Management of people

Staffing numbers

At 30 June 2017, the department had 153 employees—127 ongoing and 26 non-ongoing. As at 30 June 2016, the number of staff was 147, comprising 129 ongoing and 18 non-ongoing. Further information on staffing levels can be found in Appendix 1.

Investors in People Standard

The department has held accreditation against the Investors in People Standard since 2002 and was awarded ‘Investors in People Silver’ in 2015. Investors in People is an international quality framework that benchmarks the effectiveness of leadership and management practices. The standard defines what it takes to lead, support and manage people well for sustainable results.

Accreditation requires a genuine commitment from leaders, passionate employees and a focus on the ambitions of the department. One of the requirements to retain accreditation is to be reassessed against the criteria every three years by an independent assessor. The next accreditation will occur in 2018 and will involve assessment against the new Investors in People Standard: Leading–Supporting–Improving.

Staff survey

In June 2017, the department conducted its annual staff survey. The department has surveyed its staff for the past 12 years. During the reporting period, the department reviewed and benchmarked the survey with a view to modernising the terminology and gaining feedback on newly emerging themes.

The survey measures the quality of the department’s leadership, its strengths, and staff satisfaction with pay and conditions of service. The results are taken into account in the ongoing development of the department’s strategy for attracting and retaining staff.

The department has established three internal benchmarks based on the results of the survey. These benchmarks, or index scores, correspond to the total percentage of staff selecting ‘strongly agreed’ and ‘agreed’ in response to specific sets of questions. The three benchmarks are as follows:

  • The ‘core elements’ satisfaction index measures the extent to which the department provided the core elements needed to attract, focus and keep the most talented staff (satisfaction rate of 82.6 per cent in 2017 and an average of 83.2 per cent over the last five years).
  • The ‘leadership’ satisfaction index measures the level of satisfaction of staff with their managers against the department’s leadership statement (satisfaction rate of 78.5 per cent in 2017 and an average of 86.6 per cent over the last five years).
  • The ‘benefits’ satisfaction index measures the level of staff satisfaction with pay and working conditions (satisfaction rate of 82.9 per cent in 2017 and an average of 85.8 per cent over the last five years).

In the 2017 survey, the ‘leadership’ satisfaction index was segmented to obtain feedback from staff on their direct supervisor and on the Executive as a group. A new question on workforce planning was also added to provide guidance on potential future workforce changes.

As in previous years, most staff participated in the survey.

Figure 7 shows the performance of the satisfaction elements in the last five years. A satisfaction rating of 80 per cent or above is considered high.

Figure 7 Staff survey satisfaction elements, 2013 to 2017


People strategies: planning and delivery

Organisational reviews

The department conducts periodic organisational reviews to ensure that workloads in all areas are matched with the number of staff required to perform the work and that the classification levels or work-value requirements of individual jobs are appropriate to the work being conducted.

Recruitment of staff

The department advertised to fill 23 ongoing vacancies during 2016–17 (compared with four in 2015–16), of which 11 were filled by external applicants.

Retention of staff

Eleven ongoing and 11 non-ongoing staff left the department in 2016–17. The turnover rate was 8.5 per cent for ongoing staff (9.8 per cent in 2015–16). Appendix 1 includes details of separations.

Exit interviews with staff leaving the department continued to be conducted by senior executive service (SES) managers. Four such interviews were conducted during the year.

Graduate placement program

The department, in conjunction with the Department of the Senate, the Department of Parliamentary Services and the Parliamentary Budget Office, conducts the annual Parliament of Australia Graduate Program. The program involves three-month placements of people from the graduate programs of Australian Government agencies. An objective of the program is to promote the work of the parliament to agencies and the staff of those agencies. It assists graduates to develop the necessary knowledge and skills to make a significant contribution to the department and broader parliamentary service. At the completion of the program, participants return to their home departments with valuable experiences of parliamentary operations.

The program continued to draw a high level of interest from graduates from a range of agencies. Six graduates undertook placements in the department in 2016–17.
Feedback from graduates confirmed that the program is highly successful and that the objectives of the placements were met.


2016–17 Graduate Program participants Murray Colless (left), Laura Johnson and David Sandbach. Photo: Michael Masters, Auspic/DPS.


The department formed an alumni association of former staff in 2008. On 30 June 2017, it had 213 members. The association issued two newsletters during the year and its board met once. On 18 November 2016, the association held its annual general meeting. Twenty-eight association members attended the meeting, and two co-chairs were elected.

Training and development

Table 9 shows the department’s training and development expenditure as a percentage of salaries in 2015–16 and 2016–17. It also shows the average number of person-days spent on training and the average staffing level in both years. The average number of training days for staff remained the same at 3.1 days of off-the-job training per person per year. The fluctuation in staff training days generally reflects the stages of the parliamentary cycle.

Table 9 Expenditure on training and development programs, 2015–16 and 2016–17




Expenditure as a percentage of annual payroll



Average training days per person



Average staffing level



Table 10 compares the average attendance of staff at training courses in 2015–16 and 2016–17. It also shows the average staffing level and total number of training days attended in 2016–17 for each classification.

