities for people with disability. The department has commenced a Disability Action Plan with a view to develop an employment strategy for people with disability or staff who are carers of people with disability.

Work health and safety

The department is committed to providing and maintaining a safe and healthy work environment for all workers (employees, contractors and others) and visitors, and to meeting its obligations under new work health and safety (WHS) laws and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988.

On 1 January 2012, the Work Health and Safety (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Act 2011 repealed the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991(the OHS Act), and the following new WHS laws came into operation within the Commonwealth jurisdiction:

  • the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (the WHS Act)
  • the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011
  • the Work Health and Safety Codes of Practices 2011.

Health and safety committee

The department remains committed to the continuation of the Health and Safety Committee originally established under the OHS Act. With the commencement of the new WHS laws, the Committee's governance arrangements were reviewed. All Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) continue to serve as members of the Committee, with the Committee chaired by the Assistant Secretary, People and Corporate Support Branch, and supported by WHS and case management specialists.

The Committee met three times during the year, with discussion primarily focused on the new WHS laws and review of the department's WHS Management Framework. Minutes of meeting were published on the department's intranet.

As a result of staff movements and relocations, seven new HSRs were appointed during 2011-12. Each HSR received accredited training to undertake their new role.

WHS management framework

The department's WHS Management Framework comprises a suite of policies, procedures and guidelines. In 2011-12, the department developed or revised the following four components of the WHS Management Framework:

  • WHS Policy
  • governance arrangements for the Health and Safety Committee, work groups, and HSRs
  • Guidelines for Resolution of WHS Issues
  • Overseas Travel and Deployment WHS Guidelines.

Major initiatives for 2011-12

Preparations for the commencement of the new WHS laws involved a significant communication and consultation process within the department, and across the Attorney-General's Portfolio and the APS:

  • The department was represented and actively participated on the Harmonisation Steering Committee convened by the APSC which facilitated the sharing of best practice WHS solutions across the APS.
  • A Harmonisation Project Plan and a communication and implementation timetable were developed to assist with managing transition to the new WHS laws.
  • Harmonisation impacts and gap analysis were conducted, identifying the need to:
    • develop overseas travel and deployment WHS guidelines
    • review WHS induction and training processes
    • examine contractor WHS arrangements
    • review the department's WHS Management Framework.
  • WHS briefings and workshops were provided to:
    • workers
    • the Health and Safety Committee
    • human resource managers from agencies across the Attorney-General's Portfolio
    • division SES Leadership Teams
    • the Audit and Risk Management Committee
    • the Senior Management Committee
    • the Executive Board.
  • The department convened a forum for interested APS agencies on overseas travel and deployment to assist with identification and documentation of best practice risk management solutions, culminating in provision of overseas travel and deployment workshops for departmental employees, and implementation of new overseas travel governance arrangements.
  • A new WHS Induction Program was developed and implemented, ensuring all new employees were informed on:
    • the new WHS laws
    • key WHS obligations and responsibilities
    • the department's WHS Management Framework
    • the Employee Assistance Program
    • the department's Health and Wellbeing Program
    • Incident and Accident Reporting
    • workstation assessment processes.
  • The department's WHS intranet pages were updated.
  • A WHS Checklist for briefing contractors, visitors and new employees upon their entry to departmental controlled workplaces was developed.
  • A desktop survey of higher-risk operations within the department and across the Attorney-General's Portfolio was conducted, with survey results reported to the department's Executive and the Secretaries Board.

A WHS Improvement Plan was also developed to assist with mapping strategic and operational WHS priorities that will enhance the department's WHS Management Framework in the coming financial years.

Reporting of incidents and enforcement measures under the OHS Act and the WHS Act

Reporting of WHS incidents and enforcement measures for the period 1 July to 31 December 2011 is made under the repealed OHS Act, and for the period 1 January to 30 June 2012 is made under the WHS Act.

