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Report on management and accountability


The department is required to manage the resources entrusted to it efficiently, effectively and ethically. This report describes how we manage and account for those resources, and how we are:

We also work towards particular priorities within and across the department. In 2003-04, two of our 20 priorities related to management reform. Our performance against these priorities is reported in Chapter 1. Our priorities for 2004-05 are listed in Chapter 2.

We are Results Oriented

We plan for and monitor performance at all levels of the department, as illustrated in figure 6A.

Figure 6A - The department's planning and reporting framework

Key planning documents
Monitoring processes
Formal reporting
Agency level Portfolio Budget Statements Monthly financial reports to the Department of Finance and Administration
Regular reports to staff from the secretary and other executives
Annual report(s) to parliament and other agencies
Group level Business plan Monthly financial and human resource reports to executive
Quarterly performance report to Executive Board
Personal level Plan on a Page Mid year and end year reviews Results on a page

Planning for and reviewing results as an agency

As a department, we publish detailed plans in May each year as part of the Federal Budget papers. Our Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS):

  • describe the departmental outputs and administered programmes for which we will receive funding in the coming financial year
  • set the financial and other targets that will apply to each output and programme
  • detail the new policies and programmes (measures) and priorities that the Australian Government has asked us to deliver in the coming financial year, and
  • forecast our financial statements as at the start of the year and for a period of years into the future.

Responding to staff and key stakeholders, the department also published a summary of our business directions at the end of 2003-04 highlighting:

  • the 11 priorities that the Australian Government has asked us to pursue in 2004-05, and
  • three areas for internal reform for the second year of the two-year Work out/Work up plan.

We report to government on our financial performance, position and cashflows within ten working days of the end of each month. Our report also explains any significant variances from budget. It feeds into the monthly analysis of the Australian Government's finances as released by the Minister for Finance and Administration.

We provide an annual report to the parliament about how we have used the resources it has entrusted to us. Our 2002-03 annual report has been publicly recognised for the 'impressive' frankness of the secretary's review and for presenting 'one of the better financial summaries' of any department 1. We have worked hard to make this, our 2003-04 annual report, even better (see case study on performance reporting).

1 Institute of Public Administration Australia (ACT Division) July 2004: Report of the Judges on the 2002/2003 Annual Reports of Departments and Agencies reporting under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997, the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997, the Online Annual Reports Category and ACT Government Annual Reports.

Planning for and reviewing results at a group level

The department requires all business groups to prepare business plans at the group level and monitor progress against these quarterly. In 2003-04 our business plans addressed a range of issues including risk management. Improving the quality of our internal budgeting and reporting is one of our priorities in 2004-05.

Planning for and reviewing results at a personal level

The department requires all staff to develop a 'Plan on a Page' with their manager. In doing so, we challenge every member of staff to think about their group business plan and to discuss:

  • What will be my key achievements for the next six to 12 months?
  • What might impede these achievements and how will I mitigate these risks?
  • How will I measure these achievements? and
  • What development will I need to undertake, to help me meet work commitments and develop skills and knowledge useful to me in the future?

We also ask staff and their managers to assess their performance against their plan at least twice a year. This discussion focuses on recognising what has been achieved and what lessons have been learnt (see also Performance management).

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We are Honest, Professional and Accountable

The department has established clear lines of accountability for decisions. We have systems in place to help key decision makers obtain views from and communicate issues across the department, and to encourage and ensure prudent decision making at all levels of the department.

Leadership, decision-making and consultation

While we encourage all staff to show leadership, our secretary and deputy secretaries decide how we manage issues that relate to the department as a whole or affect more than one group.

Our secretary also has a number of specific responsibilities. Many of these responsibilities are set out in legislation such as the Public Service Act 1999 and the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997.

Two deputy secretaries support the secretary and help him determine how we can best deliver required results.