Table 10 Average staff attendance at training courses, 2015–16 and 2016–17


Average staffing

Total number of training days attended

Average number of
training days attended






Senior Executive Service





Executive Band 2





Executive Band 1





Parliamentary Service Level 6





Parliamentary Service Level 5





Parliamentary Service Level 4





Parliamentary Service Level 3





Parliamentary Service Level 2





Not specified







Leadership development

The department has invested in leadership development with a range of external providers for over a decade and has trend data from staff surveys on leadership for the entire period. Following the review of the department’s leadership statement in 2016, the department worked with an external provider to redevelop leadership programs for staff. In 2016–17, programs were conducted for the SES and staff at Executive Bands 1 and 2 and Parliamentary Service Levels 4, 5 and 6.

Workplace diversity

The department’s workplace diversity program aligns the department’s workplace diversity strategies and actions with the Parliamentary Service Values. It outlines the department’s commitment to increasing workforce participation rates in different diversity groups.

New staff continued to receive training, as soon as practicable after their commencement, in the prevention of discrimination, bullying and harassment.

During the reporting period, the Australian Parliament’s Reconciliation action plan 2016–18 was endorsed. (See page 71 for more information.)

In 2016–17 the department developed an Indigenous secondment program to provide opportunities for graduates from the Indigenous Australian Graduate Development Program to participate in three-month placements with the department. The program is an important part of the department’s commitment to the career progression and professional development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. At the completion of the program, participants return to their home departments with valuable experiences of parliamentary operations.

The program attracted a high level of interest from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from a range of agencies. Two placements were undertaken in 2016–17.


2016–17 Indigenous secondees Shanece Liddy-Wilde and Nathan King. Photo: Michael Masters, Auspic/DPS.


Seven staff participated in the department’s Studybank program during the year (compared with 13 staff in 2015–16). Collectively, they received financial assistance of $29,115 ($25,389 in 2015–16), along with a total of 51.3 days of study leave on full pay.

Performance assessment

All eligible staff participated in the annual work performance assessment cycle, which was completed on 31 October 2016. The cycle consists of setting individual work objectives, conducting performance assessments, preparing individual development plans and providing feedback to supervisors. Information from the individual development plans is used to formulate the training program for the next calendar year.

Employment framework

The Department of the House of Representatives Enterprise Agreement 2012–15 covers all staff except SES. The department’s SES staff are covered by determinations made under section 24(1) of the Parliamentary Service Act.

There is no provision in the enterprise agreement to remunerate staff based on performance. The Clerk did not make a determination under section 24(1) of the Act in 2016–17 to pay staff a monetary bonus.

On 22 September 2016, bargaining for a new enterprise agreement ceased following a decision of the full bench of the Fair Work Commission in relation to questions concerning the notices of employee representational rights for agencies undertaking bargaining. On 23 September 2016, a new notice of employee representational rights was issued to staff, recommencing the bargaining process for a new enterprise agreement.

Salary scales under the 2012–15 agreement are summarised in Table 11.

Table 11 Salary scales of staff covered by the 2012–15 enterprise agreement


Salary scale ($)

Executive Band 2


Executive Band 1


Parliamentary Service Level 6


Parliamentary Service Level 5


Parliamentary Service Level 4


Parliamentary Service Level 3


Parliamentary Service Level 2


Parliamentary Service Level 1


Work health and safety

The department is committed to fulfilling its responsibilities under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988. During the year, all reasonably practicable measures were taken to protect the health, safety and welfare of staff while at work, in line with the department’s work health and safety policies.

Workstation assessments are conducted for staff on request. These include education on the correct set-up of workstations—for example, the height of the desk at both sitting and standing positions. Workstation information is provided in orientation sessions for new staff.

In October 2015, a work health and safety working group was established to review:

  • the approach taken by each parliamentary department to work health and safety issues
  • whether each department’s approach was at best-practice levels
  • any benefits to be gained from a joint consideration of work health and safety issues at Parliament House.

A report on these matters was provided through the Parliamentary Administration Advisory Group to the parliamentary departmental heads confirming the appropriateness of the approaches of each department to work health and safety. The working group also provided a whole-of-parliament work health and safety risk assessment and made recommendations to further support work health and safety risk practices across the parliament. The working group continued to meet during the year to ensure recommendations were implemented.
In 2016–17, the department focused on implementing its work health and safety management system, which provides an evidence-based risk management approach to work health and safety considerations. The department aims to deliver high-quality and timely outcomes, providing leadership, direction, capability and governance, to nurture a safety culture. A rehabilitation management system was also developed to ensure injured and/or ill workers are supported to achieve an early, safe and sustainable return to work, and the procedures for managing safety within the department were reviewed.

The department’s Comcare premium rate for 2016–17 was 0.43 per cent of total employee benefits, an increase from the 2015–16 rate of 0.42 per cent.
One compensation claim has lodged during the reporting period, under the injury group ‘strain excluding back’.

During the year, there were no dangerous occurrences requiring notification under section 37 of the Work Health and Safety Act, no investigations were carried out, and no directions or notices were received by the department under section 191 of the Act.

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