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Achievements in organisational effectiveness

Safe Work Australia is proud to have made 2015–16 a year of significant progress in organisational change which has laid a strong foundation for a major transformation.

The corporate plan, together with the Australian Strategy, defines the agency’s vision for Safe Work Australia to become ‘an innovative world leader in improved safety and compensation outcomes in the workplace and promote healthy, safe and productive working lives for all Australians’.

This vision has set the benchmark for Safe Work Australia’s agenda for change. Building on key initiatives introduced in recent years to build a high performance culture, in March 2016 the agency launched a major change program: TRANSFORM. This program represents a new chapter for the agency and has been designed to provide both a framework and a package of initiatives that chart the course for the next five years to achieve exemplary outcomes across the agency—in everything from corporate support, technical expertise, data, research, strategy and policy to stakeholder management and collaboration.

Underpinning this program are a number of important achievements through the past year, including:

  • negotiating a new enterprise agreement, the Safe Work Australia Enterprise Agreement 2015–2018 which received a positive vote and took effect in January 2016
  • introducing a range of important APSC initiatives focused on workforce planning, capability development, management structures, performance management and equity and diversity
  • the development of an agency-specific vision and set of values by staff, and
  • moving to the state of the art Nishi Building in New Acton.

Outlook for 2016–17

A key focus during 2016–17 will be the roll out of the various programs and initiatives under TRANSFORM including development of a new People Strategy and continuing to embed the agency Vision and Values.

More detail on each of these programs and strategies is provided later in this part.

Organisational structure

The current structure of the agency as at 30 June 2016

The Safe Work Australia organisation chart as at 30 June 2016. At the top is Michelle Baxter, Chief Executive Officer. Directly below is the Acting Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Amanda Grey. Teams in this branch are Corporate Services, Stakeholder Engagement, Special Adviser – Engagement, People Strategies, Special Adviser – Strategy. On the left hand side is the Evidence and Explosives Branch, Jacinta Galluzzo, Branch Manager. Teams in this branch are Explosives Policy, Data and Analysis, Research and Evaluation. In the next column is the Legal and Strategic Policy Branch, Amanda Johnston, Branch Manager. Teams in this branch are Strategic and Compensation Policy, WHS Framework, Legal. In the third column is the WHS Technical Policy Branch, Julia Collins, Branch Manager. Teams in this branch are Plant and Licensing, Occupational Hygiene, Industry Policy.

The executive leadership team

Safe Work Australia’s Executive Leadership meetings, Chaired by the Chief Executive Officer, are the key forum in which cross-agency issues on policy and corporate governance are discussed. The team meets on a weekly basis and comprises the agency’s CEO and SES officers.

Michelle Baxter

Ms Michelle Baxter,
Chief Executive Officer

Ms Baxter was re-appointed Chief Executive Officer of Safe Work Australia on 1 November 2015 for a five-year term. Prior to her re-appointment, Ms Baxter held the role from November 2013.

Ms Baxter brings more than 20 years of public sector experience to her positions as Member of Safe Work Australia and its subsidiary committees and as a Commissioner of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Council.

Ms Baxter has worked in many senior roles across the Australian Public Service (APS) including as Group Manager in the former Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), Group Manager responsible for agency change with the Fair Work Ombudsman and Group Manager, COAG Taskforce with DEEWR.

Ms Baxter has a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts from the Australian National University. She is admitted to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor in the ACT.

Amanda Grey

Ms Amanda Grey

Ms Grey is the Acting Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Safe Work Australia. She manages the day to day operations of a large and busy group and provides strategic advice to the Chief Executive Officer to ensure the proper performance of Safe Work Australia. Ms Grey is also responsible for leading the development and implementation of the major change program: TRANSFORM.

Ms Grey’s career in the APS spans more than 20 years in various policy, corporate and senior management positions. Ms Grey has extensive experience in developing national policy relating to WHS, workers’ compensation and workplace relations and has successfully represented Australia at various international forums on these topics. Ms Grey has also led the delivery of critical corporate governance services including overseeing the development and passage of Safe Work Australia’s enabling legislation and managing the human resource, financial and strategic planning functions of the organisation.

Ms Grey has graduate and post graduate qualifications in workplace relations, human resource management and public sector management.

Julia Collins

Ms Julia Collins

Ms Collins is the Branch Manager of the WHS Technical Policy Branch. Ms Collins is responsible for developing policy and guidance relating to various workplace hazards and high risk industries including agriculture, transport and construction. Her role also involves developing strategies to improve WHS training and skills.