Several broadly based groups and processes help the secretary and executive team understand, communicate and tackle issues across our organisation. Figure 6B below illustrates the main groups that we had in place at 30 June 2004.

Figure 6B - Internal consultation and decision-making framework at 30 June 2004

Figure 6B - Internal consultation and decision-making framework at 30 June 2004

We also support the Minister for Transport and Regional Services in his broader portfolio responsibilities and in his role as Deputy Prime Minister. To this end, we supported two portfolio level governance bodies in 2003-04: the Portfolio Business Meeting and the Portfolio Chief Executives' Forum.

Risk management and compliance

The department employs hundreds of staff, has thousands of clients and manages billions of dollars. In this context, we recognise that a balanced approach to risk management and compliance is vital.

Risk management

The department builds risk management into its normal business planning. Our business plans for 2003-04 recognised risks including the competency of people, processes, IT systems and management. The effectiveness of risk management, adequacy of internal controls and compliance and maintenance of an ethical culture are also issues that we keep under review.

We are working to improve the way we manage risk. In 2003-04, we set up a small working group of senior staff and our internal auditors (KPMG) to refine our risk management framework and to improve the range of practical tools available to staff.

Our revised framework focuses on improving our strategic, group and resource management processes, as illustrated in figure 6C opposite. This framework is complemented by what we've called a governance health check and an assurance checklist for staff (see also the 'Matthews three step' below).

In 2003-04 we were also one of five small to medium agencies whose risk management and insurance practices were reviewed in depth by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO). The ANAO, which released its report in August 2003, confirmed that most agencies managed specific risks well but that all agencies could improve their overall management of risk. We will continue to work on this area in 2004-05

The Matthews three step

'Important as formal processes are, none of the processes we have put in place are a substitute for a strong culture of risk management.

Want to know one simple but powerful way of personalising risk management? Ask each member of staff to:

  1. be crystal clear about what it is they are meant to deliver
  2. identify what might go wrong or interfere with their timely delivery of these outputs, and
  3. surround each of these risks with sensible risk management measures.'

Ken Matthews, former Secretary
Conference Presentation on
Corporate Governance and Risk Management
July 2003

Figure 6C - The department's framework for risk management and governance assurance a

Figure 6C - The department's framework for risk management and governance assurance

a This framework was developed with assistance from our internal auditors, KPMG.

Major risks

To reduce the cost of certain risk events, we purchase general insurance from Comcover and workers' compensation cover from Comcare. We also disclose uninsurable risks with a large potential impact in the Budget papers each year. For 2003-04, we disclosed five risks including up to $3.3 billion worth of war and terrorism indemnities for aviation operators. Fluctuation in demand for natural disaster relief was the only risk that came to pass.

Fraud control and protective security

The department is proactive about tackling specific risks such as fraud and protective security. In 2003-04 we updated our fraud risk assessment and fraud control plan. A new protective security policy and related measures will enable the department to respond appropriately to the heightened national security environment in 2004-05.

We have appropriate processes and procedures in place to prevent, detect and investigate fraud, security and other risks. As part of this:

  • Our Chief Executive Instructions direct staff who become aware of or suspect a fraud, to report the matter immediately to the manager, Internal Audit or the First Assistant Secretary (FAS), Corporate .
  • Our Protective Security Policy directs staff who become aware of a potential or actual security issue to report it to the agency security advisor or the FAS, Corporate.
  • Our Whistleblowing Guidelines encourage staff who have evidence of fraud, waste or misconduct but who wish to protect their identity to contact the secretary.We recorded no instances of whistleblowing in 2003-04.

We collect, act on and report data on fraud and security incidents as required. For example, we provide specific data on fraud to the Attorney-General's Department each year, as required by the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines.

Internal audit

The department manages a programme of internal audits to assure the executive team that our internal controls are effective and appropriate and that we are implementing the recommendations of previous ANAO and internal audit reports.

In 2003-04, issues covered included the National Highways and Roads of National Importance Programme, the Regional Partnerships Programme, maritime security and risk management in business plans.

