Organisational capability

​Our people

At 30 June 2013, DAFF employed 4500 full-time equivalent staff, including policy officers, program admin istrators, scientists, economists, researchers, accountants, ICT staff, veterinary officers, inspectors and survey staff. Our staff operated in capital cities and regional offices, major airports, mail centres, ports, laboratories and abattoirs. Around 58 per cent of our Australian-based staff worked outside Canberra, undertaking primarily biosecurity-related and levies collection activities.

Staff also worked in Bangkok, Beijing, Brussels, Dubai, Jakarta, Moscow, New Delhi, Rome, Seoul, Tokyo and Washington to maintain relationships with trading partners and international organisations.

Table 22 Staff (headcount) by location and classification at 30 June 2013
ACT NSW NT Qld SA Tas Vic WA OS Total
Total 2 155 963 70 735 246 9 624 364 14 5 180
APS1 9 5 2 1 1 18
APS2 14 11 7 38 3 19 92
APS3 102 293 11 207 44 218 110 985
APS4 251 392 30 193 74 172 107 1 219
APS5 305 79 11 105 33 1 75 48 657
APS6 495 77 10 103 28 4 64 34 815
Meat Inspectors 1–4 63 69 18 3 61 24 238
EL1 544 25 5 32 8 1 16 12 643
EL2 360 17 1 16 3 12 8 9 426
SES 75 1 2 1 2 1 5 87

Note: Headcount includes staff on leave without pay.

Table 23 Employment type (headcount) at 30 June 2012 and 30 June 2013
2012–13 2011–12
Total 5 180 5 241
Ongoing employee full time 3 872 3 818
Ongoing employee part time 908 940
Non-ongoing employee full time 98 145
Non-ongoing employee part time 18 27
Non-ongoing employee casual 284 158

Note: Headcount includes staff on leave without pay.

Listening to our staff

In May 2013, we again participated in the Australian Public Service Commission’s (APSC) State of the Service employee census, which enables the department to collect employee feedback every year to support our People Strategy and help develop action plans to address specific workforce issues.

The department’s participation rate in the 2012 survey was 67 per cent, one of the highest across the APS. Results showed that the majority of employees knew how their workgroup contributes to our strategic direction (81 per cent), had a good working relationship with their manager (72 per cent) and were willing to put in extra effort to get a job done when required (97 per cent). More than two-thirds (68 per cent) of staff also stated they are proud to work for the department and 77 per cent enjoyed working in their current job.

The 2012 results showed there are some areas for improvement. The People Committee endorsed a range of actions to strengthen performance in the areas of leadership, internal communication, managing underperformance and managing change. A number of initiatives have also been undertaken at the division/region level to work on areas that need improvement, but also to celebrate and maintain our strengths in areas where we performed well.

Supporting our people

The DAFF People Strategy 2011–16 is into its second year of operation. In July 2012, we launched an action plan for the People Strategy, to place the department in a position where we can successfully deliver our business into the future.

Progress during the year included:

  • developing a DAFF Workforce Plan to identify the skills and capability we need to meet organisational priorities
  • implementing a Learning and Development Strategy
  • implementing the DAFF Diversity Strategy and Action Plan 2012–16
  • updating our Award and Recognition Guidelines to better recognise employees.

Building a new workforce plan

The Workforce Plan 2013–15 was informed by an assessment of our workforce needs both now and into the future. The assessment found no indication of any immediate area of risk preventing work being undertaken on organisational priorities. The plan has set the following strategies to address capability gaps that might pose a risk to our future operations:

  • organisational leadership: embedding programs established under the department’s leadership framework
  • policy development: establishing a Policy Officer Learning and Development Framework
  • analytics and intelligence: conducting a ‘current state analysis’ to gain an understanding of the range of intelligence work being conducted across the department
  • audit: adopting a department-wide auditing framework to ensure a consistent approach to, and standard of, auditing
  • biosecurity officers: renewed biosecurity training to take into account new legislation, risk return requirements and changes in work practices
  • science: increased investment in the maintenance, development and professional independence of scientific staff to sustain and build DAFF’s scientific integrity.

Recruiting people

We have moved to collaborative recruitment services across the department, promoting a consistent and consolidated approach to recruitment. This has reduced duplication in recruitment activities and red tape.

