Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2012
Corporate outcome: Human resources
The department aims to attract, develop, engage and retain quality people to ensure corporate goals are achieved and changing business needs are met.
- A new three-year enterprise agreement was negotiated and commenced on 5 December 2011.
- The DSEWPaC Conduct and Ethical Behaviour Framework was implemented to positively assist all employees and managers with their responsibilities and obligations in the context of APS and ethical workplace behaviour standards and expectations.
- Revised performance management frameworks, linked to improvements in the workforce capability framework, were implemented and refined.
- One hundred and thirty four senior executive service, executive level, and Australian Public Service (APS) level 6 staff members participated in learning and development events in 2011-12 offered through the department's successful three-year Leadership Development Program (LDP).
- On 26 April 2012, the secretary launched the Indigenous Employment and Capability Strategy. Building on the successful previous strategy, this strategy maintains a continued focus on the recruitment, retention, and workplace support and capability/career development for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees.
|Indicator||2011-12 result||2010-11 result||% Change|
|Number of staff employed (headcount)||2987||2954||1.4%|
|Total employee expenditure (dollars)||262 310||247 960||5.8%|
|The diversity of our workforce|
|Women (% of the total workforce)||56.8%||55.3%||+3.3%|
|People with a disability (% of total workforce)||2.4%||2.3%||+0.1%|
|Aboriginal and torres strait islander (% of total workforce)||3.7%||3.8%||-0.1%|
|Staff with english as a second language (% of total workforce)||6.8%||6.8%||0%|
|Staff health and wellbeing|
|Work occupational health and safety incident reports*||25||48||-52.1%|
|Training and education|
|percentage of staff undertaking supported studies||4.4%||4.1%||+0.3%|
Notes: Workforce diversity data relies on self identification.
- The department has a diverse workforce, with some 2987 people located in all states and territories, Australia's external territories and Antarctica. Of these, 2149 employees (72 per cent) were located in Canberra and 838 employees (28 per cent) outside of Canberra.
- Almost half, 49.5 per cent of employees were employed at the executive level 1 and APS6 level classification.
The department strives for continuous improvement to its operations by:
- encouraging leadership capabilities and behaviours and eliciting the best from staff
- developing strong relationships with stakeholders
- strengthening business systems and governance practices.
During 2011-12 the department continued to provide training through structured courses and one-on-one training assistance to managers. This helped managers identify performance issues and address them in a timely manner.
The department also completed a project to revise its performance management framework linked to an improved workforce capability framework for the department.
Completion rates and performance ratings of performance agreements continue to be provided to the Workforce Management Committee to highlight any trends.
The department is also looking at implementing a manager-one-removed process in the coming year for executive level employees.
The retention rate for ongoing employees in 2011-12 was 89 per cent, compared to 86 per cent in 2010-11. The overall separation rate (including promotions and transfers to other APS agencies) was 25.5 per cent, a decrease from 27.3 per cent in 2010-11. This figure includes the department's non-ongoing employees, primarily employed to meet seasonal operational demands in the Australian Antarctic Division and some national parks. Excluding these employees, the separation rate for ongoing employees was 10.7 per cent, a decrease from 13.1 per cent in 2010-11.
The department continued to lead the human resources (HR) Metrics Forum it established in late 2009. Its purpose is to exchange HR data and information between a number of agencies, allowing them to undertake more frequent HR metrics benchmarking. The forum comprised 17 agencies as at 30 June 2012 and met four times during 2011-12. Analysis of the metrics has informed a number of initiatives in the department in 2011-12.
A key priority during 2011-12 was the development of a Workforce Capability Framework for employees in the department. The first phase of this project was completed. The framework provides a means to match departmental priorities with available resources and people capability. The framework also specifies the common core leadership, management and administrative skills, behaviours and knowledge required for staff in the department. It will aid the development of career progression, tools and programs to support both employees and managers in identifying learning needs.
The new Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Enterprise Agreement 2011-2014 took effect on 5 December 2011, following seven months of negotiations. The enterprise agreement complies with the APS Bargaining Framework and aims to increase the department's efficiency and effectiveness, improve the department's policy and program outcomes, and enhance the quality of employees' working lives.
The enterprise agreement includes the provision of Individual Flexibility Arrangements. These can be offered in recognition of particular skills, capabilities or additional responsibilities or to help meet special workplace circumstances and/or operational requirements. There were 60 Individual Flexibility Arrangements in place as at 30 June 2012. The department no longer offers performance bonuses to staff.
