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Human resources

Learning and development

The department utilises a learning and development framework to help guide employees in their capability development and to advance their careers. The Learning & Development Plan 2012–15 lays the groundwork and provides a framework for a learning and development culture that results in improved performance, individual growth and organisational benefits through leader-led development. It recognises that learning and development is a responsibility that is shared by individuals, their managers and the department.

The mission of the department's Strategic Plan 2012–15 is to achieve a just and secure society through protecting and promoting the rule of law and ensuring a safe, secure and resilient Australia. To achieve the department's strategic aims, learning and development in the department will ensure people have the skills, capabilities, knowledge, experiences, techniques, attitudes and perspectives to attain departmental outcomes.

In this context, the Learning & Development Plan 2012–15 sets out a framework and an approach to learning and development in the department that:

  • defines learning and development in the context of the department and its business strategy. In so doing it begins to lay the foundation for a shared understanding and approach to learning and development and assists in defining high value services
  • identifies a set of design principles which shape learning and development activities to support consistent standards
  • provides a backbone of learning and development that consists of general and core skill sets derived from and connected to departmental outcomes and underpinned by a constructive culture. This will enable the department to achieve a more coherent, prioritised and targeted approach to learning and development and support the move to shared core business processes
  • links to wider APS frameworks to ensure consistency and integration
  • articulates organisational-wide learning and development action and initiatives in 2012 to ensure enterprise-wide solutions
  • provides a framework for individuals and their managers to think about and manage learning and development in a systematic manner and equips individuals and managers with tools to use in the context of learning and development to build employee self-sufficiency.

The leadership expectations are one of the most significant outcomes of a series of successful events focusing on leadership in the department. A working group embarked on the difficult task of sifting through all of the contributions staff made during events such as the Portraits in Leadership event, leadership exhibition, SES and EL Forums, and the Intensive Leadership Program, trying to find some common themes. After further consultations, the group developed a set of leadership expectations to articulate the qualities and values that are important for our leaders. These expectations will assist the department to foster its preferred leadership culture by informing recruitment decisions, the department's learning and development program and our approach to performance management.

The leadership expectations are:

  • A leader enhances their strengths and addresses their weaknesses.
  • A leader is responsible for their staff and will invest in their development.
  • A leader has the courage to have a go and empowers others to do the same.

Workforce planning

The department has increased its focus on workforce planning and implemented a number of key initiatives to enhance workforce readiness and agility. These initiatives include:

  • The implementation of the APSC Job Family Model which enables the department to identify and develop strategies to address our current occupational skill shortages and ensure we have the right capabilities to meet the critical needs of the department in the future.
  • Revised decision making on recruitment activity to ensure a focus on building workforce capability. Recruitment decisions are considered with a departmental-wide view and recruitment action is only undertaken on critical roles.
  • Finalisation of a new performance management process which seeks to support a greater emphasis on discussions with employees and their managers about performance. This will assist in providing effective data critical to the ongoing development, implementation and revision of workforce planning strategies.

Staff profile

Figure 3.3: Our staff numbers (headcount) from 2008 to 2013 at 30 June of each year

Figure 3.3: Our staff numbers (headcount) from 2008 to 2013 at 30 June of each year. Year 2008 betwwen 1400 and 1600. Year 2009 between 1400 and 1600. Year 2010 between 1400 and 1600. Year 2011, slightly lower than previous but between 1400 and 1600. Year 2012, slightly lower than previous but between 1400 and 1600. Year 2013, slightly lower than previous, just above 1400. 

Table 3.1: Staffing trends (headcount), 2007–08 to 2012–13 at 30 June of each year
  2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11 2011-12 2012–13
TOTAL STAFF 1544 1547 1554 1553 1532 1491
Ongoing 1353 1387 1395 1394 1420 1295
Non-ongoing 148 123 118 128 83 170
Irregular/intermittent/casual 43 37 41 31 29 26
Average age 38 38 38 38 38 38
Average length of service (years) 3.7 4.1 4.2 4.4 4.9 4.8
Proportion female (%) 64 63.5 62.3 61.4 62.8 62.7
Proportion male (%) 36 36.5 37.7 38.6 37.2 37.3
Proportion part-time (%) 7.7 7.6 8.3 10.5 10.1 13
SES* 78 94 78 75 78 64
EL1 and 2 equivalent* 608 625 651 700 654 633
APS 1–6 equivalent* 858 826 784 773 771 768
Total excluding casuals 1501 1510 1513 1522 1503 1465

*Classifications based on substantive positions

A full breakdown of staffing by gender, level, employment status and age appears in Appendix 5.