In January 2013, 58 graduates joined our department through the DAFF Graduate Development Program and the ABARES Entry Level Employment Program. Graduates undertake training and development to prepare for a career within DAFF and the APS.

The department continues to focus on recruiting a more diverse workforce. We also have significant national participation in Indigenous employment programs for cadets, trainees and graduates.

James Hayes and Carole Hemingway with deputy secretary and DAFF Disability Employees Network Champion Phillip Glyde (centre) 

Stepping into DAFF: Our commitment to attracting staff from diverse backgrounds took a new turn in 2013, when we launched the Stepping Into program. DAFF hosted three disability interns under the program, which is a joint venture with the Australian Network on Disability. James Hayes and Carole Hemingway spent six weeks working in the Communication Branch. Stephanie Mathieson spent her internship in the South East Region. The Stepping Into program will continue in 2013–14.

James Hayes and Carole Hemingway with deputy secretary and DAFF Disability Employees Network Champion Phillip Glyde (centre).

Photo: DAFF

Developing people

We implemented key actions in our National Learning and Development Strategy 2012–2016. This included a realignment of our learning and development resources to support a nationally consistent approach.

We continued to populate our Learning Management System with whole-of-department and targeted eLearning products. DAFF also signed a memorandum of understanding to share eLearning products between 10 APS agencies.

The department continued to invest in developing its people through the Development Grants initiative, which supports employees undertaking professional development opportunities that will benefit them and the department in the longer term. Thirteen development grants were awarded in 2012–13.

Our staff are also encouraged to take advantage of development programs offered through other agencies.

Fostering leadership

We launched an online Leadership Development Framework in January 2013 to help staff identify options that may enhance their leadership capabilities. The framework caters for employees at different entry points, to build leadership skills and capabilities regardless of their current role or level of knowledge. We also developed two new programs for Executive Level 2 (EL2) and Senior Executive Service (SES) employees, which will be launched in early 2013–14. The EL2 Talent Development Program aims to help EL2 staff to refine their skills in preparation for a potential transition to the SES. The SES Leadership Development Program aims to support a stronger leadership culture with an emphasis on working collaboratively, effective change management and increased employee engagement while delivering business outcomes. The Emerging Leaders Program continues to develop our middle managers, offering a Diploma in Government upon successful completion. The first participants have now completed the program.

We continued to provide employees with opportunities to participate in significant external programs, including the APSC Career Development Assessment Centre, the National Security College, Leading Australia’s Future in the Asia–Pacific and the Australian Rural Leadership Program.

The department also enabled 10 staff to take part in the Cattle Council of Australia Rural Awareness Tour in May 2013. The tour provides a hands-on understanding of the beef cattle industry, the effects of government policy and the supply chain, including visits to cattle producers, sale yards, feedlots, abattoirs and distributors.

Supporting innovation

We continued to support a culture of innovation through our initiative I-Gen, hosting events that encourage the sharing of ideas and collaborating with other organisations.

Following the success of Innovation Week 2012, the event was extended. Innovation ‘13—Inspire Design Deliver ran during May and June 2013, enabling attendees to participate in a wider range of sessions across the APS. More than 650 people attended DAFF’s 15 discussions, workshops, seminars and networking sessions.

Our Australia Day Innovation Awards recognised 31 individuals and teams for introducing new methods of doing business. Innovations in 2013 included the Sea Container Hygiene System (see Program 2.1), cargo profiling solutions in the Integrated Customs System and the animal health capacity-building program in Indonesia.

Managing performance

Under our enterprise agreement, all employees are required to participate in the performance management process. Staff are required to develop work plans and learning agreements, with formal feedback discussions held in November, March and July.

We secured the department’s selection for early inclusion in the APSC’s Strengthening the Performance Framework Project. DAFF was one of six agencies across the APS to be selected at this point in the project.

We evaluated and updated our Performance Partnerships program to ensure it continues to provide our managers with techniques to improve giving and receiving feedback. A key change was development of more targeted content, saving managers training time and reducing costs. Initial feedback on the revised program has been positive.

