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Management and Accountability


Report on Performance

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, and in 200405 many of these related to management and accountability in the department and the broader portfolio. Our performance against these priorities is summarised in Chapter 2 (page 26).

We are results orientated

We plan for and monitor performance at all levels of our organisation.

Departmental outcomes and output framework changed

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.

As mentioned earlier, we revised our outcomes and outputs framework in 200405. While the framework was only published in our 200506 PBS, it forms the basis for our report in Chapters 3 and 4 (pages 27 and 109). For details of the changes and examples of our previous targets, see Appendix I (page 221).

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

We also provide an annual report to the parliament about how we have used the resources we manage on its behalf (this report).

Figure 5A The department's planning and reporting framework

Key planning documents
Monitoring processes
Formal reporting
Agency levelPortfolio Budget StatementsMonthly financial reports to the Department of Finance and AdministrationAnnual report(s) to parliament and other agencies
Division levelBusiness Plan

Monthly financial and human resource reports to the Department's Executive

Quarterly performance report to the Executive

Quarterly review meetings with the Executive
Personal levelPlan on a PageMid year and end year reviewsResults on a page with supervisor

New tools introduced for internal planning and reporting

In 200405, improving the quality of our internal budgeting and performance reporting were two of our top priorities. We:

  • adopted a new business excellence framework based on that promoted by the Australian Quality Council (see figure 5B below)
  • ran a series of workshops for all staff focusing on who our customers are, what results we will deliver and what we need from others to do the job well
  • developed a new business planning template with a strong focus on the three Rs' results, risks and resources, and
  • introduced a new quarterly reporting template in the final quarter of 200405, which maintains a strong focus on the three Rs as well as any issues which may have come up since business planning.

Further improvements are planned for 200506.

Figure 5B Our business excellence framework

Figure 5B - Our business excellence framework

Planning for and reviewing results at a personal level

We require all staff to develop a personal Plan on a Page' with their manager and to assess their performance against their plan at least twice a year - Results on a Page'. This assessment focuses on recognising what has been achieved and what lessons have been learnt.

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We are honest, professional and accountable

Leadership, decision making and consultation-what it means in DOTARS

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 division.

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

As outlined in Chapter 1 (page 8), two deputy secretaries support the Secretary in determining how the department can best deliver required results.

Several broadly based groups work with the Secretary and executive team on issues across our organisation. Figure 5C below illustrates the main groups in place at 30 June 2005.

Figure 5C Internal consultation and decision making framework at 30 June 2005

Figure 5C - Internal consultation and decision making framework at 30 June 2005.

Risk management focus expanded

The department's business plans for 200405 continued to recognise 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 were also issues that we kept under review. In addition, we:

  • expanded the focus of our internal business plans to include external risks and our relationships with those key service providers we rely on
  • required business divisions to provide a formal update of their risk profile as part of the new quarterly review process
  • updated our business continuity plans, and
  • created a new risk and insurance coordinator role.

To reduce the cost of certain risk events, the department continued to purchase general insurance from ComCover and workers' compensation cover from Comcare (page 175).

Major risks - one new risk, no change in existing risks

The department continued to disclose fiscal risks and contingent liabilities with a large potential impact in the Budget papers each year as required. None of the risks we disclosed for 200405 materialised or resolved. They related to:

  • borrowings of and indemnities issued to the Maritime Industry Finance Company Limited,
  • deep vein thrombosis claims, and
  • tripartite deeds applying to 12 leased federal airports - these provide for limited step-in rights for the financiers in circumstances where the airport lease is terminated to enable the financiers to correct the circumstances that triggered such a termination event.

In 200506 we disclosed a new risk relating to Airservices Australia in the event it experiences any financial detriment as a result of complying with government directions about airspace control services.

Protective security and fraud controls tested

In 200405 the department continued to review and upgrade its security risk assessments, policies and infrastructure to maintain the safety and security of our staff, premises and assets. Amongst other things, we:

  • upgraded the reception area at our main Canberra office
  • secured certain areas occupied by the Office of Transport Security (OTS)
  • acquired an incident reporting system which will make it much easier for us to track and analyse incidents across a range of corporate areas, and
  • began implementing closed circuit television cameras and signage in areas where people would normally expect to be observed and/or were at higher risk of unlawful incidents.