Ms Collins has extensive experience in WHS policy development at the national level and in the regulatory field, including a significant contribution in developing the model WHS laws. Prior to working at Safe Work Australia and its predecessor, Ms Collins managed the inspectorate and the education unit at ACT WorkCover.

Ms Collins has an Executive Masters of Public Administration from the Australian National University and a Graduate Diploma in Safety Science from the University of New South Wales.

Jacinta Galluzzo

Ms Jacinta Galluzzo

Ms Galluzzo is the Branch Manager of the Evidence and Explosives Branch. She is responsible for leading the development of the nationally consistent explosives framework and oversees Safe Work Australia’s evidence program.

Ms Galluzzo has worked in the APS for over 15 years and is a policy specialist having held positions in the former DEEWR, Department of Industry and the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency. Before joining the APS, Ms Galluzzo spent three years as a policy officer for a national industry association where she worked on fair trading and competition policy issues. Ms Galluzzo has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a major in politics from the University of Canberra.

Amanda Johnston

Ms Amanda Johnston

Ms Johnston is Safe Work Australia’s General Counsel and the Branch Manager of the Legal and Strategic Policy Branch. Ms Johnston is responsible for leading the in-house Legal Team, reviewing and improving the model WHS Act and developing policy and guidance relating to workers’ compensation and emerging WHS issues.

Ms Johnston has worked for the Australian Government for 13 years and is an employment law specialist, having led the Employment Law practice in the Office of General Counsel in the Australian Government Solicitor and worked in the Workplace Relations Legal Group in the former DEEWR. Ms Johnston has a double degree in Arts (major in Industrial Relations)/Law (Hons) from the University of Wollongong and is admitted to the Supreme Court of the ACT.

Agency employees

As at 30 June 2016 the agency employed 101 ongoing employees and five non-ongoing employees under the Public Service Act 1999 (Cwlth). Of the ongoing employees, seven were on long term leave and one was on temporary transfer to an external department.

In 2014–15 the agency had 105 ongoing employees and eight non-ongoing employees.

The agency continues to support flexible working arrangements with 21 per cent of employees being part time. This has increased from 16 per cent in 2014–15. Other forms of flexible working arrangements undertaken by staff include condensed working weeks, purchased leave and working from home and remote working arrangements.

No staff identify as Australian Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

The agency is located in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. Two employees are based in the Department of Employment’s Adelaide State Office and three employees have a working from home arrangement based in regional Australia.

The table provides the employee numbers per substantive classification level by male and female as at 30 June 2016 as well as the staffing numbers for 2012–13, 2013–14 and 2014–15 for comparative purposes.

Substantive Classification Total Full time Part time Total 2015-16 Total 2014-15 Total 2013-14
Male Female Male Female
Graduate – APS 3 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0
APS 4 6 1 5 0 0 9 3 5
APS 5 12 3 5 0 4 13 21 18
APS 6 30 7 15 1 7 25 23 25
EL 1 38 9 21 4 4 43 40 41
Public Affairs Officer 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
Senior Government Lawyer 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 1
EL 2 10 1 9 0 0 16 11 12
Principal Government Lawyer 2 0 1 0 1 1 2 2
SES 1 4 0 3 0 1 2 3 3
SES 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Chair 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1
CEO 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 1
TOTAL 106 21 62 5 18 113 107 110

The average age of Safe Work Australia’s employees is 40, with 24 per cent of the agency staff between the ages of 31 and 35. The table shows the full profile of employees by age as at 30 June 2016.

Age profile (years) Number of employees Proportion (%) of total
Less than 20 0 0
20 - 25 4 4
26 - 30 14 13
31 - 35 25 24
36 - 40 18 17
41 - 45 12 11
46 - 50 12 11
51 - 55 10 9
56 - 60 6 6
61 - 65 4 4
66 - 70 1 1
71 - + 0 0

Graduate program

Safe Work Australia’s first Graduate commenced in February 2015, completing a 12-month graduate program. The program provides graduates with the skills to work as valued members of Safe Work Australia and the wider APS. Graduates also participate in an APSC driven learning and development program this includes completing a Diploma in Government which involves working on a collaborative project with another small agency and a range of training courses and networking opportunities.

Following the success of the 2015 program, Safe Work Australia’s second Graduate commenced in February 2016. The agency is looking to expand the program in future years with a view to engaging more graduates in late 2016 and beyond.

