At 30 June 2012, DAFF employed 4514.9 full time equivalent staff, including policy officers, program administrators, scientists, economists, accountants, ICT staff, meat inspectors, veterinary officers, quarantine inspectors and survey staff. Our staff operated in capital city and regional offices, major airports, mail centres, ports, laboratories and abattoirs. Around 59 per cent of our Australian-based staff worked outside Canberra, undertaking biosecurity-related and levies collection activities.
Staff also worked in Bangkok, Beijing, Brussels, Dubai, Jakarta, Moscow, New Delhi, Paris, Rome, Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo and Washington to maintain relationships with trading partners and international organisations such as the World Trade Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Detailed workforce statistics are provided in Appendix 2.
In May 2012, DAFF participated in the State of the Service employee census pilot program, run by the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC). The format of the census allowed us to include additional questions that will provide valuable information specific to the department's workforce. The program will enable the department to collect employee feedback on an annual basis and incorporate results to support our people strategy and assist in developing action plans to address specific workforce issues.
DAFF's participation rate in 2011–12 was 67 per cent, one of the highest across the APS. Initial analysis indicates that satisfaction with the department has remained reasonably high, with 64 per cent of respondents providing a positive response. Employees also indicated they have a clear understanding of how their workgroup contributes to our strategic direction (81 per cent positive), have a good working relationship with their manager (72 per cent positive) and are willing to put in extra effort to get a job done when required (97 per cent). The survey indicated that the department will need to continue to focus on improving the management of instances of employee underperformance and change. More detailed analysis will be conducted when further data is made available.
In November 2011, the secretary launched the People Strategy 2011–16. The strategy outlines how we will develop our culture, support our people and ensure effective delivery of our Strategic Statement in a dynamic and changing workplace. The strategy was developed through consultation with key stakeholders, including staff, and incorporates feedback from the 2010 DAFF Employee Survey.
We will further develop the strategy in 2012–13 and implement the associated People Strategy Action Plan. This action plan incorporates staff feedback from the November 2011 'Let's talk' forums on culture. In these forums, participants provided input on how we can achieve the desired culture set out in our Strategic Statement and offered suggestions on the steps needed to achieve our people priorities.
The action plan is aligned with our corporate and business plans, governance frameworks and initiatives to ensure a consistent and integrated approach to people management. Our annual staff survey and other monitoring initiatives will measure progress and ensure our attention is focused on our people.
The department has commenced detailed workforce planning in line with guidelines produced by the APSC. The Workforce Plan will inform our National Learning and Development Strategy and other people management plans across the department.
Our ICT Workforce Plan was further developed during the year and will continue to evolve to meet the needs of a changing environment in line with the ICT Strategic Plan 2012–2016. The key strategies in the revised ICT Workforce Plan include:
- enhancing strategic management skills
- leadership capability development
- compliance with the new ICT governance and architectural principles
- attracting a balanced demographic through graduate recruitment programs
- converting ICT contractor positions to APS positions.
We developed a new people metrics scorecard to provide our managers with data and analysis to help them better understand and manage their workforce. The scorecard sets out departmental targets and provides workforce metrics at a departmental, regional and divisional level. Reporting against consistent targets will ensure all areas in the organisation are aligned in their understanding of our workforce goals.
During 2011–12, the department implemented significant changes in its approach to recruitment, focusing on promoting best practice recruitment. We provided tools to help recruiting managers assess vacancies and determine the most appropriate course of recruitment action. This has seen an increase in the use of merit lists and targeted recruitment options, providing the opportunity to source and secure high quality candidates across the entire agency.
A highlight for the year was the implementation of a mobility register, which allows staff to nominate for transfers within the department. The register has delivered many successful placements, promoting retention and development of staff across all levels. It reduces red tape and the potential for duplication in recruitment activities.
In January 2012, 62 graduates joined our team. Our graduates undertake a training and development program that prepares them for a career within DAFF and the APS. During the program, graduates undertake a major project that involves a one-week industry visit. This provides candidates with an opportunity to develop and refine their project management and stakeholder engagement skills.