We use internal audit reports to improve our processes and performance. Audits completed in 2003-04 have resulted in particular improvements in the administration of natural disaster relief arrangements and the use of travel and purchase cards (see case study).

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We are Client and Stakeholder Focused

The department listens and responds to our clients and stakeholders. We also recognise and respect the rights of stakeholders to scrutinise our actions.

Ministerial support

The department serves the Australian people through our ministers and their staff. On an average working day, we deliver 40 briefs, letters and cabinet documents to our ministers and their staff (see table 6.1).

We ask our ministers and their staff to rate the quality of the briefs and letters we prepare, and achieved a 98 per cent satisfaction rating in 2003-04. We aspire to turn all correspondence around within three weeks, and came within 10 per cent of this goal in the final quarter of the year (see figure 6D below).

We meet with ministers' offices regularly to discuss emerging issues and provide a range of additional support services. We have a full-time departmental liaison officer in each minister's office - two in the case of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon John Anderson MP.

Figure 6D - Trends in volume and timeliness of ministerial correspondence

Figure 6D - Trends in volume and timeliness of ministerial correspondence

Table 6.1 - Trends in ministerial workflows

5 743
8 059
7 615
7 771
Meeting briefs and speeches
Other briefs
1 814
1 796
1 732
Satisfaction with briefs and letters
Cabinet submissions made
Cabinet submissions commented on

Communication and consultation with stakeholders

The department aspires to communicate and consult effectively with all stakeholders.

We make all public documents available on our website www.dotars.gov.au/ as soon as practical after release. Our website is mainly text-based to ensure it is accessible to people in regional areas and people with disabilities. Where information is provided in other formats, we usually offer a choice of format to ensure it is accessible to all readers.

The department routinely provides publications (like the printed version of this annual report) to stakeholders including 42 libraries around Australia 2. We make information available in other languages and formats as needed:

  • We use diverse media including videos, posters and wallet cards to get vital road safety messages to learner drivers, people in remote indigenous communities and other vulnerable groups.
  • We produce regular newsletters and radio bulletins for our clients in the Indian Ocean Territories (IOTs) in all major community languages (Chinese, Malay and Cocos-Malay).
  • We utilise staff diversity and engage outside expertise where required to help us communicate and consult with particular communities.
  • People who lack sufficient English skills can also contact us by calling the Translating and Interpreting Service of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) on 131 450 and asking them to contact us.

The department operates phone hotlines and regional offices to help us keep in contact with stakeholders wherever they are located. We have offices in Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Melbourne, Bendigo, Sydney, Wollongong, Orange, Newcastle, Brisbane, Townsville and Longreach as well as Canberra, Jervis Bay Territory, Norfolk Island and on Christmas Island (with this office servicing both IOTs) 3.

Departmental staff travel extensively to meet with clients and peak bodies. In 2003-04 we met with more than 150 international, national and regional bodies (for a full list see Appendix F). Around 500 community leaders from every region of Australia regularly share their time and local knowledge with us on a voluntary basis.

2 A list of the 42 libraries participating in the Australian Government library deposit and free issue scheme can be obtained from the Australian Government Information Management Office agimo.gov.au/
3 Staff involved in security and safety-related work may also work from other locations. For example, the ATSB (which is an operationally independent unit within the department) maintains separate field offices in Brisbane and Perth.

Client service

The department often asks clients to rate the quality of our services and report the results. Examples of this can be found above and throughout chapters 4 and 5.

We also welcome client feedback as issues arise, and have client service charters explaining how clients can contact us with feedback. In addition to an overarching departmental charter, specific charters apply to motor vehicle compliance and to services we provide to non self-governing territories.

Calls to our main tollfree number are answered in the first instance by our switchboard, and then directed to the relevant area. This is the best way to handle the many calls we receive about state, territory and factual matters.

