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APS News February 2017: fostering a flexible, efficient, high performing APS

Welcome to APS News for 2017.

This year we plan a strong focus on the workforce of the future. A lot is being written about the factors that will affect employers and employees alike. Artificial intelligence, big data, networked organisations, the gig economy – all of these and more will fundamentally transform the way we work and how we regulate the future workforce. Agencies across the APS have implemented or are experimenting with responses to this, including some of the initiatives described below.

Call for Free-Rangers

Operation Free Range is a trial of a structured staff mobility program in the APS. It will match employees with relevant skills to high priority initiatives or projects, across individual agency boundaries. Selected employees will undertake placements in the other agencies, getting an opportunity to try new things and take on new challenges without leaving the APS. Agencies will be able to meet business needs, and get the benefit of new skills and ideas, without additional recruitment.

The trial involves the Australian Public Service Commission working with six other agencies:

  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Department of Finance
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics
  • Australian Communications and Media Authority
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Defence.

Recruitment for participants in these agencies will start in April 2017. We envisage a limited number of positions during the trial period. The outcomes of the trial will help us understand the barriers to mobility across the APS, inform a roadmap to improve mobility and prepare us for the future.

Action on the Indigenous front

Indigenous employment policy and programs continue to be a focus in the APS.  

Established under guidance from the Secretaries' Sub-Committee on Equity and Diversity, the Indigenous SES Network is being relaunched to help guide our work and sustain strong outcomes for our Indigenous employees. The network will explore how to better retain and progress Indigenous Australians in the APS. It will work closely with the Indigenous Champions Network, and draw on employment data to identify and grow talent.

One important path for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into the APS is the Indigenous Graduate Program. We are now trying to reach all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who will finish their degree by January 2018 – the 2018 Indigenous Graduate Recruitment Program is open and we want you to apply. The program offers a rewarding career in the APS for graduates of all disciplines.

The APSC helps candidates through every step of the process. Since 2005, we have worked with agencies to recruit more than 1,100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into the APS. We’re aiming for our biggest ever intake in 2018.

Applications for the program close on 31 March 2017. 

How do we BRANDit in the APS? The answer is coming soon …

The formal stage of the BRANDit competition judging is now complete.   Show more

The Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Martin Parkinson, and the Public Service Commissioner, John Lloyd, were joined by two external judges to ponder 32 shortlisted entries from over 700 fantastic submissions for taglines to capture the APS brand. The external judges, Holly Ransom, CEO Emergent, and Irina Hayward, Digital and Direct Strategy, BMF Advertising, brought fresh eyes and significant branding expertise to the job. Feedback from focus groups in coming weeks will assist in deciding the winning entry, which will be announced on 1 March 2017 at joint APSC & IPAA event.   Hide content

The APS: 2017 and beyond

APS staff will have the opportunity to hear the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner or First Assistant Commissioner speak about the State of the Service results for 2016 and their impact on our work in 2017.

Forums will be held across Australia during February and March.


When and where

  • Monday 13 February–Perth
  • Wednesday 15 February –Canberra
  • Friday 17 February –Canberra
  • Monday 20 February – Sydney
  • Thursday 23 February–Brisbane
  • Friday 24 February–Melbourne
  • Friday 24 February–Adelaide
  • Wednesday 1 March–Townsville
  • Thursday 2 March–Darwin
  • Monday 6 March–Hobart.

APSWide Event: Excellence through Innovation

Our first APSWide event for 2017 is bringing together innovation experts from the public and private sectors for an engaging and thought-provoking panel event. Discussing topics relevant to the Future of Work and sharing their successes and failures, this engaging event is open to all APS staff.

When and where

Thursday 2 March 2017, 3:00pm – 4:30pm
Networking: 4:30pm – 5:00pm
Venue: Hotel Realm, Canberra
Cost: $90.00

APS Grad Event: A Taste of Government

All APS Graduates are invited to the APS Graduate commencement event in April, and other gatherings throughout the year.

These events are an excellent way for graduates to build their knowledge of current APS issues while establishing networks amongst their graduate colleagues from other departments and agencies. Networking opportunities form a key element of the proceedings for each event to promote the development of peer relationships across government.  All APS graduates are strongly encouraged to attend the Grad events. Graduate coordinators and supervisors are also welcome. More information on the graduate events is available here

A flexible workplace is more productive – so ask: “If not, why not?”

An ‘if not, why not?’ approach to flexible work arrangements has been rolled out in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).  

High performance is important at DFAT, but equally is flexibility. It’s for people with or without caring responsibilities. Flexible work practices are now the new ‘norm’, helping DFAT become a more modern, responsive workplace where people are more productive, have a higher job satisfaction, and perform better. The new flexible work policies were published on the department’s intranet last week.

Staff who took part in the earlier trial said they felt more satisfied, motivated, valued and productive at work than non-flexible workers. Managers are encouraged to adopt a team approach, leading ongoing team discussions about making the workplace flexible while still being committed to performance. It’s all about reciprocity, trust and communication which builds the culture of successful flexible work arrangements.

DFAT will monitor how the new policies impact on work, including through a staff survey. Of particular interest is the impact of flexible work on career progression and the take-up of flexible work arrangements by men. Workshops for managers on leading flexible and high performing teams are also being held.

This approach to flexible work is one action outlined in DFAT’s Women in Leadership strategy, which aims to maximise performance and capability by enabling all women and men to thrive equally.

Last reviewed: 
5 June 2018