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APSC News October 2015: fostering a flexible, efficient, high performing APS

Welcome to our October newsletter. This month we include an update on the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy and the launch of the new Indigenous Employment Portal.
You will also find a summary on work we are doing with Comcare to assist agencies with managing unscheduled absence, information on managing Machinery of Government changes, and an update on flexible work arrangements in the APS.

Commissioner’s response to draft Productivity Commission report

Last month we provided an update on the Productivity Commission’s report on workplace relations. As we indicated, the Australian Public Service Commissioner has now made a submission in response to this report.

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In his submission, the Commissioner addresses the draft report’s commentary about bargaining in the public sector, specifically about productivity and bargaining power.

The Commissioner remarks on the draft report’s “ …superficial misrepresentation of both the structure and operation of bargaining in the public sector”. He goes on to note that “ The bargaining dynamics of the public sector do not differ significantly from those operating in the private sector.”

He also comments on the draft report’s general observations about award modernisation, industrial action and procedural matters.

A copy of the Commissioner’s submission can be viewed on the Productivity Commission’s website: http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/193224/subdr0299-workplace-relations.pdf

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Implementing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy

The Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy aims to build the representation of Indigenous people in the Commonwealth public sector. The Government has set a target of three per cent Indigenous representation by 2018. The current rate in the Australian Public Service is 2.6 per cent. Show more

The Commission has developed two new tools to support the implementation of the Strategy: the Implementation Guide and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Capability Framework.

1. Implementation Guide

A dynamic implementation guide is available to support agencies to increase their Indigenous representation. The guide is an online directory of resources, programs and other measures available across the Commonwealth public sector. It sets out successful initiatives adopted by leading agencies in the employment of Indigenous people, and provides avenues for other agencies to access many of these initiatives without having to develop their own programs.

The guide will be updated regularly, and agencies are encouraged to contribute initiatives. Please send information or enquiries to diversity [at] apsc.gov.au.

2. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Capability Framework

One of the goals of the Strategy is to improve awareness of Indigenous culture in the workplace. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Capability Framework can help agencies in this respect. The Framework supports employees and leaders to:

a. take culturally informed approaches to their day to day work;

b. ensure policy, programs, and service delivery reflect the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;

c. engage effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on relevant issues; and

d. foster workplace cultures that value the skills, experiences, and perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait  Islander employees and communities.

For further information, please contact Helena Sverdlin (helena.sverdlin [at] apsc.gov.au).  Hide content

New Indigenous Employment Portal goes live on 1 October

The Commission has developed an exciting new resource to promote employment opportunities in the Commonwealth public sector to Indigenous Australians. The Indigenous Careers Portal, http://indigenouscareers.gov.au/, will automatically list all vacancies from APSJobs which have been restricted as open to Indigenous Australians only. Show more

The portal will also showcase the variety of career paths available in the Commonwealth public sector, and provide jobseekers with practical advice about being successful in public sector recruitment processes.

All you need to do to advertise your job on portal is advertise it as a Special Measure – Indigenous on APSjobs and the portal will do the rest.

For further information, please contact Karl Hoffman (karl.hoffman [at] apsc.gov.au).  Hide content

Machinery of Government changes

The Governor-General signed a revised Administrative Arrangements Order on 21 September 2015, resulting in Machinery of Government (MoG) changes. Show more

The Commission, in conjunction with the Department of Finance, has released revised guidelines for agencies on the implementation of MoG changes. The guide includes information about the movement of people, the transfer of financial resources and recordkeeping.

To support the Government's priorities, MoG changes should be implemented as quickly as possible. They should focus on achieving the best outcomes for the Australian community across the whole-of-government.

The key messages in the guide are that agencies should:

a. cooperate to ensure that machinery of government changes are implemented in a timely manner—agency heads involved are responsible for meeting any deadlines set for the MoG change;

b. adopt a risk management approach and avoid letting minor issues delay implementation; and

c. consider appointing an external third party as an independent facilitator to mediate on the more complex issues.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Commission and the Department of Finance will set milestones, as appropriate, to assist agencies with their planning.