Feature story: Meeting the Grads – Joel and Cassie

Safe Work Australia graduates Joel Burns and Cassie Edwards

Safe Work Australia graduates Joel Burns and Cassie Edwards

What did you study at University?

Joel: I studied a laws/commerce double degree at the University of Newcastle. During this time I also completed my graduate diploma of legal practise enabling me to be admitted to practise law.

Cassie: I studied a Law/Arts double degree at the University of Adelaide and have made the move to Canberra with my little family, my partner Josh and my dog Milo.

Why did you apply for the graduate position at Safe Work Australia?

Joel: The graduate position presented itself as a fantastic opportunity to be a part of a program to develop the skills and experience in an engaging environment, that would set me up for an exciting career in the broader APS.

Cassie: I applied for the Graduate position at Safe Work Australia, because I have a personal interest in WHS. My Grandad was exposed to asbestos at work and 30 years later passed away from mesothelioma. This experience sparked a personal interest for me to pursue a career in the field of health and safety. The Graduate position at Safe Work Australia aligned perfectly with my career goals and I was very excited to learn I was successful in getting the position.

What did you learn and what skills did you develop during your graduate year at Safe Work Australia?

Joel: During my second rotation in the Workers’ Compensation Policy team I was exposed to a broad range of work and opportunities to learn and develop skills in a supportive team environment. I was given challenging and interesting work including being given responsibility for leading a large project which required Safe Work Australia graduates Joel Burns and Cassie Edwards consulting with stakeholders from the state and territory regulators. I was also exposed to preparing briefs for our CEO for her role as a Commissioner on the SRCC and many other core skills central to an APS employee.

Cassie: My first rotation has been with the Legal team. I have been exposed to a broad range of legal work including drafting legal advice, writing case notes, editing guidance materials and updating corporate governance materials. I am also participating in the APS Graduate Program, and as a part of this I am working on a project to build on the Diversity and Inclusion work the agency has already completed.

What training is available to you as a graduate at Safe Work Australia?

Joel: I was also given the opportunity to work towards a Diploma of Government through the APSC where I learnt broader skills and acquired comprehensive knowledge of the broader functions and workings of the APS. As a newcomer to Canberra, I found the training days a great opportunity to connect with graduates from other agencies and make new friends. The broader APSC graduate events were always very enjoyable and something to look forward to.

Cassie: Safe Work Australia has enrolled me in the APSC Graduate Program. The Graduate Program has taught me a broad range of corporate and APS specific knowledge which I have been able to bring back and use in my everyday work. The Graduate Program now contributes to half of a Master’s Degree in Public Policy. This is a great opportunity for Graduates and I am very grateful to have this incentive to further my education. Being new to Canberra, the APSC Graduate Program has also given me the chance to meet new people and make friends in Canberra. The level of support and training offered by Safe Work Australia has made my transition to a new city and new job very smooth.

Would you recommend Safe Work Australia to those considering a graduate program?

Joel: Most definitely, being a graduate at Safe Work Australia has allowed me to engage in some really interesting work and learn valuable lessons from experienced mentors and supervisors. The APSC program that I undertook as part of the SWA graduate program was a great introduction to the APS and introduced me to a lot of graduates from other agencies that I continue to remain in contact with.

Cassie: I have found Safe Work Australia to be a friendly and supportive workplace and I have truly enjoyed my time here so far. I am looking forward to gaining more exposure to different areas in the agency in my future rotations and developing my professional skills further.

Terms and conditions of employment and remuneration

Chief Executive Officer and Chair of Safe Work Australia

The remuneration of the Chief Executive Officer and the Chair of Safe Work Australia is set by determinations made in accordance with the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 (Cth).

The Chief Executive Officer, Ms Michelle Baxter, was appointed to the full-time position on 1 November 2015 for a period of five years, following a two year period acting in the position.

The Chair of Safe Work Australia, Ms Diane Smith-Gander, was appointed to the part time position on 5 February 2016 for a period of three years. The previous Chair, Anne Sherry AO completed her three year term on 4 February 2016.

Senior Executive Service employee’s terms and conditions of employment and remuneration

Senior Executives terms and conditions are set by way of individual determinations made under section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999 known as the Safe Work Australia Agency Determination (the Determination).

The amount of remuneration received by Senior Executives is determined on an individual basis by the Chief Executive Officer.

Senior Executive employees received a pay increase of 2 per cent on 12 January 2016 in line with Safe Work Australia non-senior executive service employees.

