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People management

The Commission’s approach to people management is to support and develop individuals in an environment that allows them to work to their full potential.

Staff profile

The Commission’s workforce decreased by 6.3% in 2012–13 to 254 employees, excluding non-ongoing employees in the Commission’s regional offices, who provide fee-for-service work on an ad hoc basis. The Commission workforce is primarily (91%) based in Canberra.

The Commission continues to have a predominantly female (72%), full-time (87%) workforce employed on an ongoing basis (90%). Female employees form the greater part of the part-time workforce (79%), and the total part-time workforce has marginally decreased (by 1.6% to 13.4%) from 2011–12.

Other notable trends in the Commission’s staffing are:

  • an increase to 6.3% in the proportion of employees identifying as Indigenous Australians, primarily due to our Indigenous employment strategy, which focuses on recruiting Indigenous graduates
  • 6.3% of employees (compared to 4.3% in 2011–12) have identified themselves as having a disability that affects them in the workplace
  • 9.8% of employees have identified that English is not their first language
  • 51% of employees are Executive Level employees.

Succession planning

The Commission has continued to focus on succession planning in light of the fact that 19% of the current workforce may elect to retire in the next five years and 17% are eligible to retire now. Forty-eight per cent of Commission employees are ‘mature-age workers’ (that is, over 45) and the majority of potential retirees are at Executive Level. This staffing profile reflects the experience of Commission employees—36% have more than 10 years’ experience in the APS.

Leave management

The average use of personal leave is 10 days per employee per year. Peaks of personal leave use coincide with school holiday periods. During 2012–13, where employees nominated a specific reason for personal leave use, 17% were for ‘caring purposes’, 8% for ‘operation’, and 7% for ‘flu’. There were two instances where an employee used personal leave for ‘cultural or religious obligations’.

The Commission’s leave management policy ensures that employees have a safe, healthy and productive workplace. This includes ensuring that employees have adequate opportunity to achieve a good level of work–life balance and that the Commission achieves our program of work. During 2012–13, we extended our leave management and flexible working policies to recognise the particular needs of employees who are working fathers or who are the victims of domestic violence.

More detailed information about the Commission’s workforce is set out in Appendix G.

Workforce planning

The Commission’s workforce plan sets out our people strategies to ensure that we deliver our strategic priorities; build and maintain a skilled, capable, diverse, valued and engaged workforce; and ensure that the workforce is directly linked to the future direction of the Commission. The plan recognises that our people are critical to our success in achieving our priorities, and seeks to balance the needs of the Commission with those of our workforce. The planning process is designed to meet our organisational and workforce risks by understanding the external and internal risks and setting a strategic response to them.

During 2012–13, the Commission consolidated the work of the previous 18 months and began to realise the benefits, including a continued decline in unscheduled absenteeism. The Commission:

  • introduced revised work-level standards for APS and Executive Level classifications, which describe functions and characteristics for each classification that align with the Commission’s strategic objectives. These standards ensure that each employee has a clear description of what is expected, and provide a simple and effective framework for performance development and management
  • undertook a 360-degree feedback exercise for Executive Level 2 (EL 2) staff. This extended the program commenced with SES employees in 2011–12. Feedback was provided to each EL 2 in relation to their demonstration of the Commission’s leadership behaviours, which allowed each EL 2 employee to reflect on their strengths and continue to develop their skills as a manager and leader. The EL 2 and SES cohort are well regarded by their managers, peers and teams, reflecting the professionalism and commitment of our leadership group
  • took significant steps forward in our commitment to workforce diversity.

People management policies

In 2011–12, the Commission completed a major review and revision of our people management policies to reflect contemporary better practice in support of the Commission’s strategic priorities.

During 2012–13, the Commission undertook a further project to review and revise our people management policies, as well as procedures, systems and documentation. The new policies and procedures were developed in support of the changing requirements of the Commission’s human resource policies and practices resulting from amendments to the PS Act, and associated legislation, which came into effect on 1 July 2013. The extent of the revision was far-reaching, including policy, practices, delegations, documentation, online systems, orientation, education and web presence. In support of the Commission’s role as leader in the APS, the Commission’s internal solutions provide examples of better practice.