We also continued to ensure appropriate processes and procedures were in place to prevent, detect and investigate fraud, security and other risks. Key procedures included our:

  • Chief Executive Instructions - these direct staff who become aware of or suspect a fraud to report the matter immediately to the Section Head, Internal Audit, or the Director of the Governance Centre
  • Protective Security Policy - this directs staff who become aware of a potential or actual security issue to report it to the agency security advisor or the Executive Director of Corporate Services, and
  • Whistleblowing Guidelines - these encourage staff who have evidence of fraud, waste or misconduct but who wish to protect their identity to contact the Section Head, Employee Services, or the Secretary.

Suspected incidents were referred promptly to authorities such as the Australian Federal Police as appropriate, and specific data on fraud was provided to the Attorney-General's Department as required by the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines.

Internal audit restructured

In 200405 the department reviewed its internal audit arrangements in light of the ANAO better practice guide for audit committees. We restructured the audit committee from February 2005, increasing the number of independent members from one to three members and reducing the number of internal members. Details of current committee members are set out in table 5.1 below.

Internal audits continued to provide assurance to our executive team that our internal controls are effective and appropriate, and that we are implementing the recommendations of previous ANAO and internal audit reports. Issues covered in 2004-05 included

  • the Roads to Recovery Programme (page 66)
  • maritime and aviation security (page 49), and
  • corporate record keeping and credit card usage.

Table 5.1 - Details of new audit committee membership and meetings to 30 June 2005

Meetings held
Meetings attended
Mike MrdakChair
Leslie RiggsMember
Jeremy ChandlerMember
Johanna BarkerIndependent
Jenny MorrisonIndependent
Paul McGrathIndependent

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We are client and stakeholder focused

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

Committed to serving the Australian people through our ministers

On an average working day the department delivers more than 40 briefs, letters and other documents to its ministers and their staff.

We ask our ministers and their staff to rate the quality of the documents we prepare. In 2004-05 we were unable to maintain exceptional ratings in the face of a 20 per cent increase in the volume of briefs provided but still achieved a 94 per cent satisfaction level. To improve this result, we:

  • launched a new eWorks system in April 2005 - this has made it much easier for us to track individual documents and to analyse our performance
  • made 'Writing For Results' one of the first training courses to be developed and delivered as part of new learning and development initiatives (page 170), and
  • set up short-term placements in our ministers' offices during sitting weeks, to expose key staff including graduates to the demands of the parliamentary environment.

We meet with ministers' offices regularly to discuss emerging issues and provide a range of additional support services. In 2004-05, we provided four full-time departmental liaison officers to our parliamentary offices, two for Minister John Anderson, one for Minister Jim Lloyd and one for the Parliamentary Secretary, John Cobb. In support of ministers' broader portfolio responsibilities, we also supported regular meetings with other portfolio agencies.

Table 5.2 - Trends in ministerial workflows

5 743
8 059
7 615
7 771
6 235
Meeting briefs and speeches
Other briefs
1 762
1 814
1 796
1 732
2 156
Satisfaction with briefs and letters
Cabinet submissions made
Cabinet submissions commented on

Regional and online presence expanded to provide better service

To help us keep in contact with our clients wherever they are located, we operate a number of phone hotlines and regional offices - for details see the inside back cover of this report. In 2004-05 we continued to expand our regional presence. We:

  • recruited 47 additional full-time equivalent staff to work on our regional programmes
  • set up a new rail safety investigation team in Adelaide to service the key Adelaide-Perth rail corridor (page 65), and
  • recruited additional transport security inspectors across Australia, as well as established a presence in selected countries in our region (page 57).

Regional office staff now comprise more than 15 per cent of our staff, up from 12 per cent in 2003-04. This trend is expected to continue into 2005-06 and 2006-07 as our transport security audit and compliance functions expand (page 50).

We seek to meet with customers and peak bodies directly. In 2004-05 we met with over 120 international, national and regional bodies (for a full list see Appendix F, page 206). Around 500 community leaders from every region of Australia regularly share their time and local knowledge with us on a voluntary basis.

We also expanded our online presence in 2004-05, launching new websites to support the Green Vehicle Guide in August 2004 (page 78) and AusLink in July 2005 (page 61). We started a review of our main website www.dotars.gov.au and of our intranet to make information easier to find. For a complete list of the websites we host, visit www.dotars.gov.au/utilities/websites.aspx

Web page screenshots

We make all public documents available online as soon as practical after release. Our websites are mainly text-based to ensure they are 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.

