Our people

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At 30 June 2015, the department had 1671 employees. Appendix 8 contains summary tables of workforce statistics on that date.

Workforce numbers reflect the transfers into and out of the department as a result of the machinery of government changes announced in December 2014.

With the changes to the department came an opportunity to look toward the future and shape the strategic direction of people management policies, initiatives and planning. The department’s People and Culture Committee is responsible for people and skills, culture, diversity and engagement. The committee meets regularly to consider and oversee the implementation, delivery and evaluation of the strategic people agenda for the department.

Strategic people management and people capability

The department is implementing a number of strategies to support our people management and people capability into the future. These align with and support delivery of the department’s strategic plan, especially the elements related to workforce management, capability, leadership and performance management. These plans provide the guidance and define the department’s people priorities and:

  • ensure capability development and investment meets business needs
  • guide workforce decisions that support business goals
  • respond to and influence organisational culture
  • focus on building employee engagement, a driver of individual and organisational performance.

The department has established a number of initiatives to support workforce management and employee engagement including establishing an internal mobility register that allows employees to register their interest in moving both within and external to the department. An attendance management toolkit has been launched to assist managers to maintain a positive attendance culture within the workplace.

Workforce planning activity has focused on ensuring the departmental management structures are designed to support business delivery and performance, through more effective reporting structures, improved job design and devolved decision making and accountability. Implementation of the plan will occur between 2015–2018 financial years.

The department’s approach to the development of people capability is articulated through the Learning and Development Action Plan 2015. This plan captures the commitment of the department to the ongoing development of employees and their skills and ensures that, in the immediate and long term, capability is built which will allow the department to deliver its core business.

The implementation of these strategies are underpinned by a range of people-related evidence, metrics and data including the aggregated results of the department’s People Capability Frameworkself-assessments and results from the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) State of the Service Survey and APS Employee Census.

Recruitment: Entry Level programmes

The graduate programme, the APSC Indigenous Cadetship Programme, and the Indigenous Australian Government Development Programme (IAGDP) continue to provide opportunities for the department to build capability and ensure we have succession for the future.

Twenty-five participants completed entry level programmes in 2014: 19 graduates, five IAGDP participants and one information and communications technology cadet.

In February 2015, 18 participants commenced the graduate programme. These graduates will complete a 10-month programme consisting of two work placements, on-the-job training and structured learning and development. They also contribute enthusiastically to the culture of the department coordinating a departmental trivia night and other events to raise money for charity.

Two Indigenous cadets continued with the department in the second year of their programme. Both cadets are based in Canberra and are working part-time while they undertake tertiary studies.

The department is currently hosting eight participants in the 2014–15 IAGDP. Participants are undertaking a Diploma of Government while working full-time and are expected to complete the programme in December 2015. The department looks forward to commencing its next intake of 15 participants in September 2015.


The department’s Diversity Strategy provides the framework to enable us to build an environment that supports and embraces all elements of diversity, with a focus on people with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the mature aged. Diversity embraces various dimensions including race, gender identity, LGBTIQ, sexual orientation, intersex status, language, culture, age, religion and disability.

Workplace diversity underpins the capability of our workforce and is part of our daily decision making and the way we work. To ensure that the diversity of our workforce reflects that of the broader community, we maintain our focus on building an inclusive environment that values the contribution diversity makes to organisational outcomes.

The department’s Diversity Champion raises awareness and promotes initiatives that support our people to develop and implement inclusive practices for people from diversity groups and ensure that we build a workforce that reflects the community. The department’s diversity team works with managers, employees and service providers to advocate for employees who have a caring role, disability or cultural differences. Our human resource practitioners regularly have conversations with employees with caring responsibilities to help them access respite and counselling services.

The department has a number of employee networks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, women, people with disability and the LGBTIQ community.

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 on the Australian Public Service Comminission website. From 2010–11, departments and agencies have no longer been required to report on these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020, 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 present a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first of these reports will be available in late 2014, and can be found on the Department of Social Services website.

Remuneration and conditions of employment

Remuneration and conditions for non-SES employees

Employees who transferred to the department under the machinery of government changes in September 2013 had their terms and conditions preserved under a determination made under section 24(3) of the Public Service Act 1999. The determination preserves the terms and conditions of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) Enterprise Agreement 2012–14 for former DEEWR employees and the terms and conditions of the One Innovation Enterprise Agreement 2011 for former employees of the Department of Industry.

As a result of the Administrative Arrangements Orders (AAOs) in December 2014, the Department of Education became the Department of Education and Training. The AAOs provided for the transfer of Childcare programmes to the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the transfer of Skills and Training programmes to the department from the Department of Industry and Science.

