Our people

At 30 June 2014, the department had 1868 employees. Appendix 6 contains summary tables of workforce statistics on that date.

Workforce numbers reflect the Machinery of Government changes that resulted in the establishment of the Department of Education.

With the creation of the department came an opportunity to look toward the future and shape the strategic direction of people management policies, initiatives and planning. The department’s People and Culture Committee is responsible for people and skills, culture, diversity and engagement. The committee meets regularly to consider and oversee the implementation, delivery and evaluation of the strategic people agenda for the department.

Strategic people management and people capability

One of the first priorities of the People and Culture Committee has been the development of a new departmental People Capability Strategy. Once completed, the strategy and related plans, including a departmental workforce plan, will define the department’s people priorities and:

  • steer capability-related effort and investment for greatest impact
  • guide workforce decisions that support business goals
  • respond to and influence organisational culture
  • focus on building employee engagement, a driver of individual and organisational performance.

A consideration in the strategy’s development has been that it should align with and support delivery of the department’s new strategic plan, especially the elements related to workforce culture, capability, leadership and performance.

The department’s approach to the development of people capability is largely based on the 70:20:10 model of learning. This approach encompasses the general principle that 70 per cent of learning will be on the job, 20 per cent through relationships and 10 per cent through formal training.

The strategy will be underpinned by a range of people-related evidence, metrics and data including the aggregated results of the department’s People Capability Framework self-assessments and results from the Australian Public Service Commission ( APSC) State of the Service Survey.

Business area workforce planning continues to be supported by the desktop ‘HR Dashboard’, an online tool available to managers that provides real-time and trend information about their workforce drawn from the department’s human resource information system, Connect.

Recruitment: Entry-level programmes

The department uses a number of entry-level programmes to recruit recent university graduates and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The graduate programme, the APSC Indigenous Cadetship Programme, and the Indigenous Australian Government Development Programme ( IAGDP) are our entry-level programmes.

Thirty participants from the Department of Education completed entry-level programmes in 2013: 25 graduates, four IAGDP participants and one cadet.

In 2014, 20 participants commenced the graduate programme. Nineteen are based in Canberra and one is working in the Office for Learning and Teaching in Sydney. The graduates will complete a 10 month programme consisting of two work placements, on-the-job training and structured learning and development to build their capacity to contribute to the future capability needs of the department and the Australian Public Service ( APS).

Two Indigenous cadets joined the department in 2014. Both are based in Canberra and are working part time while they continue their tertiary studies. A third cadet is working in the Shared Services Centre as part of the whole-of-government ICT Cadetship Programme. Another cadet completed her studies in March and now works full time in our national office.

The department is currently hosting seven participants in the 2013–14 IAGDP. Participants are undertaking a Diploma of Government while working full time and are expected to complete the programme in December. The department looks forward to commencing its next intake in October 2014.


The department’s Diversity Strategy provides the framework to enable us to build an environment that supports and embraces all elements of diversity, with a focus on people with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the mature aged. Diversity embraces various dimensions including race, gender identity, sexual orientation, intersex status, language, culture, age, religion, disability, lifestyle, personality, and thinking and behavioural styles.

Workplace diversity underpins the capability of our workforce and is part of our daily decision making and the way we work. To ensure that the diversity of our workforce reflects that of the broader community, we maintain our focus on building an inclusive environment that values the contribution diversity makes to organisational outcomes.

The department’s Diversity Champion raises awareness and promotes initiatives that support our people to develop and implement inclusive practices for people from diversity groups and ensure that we build a workforce that reflects the community. The department’s diversity team works with managers, employees and service providers to advocate for employees who have a caring role, disability or cultural differences. Our human resources practitioners regularly have conversations with employees with caring responsibilities to help them access respite and counselling services.

Changes to disability reporting in annual reports

Since 1994, Commonwealth departments and agencies 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 Report and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available on the APSC website. From 2010-11, departments and agencies 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 ten 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 reports will be available in late 2014, and can be found on the Department of Social Services website.

Remuneration and conditions of employment

Remuneration and conditions for non- SES employees

As a result of the Administrative Arrangements Orders (AAOs) that created the department in September 2013, employees’ remuneration and conditions are provided for under a non–Senior Executive Service ( SES) determination made under section 24(3) of the Public Service Act 1999. This determination made by the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Public Service, Senator the Hon Eric Abetz, preserves the terms and conditions of employment that employees of the department had immediately before the making of the AAOs.