We routinely provide publications (like the printed version of this annual report) to stakeholders including more than 40 libraries around Australia. We make information available in other languages and formats as needed (for details see Appendix A page 178).

We also continued to provide information to more than 2.8 million households in regional Australia and released an updated edition of the Australian Government Regional Information Directory in April 2005 with information on more than 650 Australian Government programmes and services (page 114).

New surveys helping us get a better handle on your views

In 2004-05 the department continued to ask its clients to rate the quality of service provided. We also introduced several new surveys, asking

  • Area Consultative Committees and regional grant proponents about their satisfaction with the support provided through the Regional Partnerships Programme (page 118), and
  • airline operators about the administration of the payment scheme for Airservices Australia's en route charges (page 105).

The department continued to work with the Australian Bureau of Statistics to minimise the impact of such surveys on business, and registered all surveys involving 50 or more businesses on the Australian Business Surveys Register. The register is available online at Statistical Clearing House - for details of the department's surveys, search by agency.

Customer feedback is encouraged as issues arise and the department has service charters explaining how customers can provide us with feedback. In addition to an overarching departmental charter, specific charters apply to motor vehicle compliance (page 44) and to services we provide to non self-governing territories (page 128).

We are currently reviewing our charter and arrangements for client feedback.

Complaints to the Commonwealth Ombudsman declining

Clients who are not satisfied with how we handled their complaint are advised to contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman. In 2004-05 there was a 66.3 per cent drop in complaints to the Commonwealth Ombudsman, and no findings of defective administration. Vehicle importation and compliance was the main issue investigated by the Ombudsman.

Our clients may also have rights of complaint to the Federal Privacy Commissioner and/or the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC). In 2004-05, as in 2003-04, neither body received any complaints about our actions.

Other forms of scrutiny continue

We recognise and respect 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.

Table 5.3 - 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
New requests received 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*
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
*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

Freedom of Information requests increased

Departmental records are made available to stakeholders as required under the FOI Act. The bulk of our activities and records relate to business rather than personal matters (for details see Appendix F page 206).

In 2004-05 there were more requests than in previous years and requests continued to be for business rather than personal information. Despite the 25 per cent increase in requests, we succeeded in resolving 74 per cent of requests within 60 days, up from 57 per cent in 2003-04.

We continued to contribute to a detailed annual report on the operation of the FOI Act. This report is published by the Attorney-General's Department (see www.ag.gov.au). A summary of this information is provided in table 5.3 (above).

Major ruling made on Airports Act

In 2004-05 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. Some of these matters are ongoing.

A major ruling was made in the matter of Westfield Management Ltd v Brisbane Airport Corporation Ltd and others. The Federal Court held that the minister's approval of the Brisbane Airport's master plan and the major development plan for an outlet centre were valid and effective. This decision has confirmed that an airport lessee may engage in non-aeronautical on-airport development within the constraints of the Airports Act 1996 and the terms of the lease.

Audit office and parliamentary scrutiny ongoing

The ANAO, parliament and other public bodies release reports on matters relating to us from time to time. Reports released on matters relating to us in 2004-05 are listed in table 5.4 below.

We respond to ANAO reports formally in writing, and the ANAO includes our response in its reports. The ANAO makes its reports available online at 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

As well as attending specific inquiries, the department's senior executive attends Senate Estimates several times each year to answer questions about our activities. We receive questions on notice at such hearings and from individual parliamentarians throughout the year.

In 2004-05 843 questions on notice were received, up from 649 in 2003-04 (see table 5.3 above). The largest volumes of questions related to regional programmes, aviation issues and corporate services.

Table 5.4 - External reports on the department issued in 2004-05

Report details
ANAO (www.anao.gov.au)
Financial audits

Financial Statements of Australian Government Entities for the Period Ended 30 June 2004 Report 21 of 2004-05

Interim Phase of the Audit of Financial Statements of General Government Sector Entities for the Year Ending 30 June 2005 Report 56 of 2004-05

Other audits

Performance Management in the Australian Public Service Report 6 of 2004-05

Superannuation Payments for Independent Contractors working for the Australian Government Report 13 of 2004-05

Financial Management of Special Appropriations Report 15 of 2004-05

Legal Services Arrangements in the Australian Public Service Report 52 of 2004-05