Workforce diversity

A new workforce diversity program was launched in July 2012, under the banner including you. Associated with the program is the Commission’s Indigenous employment strategy—creating paths. Developing strategies that support workforce diversity—including increasing the representation and retention of Indigenous employees and employees with disability—is a key goal of our workforce plan. The Commission has a positive history of supporting a diverse workforce; our representation levels for Indigenous Australians and people with disability have been above the broader APS representation of these groups for the past 10 years.

In 2012–13 we continued our focus on young Indigenous Australians, including by recruiting two new Indigenous graduates, supporting an Indigenous university student through a cadetship, and commencing an Indigenous work experience program in partnership with a community-based organisation, Habitat. The Commission continued its association with the Jawun program, offering opportunities for Executive Level staff to be seconded to Indigenous organisations.

We also took the opportunity to revise our policies on reasonable adjustment and leave management to ensure that proper support is available to employees who are managing a disability that is affecting them in the workplace, who have parental or other caring responsibilities, or who face other challenges (including family or domestic violence). In addition, the Commission committed to the RecruitAbility scheme, which supports people with disability applying for jobs in the APS by giving them a better opportunity to put forward their skills and experience during the selection process. We welcomed two new supported workers as administrative officers.

Hear my story—Reconciliation Action Plan 2012–14

In 2012–13, the Commission launched our Reconciliation Action Plan for 2012–14, titled Hear my story. The Commission recognises that, as a central agency involved in the development of employees, leaders and the culture of the APS, it is vital that we take a leadership role in reconciliation with Indigenous Australians.

The Commission is transforming what we do, how we do it, and the workforce capabilities we need, to take up our broader role in providing leadership, expertise, guidance, performance monitoring and professional development. To make these changes succeed, and to fulfil our role in developing an APS that is agile, innovative and alert to community needs, we need to promote, influence and lead a diverse and inclusive organisational culture across the APS and within the Commission itself.

Our Reconciliation Action Plan is an important element in this transformation. It is based on the principle that facilitating change in others—the APS and the wider community—begins with changing and challenging ourselves. In the APS context we know, from the cabinet room to the humble barbecue, that one of the most powerful ways of inspiring change is to listen to stories that challenge our assumptions—stories that make us question our mindset, compel us to see things differently, or give us a new understanding of the way things work.

Our Reconciliation Action Plan adopts the principles of ‘narrative learning’—that is, learning through stories heard, stories told and stories recognised, and linking the ideas, history or experience that we encounter to our own experience and work.

This year, we have changed our approach to preparing and implementing our Reconciliation Action Plan. We recognise that, on its own, the usual list of endeavours and initiatives is only half the story—so we have focused instead on listening to our Indigenous employees and potential employees, to Indigenous artists and artisans, and to Indigenous communities, businesspeople and leaders—and to ordinary Indigenous Australians whose stories can move, inform and guide us. During 2012–13, the Commission:

  • established a cross-Commission working group, headed by an Indigenous champion, to lead the Hear my story program and the implementation of the Reconciliation Action Plan
  • organised a Hear my story program of speakers, visits and opportunities to engage with and listen to Indigenous experience, history and viewpoints
  • hosted an Indigenous-themed Commission ‘Workshorts’ staff meeting
  • incorporated Indigenous content into refreshed APS leadership programs, including SES orientation and leadership development programs
  • included Hear my story activities in the Commission’s regional networks
  • incorporated Indigenous issues into SES study tours, giving SES leadership the opportunity to participate in the Hear my story program
  • implemented initiatives and programs under the Blueprint explicitly linked to the development of relationships with Indigenous communities and Indigenous APS employees.

Our approach to implementing our Reconciliation Action Plan by learning from Indigenous colleagues and communities will also help to ensure that, in line with broader changes in the Commission’s role, we develop our relationships, networks and operating models to lead a diverse and inclusive organisational culture within the Commission and across the APS more generally.

The understanding and knowledge we gain from implementing our Reconciliation Action Plan will inform our role in leading APS reforms, including those in leadership, learning and development, APS human capital and workforce planning, the management of workplace relations and the introduction of the new APS Values and Employment Principles.

Workplace giving program

The aim of the Commission’s workplace giving program is to provide a simple and convenient way to help as many employees as possible to meet their personal choice to support their preferred charity or non-profit group by enabling them to make donations via the payroll system.