The department also conducted an Entry Level Employment Program specifically designed for ABARES. This program trains new ABARES economists and scientists and aims to attract graduates with postgraduate qualifications in relevant fields.
The department is increasing its focus on recruiting a more diverse workforce. We also have significant participation nationally in Indigenous employment programs for cadets, trainees and graduates.
During the year, we launched a new National Learning and Development Strategy. The strategy and its associated processes support our people strategy, establish the direction for learning and development and provide an integrated approach to learning and development across the organisation.
The department invested further in enhancing the quality of its learning products and services. This included the development of the department's first enterprise-wide Learning Management System. This system will meet the growing need for access to interactive online learning and performance reporting.
Staff development during the year focused on both corporate and technical training. Short courses continued to be offered regularly to employees on topics such as risk management, document and information management, financial management, writing skills and managing remote teams.
Through development grants, DAFF also provides opportunities for employees to undertake professional or personal development activities that will benefit them and the department in the longer term. Some examples of the 15 award recipients in 2011–12 include:
- a research economist who went to the United States to meet experts at Resource Information Systems, an international company providing global forest products information and models for forecasting global and country-specific sawn timber and wood production, consumption and trade
- a policy officer who completed a study tour in Europe comprising a series of meetings at the OECD and the FAO, focusing on various aspects of food security and global response
- a scientific officer who completed a secondment to the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Thailand and went to India for meetings and symposiums on aquatic animal health and diseases in Asian aquaculture.
Water property rights a winner for Neal
Neal Hughes was one of five public servants to win an inaugural Sir Roland Wilson Foundation Scholarship. The scholarship scheme is designed to nurture future APS leaders by providing them with an opportunity to build research expertise in an area of enduring interest to the APS.
Neal has worked for the ABARES Water Economics section for six years. His proposed research area is the management of water resources, in particular the design of water property rights and water markets for the benefit of both environmental and irrigation water users. The scholarship will enable Neal to undertake PhD studies in Economics at the Australian National University over a three-year period commencing February 2012.
'I hope my research can shed some light on the very complex policy challenges currently facing governments in the area of water.'
Neal's selection in such a highly competitive field is a significant achievement; there were 72 applicants from 34 agencies Australia-wide and 13 were shortlisted. To win the scholarship, Neal appeared before the Australian National University Foundation board, which included the Secretary to the Treasury, Dr Martin Parkinson PSM, and the Australian Public Service Commissioner, Mr Stephen Sedgwick AO. After a rigorous interview process, Neal learned he had been successful.
'This is an amazing opportunity and I am very thankful to ABARES and the department for their support and to the Foundation and the Australian Public Service Commission for establishing this important scholarship program.'
Neal Hughes, winner of the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation Scholarship for his work on water resources management
Ten DAFF staff participated in the Cattle Council of Australia Rural Awareness Tour in June 2012. This tour provides an on-the-ground understanding of beef cattle production in northern Australia, the livestock export chain and the challenges of finishing and processing cattle in the north. The tour included visits to cattle properties, export preparation facilities, abattoirs and red meat distributors.
DAFF has continued its strong commitment to entry level programs that will extend the capacity and capability of our future managers and leaders. These programs have included the University Vacation Employment Program, Traineeship Program and a Certificate III in Government for entry level biosecurity officers.
DAFF has continued to prioritise and invest in building and enhancing the leadership capabilities of its people across all levels, in line with our people strategy and the APS reform initiative 'Ahead of the game'. We continue to provide a range of internal and external leadership development activities to ensure staff at all levels are able to draw on appropriate and effective development opportunities.
All Senior Executive Service (SES) officers participated in a 360-degree feedback assessment process in 2012. The data arising from this process will be used to further shape our new Leadership Framework.
The department provides employees with opportunities to join significant external programs. In 2011–12, these included the APSC Career Development Assessment Centre, the National Security College and the Leading Australia's Future in the Asia–Pacific program.
In April 2012, we launched an Emerging Leaders program, targeted at employees at EL1 and APS6 level who are new to a management role or new to the work level. The modular program runs over 12 months, leading to the award of a Diploma in Government.
