31 October 2022

More staff for Services Australia to deal with natural disaster relief

| Chris Johnson
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Services Australia’s average staffing level will rise from 26,100 to 28,500. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Services Australia is getting a boost to its staffing levels, even though Labor’s federal budget shows that the agency will be losing the extra staff it gained through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The increase in staffing numbers is a budget measure, a result of the Federal Government reversing the staffing cuts of the former Coalition government.

In its last budget on 29 March, the Morrison government set the agency’s average staffing level (ASL) at 26,100, whereas Labor’s first budget allocates 28,500 for next year.

ASL is the budget’s method of counting adjusted for casual and part-time staff to show the average number of full-time equivalent employees.

An ASL is almost always a lower figure than a headcount of actual employees.

But while budget papers talk in ASL terms, the Australian Public Service Commission uses the headcount method when presenting staffing numbers.

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About 2100 of the extra 2400 staff headed for Services Australia will primarily be involved in natural disaster support and emergency welfare services.

The agency’s chief executive Rebecca Skinner emailed staff with the news the day after the budget was handed down, saying the increase was a show of confidence in the work Services Australia was doing.

About 200 more staff will be added to regional locations, plus an extra 100 earmarked specifically for Cairns.

“These additional staff will go to where there is the greatest need, including to regional and remote Australia and to support customers experiencing vulnerability,” Ms Skinner said.

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Budget measures for Services Australia aim to improve service delivery capability during emergencies, and also review myGov and improve digital systems.

The agency states it is also working with partner agencies to deliver changes to childcare, healthcare and services for older Australians.

The good news on the staffing front for the agency coincides with a number of senior promotions across Services Australia.

In the SES Band 1, Janet Courtis and David Reed were promoted to general counsel, while Michele Robinson, Adam dell’Aquilla, Christopher Flinders and Brodie Wootten were made national managers.

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