Workforce Planning Report 55 of 2004-05

Purchasing Procedures and Practices Report 57 of 2004-05

Parliamentary inquiries (available at www.aph.gov.au)
Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) Report 402 - Review of Auditor-General's Reports, 2003-2004, First and Second Quarters Parliamentary Paper 218/2004 Tabled 13 August 2004
Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories

A national capital, a place to live: Inquiry into the Role of the National Capital Authority Tabled 2 July 2005

Norfolk Island - Review of the Annual Reports of the Department of Transport and Regional Services and the Department of the Environment and Heritage (Australia's external territories) Tabled 2 July 2004

Indian Ocean Territories - Review of the Annual Reports of the Department of Transport and Regional Services and the Department of the Environment and Heritage (Australia's external territories) Tabled 31 August 2004

Difficult Choices: Inquiry into the role of the National Capital Authority in determining the extent of redevelopment of the Pierces Creek Settlement in the ACT Tabled 31 August 2004

International Civil Aviation Organization Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme Audit report of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau of Australia Released October 2004 and available at www.atsb.gov.au

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We are committed to improving our skills

We employ 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:

  • workforce planning
  • employee relations and remuneration
  • learning and development, and
  • recognition and reward.

More information on each of these areas follows.

Workforce planning a priority for 200506

Staffing needs are reviewed as part of normal business planning in the lead-up to each financial year. However, as mentioned in Chapter 2, we reviewed our plans during the year in response to changing government priorities. As at 30 June 2005:

  • our overall staffing numbers had increased 28 per cent to 1154 staff
  • the Office of Transport Security (OTS) had become the single largest division of the department, with staff numbers more than doubling from 108 to 240
  • our graduate intake had more than doubled from 15 to 31, and
  • only two staff had been made redundant, with both redundancies occurring on a voluntary basis.

These trends have already driven significant changes to our accommodation arrangements (Chapter 2 page 18) and our learning and development programmes (page 170).

Further changes are likely as we start to look more systematically at what we as a department can do to make better use of the people we have now, including a large group of staff nearing retirement age, and expand the department's workforce planning horizon from one year to three to five years.

For more information about our current staff profile, including the number of staff by location and by hours of work, see Appendix H (page 218).

Financial incentives for staff improved

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) for SES and some other specialist staff. In 200405 we:

  • offered more AWAs in order to attract or retain staff with particular skills (see table 5.6 below for details)
  • continued to implement the certified agreement for 200406, and
  • were pleased to learn from the staff survey that our competitive pay rates mean financial incentives are no longer a major driver for staff to leave the department as in 2002.

While the pay the department offers puts us within the top 50 per cent of Australian Government agencies, as mentioned in Chapter 2, the labour market for people with the skills we need remains tight. We are working to improve our workforce capabilities over 200506 by:

  • improving workforce planning (page 166)
  • increasing our graduate intake further to around 40 places, and
  • negotiating a new CA with our employees.

We know from the staff survey that our staff stay with the department mainly because they find the work we offer interesting and a great opportunity to make a difference to the broader community. They view positively their conditions of service, which include:

  • flexible working hours and home-based work subject to operational requirements
  • study assistance including up to eight hours a week paid study leave - almost 90 employees received some form of study assistance during the 2005 academic year
  • an annual close down for the two working days between Christmas and New Year, although many staff chose to return to work early in 2005 to assist tsunami efforts (see page 24)
  • 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 through the department's employee assistance programme (page 176)
  • five weeks' personal circumstances leave on full pay for each year of full-time service, with another five weeks accruing on engagement
  • flexible access to personal circumstances leave - this can cover absences for illness and bereavement as well as parental, caring, ceremonial and short-term volunteer/community service work such as in the case study on page 173, and
  • return to work assistance for employees returning to work after an extended absence and/or after extenuating personal circumstances - this has contributed to an ongoing decline in time lost to illness and injury (page 176).

Table 5.5 Trends in staff recruitment and retention non-IOT staff

Graduates recruited externally
Other external recruits
Total external recruits
Retention rate
Separations of ongoing staffc
Transfers/promotions to another APS agency
Resignations and retirements
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 200102 through 200203 is as published by the APSC. Our 200304 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 Retrenchments include not only redundancies but also dismissals, of which there were two in 200405. Reasons for dismissal may include unsatisfactory conduct, performance and/or compliance with conditions of employment.
e Other reasons for separation may include fi xed term appointments, invalidity and death.