The workplace giving program complements the efforts of the Social Club, which supports and organises one-off fundraising activities for various local charities and community organisations.

Remuneration framework

The Commission’s remuneration framework and terms and conditions of employment consist of an enterprise agreement for non-SES staff and section 24(1) determinations under the PS Act for SES staff.

The enterprise agreement negotiated in 2011 will expire on 30 June 2014. The agreement provides for a salary increase in July 2013. SES salaries are reviewed annually.

The salary ranges for the Commission’s classification levels are set out in Table 16.

Table 16: Salary ranges by classification, 2010–11 to 2012–13
Classification 2010–11 ($’000) 2011–12 ($’000) 2012–13 ($’000)
Note: During 2011–12, the Commission employed one SES Band 3 employee not included in this table.
APS 1–2 37–48 37–49 40–51
APS 3–4 50–59 51–61 53–63
APS 5–6 62–76 63–78 66–81
EL 1 85–103 88–104 91–105
EL 2 107–138 111–139 114–139
SES 1 150–195 153–200 164–200
SES 2 200–225 193–227 212–227

Performance management

The Commission’s annual performance appraisal scheme directly links regular review of individual performance with incremental increases in salary. The scheme provides a structured way for an employee and their manager to review past performance and develop a future work program in line with our strategic objectives. The focus of the scheme is on development and support and, where necessary, the management of poor performance.

Consideration of capabilities and performance at an organisational level by the leadership group ensures a fair and objective appraisal scheme.

Health and wellbeing

Information about the Commission’s health and wellbeing program is contained in the report on work health and safety in Appendix C.

Australia Day awards

The Commission formally recognises exceptional performance through the annual Australia Day awards. The awards give us an opportunity to acknowledge and reward exceptional levels of sustained commitment, achievement and contribution to the work of the Commission.

The awards celebrate the achievements of teams and individuals who provide excellent customer service, demonstrate exceptional leadership, achieve substantial efficiencies or contribute to outstanding policy and program outcomes.

Team awards

Janet Scott and Kate Walcott of the Workforce Planning Team received a team award for delivering both the whole-of-government ICT Strategic Workforce Plan and the Blueprint responsibilities to promote systematic approaches to workforce planning more generally across the APS. Janet and Kate excelled in the service that they provided, both to external clients and internal colleagues, and have contributed significantly to enhancing our professional reputation through their leadership and expertise in workforce planning.


Kate Walcott (middle) and Janet Scott after receiving their Australia Day awards from Stephen Sedgwick AO, Public Service Commissioner, Canberra, January 2013.


Sydney members of the Review and Casework Team after receiving their Australia Day awards, Sydney, January 2013. (L–R): Daryn Nickols, Peggy Leto, Penny Weir (Acting Deputy Public Service Commissioner), Amal Westacott, Elizabeth Parnell and Julianne Taverner.

Individual award

Jane Ryan of the International Team received an Australia Day award for her significant contribution to the work of the Commission in Papua New Guinea, one of the most complex and challenging development environments in which we operate. Her professionalism and contribution have been consistently recognised by the colleagues with whom she works.


Sarah Dinning, Canberra member of the Review and Casework Team, receives her Australia Day award from Stephen Sedgwick AO, Public Service Commissioner, Canberra, January 2013.


Jane Ryan receives her Australia Day award from Stephen Sedgwick AO, Public Service Commissioner, Canberra, January 2013.

Team awards were also presented to Kemberlin Adkin, Sarah Dinning, Barry Jenkins, Lorna Kunz, Karen Labrum, Jude Lamble, Peggy Leto, Daryn Nickols, Elizabeth Parnell, Marie Smithson, Julianne Taverner and Amal Westacott of the Review and Casework Team, Ethics Group. The team, located in Sydney and Canberra, was formed in 2011 and has established itself as a credible and high-performing unit—taking responsibility for learning ‘some very technical ropes’. The team made enormous inroads in reducing the large and complex backlog of review cases. The respect and sensitivity they have shown towards clients of the Commission is integral to the work that they do, and they model this in a most professional and admirable way.

Last reviewed: 
11 May 2018