Clients who wish to register a complaint or other feedback are still put through to our client service area. In 2003-04 there were 108 calls to our 1800 hotline.
We formally reviewed and reissued our charter in May 2004. For a copy, visit www.dotars.gov.au/ or contact the nearest departmental office (see inside back cover for details).

Want to tell us something?

If you think that we have provided great service or could do better, please tell us.

We recommend you contact the person you have been dealing with, or ask to speak to their supervisor or branch head.

If you would prefer to deal with somebody else, please:

call 1800 075 001 toll-free

email clientserve@dotars.gov.au

write (no stamp needed) to:

First Assistant Secretary
Corporate Group
Reply Paid 594

Complaints to the Commonwealth Ombudsman and other bodies

The department advises clients who are not satisfied with how we handled their complaint to contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman. In 2003-04 we achieved a 60 per cent drop in findings of defective administration. This is despite the fact that twice as many clients chose to contact the Ombudsman who investigated almost four times as many issues as in 2002-03 (see table 6.2).

Vehicle importation and compliance was the main issue investigated by the Ombudsman and accounted for two out of the three findings of defective administration. The third finding related to the Adelaide Airport Noise Amelioration Programme.

Our clients may also have rights of complaint to the Federal Privacy Commissioner and/or the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC). In 2003-04 neither body received any complaints about our actions.

Other forms of scrutiny

The department recognises and respects the right of stakeholders to scrutinise our actions and records. These stakeholders include:

  • individuals or entities who apply for access to specific records under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act)
  • courts and tribunals, and
  • the Auditor-General and parliament.

Freedom of Information

The department releases its records to stakeholders as required under the FOI Act. The bulk of our activities and records relate to business rather than personal matters. For information about how to make a request under FOI and what records we hold, see Appendix F.

In 2003-04 we received fewer requests than in previous years but continued to receive requests for business rather than personal information. We continued to resolve about 60 per cent of requests within 60 days.

We contribute to a detailed annual report on the operation of the FOI Act. This report is published by the Attorney-General's Department and is available at http://www.ag.gov.au/ Key performance information is also provided in table 6.2 opposite.

Courts and Tribunals

In 2003-04 the department was involved in a range of matters before Australian courts and tribunals. Matters mainly related to motor vehicle imports, airport planning approvals, personal injury claims for asbestos-related disease and coronial inquests. Many of these matters are ongoing.

A major ruling was made in the matter of Marra v the Department of Transport and Regional Services. The full bench of the Federal Court affirmed a decision of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal giving approval for a motorbike to be imported after its arrival Australia. This decision has clarified ministers' powers under the Motor Vehicles Standards Act 1989.

Table 6.2 - Trends in external complaints and scrutiny

Complaints recorded by Ombudsman
Complaints received
Issues investigated
Finding of defective administration
Formal reports to the minister under the Ombudsman Act 1976
Complaints recorded by other external bodies
Complaints to HREOC
not reported
not reported
not reported
Complaints to Privacy Commissioner
not reported
FOI requests
Volume of FOI requests handled
Requests on hand at 1 July A
Requests received during the year B
Requests withdrawn C
Requests on hand at 30 June D
Total FOI requests resolved (A + B - C - D)
Timeliness of response to FOI request a
Resolved in under 30 days
Resolved within 31-60 days
Resolved within 61-90 days
Resolved in more than 90 days
Total FOI requests resolved
a These statistics cannot be compared with the deadlines set in the Act as the Act allows for extensions of time to allow for consultation with third parties, negotiation of fees and other issues.
Parliamentary Questions on Notice
Parliamentary Questions
not reported
Questions tabled at Senate Estimates
not reported
Total questions received

Audit office and parliamentary scrutiny

The ANAO, parliament and other public bodies release reports on matters relating to the department from time to time. Reports released on matters relating to us in 2003-04 are listed in table 6.3 below.

