2 November 2022

Public service commission goes hard to deliver budget initiatives

| Chris Johnson
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Public Service Minister Katy Gallagher has set ambitious goals for the public service. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The Australian Public Service Commission has gone on the front foot to publicise how it is helping deliver budget measures aimed at reforming the sector.

In a widely distributed news article issued by the APSC following the delivery of last week’s federal budget, the commission highlighted three new priority initiatives it is leading under its Ambitious and Enduring Reform Plan for the APS.

These measures are capability reviews, boosting First Nations employment and workplace relations.

“APS reform doesn’t just affect every public servant across Australia. It also touches the communities, industries and people the APS serves,” the article says.

“A trusted public service that functions effectively and efficiently supports an Australia which is fairer, safer, and more inclusive.”

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The commission stressed that it is committed to supporting a public service that embodies integrity in everything it does, puts people and business at the centre of policy and services, is a model employer, and has the capability to do its job well.

It also supports the APS Digital Traineeship Program that was announced at the Jobs and Skills Summit in September.

That program aims to create employment opportunities for First Nations peoples, women, older people, veterans transitioning to civilian roles and their spouses.

The goal is to have 1000 participants in the program over the next four years.

“We will be the first agency to pilot a capability review,” it says.

“This will provide us with an opportunity to engage fully in the new process we will then be responsible for administering within other agencies. Beginning this year, these reviews will be short, sharp and focused on the future.

“Using existing data and reports and engagement with staff and stakeholders, agency-level reviews will give the APS the evidence to identify opportunities for service-wide reform.

“This will directly contribute to an APS that has the capability to do its job well, but will also build ownership and a self-sustaining culture of improvement.”

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Representation of First Nations people in the APS is 3.5 per cent – a figure that has barely moved in 20 years, the note pointed out.

The government’s new policy is that the APS meet a target of First Nations employment of 5 per cent by 2030.

Its Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workforce Strategy 2020-2024 is not having the desired effect of boosting First Nations people’s employment. A review is underway to find better results in this area.

On workplace relations, the APSC has begun consulting with unions and government agencies to develop a strategy for negotiating conditions and entitlements.

“A comprehensive policy will help address fragmentation in pay and conditions across the Australian Public Service, make it easier for employees to flexibly work across the public service, and create an APS that is a model employer,” the article states.

The Public Sector Interim Workplace Arrangements 2022, released last month, grants APS employees a 3 per cent pay increase while a more comprehensive policy is reached.

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