Table 24 Performance pay received in 2012–13 as assessed on 2011–12 performance
Classification No. of staff receiving performance pay Aggregated amount awarded to classifications Average performance payment Range of performance payments
Total 14 $76 130.36 $5 437.88 $3 362.44–$10 055.44
APS6 1 $3 362.44 $3 362.44 $3 362.44
EL1 2 $9 638.98 $4 819.49 $4 047.58–$5 591.70
EL2 11 $63 128.94 $5 738.99 $3 657.69–$10 055.44

Note: Performance pay provisions are only available to employees with a valid Australian Workplace Agreement in place; not all Australian Workplace Agreements include a provision for performance pay. There are currently 15 staff with an Australian Workplace Agreement. Performance pay arrangements are not available through the department’s enterprise agreement.

Reducing unplanned absences

The 2011–12 State of the service report named the department as one of the top five users of unscheduled leave in the large agency category across APS agencies. Although high, this was a decrease from the previous year, and a further small decrease was achieved in 2012–13. The departmental median indicates that the majority of employees use unscheduled leave at a rate below the APS average. The unplanned absence rates are higher in the regional areas than in Canberra; this reflects the nature of the work performed in the regional areas, along with workforce metrics such as the age profile of our staff.

The reduction of unplanned absences is one of the department’s strategic priorities. The department is implementing strategies including: improved reporting and monitoring of high usage; supporting managers to manage attendance; improved employee engagement, which is proven to impact on discretionary leave and discretionary performance; and improving our health and safety performance. The department will again seek to align its personal leave provisions with those applicable across the Australian public sector during enterprise agreement negotiations.

Rewarding people

In November 2012, we released new awards and recognition guidelines to provide a national framework for recognising the valuable contribution our staff make toward DAFF’s goals. This included introducing a Length of Service award. In 2013, we presented more than 1100 awards recognising staff who have been with DAFF for 10, 20, 30 and 40-plus years.

The Secretary’s Development Awards have been extended to include an Indigenous Development Award to enable Indigenous employees to undertake professional and personal development. Awards have been made to 10 staff for projects that will be undertaken in 2013–14.

In 2013, DAFF individuals and teams received 34 Australia Day Awards for achievements including drafting new biosecurity legislation, developing policy to combat illegal logging and delivering livestock export reforms.

Deputy Secretary Rona Mellor was awarded the Public Service Medal in the 2013 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for outstanding public service in the development and implementation of biosecurity, taxation and health system policies and projects. The award recognises Ms Mellor’s contribution at the Department of Human Services, the Australian Taxation Office and at DAFF, where she has played a leading role in the department’s work on biosecurity and service reforms.

In May 2013, the Director of the Animal Welfare Strategy, Dr Peter Thornber, received the President’s Award from the Australian Veterinary Association. The award recognised Dr Thornber’s outstanding contribution to veterinary science and animal welfare.

Our staff also received external recognition for their academic achievements. Udaya Senarath from ABARES used an Endeavour Executive Award 2012 from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, for a research visit to the Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology at the University of Gottingen in Germany.

Peter Pedersen from the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy Section received a Churchill Fellowship to review United Kingdom border enforcement operations, with a view to applying them to DAFF’s management of biosecurity risk through Torres Strait.

Rupert Summerson from ABARES was awarded the 2012 Dean’s Prize for Published Postgraduate Research from the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne. The awards committee recognised Mr Summerson for his paper Protection of Wilderness and Aesthetic Values in Antarctica.

Rewarding our people:
some of the recipients of our
2013 Australian Day Awards.

DAFF secretary Andrew Metcalfe AO with Innovation Award recipients Gayle Holmik (left) and Fiona Slater.  

Photos: DAFF

DAFF secretary Andrew Metcalfe AO with Innovation Award recipients Gayle Holmik (left) and Fiona Slater.

Louise Owen receives the WA Officer of the Year award from Ken Field 

Louise Owen receives the WA Officer of the Year award from Ken Field.

Chris Ryan (left) receives the SA Officer of the Year award from Andrew Triggs 

Chris Ryan (left) receives the SA Officer of the Year award from Andrew Triggs.

The secretary with (from left) Gaylene Podhasjski, Nathan Rhodes, Mandy Davis, Annelise Fuller and Greg Johnston from the Food National Service Delivery Project Team 

The secretary with (from left) Gaylene Podhajski, Nathan Rhodes, Mandy Davis, Annelise Fuller and Greg Johnston from the Food National Service Delivery Project Team.