The department responds to ANAO reports formally in writing, and the ANAO includes our response in its reports. The ANAO makes its reports available online at http://www.anao.gov.au/

The Australian Government usually tables its response to parliamentary inquiries and other reports in the parliament. For details of the government response to a specific parliamentary inquiry, visit www.aph.gov.au/committee

Parliamentary questions. As well as attending specific inquiries, the department's senior executive attends Senate Estimates several times each year to answer questions about our activities.

The department receives questions on notice at such hearings and from individual parliamentarians throughout the year. In 2003-04 we received fewer questions on notice than in 2002-03 (see table 6.2). The largest volumes of questions related to regional programmes and aviation issues including security.

We aim to respond to questions on notice within the number of days set in the Standing Orders of each house. Standing Orders mandate 60 days for questions from the House of Representatives and 30 days for the Senate.

Table 6.3 - External reports on the department issued in 2003-04

Author/type Report details

ANAO (http://www.anao.gov.au/)

Financial audits Financial Statements of Australian Government Entities for the Period Ended 30 June 2003 Report 22 of 2003-04

Control Structures as part of the Audit of Financial Statements of Major Australian Government Entities for the Year Ending 30 June 2004
Report 58 of 2003-04
Other audits Management of Risk and Insurance Report 3 of 2003-04

The Administration of Telecommunications Grants Report 12 of 2003-04

Special Employee Entitlements Scheme for Ansett Group Employees (SEESA)
Report 21 of 2003-04

Agency Management of Special Accounts Report 24 of 2003-04

Management of Federal Airport Leases Report 50 of 2003-04
Parliamentary inquiries
House of Representatives Select Committee on the Recent Australian Bushfires A Nation Charred: Report on the inquiry into bushfires
Tabled 5 November 2003
House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, Finance and Public Administration Rates and Taxes: A fair share for responsible local government
Tabled 24 November 2003
House of Representatives Standing Committee on Transport and Regional Services

Regional Aviation and Island Transport Services: Making ends meet
Tabled 1 December 2003

National Road Safety - Eyes on the road ahead
Tabled 21 June 2004

Ship Salvage Tabled 21 June 2004

Train Illumination Tabled 24 June 2004

Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA)

Review of Aviation Security in Australia
Tabled 24 June 2004

Review of Auditor-General's Reports 2003-04: First and Second Quarters
Tabled 13 August 2004

Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories

Not a Town Centre: The proposal for pay parking in the parliamentary zone
Tabled 13 October 2003

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Inquiry into governance on Norfolk Island
Tabled 3 December 2003

Joint Standing Committee on Public Works

Proposed respecified Christmas Island immigration reception and processing centre
Tabled 2 December 2003

Proposed community recreation centre on Christmas Island
Tabled 2 December 2003

Other external reports
Council of Australian Governments Inquiry on Bushfire Mitigation and Management
Under embargo until released by COAG (http://www.coag.gov.au/)

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We Are Committed To Improving Our Skills

The department employs a variety of people management practices to ensure we are aware of, and have the capability to respond to, current and emerging issues. These practices go to:

More information on each of these areas follows.

Workforce planning

We estimate and agree our staffing needs as part of normal business planning.

In 2003-04, we continued to implement the Work out/Work up plan. We managed staff reductions mainly through natural attrition and tight controls on recruitment, including a reduction in graduate intake (see table 6.4). A total of seven operative staff were made redundant, six on a voluntary basis 4.

We reviewed our plans mid-year, when our ministers asked us to set up the new Office of Transport Security and implement related security measures. This is why:

  • recruitment activity increased substantially and staffing levels in some areas rose from February 2004, particularly in Regulatory Group and in regional offices, and
  • the number of our non-IOT employees dropped by just 2.4 per cent overall to 901 staff.

We will continue to adjust staffing levels in 2004-05, based on our business needs and capability requirements.

For additional HR statistics, see Appendix H.