Non-senior executive service remuneration

As at 30 June 2016 all Safe Work Australia non-senior executive service staff were covered by the terms and conditions of the Safe Work Australia Enterprise Agreement 2015–18 (the EA).

The Safe Work Australia Enterprise Agreement 2011–14 nominally expired on 30 June 2014. Safe Work Australia started preparing for negotiations in July 2014 with the first formal bargaining meeting held in October 2014.

The Safe Work Australia Bargaining Team engaged staff through staff surveys, feedback forums, staff meetings, drop-in sessions and regular email updates on the status of negotiations and proposed changes to the EA including conditions and entitlements.

The EA vote was held on 10 and 11 December 2015 with the outcome being a majority ‘yes’ vote. The EA was approved by the Fair Work Commission on 5 January 2016 and took effect on 12 January 2016.

Key changes under the EA include a pay increase of 6 per cent over the life of the EA, a new performance and development scheme aimed at building a high performance culture, a new consultation and dispute resolution model and modernisation of the agreement to simplify it, increase readability and remove inflexible, outdated work practices.

Performance pay

Safe Work Australia employees do not receive performance bonuses or performance pay. Annual performance ratings determine the increase of annual remuneration for non-senior executive service employees within the pay point increments of the EA.

Salary ranges for non-senior executive service staff as at 30 June 2016 are outlined in the following table.

Classification Salary range $
Graduate – APS 3 60,629 to 63,143
APS 4 65,948 to 70,956
APS 5 72,838 to 77,744
APS 6 81,819 to 90,143
EL 1 100,572 to 111,833
Senior Government Lawyer 100,674 to 124,052
Public Affairs Officer 114,597
EL 2 118,514 to 142,061
Principal Government Lawyer 135,160 to 145,789

Winners of the Australia Day Achievement Medallions and Certificates

Winners of the Australia Day Achievement Medallions and Certificates

The CEO presented Australia Day Achievement Medallions and Certificates at a ceremony on 27 January 2016.

Kylie James was awarded the Individual Achievement Medallion for her work on the negotiation of the EA. Two teams were awarded Achievements Medallions. The Workers’ Compensation Team was recognised for their work in progressing a number of significant projects. The Accommodation Team received the award for their work on the relocation to the NISHI building.

Allowances and non-salary benefits

Over the course of 2015–16, Safe Work Australia agreed to two Individual Flexibility Arrangements (IFAs) and three short term IFAs with staff members on an ongoing basis to recognise the specialised skills they bring to their roles.

Examples of allowances and non-salary benefits provided to non-senior executive staff under the EA are provided in the following table.

Examples of non-senior executive employees allowances and non-salary benefits
Incremental advancement for meeting the criteria of the Performance and Development Scheme Access to flexible working conditions
Temporary performance loading for performing work at a higher classification Flexible remuneration and salary packaging
Christmas closedown from 12.30 pm on the last working day before Christmas day until the first working day in January Time off in lieu for Executive Level employees
Workplace Responsibility Allowance Maternity, Maternal, Supporting Partner, Primary Carer, Parental, Adoption and Foster Care Leave
Community and Indigenous Australian Languages Allowance Overtime Meal Allowance
Loss, Damage and Indemnity Allowance Travel Allowance and Motor Vehicle Allowance
Relocation Assistance Access to the Employee Assistance Program
Support for professional and personal development including the Study Assistance Scheme Emergency Duty and Additional Child Care Costs

Workforce planning

TRANSFORM 2016–2020

TRANSFORM is a change management program which provides a roadmap to navigate Safe Work Australia through the next five years as Australia continues to work to become a world leader in WHS and workers’ compensation. TRANSFORM is designed to make Safe Work Australia a contemporary, innovative and outward looking organisation with a strong, supportive and positive culture with great leaders and open communication. It will strengthen Safe Work Australia’s leadership, policy and strategic capability and make it an employer of choice.

A program is being developed to build leadership, people and communication capabilities at all staff levels. This will include formal training, mentoring and coaching, formal and informal networking opportunities, seminars and discussion sessions.

A critical first step in TRANSFORM was the development, by all staff, of an agency vision and set of values and also the development of a new People Strategy.

Vision and values

On 1 March 2016, Safe Work Australia launched its first ever agency Vision and Values. The Vision and Values focus on organisational culture with the aim of making Safe Work Australia ‘a great place to work’.

Staff were active in developing a clear, meaningful vision and a robust, practical set of values that will foster a culture that is collaborative, innovative, positive, solutions-driven, responsive and resilient.