Retaining people

We have a number of initiatives to support staff retention, including the opportunity to develop individual skills and capabilities through staff rotations, transfers and temporary assignments, support to undertake learning and development opportunities and access to a wide range of flexible working arrangements.

In 2012–13, the number of staff separations fell compared to the previous two years. During 2011–12, in response to the realignment of functions within the department and reforms to the Export Meat program, the department initiated a number of voluntary redundancies. These changes to the way we do business contributed to the number of separations being slightly inflated during 2011–12.

Table 25 DAFF separations
2012–13 2011–12 2010–11
Number of ongoing employees 4 780 4 758 4 794
Total separations 301 565 415
% separating (the department) 6.3 11.9 8.7
% separating (APS average) No data a 6.6 b 6.8 c

a The figure for the 2012–13 APS average is not yet available. b State of the service report, State of the service series 2011–12, p 257. c State of the service report, State of the service series 2010–11, p 107.

Building a diverse workforce

We released our Diversity Strategy and Action Plan 2012–16 in July 2012. The plan continues our commitment to attracting, recruiting and retaining a skilled, diverse and capable workforce, as well as cultivating a supportive workplace environment that encourages and engages in diversity. It maintains the goal of increasing our Indigenous employee representation, to 3 per cent of the total workforce by 2015 and being an employer of choice for individuals from diversity groups.

Achievements during the year included:

  • forming the Indigenous Employment Committee to provide advice on supporting Indigenous participation in DAFF’s workforce
  • developing guidelines to raise awareness of Enterprise Agreement provisions on flexible working arrangements, family and personal responsibilities, and cultural leave
  • extending our recognition of diversity events to include International Day of Older Persons, Carers’ Week and Teleworking Week.

Table 26 shows the representation of diversity groups within DAFF. The representation of diversity groups continues to increase modestly, reflecting the commitment within the department to raise awareness and understanding of workplace diversity principles and the effective support provided by the various diversity networks. The establishment of the Indigenous Employment Committee has been instrumental in providing advice and recommendations on improvements to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the departmental workforce, which has translated to a small increase in representation.

Table 26 Representation of diversity groups (headcount) at 30 June 2012 and 30 June 2013
Female Non-English speaking background People with
Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander
2012–13 2011–12 2012–13 2011–12 2012–13 2011–12 2012–13 2011–12
Total 2 439 2 440 327 308 91 71 96 90
APS1 8 3 2 3 1 7 5
APS2 44 52 2 4 2 2 4 4
APS3 452 518 73 70 15 12 41 35
APS4 635 598 71 70 19 14 19 18
APS5 375 382 39 36 12 8 10 14
APS6 388 378 72 65 16 18 12 10
Meat Inspectors 1–4 4 4 3 3 3 3
EL1 324 307 38 35 14 9 2
EL2 174 165 23 22 6 3 3 2
SES1 27 27 3 2 1 1
SES2 6 4 1 1
SES3 2 2

Notes: Headcount includes staff on leave without pay. These figures are based on all female employees and employees who identify themselves as members of one or more diversity groups.

We presented our first Australia Day Diversity Award to Kerrin Newson from Central East Region, recognising her outstanding work and commitment to the values of diversity and inclusion.

The department continues to maintain a gold membership of the Australian Network on Disability, which help us conduct an accessibility audit on our Canberra premises and provided disability awareness and mental health workshops to staff.

We continue to support workplace diversity through six employee networks, each championed by an SES officer. We also have seven Indigenous Ambassadors, three Disability Ambassadors and seven Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Ambassadors who support employees and assist with diversity initiatives.

In April 2013, the department was selected as a finalist in the Inclusive Workplace of the Year category of the Australian Human Resource Institute’s Diversity Awards. These awards recognise individuals and organisations that have demonstrated excellence in the area of diversity.

Table 27 Staff age profile by classification (headcount) at 30 June 2013
Classification Staff Age
<20 20–24 25–29 30–34 35–39 40–44 45–49 50–54 55–59 60–64 >64 Total
Total 8 172 526 683 731 686 632 716 531 320 175 5 180
<APS1 a 3 5 1 1 1 4 2 1 18
APS2 3 7 15 7 5 8 4 10 9 11 13 92
APS3 2 58 115 116 136 118 103 122 101 68 46 985
APS4 62 146 171 167 175 145 162 103 61 27 1 219
APS5 31 102 109 112 84 64 69 53 31 2 657
APS6 8 98 129 122 92 98 94 74 58 42 815
EL1 1 45 107 122 105 97 85 53 21 7 643
EL2 3 29 51 75 80 86 74 23 5 426
Meat Inspectors 1–4 2 11 9 13 25 52 54 41 31 238
SES1 3 6 11 9 23 7 5 64
SES2 4 2 9 3 1 19
SES3 1 2 1 4

Note: Headcount includes staff on leave without pay. a APS 1 includes Indigenous Cadets.