4 Seven IOT staff were also made redundant, three on a voluntary basis.

Employee relations and remuneration

We set our pay and conditions for employees within the government's policy parameters for agreement making. These arrangements are formalised in a certified agreement (CA) and in australian workplace agreements (AWAs) with SES and some other specialist staff. We offered more AWAs in 2003-04 in order to attract and retain staff with particular skills (see table 6.5 opposite).

Table 6.4 - Trends in staff recruitment and retention - non-IOT staff

Recruitment a
Graduates recruited externally
Other external recruits
Total external recruits
Retention b
Retention rate
Separations of ongoing staff c
Transfers/promotions to another APS agency
Resignations and retirements
Other separations d
Total separations

a Non-ongoing staff are included in recruitment numbers but excluded from retention and separations data.
b Retention statistics refer to operative staff only. Separations of inoperative staff, who have been on leave without pay for more than three months, are not included in this calculation.
c Separations data for 2001-02 through 2002-03 is as published by the APSC. Our 2003-04 statistics as shown here may vary from APSC data for the same period due to differences in data definitions as well as timing issues.
d Other reasons for separation may include fixed term appointments, invalidity and death.

Table 6.5 - Trends in nature of employment agreements with staff - non-IOT staff a

As at 30 June
Australian workplace agreement (AWA)
- SES (all)
- non SES
Certified agreement
- non SES
Total staff

a These statistics do not include inoperative or casual staff or holders of public office.

We re-negotiate our CA and AWAs as they expire to ensure we remain an attractive employer. As our existing CA was due to expire on 30 June 2004, we negotiated a new CA over 2003-04. The negotiations included staff representatives, the Community and Public Sector Union and the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance of Australia.

New certified agreement

The proposed new CA was the subject of a ballot in July 2004. The results, as declared by the Australian Electoral Commission, were extremely positive. Over 60 per cent of staff cast a vote, with 93 per cent voting 'yes'. Our new CA features:

  • a pay rise of 4 per cent + 4 per cent over two years (for details of salary ranges, see Appendix H)
  • an additional rise for EL1 and APS3 staff to bring rates for these classifications into line with other agencies
  • more concise and readable text which has been streamlined to remove obsolete clauses and material that appears in legislation
  • stronger consultation requirements, which are now defined, and
  • no reduction in entitlements, with productivity offsets being met through efficiencies made under the Work out/Work up plan.

Flexible working arrangements

Both our CA and AWAs provide a range of non-financial benefits to help staff balance their work and home lives and to support workplace diversity principles. Benefits include:

  • flexible working hours and home-based work, subject to operational requirements
  • study assistance including up to eight hours a week paid study leave
  • an annual close-down for the two working days between Christmas and New Year
  • access to a carers' room and nursing parents' room in our national office
  • free professional counselling for staff and their immediate families on personal or workrelated issues (the employee assistance programme)
  • five weeks' personal circumstances leave on full pay for each year of full-time service (with five weeks accruing on engagement)
  • flexible access to this leave to cover absences associated with parental, caring, ceremonial and short term volunteer/community service work as well as illness and bereavement, and
  • return-to-work assistance for employees returning to work after an extended absence and/or after extenuating personal circumstances.

Learning and development

The department is accredited as an Investor in People. To maintain our accreditation, we undergo an annual audit. Our last audit was completed in December 2003 5.

5 The audit was conducted by NATA Certification Schemes International and involved interviews with a number of staff randomly selected from Programmes Group and from Policy and Research Group.

Did you know?

More than three quarters of our APS staff have tertiary or professional qualifications.

One third of staff have postgraduate qualifications, up from one quarter in 2000.

Around 40 per cent of staff had no APS experience before joining the department.