These values:

  • align with and complement the APS Values
  • underpin how staff treat each other and work together
  • reinforce the image Safe Work Australia projects to our stakeholders and others outside the agency, and
  • assist people looking to join Safe Work Australia to understand what we stand for, expect and value.

Monthly ‘Walk the Talk’ awards have been introduced and are presented to a staff member who has been nominated by their peers as practically demonstrating the agency values.

Agency vision

To be a centre of excellence in WHS and workers’ compensations data, research, policy and strategy by creating a great workplace that enables everyone to be and do their best.

This image shows Safe Work Australia’s Vision and Values. The Visions and Values focus on organisational culture with the aim of making Safe Work Australia ‘a great place to work’. The Agency vision is to be a centre of excellence in WHS and workers’ compensation data, research, policy and strategy by creating a great workplace that enables everyone to be and do their best. The left hand side column describes the Agency values regarding being committed to excellence by taking pride in our work, being innovative and looking to work smarter, being positive and resilient and striving to be subject matter experts. The second column describes the Agency values regarding being committed to people by treating each other with respect and supporting one another, being empowered to learn and develop professionally, being effective leaders and celebrating our successes, promoting wellbeing and work-life balance and promoting a participative, model healthy and safe workplace. The third column describes the Agency values regarding being committed to communication by knowing and valuing each other, effectively consulting and communicating, collaborating and working as one team and striving to raise the profile and impact of Safe Work Australia. The fourth column describes the Agency values regarding being committed to service by building quality relationships, respecting the knowledge, expertise and views of our stakeholders, delivering effective and workable outcomes and seeking opportunities to improve our service.

People Strategy

Safe Work Australia is developing its first ever People Strategy for release in late 2016. The People Strategy builds on Safe Work Australia’s commitment to promote a supportive working environment that values fairness, equity and diversity consistent with the APS Values, Code of Conduct, Employment Principles and the agency Vision and Values.

The People Strategy will ensure Safe Work Australia is in the best position to invest in its staff and ensure the right people are in the right jobs with the right skills. A number of supporting documents will form part of the strategy focusing on key matters including:

  • workforce planning encompassing capability development and attraction and retention
  • rewards and recognition
  • meaningful and supportive performance management, and
  • learning and development opportunities.

Rewards and recognition

With the launch of TRANSFORM and the focus on our people and promoting excellence Safe Work Australia has developed a Rewards and Recognition Scheme to recognise staff achievements. 2015–16 has seen the launch of the ‘Walk the Talk’ award and is designed to recognise someone in the agency who has demonstrated one or more of the corporate values over the month – excellence, people, communication and service.

Staff achievements are also recognised through participation in the Australia Day awards, SES and peer nominated awards and through additional learning and development opportunities.

Agency planning

During 2015–16, Safe Work Australia continued to improve its integrated planning framework (IPF) which has significantly increased the effectiveness of planning and reporting internally and externally. The IPF has brought together Safe Work Australia’s financial, business and human resources planning into one process. The planning is strategically aligned to Safe Work Australia’s risk management framework to identify potential risks and controls during the business planning process.

Safe Work Australia Members, the Executive Leadership Team and staff attended planning sessions on separate occasions throughout 2015–16 to discuss future direction and priorities.

Based on these planning sessions, the agency developed the operational plan for 2016–17 which was endorsed by Members in April 2016 and provided to WHS ministers for approval.

In August 2015, WHS ministers approved the corporate plan and operational plan in accordance with the Act.

Workforce planning

In 2014–15 the Safe Work Australia Executive Leadership Team committed to four action areas relating to workforce planning. These were:

  • Action area 1: Implement the mandated APS Work-Level Standards by undertaking a role evaluation process
  • Action area 2: Develop formal position descriptions
  • Action area 3: Undertake an agency capability review
  • Action area 4: Undertake a staff capability review.

Throughout 2015–16, action areas 1 and 2 were largely completed and substantial progress has been made on action areas 3 and 4.

Safe Work Australia has worked closely with the APSC to develop a number of surveys that will provide data-driven insights to help inform decisions about the most appropriate strategies to implement including the Job Family Model (JFM) survey and the Capability Survey. The JFM survey is key to segmenting the workforce to ensure any risks are understood and addressed. The Capability Survey will be used to identify capability gaps and align capabilities with positions.