Staff turnover and retention

In 2012–13, the department experienced an employee-initiated turnover rate of 10.8 per cent. This includes resignations from the APS, movements to other agencies, retirements and voluntary early cessations of non-ongoing contracts. However, it excludes Machinery of Government transfers.

The department's ongoing separation rate during 2012–13 was 10.3 per cent. This includes all separations for ongoing staff including terminations, redundancies, resignations and retirements. However, it does not include movement of ongoing staff to other agencies or Machinery of Government transfers. Approximately 35 per cent of the department's separations for ongoing staff in 2012–13 resulted from staff moving to other agencies.

Staff remuneration

Table 3.2: Salary ranges
Classification Salary range under
the EA ($)
s 24(1) Determinations Australian Workplace Agreement
SES Band 3 n/a $265,225 — $282,696 $223,120
SES Band 2 n/a $215,252 — $268,595  
SES Band 1 n/a $170,781 — $218,129  
Executive Level 2 $113,508 — $171,392 n/a  
Principal Legal Officer $113,508 — $173,945 n/a  
Executive Level 1 $93,289 — $129,283 n/a  
Senior Legal Officer $93,289 — $113,508 n/a  
APS Level 5-6 $67,702 — $100,735 n/a  
APS Level 4 $60,696 — $65,902 n/a  
Legal Officer $54,461 — $85,883 n/a  
APS Level 3 $54,461 — $58,777 n/a  
Graduate APS $54,058 — $55,407 n/a  
APS Level 1-2 $43,095 — $54,083 n/a  
Cadet APS (practical training) $42,250 — $46,693 n/a  
Cadet APS (full-time study) $23,050 — $23,050 n/a  

Note: EA = Enterprise Agreement; n/a = not applicable

Note 2: Where a salary level for a particular classification appearing in column 2 above exceeds the maximum salary applicable to a classification set out in Schedule 1 of the Department EA, this is a result of an employee in receipt of supplementary salary under an Individual Flexibility Arrangement made under clause 3.54 of the EA.

Workplace agreements

The department's Enterprise Agreement 2011 (the Agreement) commenced on 28 September 2011, has a nominal expiry date of 30 June 2014 and applied for the duration of the 2012–13 year. The Agreement provides for the remuneration arrangements and other employment conditions applicable to all non-SES employees. The Agreement allows Individual Flexibility Arrangements (IFAs) to apply in respect of individual employees to enable working hours, leave and remuneration arrangements to be tailored to individual circumstances. At 30 June 2013, 1414 employees were covered by the Agreement, with 48 employees subject to IFAs.

Key features of the Agreement include:

  • a three per cent base salary increase applying from 1 July 2012 and a further increase of two per cent applying from 1 July 2013
  • a productivity payment of $1,000 subject to achieving a specific level of redistribution of departmental resources through the department efficiency program
  • rationalisation of the Executive Level 2 / Principal Legal Officer salary structure
  • a 15.4 per cent employer superannuation contribution
  • a strong emphasis on flexible working arrangements
  • provision for flexible remuneration packaging through salary sacrifice arrangements
  • provision for Individual Flexibility Arrangements.

Non-salary benefits provided to employees

AGD, 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 s24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999. At 30 June 2013 there were 64 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 and remuneration for SES Band 3 employees is established having regard to the Executive Remuneration Policy developed by the Australian Public Service Commission. SES salary levels are reviewed by the Secretary each year following the completion of annual performance appraisals. One employee on extended leave without pay while undertaking a statutory appointment remains covered by an Australian Workplace Agreement.

The main components of SES remuneration are salary, employer superannuation contributions and car parking. During 2012–13 the Executive Board took a decision to cease the Executive Vehicle Scheme (EVS) and applied an adjustment to base salary to compensate for the loss of access to an Australian Government leased vehicle for personal use. The adjustment to base salary is occurring on a phased basis, applying to individual SES employees from the date following the expiry of the lease on the EVS vehicle assigned to each employee.

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, available to all employees.

The department is cognisant of, and has regard to, the Statement for Australia's Carers in reviewing internal human resources policies. The department's human resource policies are consistent with the Statement for Australia's Carers.

Workplace health and safety

The department is committed to providing and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace for all workers and others, and to meeting its obligations under relevant legislation.

Health and safety committee

Workplace representation, consultation, cooperation and issue resolution is facilitated through the department's health and safety committee which met four times during the year. Key issues included reviewing the department's work group structure, developing the rehabilitation management system (RMS) and improving communication with staff. Minutes of meetings were published internally.

Management framework

The department's Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Management Framework comprises a suite of policies, procedures and guidelines. In 2012–13, the department revised and updated the following components of the WHS Management Framework:

  • the Health and Well-being Program
  • the Overseas Travel and Deployment WHS Guidelines.

