9 February 2023

Public servants invited to register for surge reserve through new portal

| Chris Johnson
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APS Surge Reserve portal

The APS Surge Reserve portal has been launched. Photo: File.

Join the surge! Your country needs you!

Australian Public Servants can now register to join special task groups in times of crisis and urgent action.

Known as the APS Surge Reserve, a new portal has been launched on the APSJobs website to allow employees to volunteer for surge work if called upon.

The portal allows staff to update and manage their own profiles so bosses can call on them directly and at short notice when public service attention needs to be diverted for extraordinary work.

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APS Commissioner Peter Woolcott explained the importance of the Surge Reserve when he launched the new portal.

“We need to be prepared to mobilise our people in large numbers so the APS is ready to support the Australian community during crises,” he said.

“By making it easier for people to volunteer, this new streamlined registration portal will strengthen our short-term workforce, so we can respond seamlessly to critical government priorities or emergencies.

“It also reduces the administrative burden on agencies, who have much to gain from staff broadening their understanding of the wider APS and bringing back new skills and capabilities from deployments.

“I encourage APS employees across the service to register their interest in being part of an APS that continues to work together for Australians.”

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The APS Surge Reserve was established in 2021 following an initial mobilisation of APS employees in 2020.

More than 2500 employees moved across the service into areas of critical need.

Designed to strengthen capacity to mobilise APS volunteers in large numbers in response to a crisis, the surge reserve proved to be a success.

The register allows APS1 to EL2 employees to volunteer for agencies to temporarily increase those agencies’ workforces to respond to government priorities, major disasters or emergencies.

Reservists are deployed to APS agencies where it is determined there is the greatest need.

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The APS Surge Reserve also offers opportunities to APS employees to try something new without leaving their current position.

They benefit from meeting new people and expanding their professional networks; gaining experience working in another agency; broadening their skills and trying different work; accessing learning and development to help prepare for future deployments; building their understanding of how the APS delivers services to Australians in an emergency; and being recognised for public service contribution in helping Australian communities during emergencies.

Testimonials from employees who have already taken part in surge deployments talk up the value of such work.

“I enjoyed the willingness of agencies to work together to provide a service which hopefully had a direct and positive impact on people,” said an EL1 who joined the surge to help with pandemic leave payments being processed through Services Australia.

“This is what public service should be – deploying skills and resources to get things done for people.”

Another who joined a surge to help with flood disaster payments said:

“From the moment I nominated to help out, I was supported by Services Australia and my own agency (DSS). My onboarding was very quick. I had everything I needed to process claims, including thorough training and a suite of resources with step-by-step instructions.”

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