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This Participant Information Sheet tells you about the  APS employee census. It explains the processes involved with taking part. Knowing what is involved will help you decide if you want to take part. Please read this information carefully and ask questions about anything that you don’t understand or want to know more about (contact details are below).

Participation in the APS employee census is voluntary; there is no obligation to take part. If you choose not to participate there will be no detriment to your career.

What is the purpose of this census?

The purpose of this employee census is to understand your views on, and experiences of working in, your agency and the broader Australian Public Service (APS).

Agencies use census data to inform programs and planning, and for monitoring trends. This information also allows agencies to assess how well they are tracking against other agencies and the APS more generally. The responses you provide will assist the Australian Public Service Commissioner to evaluate the state of the APS. Census results are presented on the Australian Public Service Commission website. The census results also help the development and evaluation of strategies to build APS workforce capability now and into the future.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the APS employee census questionnaire has been reshaped to focus on how the APS workforce is breaking down barriers, changing work practices, managing wellbeing, leading through crisis and collaborating to deliver outcomes. Much of the content included in previous years has been scaled back, which has minimised the time it will take to complete.

Who is conducting the census?

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) is conducting this census with assistance from your agency and Engine, an external service provider.

What do I need to do?

Participation involves completion of a survey which is expected to take approximately 20 minutes. You may complete part of the census in one session and return to it later by saving your responses through the “Save and Return” button.

The option to give responses verbally or complete a paper-based survey is also available by contacting the survey provider via email at SupportAU [at] enginegroup.com or on 1800 065 312.

How was I identified to participate?

The names, Australian Government Service (AGS) numbers and email addresses of all APS employees were provided by your agencies for the purpose of sending the employee census to all APS employees. You can request to be removed from the recruitment list by contacting the APSC at stateoftheservice [at] apsc.gov.au.

Is my participation voluntary?

Yes, your participation is completely voluntary. You can choose not to participate without having to provide a reason for doing so or experience any disadvantage as a result of your decision. With the exception of five demographic questions (gender, age, state/territory of your workplace, actual classification and current secondment status), you may skip any question you do not wish to answer.

If you wish to withdraw your already recorded survey responses, you are free to do so up until the end of the survey administration period (5pm AEDT, 13 November 2020) by contacting the APSC on 1800 464 926 or stateoftheservice [at] apsc.gov.au. If you withdraw, your responses will not be saved or contribute to any analysis or reports.

What are the benefits of participating?

By completing this survey you have an opportunity to provide feedback to your agency and the APSC. Agencies and the APSC will use the results of this survey to inform planning and initiatives. 2020 has not been a typical year, and for this reason the Census will focus on important issues including changing work practices, managing wellbeing, leading through crisis and delivering outcomes for your agency and the APS. Your responses will also be helpful in collecting information in how agencies and the APS responds in times of crisis. By better understanding the views and experiences of their workforce, agencies and the APSC will be better positioned to evaluate, revise and/or improve the working conditions and environment for you and your colleagues.

What are the risks in participating?

Due to the general nature of the survey questions, it is not anticipated that you will experience any discomfort when participating in this activity. Should you feel uncomfortable at any point during the survey, you are free to not answer the relevant questions or stop the survey by closing the web page. If you require assistance, please contact the services offered by your agency’s employee assistance program. Alternatively, you can contact an external support service such as:

Will my answers be disclosed to anyone?

The APSC and Engine report de-identified and aggregated census results and make these available to agencies and other parties. Results are reported for groups of respondents. Groups can be formed by a combination of demographic information (such as age group, gender or classification level) and/or where the respondent works within an agency. Agencies may also publicly release reports of their APS employee census results. These reports will be at the whole-of-agency level. Agency level reports for 2019 may be viewed at https://www.apsc.gov.au/aps-employee-census-2019.

The APSC may provide agencies and external parties with de-identified datasets of results. Responses within these datasets will not be reasonably attributable to any specific individual. There are strict filters in place so that when less than 10 employees respond, no data is displayed in an agency’s online census reporting portal. Table 1 provides an example of how data is displayed, on the online portal, where there are insufficient responses for a group. Table 2 provides an example of how data is displayed in an agency highlights report.

Table 1 Agency results by gender

Tabel 2 Agency highlights report

There are free-text questions throughout the APS employee census where you can comment on specific issues. In answering these questions, please do not provide personal information about any other person, for example by including their name in your response. These comments will be reported verbatim and made available to your agency and external parties. However, free-text comments will only be attributable to particular groups where there are 30 or more comments from members of that group. For example, if an organisation unit has less than 30 respondents the free text questions will not be shown for that work group.

How is my information stored?

Your information will be stored securely by Engine. Engine employs data management systems and a security policy which are ISO 27001 (Information Security Management System) certified.

The APSC will store de-identified survey data on the APSC's information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure in accordance with the APSC's ICT security policies and practices. Access to data is restricted according to a range of end-user access-level profiles, and only staff with a need-to-know are granted access on a secure system.

When data collection is completed, all identifiers such as emails and AGS numbers, will be removed from the dataset. The resulting de-identified dataset will then be provided to the APSC where it will be stored on a restricted access platform for APSC analysis. Restricted aggregated data sets that ensure employees’ privacy will be available to agencies via an online reporting tool. Item-level de-identified data will be available to the wider public at data.gov.au.

In order to obtain any dataset of de-identified data, agencies and other parties will agree to store the data in a manner consistent with the Australian Privacy Principles. The APSC Privacy Policy (Part B), provides more detailed information about how your data is collected and maintained.

De-identified datasets will be uploaded to data.gov.au in accordance with the Australian Government Public Data Policy.

De‑identification of data is undertaken in accordance with guidance provided by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

Other relevant human research ethics considerations

The ethical aspects of the census have been approved by the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs Human Research Ethics Committee (DDVA HREC).

The census will be carried out according to the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007). This statement has been developed to protect the interests of people who agree to participate in human research studies.

Where do I go if I still have questions or complaints?

If you have any further questions or wish to make a complaint, please contact the APSC on 1800 464 926 or at stateoftheservice [at] apsc.gov.au. Alternatively, you may wish to contact the DDVA HREC on (02) 6266 3807 or ddva.hrec [at] defence.gov.au.  

Last reviewed: 
1 October 2020