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 Chapter 14 - Human resource management

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Human resource management


In 2010–11, the People and Corporate Support Branch introduced several new people management strategies, including:

  • endorsement of the Department's 2010–2015 Workforce Plan
  • the introduction of HR Assist, a central contact point for human resource matters
  • regular engagement with the executive around workforce planning strategies and staffing profiles to inform better decision making and strategy development
  • coordination of a Leadership Development Program, SES forums, lunchbox events and an EL2 development program
  • streamlining induction training, and
  • making courses on the training calendar available to staff across the portfolio.

Staff profile

Figure 9: Departmental staff numbers 2006 - 2011 at 30 June 2011

Figure 9: Departmental staff numbers 2006 - 2011 at 30 June 2011



Table 18: Staffing trends, 2005–06 to 2010–11

  2005–06 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11
TOTAL STAFF 1146 1329 1544 1547 1554 1522
Ongoing 936 1135 1353 1387 1395 1394
Non-ongoing 164 160 148 123 118 128
Irregular/intermittent/casual 46 34 43 37 41 31
Average age 37 36 38 38 38 38
Average length of service (years) 4.2 3.7 3.7 4.1 4.2 4.4
Proportion female (%) 60 58.4 64.0 63.5 62.3 61.4
Proportion male (%) 40 41.6 36.0 36.5 37.7 38.6
Proportion part-time (%) 5 6.3 7.7 7.6 8.3 10.5
SES 69 80 78 94 78 75
EL1 and 2 equivalent 449 514 608 625 651 700
APS 1–6 equivalent 582 701 858 826 784 773
Total excluding casuals 1100 1295 1501 1510 1513 1522

Workforce planning

During the year, the Department undertook a number of workforce planning activities including:

  • finalising the Workforce Plan 2010–2015 which maps strategies to ensure the Department can meet future business requirements
  • aligning the business planning process with divisional reviews of workforce planning requirements, and
  • using capability data from individual work plans to inform development of the training calendar.


The Department continued to provide strategic recruitment services during the year to fill vacancies. The management of a merit pool of successful candidates from all Department recruitment activities saved time and money by helping to fill vacancies without the need to undertake new recruitment processes.

Staffing retention and turnover

In 2010–11, the Department experienced an employee-initiated turnover rate of 17.1 per cent. This is derived from the number of employee-initiated separations in 2010–11 (including resignation from the Australian Public Service, movement to other agencies, retirement and voluntary early cessation of non-ongoing contracts) divided by the number of staff at 30 June 2011.

The Department's separation rate for ongoing staff in 2010–11 was 10 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 45 per cent of the Department's separations for ongoing staff in 2010–11 resulted from staff moving to other agencies.

Workplace agreements

Enterprise agreements

The Attorney-General's Department Enterprise Agreement 2010 came into operation on 8 July 2010 and nominally expired on 30 June 2011. 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 2011, 1552 employees were covered by this agreement.

Key features of the agreement included:

  • a 3 per cent annual base salary increase
  • introduction of an APS 5–6 broadband classification structure
  • changes to personal leave arrangements including new evidentiary requirement for personal leave in excess of five days a year, or more than three continuous days, or for a working day on either side of a public holiday
  • introduction of an absence management strategy
  • ability to cash out up to 10 days annual leave each year, and
  • a new community service leave provision, which includes five days paid leave for voluntary emergency activity.

The Department is currently negotiating a new enterprise agreement to replace the 2010 agreement in line with the Australian Public Service Bargaining Framework.

Section 24(1) determinations

All previous instruments providing for terms and conditions for SES employees were replaced with individual determinations made under section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999 with effect from 1 July 2010. 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 salary sacrifice include a motor vehicle acquired through novated lease arrangements and additional employer superannuation contributions.

Salary rates

Table 19: Salary ranges under the Department's Enterprise Agreement 2010, and Section 24(1) determination, at 30 June 2011

Classification Salary range under the EA
s24(1) individual determinations
SES Band 3 n/a 245,000—300,000
SES Band 2 200,000—240,000
SES Band 1 160,000—190,000
Executive Level 2 100,441—120,690 n/a
Principal Legal Officer 100,441—120,690
Executive Level 1 87,088—105,963
Senior Legal Officer 87,088—105,963
APS Level 6 71,875—80,175
APS Level 5 63,202—67,017
APS Level 4 56,662—61,522
Legal Officer 50,841—80,175
APS Level 3 50,841—54,870
Graduate APS 50,465—51,724
APS Level 1-2 40,231—50,488
Cadet APS (practical training) 39,442—43,589
Cadet APS (full-time study) 21,518

Note: EA = enterprise agreement; n/a = not applicable

Performance pay

Remuneration arrangements for SES employees were varied with effect from 1 July 2010 to remove entitlement to possible performance pay with an associated compensating adjustment to base salary levels.