Table 5.6 Trends in nature of employment agreement with staff non-IOT staffa

As at 30 June
Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA)
SES (all)
non SES
Certified Agreement
non SES
Total staff

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

Learning and development programmes expanded

Learning and development was a consistent theme in our 2004 staff survey and is something we are working to address over 200506. As at 30 June we had:

  • made good progress in developing a comprehensive induction programme - this is now being run every six to eight weeks
  • expanded our successful seminar programme, where senior managers from all divisions speak on topical aspects of their business¹, and
  • developed and delivered courses on 12 core topics, with staff consistently rating the quality of this training as excellent.

The main topics covered were working in and writing for the APS, giving and receiving feedback and contract management and procurement, with a particular focus on changes in the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines (page 187).

Learning and development opportunities will be expanded over 200506 to cover a broader range of the capabilities required by the department. Our capability framework is based on the capabilities used by the Australian Public Service Commission and focuses on achieving results, cultivating productive working relationships, shaping strategic thinking, communicating with influence, exemplifying personal drive and integrity, and applying professional and technical proficiency.

Business-specific training also expanding

Many business divisions within the department also provided business-specific training and development opportunities to their staff. For example:

  • The Australian Transport Safety Bureau continued to provide staff with training towards a nationally recognised Diploma in Transport Safety Investigations and hopes to introduce an advanced diploma from 2006 (see case study page 36).
  • The Office of Transport Security started developing a maritime and aviation toolkit for staff. The toolkit, which is now available online, was developed by in-house experts and includes fact sheets and tutorials to ensure all staff are operating from the same knowledge base.
  • Regional Services Business Division held its second Regional Colloquium. The colloquium, which was held at Old Parliament House in Canberra, brought together more than 150 staff and provided time out' to discuss a range of topical issues.

Below: Road trips to Orange and Wollongong also helped Regional Services staff see and hear about the projects they have helped deliver first-hand. (Photos DOTARS)

Below: Road trips to Orange and Wollongong also helped Regional Services staff see and hear about the projects they have helped deliver first-hand.

Public honours and other recognition for departmental staff

In 200405 we were delighted to have a significant number of current and former staff receive public honours and recognition.

  • Former Secretary Ken Matthews received an Order of Australia for his services to the community, to the national transport system and to promoting the highest standards of public administration
    (page 24).
  • AusLink general manager John Elliott was awarded a Public Service Medal for his contribution to the AusLink national land transport investment and planning initiative (page 24).
  • Chris Brooks, a former team leader in the ATSB, received an AustRoads Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions to road safety over many years.

Departmental awards also help us recognise the efforts, strength and determination of staff. In 200405 almost 150 staff received awards as individuals and as teams, including three staff nominated by our internal Diversity and Equity Network (page 194).

Below: Some of the award winners and other faces at the department's 2005 Australia Day Awards.

Below: Some of the award winners and other faces at the department's 2005 Australia Day Awards.

Our remuneration policies also encourage discussion about and reward performance:

  • senior executive (SES) remuneration includes a pay at risk' component and performance pay for exceptional performance. In 200405 39 SES staff received a total of $284 907 in pay at risk and performance pay, with seven SES staff receiving the maximum amount available. For more information on SES remuneration, see our financial statements (page 276).
  • Non-SES staff who are on AWAs are also eligible for performance pay. In 200405, some 14 non-SES staff on AWAs received a total of $77 121 in performance pay. For details, see Appendix H page 218.
  • 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. More than 60 per cent of staff were at the top salary point at 30 June 2005.

¹ These seminars are organised through our graduate programme but advertised and open to all staff in Canberra

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We are diverse, trusting and respecting of each other

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

  • social justice and equity
  • workplace diversity
  • a harassment-free workplace, and
  • occupational health and safety.

Social justice and equity supported

The department aspires to communicate effectively with and serve all Australians, including people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and people with disabilities. In 200405 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.

The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs continued to rate our report on access and equity for 200405 as 100 per cent compliant with the Australian Government's Charter of Service in a Culturally Diverse Society.

A full report on the implementation of the charter is at Appendix A (page 178). A report on implementation of the Commonwealth Disability Strategy in 200405 is at Appendix D (page 194).

