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Part 2: About the Department

The Department of Employment assists the Australian Government to achieve its objectives of creating jobs and employment outcomes in safe and fair workplaces.

In doing so, the department works with other Australian Government agencies, state and territory governments and stakeholders to:

  • commission job service providers to place job seekers into work
  • develop policy and programmes to increase Australia's workforce participation
  • facilitate productivity and job growth through policies that promote fair, productive and safe workplaces.

The department supports the Government to deliver its social and economic priorities, now and in the future. It does so by collaborating with key economic and social policy agencies across the APS, with non-APS partners and with contracted providers.

Employment came into existence on 18 September 2013 as a result of machinery-of-government (MoG) changes following the election of the Coalition Government. It was created from DEEWR.

Employee and geographic profile

At 28 February 2015, Employment had 1829 staff (Figure 2) comprising a:

Significant cohort of Executive Level (EL) staff representing roughly 34 per cent of the department's overall headcount, similar in ratio to many policy agencies

Wide geographic footprint, with offices in 17 sites around Australia–10 staff are based in the Northern Territory, 151 in New South Wales, 66 in Queensland, 39 in South Australia, 14 in Tasmania, 47 in Victoria, and 27 in Perth.


Variable age profile–7 per cent of staff are 45 years or older, which is below the APS average of 45 per cent; 56 per cent of staff in the State Network are over 45 years, and more than one-quarter being 55 years or older

Workforce that is 55 per cent female with a strong level of representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples (2.74 per cent) and moderately stronger representation of staff identifying as having a disability (3.4 per cent).

Figure 2–Department's employment and geographic profile

2014 APS Employee Census results

The 2014 APS Employee Census provided positive insights into the department.

A high 89 per cent responded to the Census with results showing job, team and agency engagement levels well above the APS average. Results identified strengths around leadership visibility (17 per cent above the APS average), ability of leaders to communicate (15 per cent above the APS average), ability of staff to respond to change (15 per cent above the APS average), and staff feeling their contribution is valued (11 per cent above the APS average).

The areas for concern for the department identified through the Census revolved around access to effective learning and development (3 per cent below) and time spent in formal education and training during the 12 months before the Census (22 per cent below).

Departmental structure

The department is divided into two work clusters: Workplace Relation and Economic Strategy; and Employment. It also has a Corporate Services section and a Shared Services Centre. The role of each area is described after Figure 3.

Figure 3–Departmental structure

Workplace Relations and Economic Strategy Cluster brings together workplace relations policy areas to deliver policy advice in support of the department's outcomes and the Government's desire to improve labour productivity and remove red tape for employers.

Employment Cluster delivers the department's employment services programs, including through jobactive (launched in July 2015 to replace Job Services Australia) and through State Network offices across Australia.

Corporate Services comprises internal service areas providing professional services in support of the department's business and operations.

Shared Services Centre, established in December 2013 jointly by the Department of Employment and the Department of Education, delivers corporate and enabling services to both departments following MoG changes. It supports the two departments as well as some portfolio and other agencies in corporate and information technology (IT) functions.

Departmental outcomes and portfolio structure

The department's two outcomes, identified in the 2015-16 Portfolio Budget Statements, are:

Outcome 1: To foster a productive and competitive labour market through employment policies and programmes that assist job seekers into work, meet employer needs and increase Australia's workforce participation.

Outcome 2: To facilitate jobs growth through policies that promote fair, productive and safe workplaces.

The Employment Portfolio includes seven agencies and statutory authorities (Figure 4).

Figure 4–Departmental portfolio

In 2014-15, the department had $1,994 million in operating expenses, of which $1,694 million was administered (Figure 5).

Figure 5–Operating expenses over two financial years

Key achievements

The department has advanced a number of key achievements, including:

New employment services model, jobactive. This was a redesign of the employment programme to meet the needs of employers and ensure job seekers get real jobs. The Government is investing $5 billion over three years in jobactive, which is delivered by 66 organisations across Australia.

Work for the Dole. This national scheme supports job seekers to remain active and engaged, and continue to build their skills while looking for work.

G20 Taskforce on Employment. This included supporting the Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting held in September 2014.

Bill to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission and Registered Organisation Commission. This took place in the first 100 days of the Coalition Government's new Parliament.

Amendments to the Building and Construction Workplace Health and Safety Scheme. These broaden the scheme's safety benefits, reduce red tape and the compliance burden for accredited companies, and encourage more companies to become accredited.

Shared Services Centre. This was established as a joint venture with the Department of Education, to drive efficiencies and savings in delivering corporate and enabling services by maximising economies of scale.

Operating environment

A priority for the Australian Government is to develop policies that boost productivity and jobs growth. This includes making the Productivity Commission responsible for reviewing:

... the performance of the workplace relations framework, including the Fair Work Act 2009, focussing on key social and economic indicators important to the wellbeing, productivity and competitiveness of Australia and its people.

The Commission aims to hand down a draft report in July and conclude its review by the end of 2015. It is expected that Employment will be a key advisor to the Australian Government in responding to the review's findings.

Since 2009, more than 2.1 million job placements have been recorded under the programs administered by the department and at any point around 800 000 job seekers are serviced by job providers managed under contract by the department. New employment services contracts struck under new contracts help better meet the needs of employers by enabling job service providers to tailor offerings to the needs of employers and reduce administrative and compliance burden placed on providers.

Last reviewed: 
22 May 2018