The overall objective of the surveys is to collect accurate and up-to-date data to better design jobs and understand the skills, attributes, knowledge and experience required to undertake them. This information is also being used to design strategies to build capabilities such as a new learning and development program, a strategic recruitment plan and a talent management program.

Capability development

Corporate Learning and Development Plan

Safe Work Australia is developing new policies and strategies to support the EA. The 2016 Learning and Development Strategy and Plan were approved in June 2016 and demonstrate the agency’s commitment to the ongoing learning program needs of its staff. Having an effective learning and development strategy not only personally benefits staff, it helps the organisation to achieve its strategic goals and objectives.

The agency has adopted the 70:20:10 model of learning and has made training opportunities available through:

  • on-the-job learning
  • attending external training and conferences
  • undertaking online learning through LearnHub and Lynda.com
  • attending APS-wide training sessions including the APS Core Skills Program
  • attending APS-wide forums
  • studies assistance
  • becoming a member of professional development associations where required
  • participating in an internal Learn From Others Seminar series
  • participating in the Leadership and Mentoring Program
  • secondment opportunities, and
  • other development opportunities identified through the agency’s Rewards and Recognition Scheme and Leadership and Mentoring Program.

In 2015–16, the following courses were run as in-house training programs:

  • Life Line – Handling challenging calls and behaviours, and
  • Core Skills – High performing teams and Structuring work.

Safe Work Australia staff also undertook mandatory training in fraud awareness, risk management, WHS, security and cultural awareness. Staff have also been given access to Lynda.com which provides online training in people management, graphic design and Web design software and core business skills such as communication, dealing with stakeholders, project management and liaison.

The Learning and Development Strategy and Plan complements individual training that employees and managers may agree to in their individually tailored Performance Development Agreement.

Study assistance scheme and professional development

Safe Work Australia offers study assistance and professional development to all staff. This may be facilitated through:

  • providing staff with time and/or leave to attend formal courses and conferences, and/or
  • providing financial support for vocational education courses, professional memberships and/or registrations.

Performance and development

On 1 July 2015 the Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Amendment (Performance Management) Direction 2014 came into effect, providing a clearer direction on how the APS can support and achieve effective performance and uphold the effective performance employment principle. The amendments to the Directions included:

  • strengthening the obligations on agency heads with respect to the effective performance Employment principles
  • making provision for certain obligations on supervisors and employees relevant to the effective performance Employment Principle, and
  • encouraging APS best or better practice by including a requirement to periodically assess and compare an agency’s performance management policy and associated processes and practices.

As part of the negotiation of the EA, Safe Work Australia has introduced a new Performance and Development Scheme (the Scheme) with a five point rating scale. The Scheme focuses on achieving effective performance through the:

  • development and implementation of individually tailored Performance Development Agreements that clearly set and communicate priorities and provide clarity about strategic goals, and
  • introduction of a new feedback process where employees and managers meet four times a year.

The Scheme provides the opportunity for managers and employees to work together on personal and organisational goals to achieve high performance. It aims to improve the quality of performance discussions so employees can grow and develop in their roles.


A key element of TRANSFORM is to design and implement a robust leadership program to enhance the management and leadership capability for all levels of staff, with a particular focus on executive level staff.

During 2015–16, a number of initiatives were rolled out:

  • a monthly Learn From Others Seminar Series
  • external leadership programs
  • mentoring and coaching
  • leadership conversations for the SES with high profile and inspirational leaders
  • TED talks on all aspects of leadership for all staff, and
  • regular ‘Leadership Learnings’.

During 2016–17, further initiatives under the Leadership Program will be implemented:

  • internal leadership training program tailored to agency requirements
  • formal mentoring and coaching programs, and
  • establishment of a Safe Work Australia Alumni.

Diversity and inclusion

Safe Work Australia is committed to providing a diverse and inclusive workplace. Throughout 2014–15 Safe Work Australia participated in the Australian Network on Disability’s (AND) Stepping Into Program and the Jawun Program and developed a new Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

The Strategy provides a path to ensure the workforce represents the Australian community, and increases awareness among staff of the benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workplace. The Strategy also provides practical and accountable ways of providing employment opportunities and support for a number of diversity groups, including:

  • women
  • people with disability
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
  • people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • mature age employees, and
  • lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

Safe Work Australia has an active Disability Champion and is a member of the AND. AND is a not-for-profit organisation that helps advance the inclusion of people with disability and increase disability confidence within the agency.

One of Safe Work Australia’s employees participated in the launch of As One: Making it Happen, APS Disability Employment Strategy 2016–2019 on 31 May 2016. The launch was a call to action for agencies to improve the representation of people with disability in the APS. The event was hosted by the APSC.