Source: Staff survey results 2002 and 2000

Generic capabilities and related training

The department publishes a framework of the skills that staff need to perform well in their jobs and to advance in the Australian Public Service (APS) context. In 2003-04 we updated this framework. Our new framework is based on capability frameworks used by the Australian Public Service Commission but has been adapted to recognise, for example, our need for specific technical proficiencies. It focuses on six broad areas:

  • achieving results
  • cultivating productive working relationships
  • shaping strategic thinking
  • communicating with influence
  • exemplifying personal drive and integrity, and
  • applying professional and technical proficiency.

Thanks to the success of the Work out/Work up plan in 2003-04, we can now fund a Developing in DOTARS programme in 2004-05. While this umbrella programme will be guided by our new capability framework and annual Investors in People audit results, it will also be:

  • driven by personal development discussions between individual staff and their managers, and
  • delivered by external learning and development professionals who can tailor their approach to our needs, as well as respected internal experts.

Specific capabilities that we expect to address over 2004-05 include working in the APS legislative environment, cultivating and supporting productive working relationships, and writing for the APS.

Business-specific training

The department encourages and resources groups to provide business-specific development opportunities. In 2003-04, we continued a successful seminar programme where senior managers from all groups made presentations about aspects of their business. These seminars were organised through our graduate programme but were advertised and open to all staff based in Canberra. In addition:

  • the Australian Transport Safety Bureau continued to provide staff with training towards a nationally recognised Diploma in Transport Safety Investigations, and
  • Programmes Group encouraged staff from regional offices to attend an inaugural Regional Colloquium.

Other training

The department recognises that generic and business-specific training may not meet the needs of all staff. These include graduate recruits, staff in regional offices and staff from non-English speaking backgrounds.

In 2003-04, we continued to provide an accelerated learning and development programme for graduates. This encompassed on-the-job learning including work rotations, workshops and other off-the-job development guided by our capability framework, and an industry tour.

Staff numbers in our regional offices rose 21 per cent over 2003-04 and their needs were a particular focus in our 2003-04 Investors in People audit. The audit report indicates that we need to do more to provide these staff with equitable access to learning and development. We are working to address this over 2004-05.

Staff from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds also received support to improve their business writing skills through the Diversity and Equity Network. In 2003-04 the network continued to fund classes and one-on-one tutoring in partnership with ANUTech. This initiative will be complemented by more generic training under the new umbrella Developing in DOTARS programme.

Performance management

As an Investor in People, the department encourages our staff to improve their performance. We also aspire to recognise and reward staff contributions. In 2003-04, we continued to recognise performance in a variety of ways:

  • SES remuneration packages include a 'pay at risk' component and performance pay for exceptional performance (for details see our Financial Statements Note 15)
  • staff who are on AWAs typically receive enhanced remuneration benefits reflective of their particular skills (for details of payments made in 2003-04 see Appendix H)
  • other staff who perform at a satisfactory level for 12 months progress to the next salary point that applies to their substantive position, until they reach the top salary point payable under the CA, and
  • under-performance is assessed and managed through the Plan on a Page process.

We do not allocate numerical ratings or rank people on their perceived performance: we want to encourage learning, team work and risk management.

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We are Diverse, Trusting and Respectful of Each Other

We treat our clients and each other with dignity and respect. We are committed to:

  • social justice and equity
  • workplace diversity, and
  • occupational health and safety.

More information on each of these issues follows.

Social justice and equity

The department aspires to communicate effectively with and serve all Australians, including people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and people with disabilities. In 2003-04 we continued to:

  • develop and implement policies and programmes in consultation with a diverse range of people and groups at the national and local level
  • use a variety of media to inform people about new policies, programmes and regulations, and
  • take into account the diverse needs of consumers in purchasing and providing services, and in seeking feedback from them.

We also improved the quality of our reporting: DIMIA rated our report on access and equity for 2002-03 as 100 per cent compliant with the charter, up from 75 per cent in 2001-02.

Our full report on implementation of the Commonwealth Access and Equity Strategy in 2003-04 is at Appendix A. Our report on implementation of the Commonwealth Disability Strategy in 2003-04 is at Appendix D.

