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

Welcome to innovation month in the APS, with a theme of “Making it Happen”. Glenys Beauchamp, Secretary to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, will kick events off today, 3 July, at the Canberra Innovation Network. This is our chance to learn, engage, collaborate and celebrate innovation across the public sector. Full details and the program of events, including the announcement of the winners of the Public Sector Innovation Awards can be found on the web at psinnovate.industry.gov.au. In our August newsletter we’ll cover the highlights of the month, but for now, we’re focused on the future of work, mobility, data, and what can be achieved when we set a few hundred bright minds to solving some of the toughest public policy challenges we face. There’s also some help with the age-old question of when to accept a “free” lunch.

AGLN conferences

The APSC kicks off the next leg of the AGLN conference series in Perth on 20 July, following the success of the North QLD Australian Government Leadership Network (AGLN) Conference in May.

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Focussing on the Future of Work, these conferences provide APS staff with the opportunity to engage with Departmental Secretaries, APS executives and industry experts. Each conference provides a great opportunity to increase knowledge on the current APS priorities and projects and strengthen networks.

Conference locations and dates

For more information on conference programs, speakers and how to register check out the AGLN Webpage.   Hide content

Operation Free Range – Researching mobility in the APS

A mobile workforce is key to a modern public sector that can respond quickly to emerging Government priorities. However, in the APS, employee mobility rates haven’t exceeded 3.1% of the workforce since 2001 and 80% of APS level employees have only ever worked in one agency.

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To test the benefits and understand the barriers to mobility in the APS context, the APSC is collaborating with six agencies on Operation Free Range.

Operation Free Range is a cross government research initiative looking at secondments and temporary transfers within the seven participating agencies. Findings from the initiative will include recommendations for how the APS can get more out of employee mobility.

To date, over 100 employees have signed up for the chance to work in another agency, and agencies have begun to advertise opportunities for aspiring Free Rangers.   Hide content

Did you know…

…that 71% of APS staff across Australia responded to the 2017 APS employee census?

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The Inspector General of Intelligence and Security achieved a 100% response rate with all 14 staff responding. Special mention goes to the Department of Social Services with responses from 95% of their almost 2,200 staff.

The findings of the employee census provide an insight into employee views about the APS, their agency and their workplace. The census results will help to target strategies to build our workplace capability now and in the future. You will see initial findings from the census released on the State of the Service website from August, with the 2017 State of the Service report tabled in Parliament and publicly released in late November.   Hide content


On a blustery cold Canberra morning in early June, 450 APS Graduates poured into Coorong Pavilion at Exhibition Park chomping at the bit to wrap their hands around a steaming hot coffee and to take part in the second APSC Graduate event, GradHack.

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GradHack is an interactive, collaborative and highly charged Hackathon that sees graduates divided into teams and given three hours to hack out real challenges that APS Departments are faced with. It’s a fantastic opportunity for Departments to use the bright and willing minds of APS graduates to inform complex government policies.

Following the buzz of hacktime, APS colleagues were invited to vote for their favourite challenge solution. Live interactive polling determined the top three winning pitches of the day.

Why is this event truly exciting? The teams with the top three solutions are given the opportunity to fine tune their pitches and present to selected Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries in a special follow up GradHack Pitch event at the Department of the Prime Minster and Cabinet in late July. Here, grads can seriously promote their pitch with the chance for it to be picked up and implemented.   Hide content

Spotlight on personal leave

Did you know that the first entitlement to sick leave came about in 1907?

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When first introduced, under the Shearers’ Award, a worker could only be absent from work if unwell. Throughout the last century, broader concepts of paid leave for personal and family emergencies began to be accepted and personal leave entitlements are now legislated for all Australians.

For APS employees, personal /carer’s leave can be taken for illness and where a family member or housemate requires care because they are ill or have an emergency. This leave is cumulative for each year of service and is transportable across APS agencies. However, it cannot be paid out when an employee leaves the APS.

It is important for employees to provide evidence that leave is being taken appropriately. Most APS agencies ask for evidence of personal leave once 2-3 days has passed, or when 5-8 days per year are taken without evidence. Often this is a medical certificate, but can sometimes include other evidence such as a statutory declaration or letter from a childcare centre.

When taking leave, you should to notify your place of employment as soon as possible. Managers and colleagues need to know that you are safe but unable to attend work, as it allows them to reassign your work if necessary.   Hide content

Public Sector Management Program

If you want to enhance your Public Sector Management skills and expertise, check out the Public Sector Management Program (PSMP), delivered by the Queensland University of Technology.

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Developed in consultation with the federal and state public services partners, this Graduate Certificate in Business (Public Sector Management ) is offered as a 15 month, four-unit course. Delivered flexibly, the program is designed to maximise workplace learning. A blend of workshops, workplace projects, case studies and a virtual online learning environment enables students to study their units remotely. This is complemented by four intensive 3-4 day workshops.

To find out more, visit the PSMP website or contact the National Program Manager Dr Evelyne Meier on 02 6198 3097.   Hide content

Do you know…

…whether it’s OK to accept that lunch offer from the consultant you’re working with? Working out where to eat may not be the most important decision. This article will help guide you through what to consider before you agree to what might not be, in the long run, a free lunch.

The APSC also has a dedicated webpage set up to answer your questions on integrity. Check it out, post a question and read the questions previously asked – and their answers!

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018