Learning and development
Developing our people and demonstrating our commitment to a culture of learning has remained central to attracting and retaining quality staff over the past year. The department provided opportunities for staff to access wide-ranging learning and development activities, both in-house and externally. In addition, approximately 130 staff members received support to undertake tertiary study.
It has also remained a priority, particularly at the divisional level, to give employees development opportunities to continually strengthen the skills and knowledge needed to deliver our business and achieve results. This includes specialist skill development, offered in a number of divisions to meet technical requirements. The ongoing use of a learning and development plan within performance agreements has played an important role in this regard.
The successful three-year departmental Leadership Development Program (LDP) came to an end in August 2011. Twenty-four employees participated in the final executive level events between July and the end of August. A further 99 employees took part in a related component of the LDP, Building Productive Partnerships, aimed at APS 6 employees, between July 2011 and June 2012. Over the full life of the LDP, a total of 1073 APS, executive, and senior executive service (SES) staff members completed the program. The LDP communicated and promoted a common language and understanding of leadership capability and expectations around leadership behaviours to a large segment of departmental managers. The program was evaluated following completion and was viewed as having contributed significantly to managers' ability to lead the department efficiently and effectively, and to an enhanced culture of leadership.
During the year, 12 SES officers, new to the department or the level, took part in an SES induction program aimed at providing an opportunity for team building within the new cohort and to take the opportunity to deliver consistent management and leadership information to all new SES employees.
Online systems to support learning and development continue to expand. The online orientation program was updated with new modules to provide site-specific information for employees working in the Australian National Botanic Gardens and offices at 18 Marcus Clarke Street, and improvements to enhance accessibility for users of assistive technology. Other new online programs were rolled out to provide training in aspects of financial management (including delegations); work, health and safety (to comply with new legislation); and records management. Existing e-learning modules in selection advisory committee accreditation, code of conduct and security training were also updated.
Using other internal and external development programs, staff also undertook training in various aspects of public policy and administration, such as legislation and decision making in the APS.
In addition, the department delivers significant learning and development activities as part of specialist recruitment programs, such as the graduate program, school-leaver traineeships and some entry-level apprenticeships.
Code of conduct and ethical standards
The department is firmly committed to the APS Values and Code of Conduct and recognises the importance of promoting a positive workplace culture and environment. It demonstrates this commitment by encouraging its workforce to articulate and model appropriate behaviours and by appropriately and decisively addressing incidents of workplace misconduct.
On 3 November 2011 the secretary approved the DSEWPaC Conduct and Ethical Behaviour Framework, which positively assists all employees and managers with their responsibilities and obligations in the context of APS and ethical workplace behaviour standards and expectations.
The Professional Standards Section within the Corporate Strategies Division provides guidance and advice to staff on all aspects of the APS Values and Code of Conduct as well as fraud awareness. The Professional Standards Section also delivers specialised internal investigation services and takes appropriate action when allegations are received about suspected misconduct, internal fraud or other criminal behaviour by departmental staff.
Remuneration for senior executive service officers
The remuneration for senior executive service officers in the department reflects the work value of the roles, job complexity, individual capabilities, contribution and performance, and other relevant market considerations.
In determining the parameters for remuneration, ranges are set for each classification following consideration of annual benchmarking data such as the APS Remuneration Survey, the Australian Government Employment Bargaining Framework, general economic conditions and portfolio and departmental performance.
Disability reporting mechanisms
Since 1994, Commonwealth departments and agencies have reported on their performance as policy advisers, purchasers, employers, regulators and providers 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 <www.fahcsia.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>.
The department upholds the APS Values and Code of Conduct in promoting a positive culture where diversity is recognised, encouraged and celebrated through a number of employment strategies and programs, including the department's strategy, Diversity Works 2009-12.
The department's diverse workforce includes Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, people with disability and people from a non-English Speaking Background (NESB).
|Diversity Group||Proportion of Ongoing Staff||Department's Supporting Strategy|
|Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander||3.7%||Indigenous Employment and Capability Strategy 2012-2014 (IndECS)|
|People with disability||2.4%||Disability Action Plan 2009-11|
|NESB||6.8%||Diversity Works 2009-12|
Note: this data is for ongoing staff as at 31 December 2011. The data has been sourced from the Australian Public Service Employment Database (APSED), which is managed by the Australian Public Service Commission. This data for 30 June 2012 is not yet available. It is important to note that it is voluntary for staff to identify as belonging to a diversity group.
