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Environment Australia achieves Investors in People recognition

Media Release

11 December 2001

Environment Australia has become the largest organisation in Australia to secure international recognition for its staff development. "This is the key to improving our performance" Mr Beale, Secretary of Environment Australia said.

Environment Australia was formally recognised as an Investor in People (IiP) organisation today at a ceremony at the Department of the Environment and Heritage in Canberra.

IiP is an internationally recognised quality standard that sets a level of good practice for improving an organisation's performance through its people. It is based on four principles: commitment, planning, action and evaluation.

"The IiP program has already lifted our performance in protecting and conserving Australia's environment" Mr Beale said.

Environment Australia becomes the only Commonwealth agency to achieve both IiP recognition and ISO 14001 accreditation for its Environment Management System. Environment Australia is also a participant in the Greenhouse Challenge Program. It has received an environmental award for Best Performance in the use of office light and power.

Department Secretary Roger Beale accepted a certificate from Sue Chapman, Chief Executive Officer of the accrediting body, NATA Certification Services International (NCSI).

Mr Beale said that recognition as an Investor in People was an achievement for Environment Australia.

"Environment Australia employs a large and diverse workforce scattered from Norfolk Island to Cocos Island; from Darwin to Canberra and places in between," Mr Beale said.

"We have all worked together to achieve best practice in people management and development. I am delighted that our efforts in this area have been recognised. Having achieved the IiP Standard, we remain as committed as ever to maintaining it into the future."

Environment Australia is the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Heritage which manages Commonwealth environmental law, the Natural Heritage Trust and our great National Parks and World Heritage areas. It employs approximately 1,400 people working as scientists, rangers, horticulturalists, policy developers, program managers and administrative support staff in nine divisions and numerous sites around Australia.

NCSI believes that the size and breadth of functions that Environment Australia performs, the geographic spread and the cultural diversity of its work force, especially in jointly-managed national parks, make it one of the most diverse organisations in the world to gain IiP recognition so far.

This complexity also presented logistical challenges for the assessment process itself. Environment Australia has been asked to prepare a case study for the United Kingdom IiP website on its IiP experiences.

Environment Australia has undergone considerable structural change during the past five years and has used IiP as a means to unify and increase the effectiveness of the organisation.

A new Performance and Development Scheme (PDS) was implemented to ensure that individual staff members know how they contribute to the department's objectives and what is expected from them.

In addition, everyone is given regular constructive feedback and input into their professional development, supported by an ongoing investment of over $1.8 million per year in staff development funding.

One of the most popular initiatives has been the Executive Seminar Series through which the Senior Executive Staff share the benefits of their experience with staff. The Secretary also meets Directors every two months.

In addition to the Australia Day awards and the Public Service medals, staff contributions are formally recognised through peer nominated annual awards for quiet achievers, sustained significant contributions and significant contributions from newcomers (with less than five years' service). This recognition program was initiated as part of the Centenary Celebrations of the Australian Public Service.

The department runs a Graduate Recruitment and Development Program, with an annual intake of around 20 graduates.

Ten indigenous trainees are participating in an Indigenous Recruitment and Development Program.

Rangers are given specific training for the park in which they work and each park has a training officer.

For more information, contact Mr Keith Fairbrother, Assistant Secretary, People Management Branch, 6274 1250.