Workplace diversity a priority for 200506

The department respects and values the diversity of its workforce. In 200405 we continued to:

  • offer flexible working conditions to help attract and retain staff (page 168)
  • implement the workplace diversity programme we launched in 2001
  • provide financial support to our internal Diversity and Equity Network for activities to help embed the needs of diversity groups into the fabric of the department (page 194), and
  • consult widely on guidelines put in place as part of the implementation of our new CA (page 168).

While we have received positive feedback about these measures from staff, the number of our staff from an Indigenous background remains low (see table 5.7 below). We are working to address this over 200506, for example, by:

  • sponsoring a member of staff to participate in a twelve-month APSC programme to build the leadership capability of executive-level staff from Indigenous backgrounds
  • targeting Indigenous graduates as part of our 2006 graduate intake, and
  • finalising a broader Indigenous employment strategy in consultation with a working group of staff drawn from across the department.

The number of staff reporting a disability more than doubled from 13 to 27. Ninety-five per cent of staff are now volunteering their information, up from 80 per cent for 200304.

Despite the numerical improvement, the proportion of our workforce reporting a disability remains half the APS average. This is another area we are working to address over 200506.

Table 5.7 - Trends in workforce diversity non-IOT staff

These statistics focus on staff employed under the Public Service Act 1999 and hence do not include our IOT staff or Indigenous consulting agents in WA. It is possible that our actual workforce is more diverse
than indicated - five per cent of APS staff chose not to volunteer their personal information for 200405.

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

Workplace harassment being addressed

Our 2004 staff survey showed a slight decline in perceived harassment from colleagues. Perceived sexual harassment showed as three per cent, while perceived racial or ethnically-based harassment was substantially lower than in the rest of the Australian Public Service (APS).

While these results were lower than or in line with APS averages, we do not consider them acceptable and aspire to provide a harassment-free workplace. Amongst other things, we have:

  • reinvigorated our network of workplace harassment contact officers (WHCOs) - we now have 25 WHCOs supported by two executive sponsors
  • provided in-depth training to contact officers on what our legal obligations are and how best to handle issues if/as they arise, and
  • engaged an external expert to provide a refresher on relevant case law to our senior executive team and to discuss how best to handle common scenarios.

OH&S results better than ever

In 200405 a range of occupational health and safety (OH&S) initiatives were continued under the guidance of our OH&S committee. The committee, which includes representatives from all business divisions, expanded in 200405. It now includes 16 representatives, with five regional representatives.

The 2004 staff survey confirmed that the vast majority of staff are aware of their OH&S responsibilities and consider that we protect their health and safety. To maintain these results, we developed a safety, health and wellbeing strategy for 200507 that addresses issues including harassment and emphasises early intervention. Consistent with this strategy, we also:

  • conducted OH&S audits of all departmental sites across Australia in partnership with local health and safety representatives and building managers
  • set up an asbestos register for buildings we administer in the IOTs as part of our commitment to injury prevention, and
  • held a week-long series of events in May 2005 to help raise staff awareness of a range of health issues (Health Week).

High numbers of staff took advantage of free health checks, seminars and other activities offered during Health Week. Sessions were fully booked and were consistently rated as excellent by staff. Some health checks, which included blood pressure and bone density testing, also alerted people to potential problems. Many staff have continued with activities such as lunchtime walks (page 25).

While OH&S claims rose in 200405, the number of new claims remained below historical norms and we achieved our best results on record for the average time off work per injury and the total time lost to incapacity (see table 5.8 below). The department's Comcare premiums remained below APS averages as a proportion of employee-related expenses.

Table 5.8 - Workplace health and safety trends

Proactive measures
Workplace assessments
Staff health assessments
Staff influenza vaccinations
Well-being indicators
Staff using employee assistance
Rate of unscheduled absence per FTE employeea
not reported
8.1 days
8.7 days
10.4 days
8.95 days
Incident managementb
New claims submitted to Comcare
25 claims
20 claims
20 claims
9 claims
18 claims
Total weeks lost from new claims through incapacity
Average time off work per injury (weeks)
Special or serious incident requiring Comcare investigation
Directions or notices issued to the department under the OH&S Act

a Excludes IOT staff from 1 July 2005, when these staff ceased to be departmental employees.
b These figures are as advised by Comcare, with historical data having been updated to reflect the outcome of outstanding determinations from Comcare that have since been resolved.

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