SES officers get hands on
Kim Ritman, ABARES chief scientist, got his 'hands dirty' inspecting frozen prawns, seafood mixes, onions and white truffles. Paul Ross, assistant secretary, Trade and Market Access Division, learned to identify wild turnip and onion seeds. Fran Freeman, first assistant secretary, Government Division, helped detect blue stain fungi on a consignment of rail bogies.*
All were taking part in the second round of our highly successful Knowing the Business program, which provides opportunities for SES officers to get first-hand experience of DAFF's regional operations.
Kim joined the Perth office for a week, visiting the mail centre and airport to take part in imported food inspections. Kim also took part in bug identifications and experienced the hi-tech methods used by operational science program staff. A trip to the grain handling control room during a tour of the facilities in Kwinana was eye-opening—the functionality of a whole room of equipment has now been replaced with a laptop.
Paul spent four days in Adelaide working alongside biosecurity officers prior to taking up his next post as Minister–Counsellor Agriculture in Tokyo. Paul visited an export meat establishment processing smoked salmon products and a pig meat establishment. Wharf-side, Paul inspected oversized bulldozers for biosecurity risks including soil and seed contamination, and assisted in loading a live sheep shipment destined for the Middle East.
Fran visited Newcastle to see how biosecurity services are delivered in a busy regional port and to gain an understanding of the risk-based approach to the business. The program took Fran from vessel inspections and sanitation control processes to vector monitoring, documentation processing for vessels at anchorage and bulk grain export vessel survey inspections.
Eight SES officers participated in Knowing the Business in 2011–12.
*Rail bogies are the undercarriages that support a railway locomotive or carriage.
Paul Ross (right) and DAFF colleague Jeff Mclean inspect a bulldozer
DAFF works closely with the APSC through the Ethics Advisory Service and the Ethics Contact Officer Network to ensure our processes mirror best practice methods to maintain and improve the ethical standards applied by our staff.
A recent review conducted by the Merit Protection Commissioner found that DAFF's procedures for determining breaches of the Code of Conduct complied with the directions issued by the Australian Public Service Commissioner, with the department's own procedure documents and with the requirements of procedural fairness.
Our Integrity Unit works with a panel of professional investigators to ensure allegations of misconduct, bullying and harassment are dealt with in a fair, timely and accountable manner. The unit also identifies areas that may require additional management attention, training or awareness.
In 2011–12, the unit was integrated with the Canberra regional Performance Management and Health and Safety teams. This expanded the promotion of awareness of misconduct issues and prevention measures across the department.
We also support staff through a network of workplace harassment contact officers, who provide information on available support and the processes for resolving complaints. Contact officers receive professional training and can provide advice on behaviour that may be considered to be bullying or harassment. The team contributed to a wider strategic discussion paper on staff engagement, providing comment on the integrity issues related to managing difficult issues.
We continue to use our induction process to ensure that all new employees are aware of our governance, ethical, fraud and security standards. The online induction training package promotes the APS Values and Code of Conduct. Materials on our intranet help maintain staff awareness of ethical standards and provide guidance to employees experiencing ethical dilemmas.
Under our Enterprise Agreement 2011–14, all employees are required to participate in the performance management process. Our performance management scheme integrates organisational, divisional and individual planning to give staff a clear understanding of business priorities.
Individuals are required to develop work plans and learning agreements that cover work objectives and development goals. Formal feedback discussions in November and March each year are used as 'checkpoints' to discuss performance and indicative ratings. The scheme concludes with a formal end-of-cycle review in July. The manager and employee are mutually responsible for ensuring that feedback discussions and the end-of-cycle review take place. They are also encouraged to have regular informal discussions.
DAFF managers dealing with underperformance issues are offered one-on-one support from dedicated human resources practitioners; similar support is also available to employees undertaking the process. In addition to resources on our intranet, the performance management team promotes itself through presentations to individual branch meetings across the department, raising awareness of performance management and the support available to staff and managers.