The department developed and implemented a Rehabilitation Management System (RMS) which documents the policies and procedures governing:

  • the provision of early intervention programs to support injured employees to remain at work
  • where injured employees are incapacitated from work, the provision of rehabilitation to assist with the timely, safe, durable and cost effective return to work for injuries and disease arising out of or in the course of employment, under relevant legislation.

Major initiatives for 2012–13

In August 2012, a consultative process was undertaken by the Health and Safety Committee (HSC) to vary the department's work group structure. Revising the work group structure coincided with significant office accommodation moves in the department.

The HSC considered the benefits of multiple Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) sharing responsibility across larger work groups and provision of a more flexible work group structure that would assist HSR retention. In November 2012 the HSC endorsed a new work group structure based on one work group per departmental building. HSR numbers remained unchanged and work group numbers were reduced from 16 to seven.

The department is developing a RMS as required by the Rehabilitation Guidelines. The RMS will be a successor to the Return to Work following Injury or Illness policy, with primary focus on early intervention. To facilitate development of the RMS, the department hosted a RMS Roundtable, including agencies from within and external to the department's portfolio, in April 2013.

The RMS features a continuous improvement framework which can be audited against contemporary auditing standards. The RMS was implemented on 1 July 2013, after consultation with staff.

Reporting of incidents and enforcement measures under the WHS Act

Reporting of WHS incidents and enforcement measures for the year is provided in the table below:

Table 3.3: Reporting of incidents and enforcement measures under the WHS Act
Incidents and enforcement measures Number
Section 38 — Notifiable Incidents Three incidents 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

Other initiatives and activities undertaken in 2012–13

The department continued to conduct regular workplace inspections during 2012–13. Inspections were conducted by HSRs to assist with identifying hazards and potential risks in the workplace, and provide opportunities to improve safe work practices.

The department continues to utilise trained HSRs to conduct basic ergonomic workstation assessments for employees, while more complex workstation and workplace assessments were facilitated by a panel of external providers. During the financial year, 158 workstation assessments were conducted, with 47 per cent of all assessments conducted in-house by HSRs.

As part of the department's Health, Safety and Well-being Awareness Campaign regular health, safety and/or well-being topics are promoted throughout the department. Awareness campaigns are employee-driven with HSRs taking carriage of promotional activities. Mental Health Awareness Week was promoted in October 2012 with a program of events including a stress tolerance workshop, a themed walk and provision of a short e-learning program.

Under the department's Health and Well-being Program an influenza vaccination program for employees was offered, with 548 employees electing to receive vaccinations during April and May 2013. Financial reimbursement options for eye-sight testing, quit smoking solutions and health and well-being activities and related equipment contribute to the health and well-being of employees under the program.

The department continued to maintain an Employee Assistance Program for all employees. The program 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 well-being.

Workers' compensation performance

The department's workers' compensation premium for 2012–13 was 0.61 per cent of payroll costs. 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 2012–13 of 1.77 per cent of payroll costs. The department continues to invest in improved injury prevention and rehabilitation strategies through the recent implementation of a Rehabilitation Management System.

Table 3.4: Premium rate comparison, 2009–10 to 2012–13
Premium 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13
Attorney-General's Department 0.37 0.22 0.22 0.61
All agencies (average) 1.25 1.20 1.41 1.77

Procurement, asset management and grants


To ensure the effectiveness of the department's purchasing against core principles and policies, it is aligned with government best practice. The department procures goods and services consistent with the requirements of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. The rules are applied to procurement activities through the Chief Executive Instructions and the department's Financial Guidance and Procedure Manual.

A financial management learning and development program includes modules on procurement and contract management as well as on the Chief Executive Instructions, authorisations and delegations.

A central procurement advisory unit within the department provides advice to staff involved in procurement activities. In addition, the unit undertakes quality assurance testing of procurement activities undertaken across the department.

The unit periodically reviews all procurement-related documentation and training material to ensure consistency with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and other policies that interact with procurement. The department has a procurement module within our financial management information system that enhances administrative workflow and compliance for procurements. The introduction of this module has been supported by the revision of internal procurement rules, guidance, forms and templates that provide clear and consistent advice to staff.

Contracts — AusTender exempt

During 2012–13, the department had seven contracts to a value of $1,250,000 which were exempt from being published in AusTender by the Secretary of the department on the basis that to do so would disclose exempt matters under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

Contracts — ANAO access clauses

During 2012-13, the department had eight contracts over the value of $100,000 that did not provide for the Auditor-General to have access to the contractor's premises.

