Building community trust in the Australian Public Service is a priority, and there is a renewed focus on strengthening leadership and integrity across the service. Recommendations arising from the Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme are being examined. Code of Conduct matters raised by the Royal Commission are being assessed. The APS Integrity Taskforce has worked to identify system-wide improvements to support a pro-integrity culture at all levels.
Reforms proposed in the Public Service Amendment Bill in June 2023 include:
- introducing stewardship as an APS Value
- strengthening provisions in relation to ministerial directions on employment matters
- mandating agency capability reviews, long-term insights briefings and publication of agency APS Employee Census results.
The introduction of new performance assessments for the Senior Executive Service now give equal weighting to outcomes and behaviours, and employee perceptions of SES behaviours are published annually. Results in relation to immediate SES managers driving the strategic direction for their agency and communicating effectively are consistently high over the last 3 years (over 69%). However, perceptions in relation to SES within agencies working as a team, and effectively communicating with each other and with other employees, are consistently low over the last 3 years (between 51% and 54%).
A survey of direct reports conducted in March 2023 indicates that most managers at all classifications are perceived as demonstrating the behaviours outlined in the Secretaries Charter of Leadership Behaviours. Areas of relative strengths include managers treating others with respect, having a positive attitude and listening. However, survey results indicate that managers are less effective in dealing with unacceptable behaviour and engaging with risk.
Updated guidance on Optimal Management Structures provides agencies with advice on developing flatter and more responsive structures, and on considering where the authority for decision-making is most appropriate. This will empower staff and more effectively use available capability.
The Secretaries Talent Council and Deputy Secretaries Talent Council continue to develop a strong and diverse leadership pipeline for the future, with a focus on skills, experience and behaviours. The APS Academy is building leadership capability at all levels, including opportunities for SES Band 3 deputy secretaries and agency heads to focus on their contribution to stewarding the APS.