The performance management team contributed to a wider strategic discussion paper on staff engagement, providing comment on staff management particularly related to performance. The team has focused on normalising the staff engagement process in an effort to develop a feedback culture in the organisation. One step was to introduce performance checkpoints in the formal performance process, increasing the feedback sessions between employees and their managers. This process encourages ongoing performance dialogue and helps to ensure that staff are provided with appropriate and timely feedback.
We continued to roll out the Performance Partnerships Program in 2011–12, training more than 600 employees in techniques to improve giving and receiving feedback and the overall effectiveness of performance management.
Recognising good performance is a key priority in our people strategy. This includes providing positive feedback to staff and recognising their achievements as an important part of creating the culture we desire. Our Reward and Recognition Guidelines provide a framework to acknowledge and reward staff for achieving corporate goals.
Dr Graeme Garner from the Biosecurity Animal Division was appointed a member of the Order of Australia in the 2012 Queen's Birthday Honours List. Graeme was honoured for services to veterinary science, particularly in the field of veterinary epidemiology and the development and promotion of animal health in Australia. The award recognises Graeme's work on a range of animal health issues in Australia and overseas, including major research on simulation modelling of infectious diseases and the publication of more than 40 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Margaret Tanevski, Executive Officer in our Central East Region, represented the department in the Executive Assistant/Personal Assistant of the Year Awards 2012. Margaret was nominated based on her ability to exceed work expectations, provide invaluable input into innovative solutions and for her assistance in implementing significant improvements throughout the department.
Congratulations Gary and Lee
In 2012, DAFF high achievers Gary Maroske (People and Service Delivery—Northern Region) and Lee Cale (Biosecurity Animal Division) were each awarded the Public Service Medal (PSM) for outstanding service.
Gary Maroske was recognised in the Australia Day Honours List for outstanding public service in establishing and maintaining effective biosecurity services in the Torres Strait and the Northern Peninsular area. During his 40 years of public service, Gary has championed the expansion of quarantine capacity in the Torres Strait. His leadership in creating a diverse and effective network of quarantine staff is a crucial element in biosecurity management in the high risk area of Australia's northern border.
Gary's commitment to effective services and his promotion of a positive workplace culture are a great example of how individual officers make a difference to our biosecurity work, and our department as a whole.
Lee Cale was recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for consistent outstanding service in the provision of quarantine and export services. Some of Lee's achievements include:
- a leadership role in DAFF's component of the Australian Customs Cargo Management Re-engineering project
- managing the Live Animal Imports program following the equine influenza outbreak in 2007 and subsequent activities arising from the Callinan Report of the Equine Influenza Inquiry.
More recently, she has led the implementation of the significant regulatory reforms to the livestock export trade.
Lee has consistently demonstrated a passion for, and commitment to, managing the biosecurity risks associated with imports—especially live animals and genetic material—to ensure the sustainability of Australia's agriculture and unique wildlife. Lee's current focus is on helping the Australian livestock industry to improve animal welfare along the entire export supply chain, for the benefit of the broader industry and the community.
(Left photo) Gary Maroske received his Public Service Medal from Her Excellency Ms Penelope Wensley AC, Governor of Queensland
Photo courtesy of SR Photography.
(Right photo)Lee Cale PSM
In 2012, DAFF individuals and teams received 51 Australia Day Achievement Awards and 20 Australia Day Innovation Awards. The Australia Day Achievement Awards recognised outstanding contribution to our department throughout 2011. The achievements included:
- developing a new policy approach to the live animal export industry
- driving the Export Certification Reform Package
- assisting with the management of New Zealand apple imports
- contributing to the department's legislative reform agenda
- providing secretariat support to the Western Australia Drought Pilot Review Panel
- producing a complex, high quality, detailed implementation plan for the biosecurity reforms.
DAFF secretary Dr Conall O'Connell (centre) with some of the Australia Day awards recipients
Australia Day Innovation Awards recognised individuals or small teams for introducing new, innovative methods of conducting business. Innovations in 2011 included the development of:
- the enhanced self-assessed clearance process for freight items
- the biosecurity business model
- the plant exports e-learning training package
- an illustrated vision of the future of biosecurity services in Australia
- an ICT solution that improves our capacity to gather and analyse biosecurity intelligence on aquatic animal health.