Performance pay is not available to non-SES employees under the Department's Enterprise Agreement 2010.

No performance pay was paid in 2010–11.

Learning and development

The Department remains committed to knowledge and learning and to producing well supported and productive staff. Courses offered are sought or developed to address the capability shortfalls uncovered during consultation with the Department's executive and staff and after reviewing data from the staff survey results. Courses are also offered to update the knowledge and skill base of employees seeking continued development.

The Department offers more than 40 courses throughout a six-month cycle. The majority are presented in the Department's contemporary learning facilities. Courses are presented by internal instructors (subject 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.

The learning and development schedules are aligned with the Australian Public Service Commission's Integrated Leadership System (ILS). This ensures the Department is in line with the principle of developing a common language for leadership across the Australian Public Service. The training calendar offers courses under each of the ILS core capabilities.

For example, the 'Supports Strategic Direction' capability is supported by the Developing Policy and Harnessing Change courses. The 'Supports Productive Working Relationships' capability is supported by the Foundations of Leadership and Supportive Leadership courses.

Most courses are procured from the Australian Public Service Commission Capability Development Panel and relevant courses are offered to all public service employees within the Attorney-General's portfolio. In addition, the latest information technology applications and financial learning courses are also delivered.

One significant focus when designing learning and development has been to ensure courses are aligned to the Department's strategic aims and will add value. This is measured by an increase in productivity and higher levels of service across the Department. A more systematic approach is being considered by targeting learning and development at classification level allowing the Department to build the distinctive skill sets required to create and sustain a productive and well supported workforce.

In 2010–11, the Department's Leadership Development 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 leadership programs in developing its SES. The Executive Level 2 Development Program has to date provided almost 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 capability and help to identify future learning and development needs. The Department is also trialling arrangements where places are offered in other agencies leadership programs.

The Department provides financial assistance and leave to staff for ongoing external professional development that may lead to a formal qualification. Through effective learning and development planning, the required skills can be anticipated and programs sourced to build and improve the capabilities required of the Department's workforce.

Staff recognition

The reward and recognition program celebrates 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.

The annual Secretary's Awards recognise 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, or
  • demonstrated innovation and creativity in developing intellectual property.

Other awards presented include Australia Day Achievement Awards and Academic Achievement Awards. A full list of 2010 award recipients is in Appendix 9.

Work-life balance

The Attorney-General's Department Enterprise Agreement 2010 provides flexible working arrangements to help employees balance their work and other responsibilities. The Department's employment conditions policies detail the following flexible working arrangements that staff can access:

  • 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 14 weeks paid maternity and adoption leave, two weeks paid parental leave (for non-primary carers of a newborn or adopted child), and
  • 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, and
  • study assistance.

Staff survey

In February 2011, the Department conducted a staff survey to measure staff satisfaction with the culture and leadership of the organisation. The survey attracted a response rate of 86 per cent which was higher than a previous survey conducted 18 months earlier.

The survey provided specific feedback about the Department's culture, including the quality of its people management and leadership. It also provided an analysis of how the culture contributes to staff engagement, satisfaction and performance.

Survey results were communicated to staff through all-staff presentations by the survey provider, emails, intranet updates and divisional presentations. In accord with the Department's response, action plans were devised and targeted at the divisional level to ensure the changes had maximum acceptance and impact.

Workplace diversity

The Department continued expanding strategies from the Workplace Diversity Program following its launch in early 2008–09.

In partnership with the Reconciliation Committee, the Department is working towards increasing Indigenous employment targets, one of the six targets identified in the Council of Australian Governments' Closing the Gap reform agenda.

The role of Harassment Contact Officers was promoted through a visual display supporting the Department's commitment to a fair and equitable workplace.

The Department celebrated Harmony Day and National Families Week, encouraging staff to become more aware of diversity in the workplace.