The section 24(3) determination has preserved the conditions of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations ( DEEWR) Enterprise Agreement 2012–2014 for former DEEWR employees and the conditions of the One Innovation Enterprise Agreement 2011 for former employees of the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education ( DIICCSRTE). The determination will remain in place until a new enterprise agreement is developed for the department.

The preserved conditions of employment provide for flexible working hours and leave arrangements to assist employees to balance their personal and professional lives. These arrangements include:

  • a range of flexible working arrangements including part-time arrangements, flextime, study assistance, purchasing of additional leave, working from home arrangements and broad personal and parental leave provisions
  • access to a range of allowances for non–SES employees that help to promote good health, recognise employees’ health and safety roles in the workplace and provide assistance with the cost of school holiday care for primary school children of employees who are at work.

At 30 June 2014, 1794 employees were covered by the non–SES section 24(3) determination.

The department has a limited number of individual flexibility arrangements (IFAs) which have been preserved by the 24(3) determination. These are used primarily to recognise hard-to-secure specialist skill sets that are critical to business needs. The IFAs provide for a capability allowance or specific performance pay arrangements. At 30 June 2014, 14 employees had an IFA in place and another four employees had similar arrangements in place under an individual section 24(1) determination. One of these employees had performance pay arrangements.

The department has commenced discussions and consultations with employees to develop a new enterprise agreement for all non–SES employees.

Remuneration and conditions for SES employees

Remuneration and conditions for SES employees are covered by either a section 24(3) determination made under the Public Service Act by the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Public Service (for SES of the former DIICCSRTE), or by a section 24(1) determination, made under the Public Service Act by the Secretary of the Department of Education (for SES of the former DEEWR).

The section 24(3) determination preserved the remuneration and conditions that applied to DIICCSRTE SES employees immediately before the September 2013 AAOs under common law agreements. The section 24(3) determination remains in place until a new section 24(1) determination is made under the Public Service Act or a new common law agreement is made. At 30 June 2014, 56 SES employees had section 24(1) determinations in place.

Initially the section 24(3) determination preserved the pre-September 2013 remuneration and conditions that applied to DEEWR SES employees immediately before the AAOs. This was subsequently replaced by a section 24(1) determination, made under the Public Service Act by the Secretary of the Department of Education. The purpose of the section 24(1) determination was to remove the pay outcome scheduled for July 2014 for the former DEEWR SES to align with the arrangements for the former DIICCSRTE SES. As at 30 June 2014, 17 SES employees were covered by the SES section 24(3) determination.

The section 24(3) and section 24(1) determinations provide for a total remuneration approach to SES remuneration and conditions and preserve non-salary benefits including a privately plated motor vehicle and car parking which employees may elect to cash out (either the value of the vehicle or that of the car park, or both).

The section 24(3) and section 24(1) provisions do not provide for performance pay.

The department will shortly begin a process to develop a new, single set of SES arrangements.


Rehabilitation Management System

The department developed and implemented a rehabilitation management system ( RMS) in accordance with the Guidelines for Rehabilitation Authorities 2012 as set out in the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988. An RMS is a collection of documents, procedures and policies that support and promote the appropriate rehabilitation of employees.

An audit of the RMS was conducted in May 2014 to assess the department’s conformance with the guidelines. The audit found a 100 per cent conformance rate. This result highlights the success of our approach to rehabilitation of our injured employees and compliance with obligations under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act.

Impact of new legislation

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 came into effect on 14 January 2014. As the department’s principal officer, the Secretary appointed authorised officers to receive and make decisions about disclosures made under the Public Interest Disclosure Act and also delegated her investigative and decision-making powers to appropriate individuals within the department. The authorised officers received training and are provided with ongoing support and assistance.

Immediately following the commencement of the Public Interest Disclosure Act, the department received a number of disclosures. These were allocated, investigated where appropriate, and resolved to the department’s satisfaction. The department largely found that the disclosures related to complaints already pursued through other mechanisms.

Changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 meant that employees who reasonably believe they have been bullied at work can apply to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop the bullying. One such application was lodged with the Commission by an employee and the matter was resolved during conciliation.