Workplace diversity

We respect and value the diversity of our workforce. In 2003-04, we continued the workplace diversity programme we launched in 2001. The programme is overseen by our Diversity and Equity Network and challenges us to:

  • attract and retain a diverse range of people to the department with a focus on indigenous recruitment
  • improve awareness and understanding of workplace diversity, and
  • monitor progress in meeting workplace diversity objectives.

More information on each of these issues follows.

Did you know?

In the IOTs, where the vast majority of our clients are from nonEnglish speaking backgrounds, more than 95% of our staff speak one or more community languages other than English.

Attracting and retaining a diverse range of people

The department aims to attract and retain a diverse range of people by offering flexible working arrangements and opportunities for personal and professional development. In 2003-04, we invited the Diversity and Equity Network to advise us on:

  • negotiation of our new CA
  • availability of car parking spaces for staff with impaired mobility, and
  • guidance provided to selection panels on diversity issues.

Staff from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds also received support to improve their business writing skills through the network.

Improving awareness and understanding of workplace diversity

The department provides a modest budget to the Diversity and Equity Network to promote better awareness and understanding of workplace diversity. In 2003-04 the network:

  • presented awards to individual staff nominated for their contribution to workplace diversity
  • celebrated NAIDOC Week by launching a departmental Statement of Commitment to Indigenous People and promoting the COAG trial to all staff (see case study)
  • used a lunch celebrating International Women's Day in March 2004 to focus on women's needs and work-life balance, and
  • promoted broader issues of diversity of style through a hypothetical 'Is it OK to disagree?' with guests from the Australia Institute and St James Ethics Centre.

Monitoring progress in meeting workplace diversity objectives

We have received positive feedback from staff about our workplace diversity programme. We asked staff about their experiences in our recent staff survey (see case study), and plan to review the diversity plan formally in 2005. For more information about our workforce diversity, see table 6.6 below.

Table 6.6 - Trends in workforce diversity - non-IOT staff

The following table presents a conservative picture of our workfoce, and it is likely that diversity is significantly higher. These statistics focus on staff employed under the Public Service Act 1999 and hence do not include our IOT staff or ten indigenous consulting agents in WA. Around 20 per cent of APS staff choose not to volunteer their personal information.

People from NESB
People with a disability
Indigenous people
All employees
Proportion of staff volunteering diversity info

Occupational health and safety (OH&S)

The department recognises and meets its duty of care to provide a safe, healthy and supportive workplace. Our September 2002 staff survey shows that the vast majority of staff are aware of their OH&S responsibilities and consider that we protect their health and safety.

OH&S activities are overseen by our OH&S Committee which includes representatives from all business groups. In 2003-04 we actively promoted our employee assistance programme in anticipation of the changes facing staff and their families. Take-up of the programme rose but remains within historical norms (see table 6.7). While there was a rise in unscheduled absences in 2003-04, this rate has begun to trend downwards in 2004-05.

We pay premiums to Comcare to reduce the potential cost to us of rehabilitation and compensation, and pass incident reports on to Comcare promptly. In 2003-04 we achieved our best OH&S results on record, in terms of both claims made and total weeks lost through incapacity. For more information on workplace health and safety trends, see table 6.7 below.

Table 6.7 - Trends in workplace health and safety

Proactive measures
Workplace assessments
Staff health assessments
Staff influenza vaccinations
Well-being indicators
Staff using employee assistance
Rate of unscheduled absence per FTE employee (includes IOT staff)
not reported
8.1 days
8.7 days
10.4 days
Incident management a
New claims submitted to Comcare
25 claims
20 claims
20 claims
9 claims
Total weeks lost from new claims through incapacity
88.6 weeks
167.2 weeks
137.7 weeks
28.4 weeks
Special or serious incident requiring Comcare investigation
Directions or notices issued to the department under the OH&S Act

a These figures are as advised by Comcare.

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