Part of the launch involved a panel discussion on employment experiences of APS employees with disability and experiences by managers of managing employees with disability. A Safe Work Australia employee with a disability participated in this panel discussion to discuss their experiences within the APS and provide insight into what the APS can do to better support employees with disability.

Since 1994, non-corporate Commonwealth entities have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007–08, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service reports and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at www.apsc.gov.au. From 2010–11, entities have no longer been required to report on these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020, which sets out a 10-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high-level, two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the strategy and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first of these progress reports was published in 2014, and can be found at www.dss.gov.au.

Throughout 2015–16, key initiatives included:

  • The AND Stepping Into Program provides university students with disability the opportunity to participate in paid employment. Safe Work Australia employed two interns through the Stepping Into Program in 2015–16 and will participate in the Winter Program in the second half of 2016.
  • Discussions commenced with the Department of Human Services and Specialisterne about potential participation in the Dandelion Project.The Dandelion Project provides employment opportunities for people on the Autism Spectrum.
  • Participating in the Indigenous Australian Government Development Program (IAGDP). The IAGDP is a 15 month program that aims to increase the representation of Indigenous Australians working in the Australian Government.
  • Safe Work Australia sought ways to achieve outcomes in the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy. Safe Work Australia participated in the 2016 Jawun Secondee Program (see Feature story - Supporting Indigenous work health and safety). This saw one staff member spend five weeks working in a community project in North East Arnhem Land. Learnings about Indigenous culture from that program are being shared with all agency staff.
  • Procurement policies are in place to support the Commonwealth Indigenous Procurement Policy and wherever possible the agency seeks to engage Indigenous business service providers.

As at 1 January 2016 small agencies are no longer required to have individual multicultural plans in place. Safe Work Australia has incorporated multicultural equity and awareness into the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

Feature story - Supporting Indigenous work health and safety

For the first time, Safe Work Australia participated in the Jawun program sending Dr Peta Miller, Special Advisor, to work with the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation in Nhulunbuy in the Northern Territory for five weeks.

Djalinda, Dhimurru's senior activity cultural adviser welcoming Peta

Djalinda, Dhimurru's senior activity cultural adviser welcoming Peta

This well regarded program brings together corporate, government and Indigenous leaders to share their skills and knowledge to create practical change. This participation formed part of the agency’s 2016 contribution to the Australian Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

Established by Yolngu landowners in Northeast Arnhem Land, Dhimurru oversee the protection, conservation and sustainable management of Indigenous Protected Areas including the picturesque and well-used recreation reserves near Gove. The rangers’ duties range from conservation of the local flora, fauna and general environment, relocation of problem crocodiles, issuing visitor permits, and undertaking cooperative projects (like surveying crazy yellow ant, ghost nets and endangered species). Their work with local educators to deliver ‘learning on country’ programs is helping improve school attendance and engaging the next generation of Yolngu young leaders in caring for their country.

In this very remote and beautiful part of the world, the rangers have an interesting and unique mix of common and quite unusual health and safety risks. Using a collaborative model Dr Miller helped them identify their key workplace hazards and risks and culturally appropriate practical policies and procedures. She was well supported by the local NT Worksafe.

Interestingly, while Safe Work Australia in Canberra was developing and implementing its ‘TRANSFORM program’, thousands of kilometres away senior support officer Thomas Amagula was also thinking about organisational and safety values. He worked with Dr Miller to develop organisational and WHS values that would meld balanda (white people) and the Yolngu ways. His model used the Yolngu concept of raypirri, which speaks to obligations and responsibility to family, country, culture and law. While independently developed, the Safe Work Australia and Dhimurru values have great commonality and underscore that, despite our differences, we have many more similarities.

Health and wellbeing strategies

Safe Work Australia is committed to providing a healthy, safe and productive working life for all staff. The 2016 Health and Wellbeing Strategy was approved in May 2016 and offers initiatives to staff to promote health and wellbeing. These include:

  • regular email updates to staff about WHS
  • workstation assessments for all staff
  • voluntary influenza vaccinations
  • promotion of healthy eating
  • participation in ‘Stand Up, Sit Less, Move More’ pilot
  • participation in the Stepathlon 10,000 step challenge, and
  • promotion of key safety days including World Safety Day, Fatality Free Friday and World No Tobacco Day.

Staff were encouraged to participate in a number of health and safety activities as part of National Safe Work Month held in October 2015.

