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

What better way to welcome the beginning of Spring than focussing on collaboration! In our September newsletter, we're highlighting a variety of initiatives involving cross-agency partnerships including our ComCAN gathering this week. In this edition, we're launching our inaugural APS Diversity and Gender Equality Awards. This is our chance to celebrate difference and the great efforts by many to improve employment opportunities across the Service. So jump online and nominate your colleague or team! We're also introducing our pilot project, GradAccess, to welcome people with disability into the APS. Meanwhile, our workforce information team are in the final stages of preparing the 2017 census data for publication. Take the time to check out what else is coming up soon.

Inaugural APS Diversity and Gender Equality Awards

Is your colleague a change champion in the equality and diversity space? Does your agency punch above its weight creating opportunities for employees from diverse backgrounds? Consider nominating an outstanding individual or an awesome team for the inaugural APS Diversity and Gender Equality Awards!

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Nominations are now open for the following award categories:

  • Department/ Agency award recognising a department or agency improving employment opportunities for employees with disability, LGBTI employees, Indigenous employees, and employees from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
  • Individual award recognising an individual achieving change by championing equality and diversity, and demonstrating vision and leadership that 's contributing to genuine cultural change.
  • Network award recognising the achievements of an internal employee network or a cross-agency employee network that 's advancing diversity and inclusion in the APS.
  • Gender Equality award is open to all APS staff, networks, and departments and agencies who have made significant progress or contribution to addressing gender inequality in the APS.

The APSC is encouraging all APS employees to submit an entry to the awards either individually or on behalf of colleagues, your agency/ department, or your employee network.

Head to the awards website to find out more, check out the entrant manual and submit your nomination today!  Hide content


Introducing GradAccess…a new APS graduate program for people with disability.

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Forming part of the broader APS graduate program, the pilot GradAccess offers a dedicated pathway for graduates with disability. The recruitment process has been designed to encourage the broadest range of graduates to apply through a safe and supported entry point to the APS.

For those graduates who are selected, the program will provide:

  • the foundation skills needed to thrive in the Australian Public Service (APS)
  • on the job and structured training designed to help establish and build a fulfilling career
  • networking opportunities to build personal and professional networks.

Applications open on 11 September 2017. Australian citizens with disability who have graduated from university in the past five years are encouraged to begin familiarising themselves with the application process. Individuals planning to graduate in 2017 are also eligible to apply for the program.

Please promote this great opportunity to friends and colleagues. For more information, email gradaccess [at] apsc.gov.au.   Hide content

Communications, collaboration, connectivity

Communications professionals from across Australian Public Service agencies will gather for a morning of collaboration on Tuesday, 5 September. An informal knowledge sharing forum known as ComCAN has been established to promote better practice and awareness of current communication approaches and tools that can be shared amongst APS departments and agencies.

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The network is about coordinating APS efforts in the communications and social media space. ComCAN gives communications professionals the chance to discuss hot topics affecting government departments and agencies from a media perspective.

The next ComCAN event is being held at the Department of Health campus on Tuesday, 5 September 2017, which will be a great opportunity to hear from our communications colleagues on a range of topics. Should you wish to be involved in the next ComCAN meeting, please email tom.cottingham [at] health.gov.au.   Hide content

2017 Census data soon to hit the airwaves

The first public reporting of APS census results will commence this month. We had a bumper response - with thanks to the nearly 100,000 APS employees who responded - and we are continuing to analyse all the feedback.

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And the results are looking positive! Early analysis shows APS employees are reporting that their workplaces are engaging, productive, respectful and have strong ethical foundations. Interestingly, almost half of all survey respondents told us they access flexible working arrangements including working flexible hours, part time or away from the office.

The survey responses also indicate areas where the APS can improve, particularly in how we communicate with staff, and how we manage performance. Findings from the census will be shared progressively on the State of the Service website from mid-September, and will culminate with the tabling in Parliament and publication of the 2017 State of the Service report in late November 2017.   Hide content

Missing work?

Most of us access personal leave at some time or other, for a range of illnesses and injuries.

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In most cases, it's a day here or there for short term issues. But what happens when days become weeks, when the illness or injury is more serious? Or when short term absences become increasingly frequent, perhaps indicating a problem that goes beyond ill health or injury? What are your responsibilities as a manager, and how do you help get the best outcomes for your staff and your workplace?

The absence management toolkit and its section on a manager’s responsibilities for long-term absence will help you to better understand how to support employees to return to the workplace after long term absence.

Evidence shows that people who are out of work in the medium to long-term are at greater risk of negative health outcomes. The more time spent away from work, the more difficult it is to return.

The psychosocial impacts of work absence may include:

  • depression
  • erosion of work skills
  • decreased income and social status
  • loss of social support networks
  • decreased confidence
  • decreased sense of self-efficacy.

Missing work influences recovery or successfully living and working with an ongoing illness or injury. The workplace can have a huge impact on how quickly an employee can return to work. It should be safe, flexible and accommodating. Make use of the absence management toolkit to ensure that you can help your employees to return to the workplace as soon as it is safe to do so. It's the best thing you can do for them!   Hide content

Leading and delegating wisely

With such a variety of management styles around today, how do you know what works well for you? Some managers have a strong focus on outcomes, while others tend to be more people focused on developing staff. Each approach has its value, but the question is what works best for you?

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Put simply, management is about planning, delegating, setting and achieving goals and making time for staff. Yet with the pace of work, putting the skills into action can be a challenge at times.

If you're looking for some direction about how to develop your managerial style, check out this Management in action course with the Centre for Leadership and Learning from 26-28 September.

Role plays about making decisions as a manager, building confidence to lead conversations about staff performance and practicing the process of delegation are all part of the program. Building confidence is key to being a good manager so invest the time now to develop your management style with confidence.   Hide content

Muddy waters - identifying a conflict of interest

Sometimes decisions we make can muddy the waters in our work life.

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It's not always immediately clear how something we agree to may be considered a conflict of interest. As APS employees, we are required to take reasonable steps to avoid real or apparent conflicts of interest. But what does that mean? What is a conflict of interest?

The principle is a simple one. When you're making a decision at work you should only be influenced in that decision by factors that are genuinely relevant to it. You shouldn't be influenced by, for example, the impact that it might have on you, members of your family, or your friends. Your only motivation has to be the public interest, not your private interests.

When your private interests affect the decisions you take as an APS employee then you have a conflict of interest.

Where a reasonable bystander would think that your private interests affect the decisions you take then you have an apparent conflict of interest.

It's usually easier to see conflicts of interest for other people than ourselves. You might not think that you have a conflict of interest, but ask yourself how you would see someone else in a similar situation. Would you think that person's work actions might be affected by their personal interests?

It's an important point. Even if you are absolutely sure that your decisions and motives are beyond reproach, the appearance of a conflict can be just as damaging to public confidence as an actual conflict of interest. Don't accept a standard of behaviour in yourself that you wouldn't accept in other people.

There are a number of things that you can do to manage conflicts of interest. Discussing the issue with your supervisor is often a good first step.  Hide content

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018