Table 3.5: Contracts
Name Purpose Value Reason
Len Roberts-Smith Contractor Services $443,168 It was determined that the nature of the services did not require the access clauses *
Margaret Stone Independent Review $769,924 Non-standard contract developed and didn't include the standard access clause
Robert Cornall Contractor Services $275,000 It was determined that the nature of the services did not require the access clauses *
Sharon Ohnesorge Support Services for Independent Review $300,000 Non-standard contract developed and didn't include the standard access clause
Hallidays Business Insights Pty Ltd Contractor Services $275,000 It was determined that the nature of the services did not require the access clauses *
Peter Funnell Contractor Services $180,000 It was determined that the nature of the services did not require the access clauses *
Kenneth Northwood Contractor Services $180,000 It was determined that the nature of the services did not require the access clauses *
Geoffrey Skillen Contractor Services $144,620 It was determined that the nature of the services did not require the access clauses *

* these arrangements are in the nature of non-statutory appointments and/or employment contracts which would therefore not normally be subject to ANAO access.

Asset management

The department's fixed asset base is composed of a wide range of asset types, including office fit-outs, purchased and internally-developed software, computer equipment, infrastructure and centrally-held library materials.

To ensure the effectiveness of the department's asset management, it is aligned with government best practice. The Secretary has issued a Chief Executive's Instruction on asset management, and the department follows documented asset policies and procedures on the management and safeguarding of assets. Asset registers are maintained and three-year rolling stocktakes occur to verify their accuracy.


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 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 FMA Act and related regulations including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs) and relevant internal policies.

During 2012–13, 25 new consultancy contracts were entered into, involving total actual expenditure of $1.079 million. In addition, 18 ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the 2012–13 year involving total actual expenditure of $2.296 million.

Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website www.tenders.gov.au.

Table 3.6: Expenditure on consultancy
Financial Year 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13
Expenditure $2.453 million $3.86 million $3.375 million

Advertising and market research

Under section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 the department is required to disclose payments of $12,100 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.

Mandatory statement

During 2012–13, the Attorney-General's Department conducted no advertising campaigns. There were no payments to direct mail or polling organisations. Details of payments to the other categories of organisations are set out below.

Table 3.7: Payments to advertising, market research and other designated organisations
Name of organisation Payment ($) Purpose Key
Adcorp Australia Limited 516,156.77 Non-campaign government advertising C
Gfk Australia Pty Ltd 51,480 Market research for the Countering-Violent Extremism Program B
Mark Dignam & Associates Pty Ltd 27,774.23 Market research for chemicals of security concern communication products 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 programs

The department manages its grants programs in accordance with the Australian Government's legislative framework, the Commonwealth Grant Guidelines and the department's grants management procedures. Information on grants awarded by the department since 1 July 2010 is available on the department's grants registers at www.ag.gov.au.

In 2012–13, the department published information on the grants register for 22 grant programs:

  • Community based legal advice in support of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
  • Community Legal Services Program
  • Countering Violent Extremism to Prevent Terrorism
  • Disaster Resilience Australia Package
  • Family Relationships Services Program
  • Family Violence Prevention Legal Services for Indigenous Australians
  • Financial Assistance Towards Legal Costs and Related Expenses
  • Grants to Australian Organisations
  • Indigenous Interpreter Services in the Northern Territory
  • Indigenous Justice Program
  • Indigenous Legal Aid and Policy Reform Program
  • Legal aid — Legal Aid Commissions
  • Memberships of International Bodies
  • National Counter-Terrorism Committee
  • National Forced Adoption Apology Event
  • Native Title Anthropologist Grants Program
  • One-off grant for contribution to establishment of International Cyber Policy Centre
  • One-off grant for Critical Infrastructure Resilience Program
  • One-off grant for identity theft victims' case management study
  • Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 — section 298 Payment
  • Secure Schools Program (Schools Security Program)
  • Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory — Community Safety and Justice measure (previously Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory Law and Order Measures).

The National Apology for Forced Adoptions

In June 2012, the Attorney-General announced the Australian Government's intention to apologise formally to those affected by forced adoption policies and practices. The department established the Forced Adoptions Apology Reference Group to assist in the development and delivery of the apology. The Group, chaired by the Hon Nahum Mushin, former Family Court Judge and Adjunct Professor of Law at Monash University, comprised mothers, fathers and adoptees affected by forced adoption practices, along with Parliamentarians. The department provided the secretariat for the Group's four meetings in August, September and November 2012 and facilitated nearly fifty face-to-face consultations throughout the states and territories.

On 21 March 2013, the Australian Government delivered the national apology to those affected by forced adoption and removal policies and practices. The apology was delivered on behalf of the nation as a significant step in the healing process of those affected. The department organised and coordinated the management of the apology event, which was attended by approximately 1000 people. Sixty-seven volunteers, primarily from the department, provided considerable support and assistance for attendees throughout the event.

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