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Stephanie Melis, an APS6 who was redeployed from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

APS supports National Incident Response

Career highlight, shared commitment, new opportunities and challenges, these are just some of the sentiments echoed by APS staff who responded to the Department of Health’s urgent call for additional staff to support the COVID-19 national response.

The response involved staff committing to three to six month temporary mobility transfers and short-term secondments from across APS agencies (PM&C, DAWE, DFAT, AEC, AIHW, DITRDC, AFSA), in addition to staff being redeployed internally.

Activated during the Pandemic, a National Incident Response (NIR) Division comprised of 200 people from internal staff redeployments and a temporary workforce. Staff report that joining Health’s NIR Division has been an invaluable experience from gaining new knowledge to contributing to meaningful work and enjoying the challenges it can bring. ‘I encourage anyone looking for a new challenge to put their hand up to move around the service,’ said Stephanie Melis, an APS6 who was redeployed from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

‘This is diversity and agility in action! A new team has quickly formed with people from diverse backgrounds, skills and experience, to drive information and support for the Australian community. It’s been a great example of people working together around the clock, forging new processes to manage an ever changing situation—and it’s being done with a great sense of camaraderie, shared commitment and strong leadership,’ Kerry Starkey, an EL1 from the Australian Financial Security Authority.

The Department of Health has responded flexibly to ensure it can meet the work demands and priorities arising from COVID-19 while maintaining its business-as-usual functions.

The Department has managed its workforce by redeploying staff to key priority areas and engaging new staff through permanent and temporary arrangements, including APS staff from other agencies. Some 80 staff at the APS and EL levels are undertaking, or have completed, a mobility opportunity within the Department since January this year. The majority were redeployed within the NIR Division but a small number took on secondments outside the Health department. 

The opportunities are broad and vary from niche roles such as epidemiologists, public health specialists and medical officers to other public service specialities including cabinet liaison officers, Freedom of Information action officers, human resource specialists, media and communication specialists and ministerial and brief writers.

The Department continues to monitor its workforce and make adjustments as required.