In 2012–13, we will be implementing a national approach to our rewards and recognition initiatives, including Length of Service Awards to recognise employees with 10, 20, 30 and 40-plus years of qualifying service with the department.
|Number of ongoing employees||4758||4794||4713|
|% separating (the department)||11.9%||8.7%||9.7%|
|% separating (APS average)||No data a||6.8% b||6.4% c|
a The figure for the 2011–12 APS average is not yet available. b 'State of the service report', 'State of the service series 2010–11', p 107. c 'State of the service report', 'State of the service series 2009–10', p 192.
Building a diverse workforce
We are committed to creating a workforce that is representative of the broader community and to implementing actions that will optimise opportunities for all Australians to actively participate in employment.
We continued to develop a new DAFF Diversity Strategy and Action Plan 2012–16. This new plan will replace the Workplace Diversity Strategy 2010–11, the National Indigenous Employment Capability Plan 2010–11 and the Disability Strategy 2008–2010.
Initiatives in the plan focus on:
- implementing programs to attract and retain Indigenous employees, employees with disability, mature age workers and employees from minority groups (including non-English-speaking background)
- continuing to integrate workplace diversity principles into the business
- increasing awareness and understanding of diversity and promoting an environment of cooperation and commitment
- continuing to implement procedures to eliminate harassment and inappropriate workplace behaviour
- providing a supportive work environment that identifies and addresses specific needs of diversity groups
- implementing our 2012–16 Reconciliation Action Plan
- measuring and reporting on our success.
We developed the new strategy and action plan in consultation with our diversity champions, diversity ambassadors and diversity employee networks. There are six employee networks, each championed by an SES officer:
- Indigenous Employees' Network
- Disability Employees' Network
- Senior Women's Network
- Flexible Employees' Network
- Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Network
- Parents' and Carers' Network.
Our employee networks meet quarterly to consult on relevant projects, policy and initiatives, as well as developing a support network. Membership is open to all interested staff members.
In December 2011, we appointed four new disability ambassadors and two new Indigenous ambassadors to join our current ambassadors in supporting and promoting network initiatives.
We continued to increase our efforts to meet our target of 3 per cent Indigenous representation by 2015 through:
- advertising in Indigenous media to increase exposure of employment opportunities to Indigenous communities
- continuing to participate in the APSC's Indigenous Pathways program, with a commitment to placing Indigenous trainees, graduates and cadets
- continuing to provide Indigenous cultural awareness and disability awareness training
- promoting the work of the department and career opportunities for Indigenous Australians at university career centres
- offering staff two days leave to attend National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week celebrations
- supporting community projects to increase awareness and understanding of Indigenous Australians, by providing funding and grants through the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation and the Community Networks and Capacity Building Program.
As part of the APSC's 'As One' Disability Employment Strategy, the department continues to promote disability initiatives and maintains a gold membership with the Australian Network on Disability.
In 2011, we were recognised as a finalist for the 2011 ACT Chief Minister's Inclusion Awards. The judges presented Deputy Secretary Phillip Glyde with an Award of Special Recognition. This award recognises Phillip's personal commitment to improving access and inclusion of people with hearing disabilities or who identify as deaf in the course of their day-to-day activities.
We continue to celebrate significant events throughout central and regional offices to build and support workplace diversity. For the first time, we recognised the National Multicultural Festival and National Families Week. Our other annual events include International Day of People with Disability, International Women's Day, Harmony Day, NAIDOC Week, Reconciliation Week, Sorry Day and Hearing Awareness Week.
Record intake for APS Indigenous Pathways program
Stan Banu and Sabrina Ober graduated from the Australian Public Service Commission's APS Pathways to Success program in December 2011. They were among the record intake of eight departmental staff who undertook the program. Both Stan and Sabrina assist in the management of biosecurity risks in the Northern Region.
Stan enrolled in the Indigenous Traineeship Program through the National Indigenous Entry Level Recruitment Pathways Program. The program has allowed him to move through a number of rotations including:
- the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy operations and scientific areas
- Cairns cargo and airport programs
- the human resources and learning and development areas.