Changes to disability reporting in annual reports

Since 1994, Commonwealth 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 Australian Public Service Commission's State of the Service Report and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at <www.apsc.gov.au>. From 2010–11, departments and agencies are no longer required to report on these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by a new National Disability Strategy which sets out a 10 year national policy framework for improving life for Australians with disability, their families and carers. A high level report to track progress for people with disability at a national level will be produced by the Standing Council on Community, Housing and Disability Services to the Council of Australian Governments and will be available at <https://www.dss.gov.au/>. The Social Inclusion Measurement and Reporting Strategy agreed by the Government in December 2009 will also include some reporting on disability matters in its regular How Australia is Faring report and, if appropriate, in strategic change indicators in agency Annual Reports. More detail on social inclusion matters can be found at www.socialinclusion.gov.au.

Occupational health and safety

As a result of improved injury prevention and management strategies implemented since 2004–05, the Department's workers compensation premium for 2011–12 is 0.16 per cent of payroll costs, a reduction from 0.24 per cent of payroll costs for 2010–11. This performance compares 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 20: Seven year premium rate comparison, 2005–06 to 2011–12

Premium rates 2005–06 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12
Attorney-General's Department 1.31 1.45 0.75 0.45 0.34 0.24 0.16
All agencies 1.77 1.77 1.77 1.36 1.25 1.20 1.41

The Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 requires employers to develop, in consultation with employees, written Health and Safety Management Arrangements. These Arrangements provide a framework for managing health and safety within the workplace.

A review of the Department's Health and Safety Management Arrangements and health and safety Employee Relation Advices commenced in early 2011. Consultation on occupational health and safety (OHS) policies is facilitated through the Department's Health and Safety Committee. The review provides an opportunity to update and examine health and safety practises in anticipation of the expected harmonised work health and safety laws.

An improved workstation assessment process was endorsed by the Departmental Operations Executive Committee and implemented in April 2011. The improved process enables Divisional employees to arrange an assessment through their administrative area and using designated health and safety representatives. A 12-month contract was also initiated with several OHS providers to accommodate more complex workstation and workplace assessments when required. These new arrangements continue to support the Department's early intervention and prevention approaches to health and safety practices.

The Department continued regular workplace safety inspections through its health and safety representative network. First Assistant Secretaries were supplied reports recommending improvements to health and safety practices and the Department witnessed continued improvements, as staff displayed ongoing commitment to eliminating OHS hazards. The workplace inspection program is currently being revised as part of the OHS policy review.

The number of workers compensation claims continued to remain low during the year. Comcare accepted three claims in 2010–11. The Department's early intervention and injury prevention strategies continue to impact positively on workplace safety and employee health. Employees with non-compensable illnesses and injuries also benefited from early intervention practices during the year.

The Department made improvements to injury prevention, incident reporting, and risk management procedures. During 2010–11:

  • 188 employee workstations were formally assessed for OHS by either a departmental health and safety representative or an external OHS provider, and
  • 540 employees received vaccinations for the seasonal influenza during April and May 2011.

As a result of staff movements and relocations, the Department appointed 17 new health and safety representatives during 2010–11. Each received accredited training to undertake their role, including workstation assessment training.

Information on the Department's OHS performance, as required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991, is at Appendix 10.


Our people

Supporting emergency management volunteers

The forefront of strengthening disaster resilience

Non-government community and volunteer organisations are at the forefront of strengthening disaster resilience. The 2011 National Emergency Management Volunteers Summit, hosted by the Attorney-General's Department, examined issues relating to the emergency management volunteer sector and produced recommendations to ensure its sustainability.

'The work of volunteers is critical in helping communities before, during and after a disaster,' says Terri Reid, acting Assistant Director in the Department's National Emergency Management Projects.

'The outcomes from this summit will drive change in the future of emergency management volunteering in Australia and will sustain this vital sector in support of Australian communities. Ultimately, this means a more resilient nation, particularly in the face of increasing natural disasters.'

This was the third volunteer summit hosted by the Department, but the first to officially use social networking sites to gather and disseminate information. Both Facebook and Twitter accounts were used throughout the summit and more than 15,000 post views were achieved on the Facebook account.

'We found that the highest interest in Facebook occurred when we linked videos to the post,' says Terri.
'Our use of Twitter was also successful, potentially reaching over 17 000 people with 658 tweets.'

The 2011 summit coincided with the 10th anniversary of the United Nations' International Year of Volunteers.

'It provided a great opportunity for participants to meet and develop relationships with likeminded people, particularly for volunteers from remote areas,' says Terri.

'These volunteers truly are the backbone of emergency management in Australia and vital to their communities. The summit was a great opportunity to recognise their efforts.'

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