Managing work health and safety

We continued our strong focus on preventative risk management and early intervention injury management. This is evidenced in the decreased number of reported injuries and in a 34 per cent reduction in compensation cases lodged with Comcare. The department’s estimated 2013–14 Workers Compensation Premium is $10 592 million, which is a significant saving of $1.6 million from 2012–13.

We continued to upgrade our Safety Management System to ensure the department meets and exceeds its obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act). In March 2013, Comcare completed an audit of our WHS systems. We have begun addressing the audit findings and driving further improvements in our WHS performance. We are also working on an improved incident reporting system, which includes an initiative to publish hazard alerts.

Other achievements included:

  • completing our health and safety risk profile as required under the WHS Act
  • developing the department’s Health and Safety Strategic Plan 2013–2018
  • implementing a rehabilitation management system to promote a nationally consistent approach to rehabilitation, case management and early intervention
  • launching a Comcare eLearning module for managers and a DAFF WHS eLearning package for all staff
  • introducing a national influenza vaccination program.

We continued to encourage employee participation in the Global Corporate Challenge, which promotes health and wellbeing in the workplace through regular exercise. The 16-week program involved 567 DAFF staff in 2013.

Table 28 Reported serious personal injuries, prescribed incapacities and dangerous occurrences to DAFF employees
WHS Act OH&S Act


1 Jan–30 Jun


1 Jul–31 Dec

Serious personal injuries a 6 3 6
Dangerous occurrences b 12 7 9

a Serious personal injury means that a person needs emergency treatment by a doctor; treatment in a hospital as a casualty, with or without being admitted to the hospital; or admission to hospital. b Dangerous occurrences are ‘near misses’ that could have, but did not, result in death, serious personal injury or incapacity.

Table 29 Investigations, directions and notices under WHS legislation
WHS Act OH&S Act


1 Jan–30 Jun


1 Jul–31 Dec

Investigations 6 1
Provisional improvement notices 1
Directions or notices

Managing workplace relations

Senior executive remuneration policy

The Prime Minister determines the secretary’s remuneration and other conditions, 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 APSC’s annual Australian Public Service Remuneration Survey.

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.

Enterprise agreements

Our enterprise agreement covers all non-SES employees engaged by the department under the Public Service Act 1999.

Implementation of the agreement has included developing a range of guidelines to assist managers and employees to better understand the provisions of the agreement and new work level standards to support the department’s position classification arrangements. The agreement also featured a productivity payment to all employees in recognition of improvements achieved over and above those recognised through general salary increases.

Table 30 Employment contractual arrangements at 30 June 2013
Number of employees under contract
Total 5 180
Enterprise Agreement 5 064
s. 24(1) determinations 87
Common law contracts
Individual flexibility arrangements 14
Non-SES Australian Workplace Agreements 15


Table 31 Department salary structure at 30 June 2013

Classification Salary range
APS1 $43 606 – $48 847
APS2 $51 298 – $53 331
APS3 $56 034 – $60 871
APS4 $62 818 – $68 183
APS5 $69 238 – $74 643
APS6 a $77 602 – $109 584
EL1 $94 208 – $106 301
EL2 b $113 671 – $146 971
SES c $179 887 – $315 215

Note: Remuneration negotiated through Australian Workplace Agreements or Individual Flexibility Arrangements can exceed the salary ranges for non-SES classifications. a Positions requiring mandatory veterinary qualifications can access paypoints between $92 404 and $109 584. b Positions requiring mandatory veterinary or scientific qualifications can access paypoints between $134 497 and $146 971. c SES salaries are determined on a case-by-case basis.

Non-salary benefits

Non-salary benefits provided to SES officers as part of their remuneration package include 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 Commonwealth vehicle where it is deemed necessary for the performance of their duties.

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Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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