A circular highlighting the key issues to be considered in implementing MoG changes is available on the Commission’s website.

Agencies with people management questions should contact the Commission at staffingpolicy [at] apsc.gov.au.  Hide content

Flexible work practices in the APS

Flexible working arrangements allow the APS to meet present and future challenges. The arrangements create choice for employer and employee, accommodate a multigenerational workforce with varying needs and assist the retention of experienced workers. They allow the APS to attract a more diverse range of talent and refresh the workforce to meet emerging priorities. Show more

One indicator of the APS’s acceptance of flexible employment practices is the all-time high number of employees accessing part-time work. At 30 June 2015, 16.0 per cent of all ongoing employees were working part-time compared to 4.3 per cent at 30 June 1996.

Flexible work arrangements can also include practices such working from home, job sharing and teleworking. Agencies should also ensure they have the right mix of core workers, contractors, labour hire, part-time and asual staff and other sources of expertise.

Providing flexible working arrangements can also improve employee morale, motivation and productivity. It also reduces staffing costs, reduces staff turnover and unscheduled absences and helps the APS to be an employer of choice.

Flexible working arrangements are an attractive proposition for women looking to remain in or return to the workforce. Women continue to represent the largest proportion of the part-time workforce at 88.6 per cent in 2015. The introduction of part-time work in 1986 has been a contributing factor to women reaching parity with men at all classifications up to and including EL1.

The Statistical Bulletin was released on 14 September and is available at http://www.apsc.gov.au/about-the-apsc/parliamentary/aps-statistical-bulletin/statistics-2015.

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The public service needs to be able to attract and retain the best and brightest. To do this we require contemporary recruitment processes that are effective in attracting and selecting good people. Show more

Fair treatment and merit selection underpin the recruitment of staff. But existing processes take too long. There are more efficient methods available. Applications should be succinct, interviews short and focused and referee checks limited to genuine contenders. Interviews may not be required if a robust assessment can be made on the basis of applications and references.

Currently, there is too much emphasis placed on generic selection criteria, long and detailed assessments of individuals and tabular comparisons. The record must show the rationale for the decision. Succinct comparative comments on the contenders are all that is required.

The recruitment experience of heavy process is repeated at many stages of the employment journey. We are constantly addressing this and implementing more efficient means of dealing with staff.

Contact Adele Moncur (adele.moncur [at] apsc.gov.au) for further information.  Hide content


  • Jawun Indigenous APS Community Secondment Program

    Expressions of interest to participate in Jawun in 2016 are currently being sought. The APSC is writing to Secretaries and Agency Heads inviting them to indicate their agency’s interest for 2016. Jawun secondments are arranged across nine regions, in four six-week rounds per annum.

    Jawun is a not-for-profit organisation managing secondments from the private and public sectors to a range of Indigenous partner organisations in communities across Australia. These secondments support Indigenous leadership to deliver their own strategies and vision and to contribute to the capability development of Indigenous people and organisations.

    Jawun’s partner Indigenous organisations identify the secondees they need, based on their priorities. Jawun then works with private and public partners to identify suitable secondees, manages the local induction and provides ongoing support to participants during their secondment.

    Since 2011 the APS has seconded many Executive Level employees to Indigenous organisations as part of the Jawun program.

    Find out more about Jawun on the APSC website.

    Contact Naomi Jeacle via Jawun [at] apsc.gov.au.

  • EL Leadership and Learning Network Event: “Large Scale Integration: are we learning from the past?”

    Deputy Secretary panel includes Elizabeth Kelly, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; Michael Manthorpe, Department of Immigration and Border Protection; and Michael Lye, Department of Social Services.

    Wednesday 7 October 2.30pm, Canberra Southern Cross Club, Woden

    Register to attend on the APSC website

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018