Non-SES employees transferring to the department had their terms and conditions under the One Innovation Enterprise Agreement 2011 preserved by a determination made under section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999.

Both the 2013 section 24(3) and 2014 section 24(1) determinations preserved the terms and conditions of employment that employees of the department had immediately before the making of each of the AAOs.

The section 24(3) and section 24(1) determinations applying to non-SES employees will remain in place until a new enterprise agreement is developed for the department.

The preserved conditions of employment provide for flexible working hours and leave arrangements to assist employees to balance their personal and professional lives. These arrangements include:

  • access to part-time arrangements, flextime, study assistance, purchasing of additional leave, working from home arrangements and broad personal and parental leave provisions
  • access to a range of allowances for non-SES employees that help to promote good health, recognise employees’ health and safety roles in the workplace and provide assistance with the cost of school holiday care for primary school children of employees who are at work.

At 30 June 2015, 1615 employees were covered by the non-SES section 24(3) and section 24(1) determinations.

The department has a number of individual arrangements that are used primarily to recognise hard-to-secure specialist skills sets that are critical to business needs. At 30 June 2015, 20 employees had individual arrangements in place.

The department commenced bargaining to develop an Enterprise Agreement with the issue of the Notice of Employee Representational Rights (NERRs) on 31 July 2014. The NERRs were reissued on 17 March 2015, in consultation with bargaining representatives, following the machinery of government changes announced on 23 December 2014. The department meets regularly with nominated bargaining representatives and has an active consultation approach, engaging directly with employees to seek input and feedback.

Remuneration and conditions for SES employees

Remuneration and conditions for SES employees are covered by either a section 24(1) determination made under the Public Service Act 1999 by the Secretary or by common law agreements.

The section 24(1) determination and common law agreements provide for a total remuneration approach to SES remuneration and conditions and preserve non-salary benefits including a privately plated motor vehicle and car parking which employees may elect to cash out (either the value of the vehicle or that of the car park, or both).

The SES arrangements do not provide for performance pay.

The department is currently consulting on the development of a new, single set of SES arrangements.

Indigenous business is everyone’s business

As a department, we play a significant role in closing the gap in disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and continue efforts in supporting the Government’s prioritisation of accelerated effort and increased action to improve education outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We reflect on the broader Closing the Gap targets and the important connection between each of them. Improvements in early learning and schooling outcomes will provide a very strong foundation for improvements in health and life expectancy.

The department promotes a culture where Indigenous business is everyone’s business—across its work practices, values and business. All employees are supported through the provision of a number of learning opportunities to build their cultural capability. Building a culturally capable and confident workforce will ensure we are equipped to develop policies and deliver programmes that will lead to rewarding and empowering outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the Australian community more broadly.

To further embed Indigenous business is everyone’s business into the organisational culture, the department is reviewing its recruitment policy to incorporate the expected cultural capabilities of its employees.

Reconciliation Action Plan

The department’s 2014–17 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) was launched on 25 September 2014.

Our RAP fits comfortably in the Stretch category of Reconciliation Australia’s Reflect Innovate Stretch Elevate Framework. The department is committed to remaining an employer of choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and through our RAP we aim to increase our representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to 4.5 per cent by December 2017. We recognise a diverse workforce is better attuned to the goals of reconciliation, helping to create a safe and inclusive environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to thrive.

In early 2015, we commenced work to refresh our RAP to take account of the department’s changed functions following the machinery of government changes announced in December 2014. The refreshed RAP, once finalised, will comprise actions and targets for the department.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recruitment and retention

The department is committed to improving the recruitment, retention and career development of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees.

The proportion of our workforce who identify as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin is 2.28 per cent. This has declined over this year due to the machinery of government changes and we are exploring strategies to continue to grow our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce including increasing our recruitment targets through entry level programmes.

The department held a two-day workshop in June 2015 to bring all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees together to strengthen and consolidate their network. During the workshop, and as a direct result of the 2014 workshop, these employees were given the opportunity to consider their short and long term career aspirations as well as discussing emerging priorities for the group. Information gathered from the workshop will be used to inform work on the above mentioned priorities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employee Committee

The department’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employee Committee has two important roles: providing support to members of the network of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees, and offering strategic advice to the department on workplace and workforce matters affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees including recruitment, retention and career development strategies. The committee provides leadership and advice to the department on how best to target limited resources to areas that will help the department remain an employer of choice and continue a culture of Indigenous business is everyone’s business.

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