Safe Work Australia provides employees and their families with access to the Employee Assistance Program which is a free support service to provide advice 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

Staff have access to trained harassment contact offices, first aid officers, fire wardens and a dedicated Equity and Diversity officer.

Managing absenteeism

Safe Work Australia has continued to make improvements in relation to the amount of unscheduled leave taken by staff. A number of strategies were implemented in 2015–16 to increase awareness and understanding of the reasons staff were accessing high levels of leave. As a result, there has been a reduction in the unscheduled leave rate from 12 days per person in 2014–15 (State of the Service Report) to 11.4 days per person in 2015–16.

The agency will continue to work with staff and managers to understand and improve unscheduled leave usage.

Work health and safety and compensation claims

Under section 35 of the WHS Act, Safe Work Australia is required to notify Comcare of any incidents arising out of the conduct of a business or undertaking that result in death, serious injury or serious illness of a person or involve a dangerous incident. One incident was reported in 2015–16.

In 2015–16 Safe Work Australia had one new workers’ compensation claim lodged with Comcare, which was declined.

Safe Work Australia has been working closely with managers and employees on early intervention strategies to minimise the potential impact of injuries on employees and the workplace. The agency has engaged a third party provider to assist in the early intervention strategies and provide case management assistance where required.

Communication and consultation

Safe Work Australia is committed to effective communication with staff to meet business needs while maintaining a safe and productive workplace where all employees are valued.

Effective communication is delivered through the following:

  • all staff stand up meetings
  • regular email messages from the Chief Executive Officer
  • all staff emails and corporate newsletters
  • branch and section meetings
  • information and drop in sessions
  • the Intranet, and
  • the Employee Consultative Forum (ECF).

Employee Consultative Forum

The ECF was formed in March 2016 following the commencement of the EA. The ECF ensures Safe Work Australia meets its requirements under the EA, the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and the WHS Act.

The ECF is a mechanism to ensure effective communication, understanding and cooperation between management and employees. It replaces the Workplace Consultative Forum (WCF) and the Work Health and Safety Committee (WHSC) that was in place under the previous EA.

The ECF meets four times a year to discuss issues surrounding the implementation of the EA, planned changes to employment related policies and procedures, consultation and discussion of WHS issues.

Since its establishment, the ECF has met on two occasions to discuss a number of key documents including the Health and Wellbeing Strategy, the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, the Learning and Development Strategy and Plan, the internal Client Service Charter and the Working Arrangements Policy. A presentation on a potential new records management system was also discussed at its last meeting.

The former WCF met on three occasions in 2015 to discuss issues arising out of bargaining, employment matters and the relocation of Safe Work Australia to new premises. The former WHSC met on four occasions with the major achievement being an updated Health and Wellbeing Policy and the safe relocation to the premises.

Health and Safety Representative

The Health and Safety Representative (HSR) and Deputy HSR represent the health and safety interests of Safe Work Australia employees. The HSR and Deputy HSR carry out bi-annual inspections of agency premises to identify any actual or potential health and safety concerns ensuring the health, safety and welfare of all employees. The HSR works closely with both the Work Health and Safety Officer and the Property Team to identify and resolve issues as quickly as possible.

Collaboration with other agencies

Shared Services Centre

The agency has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) arrangement with the SSC to deliver services including IT support, IT infrastructure and storage, library and mail services, payroll and personnel processing to assist in reducing red tape and improving efficiency.

Safe Work Australia continues to partner with the SSC for the delivery of the following technological solutions to improve its day to day operations:

  • eRecruit – an online recruitment system which assists with streamlining recruitment processes.
  • LearnHub – an online learning and development system for staff.
  • RiskActive – an organisation-wide risk management information system designed to help identify, manage and report on agency risks.
  • Connect Business Intelligence model – a reporting tool to assist in providing timely, efficient, detailed and accurate finance and personnel reports.
  • Connect Travel module – an online acquittal system designed to streamline travel processing arrangements with electronic documents supporting all credit card transactions.

All solutions have been tailored to Safe Work Australia’s needs.

Department of Employment

Safe Work Australia has an arrangement in place with the Department of Employment to deliver services including corporate communications, ministerial and parliamentary services, Employee Assistance Program and support for the Hazardous Substances Information System.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

The agency has a MoU arrangement with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to sub-lease their premises at Level 7, 2 Phillip Law Street New Acton. The lease is for a term of 15 years ending 17 December 2027.

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