The department refreshed the Indigenous Employment and Capability Strategy 2012-14 (IndECS) during 2012. Building on the successful 2009-11 strategy, the new IndECS continues many successful initiatives and, incorporating ideas generated at the Biennial Indigenous Employees' Conference in March 2011, includes innovative new strategies.
As part of IndECS the department held its annual workshop for the executives of the Indigenous Staff Networks (ISNs) in Uluru, Northern Territory. The department supports three networks for employees based in Canberra, in Kakadu/Uluru and in Booderee. An outcome of the workshop was a proposal to establish an overarching national ISN, currently being developed, to ensure that the needs of both regional and Canberra-based employees are given greater focus.
Training events included three Indigenous Cultural Awareness Training programs conducted in Canberra and culturally specific training for Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees to enable them to provide effective mentoring for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees.
Through IndECS, the department also offers graduate and cadet positions to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. In 2011 there was one Indigenous graduate; in 2012 four Indigenous graduates are part of the department's Graduate Program. In 2011 three Indigenous cadets were employed by the department, one of whom joined the 2012 Graduate Program upon successful completion of their degree at the end of 2011. In 2012, four Indigenous cadets were employed by the department, two of whom were continuing cadets from 2011.
The Kevin McLeod Award was continued in 2012. This award honours the memory of Kevin McLeod, a long-term departmental staff member. It encourages staff to undertake projects with a strong emphasis on learning, which reflects Kevin's passion for looking after country and people, and for living reconciliation. The award commemorates the support, mentorship and leadership that Kevin so readily embodied, and his outstanding contribution to the department's Indigenous recruitment and retention practices. The award is part of the department's Reconciliation Action Plan and is an initiative in the IndECS.
The department's Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for 2010-12 focused on Indigenous-specific programs and policies and on employment targets. It consolidated and advanced efforts towards achieving mutual respect, building stronger relationships and providing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, especially through Indigenous programs.
Consultation commenced on the development of the department's second RAP 2013-15. This will continue our work towards Closing the Gap between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians. Under this new plan, the department will expand its focus to include main stream policy and programs to strengthen the department's relationships with Traditional Owners and Indigenous peoples nationally and at the regional and local levels.
The department's RAP and Closing the Gap Champion is Deputy Secretary Kimberley Dripps, who reports to the Executive Board on the work of the RAP Steering Committee.
Programs offered to staff in 2011-12 included:
- eight seminars on Exploring the Value of Diversity to raise the awareness of staff about the importance of diversity
- celebrations on key national days/weeks, including International Day of People with Disability, International Women's Day, Harmony Day, National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week.
Programs for employees with disabilities are listed below.
- The disability sponsor, Deputy Secretary David Parker, continued his role of promoting and supporting the inclusion of people with disability, listening to the views and concerns of people with disability and ensuring that the goals of the Disability Action Plan and progress towards meeting them remain ‘on the radar’ of the department's senior executives and Executive Board.
- The department established the role of Disability Coordinator. This is an executive level employee whose role includes providing a central point of coordination for people with disability, and colleagues to assist with individual and systemic issues.
- The department continued support for the employee-run network for users of Dragon Naturally Speaking assistive technology to help identify and address systemic issues.
- The department promoted support services available to employees with disability and their managers and colleagues on its intranet. In addition, the department developed and promoted a process for developing Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans for people who need assistance in an emergency evacuation.
- The department applied the principles of reasonable adjustment within the workplace to support improved work participation by employees with disabilities. In addition, consultation commenced on articulating these principles in a Reasonable Adjustment Policy.
The department sought to build and maintain strong stakeholder relationships by providing quality information about activities and services that are accessible to all Australians. For example, the department:
- provided accessibility and safety information about public areas of Commonwealth parks and reserves for the benefit of those people with physical disability
- advertised complaint mechanisms on the department's website for access-related complaints (no complaints were received)
- maintained its membership of the Australian Network on Disability and participated in disability forums
- provided all members of the public, regardless of disability or technological constraint, with easy access to the department's online content. Work is under way to upgrade the department's websites from the former standards to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0 (AA conformance), as required by Australian Government Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy. It is anticipated that this will be completed by June 2013.