Table 14.3: Reporting of incidents and enforcement measures under the OHS Act
(1 July 2011 to 31 December 2011)

Section 68 Occurrences - Notification and Reporting of Accidents and Dangerous Occurrences Four accidents and dangerous occurrences were reported under section 68 of the OHS Act
Section 29 Notices - Provisional Improvement Notices No notices were issued under section 29 of the OHS Act
Section 30 Notices - Duties of Employers in relation to Health and Safety Representatives No notices were issued under section 30 of the OHS Act
Section 41 Investigations - Investigations addressing Compliance and Possible Breaches No investigations were conducted under section 41 of the OHS Act
Section 45 Directions - Power to direct that workplace, etc not be disturbed No directions were given to the department under section 45 of the OHS Act
Section 46 Notices - Power to Issue Prohibition Notices No notices were issued under section 46 of the OHS Act
Section 47 Notices - Power to issue Improvement Notices No notices were issued under section 47 of the OHS Act


Table 14.4: Reporting of incidents and enforcement measures under the WHS Act (1 January 2012 to 30 June 2012)

Section 38 - Notifiable Incidents Two accidents and dangerous occurrences were 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


Table 14.5: Incidents reported to Comcare during 2011-12

Type of Incident Number
Death of a person 0
Serious Injury or illness 5
Prescribed incapacity (30 or more working or shifts) 0
Dangerous occurrence/incident 1


Other initiatives and activities undertaken in 2011-12

The department continued to conduct regular workplace inspections during 2011-12. Inspections were facilitated by HSRs and assist with identifying hazards and potential risks in the workplace, and opportunities to improve safe work practices.

Accredited training, utilising external providers, was provided to designated first aid officers and fire wardens.

The department continues to train and utilise HSRs to conduct basic ergonomic workstation assessments, supported by external providers who are engaged to conduct more complex workstation and workplace assessments. During the financial year approximately 200 workstation assessments were conducted, with half of all assessments conducted in-house by HSRs.

The department again provided an influenza vaccination program for employees, with 564 employees electing to receive vaccinations during April and May 2012.

The department maintains an Employee Assistance Program for all employees. The program provides free, confidential and professional counselling services to help resolve work and other issues that may affect an employee's work performance.

Workers' compensation performance

As a result of improved injury prevention and management strategies implemented since 2004-05, the department's workers compensation premium for 2011-12 was 0.18 per cent of payroll costs, a reduction from 0.23 per cent of payroll costs for 2010-11. This performance compares highly favourably with the department's starting point of 1.79 per cent of payroll costs in 2004-05 and the average premium rate for all Australian Government agencies in 2011-12 of 1.41 per cent of payroll costs.

Table 14.6: Premium rate comparison, 2008-09 to 2011-12

Premium 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12
Attorney-General's Department 0.45 0.36 0.23 0.18
All agencies (average) 1.36 1.25 1.20 1.41


Table 14.7: Mechanism of injury for accepted claims, 2008-09 to 2011-12

Mechanism 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12
Falls, trips and slips - 1 1 4
Hitting objects with body 1 - - 1
Being hit by moving objects - - - -
Sound and pressure - - - -
Body stressing 1 1 1 5
Heat, electricity and other environmental factors - - - -
Chemical and other substances - - - -
Biological factors - 1 - -
Mental stress 1 1 1 2
Other and unspecified - - 1 -
Total 3 4 4 12


Our people

State of the art technology support for the National Crisis Coordination Capability Program

flexible technology solutions and room for future expansion

The National Crisis Coordination Capability Program (NCCCP) was established in 2008 after the government received recommendations to centralise information and coordination to improve the way the Prime Minister and Cabinet are briefed during a crisis. The NCCCP consists of three separate but interconnected functional environments - a Parliament House Briefing Room (PHBR), an all-hazards Australian Government Crisis Coordination Centre (CCC) and a redundant (backup) site in the ACT.

The Attorney-General's Department's Information Division was integral in finalising a project to bring together the information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure and systems necessary to ensure continuous and consistent ICT service to the CCC. The project integrated systems from the department with those of the Australian Federal Police, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Defence and Department of Finance and Deregulation. This allows for the sharing of information through secure network infrastructure and innovative audiovisual presentation solutions.

The project allows for future expansion, facilitating the connection of any participating government agency to the CCC.

During the project the department project leader, Mark Hayes, and his small team developed a range of flexible technology solutions to support the functions of the PHBR, the CCC and the redundant site. In particular, the audiovisual solution delivered to the CCC can bring together information from a number of agency systems operating on different security platforms and present this information in Parliament House.

The team developed innovative information technology solutions which met the stringent security standards of the Australian Government. These solutions represent an innovative use of technology which had not been achieved before within the government sphere. The results of the project could be deployed across other government agencies, supporting greater interconnectedness of government.

Mark states the project was 'an exciting opportunity to develop innovative solutions and build capability across government' and he is 'proud of the way the team bought the project to fruition'.