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Work level standards SES Band 3



Roles at SES Band 3 are characterised as requiring knowledge that is developed as a result of extensive and advanced professional or executive management experience. Workforce accountabilities would typically be extensive. Role occupants would be seen as policy/program innovators.


Roles require considerable proficiency in management in a multi-disciplinary and diverse context and provide strategic leadership in building agency capability. In some cases, roles may involve overall responsibility, under the agency head/Secretary, for most or all aspects of agency management.

Roles at this level would be accountable for a number of integrated functions or operations and the comprehensive integration and coordination of major line and/or staff functions in a large complex, agency-wide or APS-wide activity. Some roles will have a limited range of focus to deal with particular issues of very high complexity, innovation, political sensitivity or risk, often for a specified timeframe.


Roles manage a function or professional discipline with a whole-of-government focus with accountability for the integration of a number of functions where operations may be diverse in terms of geographic location, program/service and clients.

Some roles may have high level cross-agency, cross-sector, national or international coordination responsibilities.

The focus is largely on strategic longer term outcomes or particularly sensitive/contentious matters with whole-of-government impacts.

Stakeholder Management

Roles are principal government representatives, with authority to negotiate and/or resolve conflict with stakeholder leadership. Negotiation often occurs in an environment of conflicting positions, technical, policy and legal complexity and divergent views amongst government’s most critical stakeholders. Roles require sensitivity and advanced skills to understand the positions of all parties, gain participation in resolving issues and effectively advocate a preferred course of action.

Direct liaison and advice to Ministers is expected, often spanning multiple agency outcomes.

Job Context and Environment

Roles at this level operate within an environment where there is a strong requirement to identify and define corporate issues or emerging issues of major community, professional or government concern. Roles at this level are highly adaptable in order to define core agency service delivery strategy or policy positioning, develop new programs or policy initiatives and to manage strategic change with government-wide, community-wide, whole-of-sector, national or international impact.

Roles are often required to develop strategies and policies to supplement and reinforce existing policy direction and frameworks and would regularly advise and brief at Ministerial level. Conceptual challenges arise from the need to provide clarity and direction, and identify critical long term risks and strategies for mitigation in the context of significant ambiguity.

Roles are subject to broad policy, operational and commercial constraints, budgets and practices. Roles have substantial freedom to draw upon resources to achieve planned results.

Judgements and Independence

The absence of precedent and clarity of direction within an ambiguous context are key features.

Role objectives are broadly established through agency or government policy, although guidelines or strategies may lack clarity, allowing for considerable flexibility in interpretation and adaptation. Existing guidelines or policies may be inadequate in dealing with complex or unusual problems and it is likely that the lack of precedent is a significant feature in the majority of activities pursued, thereby requiring the management of risk and innovation.

Roles assure the quality of advice provided to Ministers by establishing and articulating appropriate frameworks for others.

Roles may exercise substantial independence in the management of a significant professional office or division, which operates separate from other divisions in the agency and which accounts for a substantial proportion of agency operations.

Policy experts give guidance on, and make judgements about, proposed new standards and new areas of policy or expertise put forward by subject and technical experts. This includes making judgements about the value of alternative sources of advice.

Specialised professional roles may be required to challenge, establish or alter standard concepts, theories, objectives or previously formulated requirements, and may be responsible for the integrity of overall legislative and regulatory frameworks.

The major activity is forward planning or strategic decision-making. For example, evaluating the environment and identifying the fundamental issues to be resolved. Influencing factors are diverse. Problem resolution will focus on complex matters which have substantial, strategic impact for government. This requires a synthesis of facts, detailed analysis, interpretation, the conceptualisation and evaluation of alternative approaches to the problem. Projects require versatility and innovation to define/redefine strategy, develop standards, guidelines, methods, new techniques or criteria.

Distinguishing Characteristics

  • These roles usually require highly advanced professional/executive management experience.
  • Substantial contribution to agency governance and culture.
  • Integration of diverse activities or multiple functions in largest agencies, with key impacts on whole of agency strategy and planning.
  • Provides whole-of-agency leadership.
  • Focus of role largely on broader and more complex issues of external context with national/international influence.
  • Decide corporate strategies within policy parameters, with a long term focus.
  • Strategic development and evaluation of long term alternatives and decision making.
  • Authority to plan and manage whole-of-agency resources.
  • Impacts on whole of agency or whole-of-government performance.
  • Principal and authoritative source of advice upon which the organisation and Ministers depend, spanning multiple agency outcomes or on issues of very high risk and complexity.
  • Effective management of parliamentary, political, and public service environment.
Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018