Stan now has the skills to work across several of our key programs as a biosecurity officer.
Sabrina completed on-the-job training in the Thursday Island and Cairns offices, as well as successfully completing a Certificate III in Government. She is now working in a mainly administrative role and helping out with inspections when required.
DAFF employees Stan Banu (left) and Sabrina Ober with Ezra Anu from the Australian Public Service Commission
In April 2012, we ran a pilot of an on-site vacation care program for primary school-aged children in Canberra.
The program, run by the YMCA, was available for DAFF families on weekdays from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm. Participants were provided with an exciting program of crafts, games and excursions. Positive feedback was received from parents and children alike and we plan to continue the program.
In 2011–12, a strong focus on early intervention injury management resulted in a 36.5 per cent reduction of workers' compensation cases lodged with Comcare.
The new Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) came into effect in the Commonwealth jurisdiction on 1 January 2012. The department consulted staff before and after the legislation came into effect to strengthen their awareness of workplace health and safety. The implementation of the new WHS Act requirements included:
- updating Health and Safety Management Arrangements
- implementing a Site Identification Project to identify and record all workplaces in which our staff work
- developing a due diligence pack for senior managers identified as DAFF officers
- creating a monthly health snapshot report to provide feedback, identify trends and ensure compliance requirements
- rolling out a WHS e-learning package
- developing a DAFF national WHS training presentation
- reviewing the department Work Group structure.
We continue to provide seminars and regular updates on the legislation to health and safety representatives, managers and employees and through the respective health and safety committees.
During 2011–12, the department:
- developed a national Safety Management System to reflect the new departmental structure
- developed a national approach to WHS risk management
- started developing a Health and Safety Strategic Plan 2012–17
- started developing an overseas travel policy
- updated the Well @ Work Strategy
- reviewed our rehabilitation policy
- developed an early intervention policy
- developed a personal electronic devices policy
- commenced development of a national drug and alcohol policy
- introduced a new payment in the Enterprise Agreement 2011–14 to reimburse staff for up to $300 a year for the purchase of health and lifestyle activities and equipment
- assisted with sponsorship of 75 teams to participate in the Corporate Global Challenge and 10 000 Steps activities.
We also provided a range of training around specific workplace safety issues. For example, in the South East Region, we held courses in heights training for shipping and export staff involved in hold inspections and provided first aid training to all officers that board ships at anchorage. In the South West Region, we conducted three transfers-at-sea courses to ensure DAFF staff are complying with the Boarding Vessels Offshore standard operating procedures. Ten staff attended training in ship heights safety.
Further details, including information required under the WHS Act and Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991, are at Appendix 3.
Managing workplace relations
The secretary's remuneration and other conditions are determined by the Prime Minister, as specified under the Public Service Act 1999. The secretary determines the remuneration for the department's SES officers under section 24(1) of the Act, with regard to the annual APS Remuneration Survey conducted by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
The department's remuneration policy allows variation in remuneration between individual jobs, based on market and work-value considerations. This is vital to our ability to compete effectively for the best people in the employment market. All SES officers were covered by section 24(1) determinations during 2011–12.
Our enterprise agreement covers all non-SES employees engaged by the department under the Public Service Act 1999.
Negotiations for a new enterprise agreement were finalised in December 2011, after prolonged negotiations with unions and employee representatives that included the taking of industrial action. The outcome, which received majority support from employees, was in accordance with government policy parameters for bargaining and aligned to the department's Strategic Statement.
Implementation of the agreement has included the development of a range of guidelines to assist managers and employees to better understand the provisions of the agreement and the development of new work-level standards to support application of the department's classification arrangements.
Non-salary benefits provided to SES officers as part of their remuneration package include the use of a private-plated motor vehicle or cash in lieu, superannuation and car parking. Non-salary benefits provided to non-SES officers as part of their remuneration package are generally limited to superannuation. In exceptional cases, employees may have private use of a vehicle where it is deemed necessary for the performance of their duties.