During 2004–05, the Ombudsman's office managed its employees in accordance with the conditions of our Certified Agreement and a number of Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs), as well as within our obligations under the Public Service Act 1999.
The Australian Industrial Relations Commission certified a two-year agreement on 22 October 2003. The Certified Agreement remains in force until 30 September 2005.
The agreement focuses on people, remuneration and employment arrangements, working environment and lifestyle, further streamlining of personnel practices and processes, and performance management and improvement to underpin salary increases. These are also characteristic of the AWAs in place for a small number of employees. Full details are in Table 9.1. (Note: as statutory officers, the Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsman are not included.)
SES = Senior Executive Service
Non-salary benefits provided to staff under the agreement include employee-sponsored superannuation.
The Certified Agreement and the non-Senior Executive Service (non-SES) AWAs do not make provision for performance pay. Salary advancement through pay points within each classification is linked to performance, in accordance with the policy parameters for agreement making in the Australian Public Service. SES AWAs provide for annual salary advancement within the range based on performance.
The Workplace Relations Committee continues to provide an internal forum for discussion of issues surrounding implementation and operation of the agreement. It also provides the consultative, advisory and information-sharing mechanism between management and employees on matters affecting employment conditions in the office.
Career development and training
Career development and training focused on continuous improvement of performance through analysis of the organisation's needs. During the year, we employed a consultant to review the office's training and development program. Following the review, we implemented a number of the recommendations, including changing our approach to induction training to better meet the needs of new staff members, developing a training program in presentation and representational skills, and looking at a range of measures for the ongoing development of leadership and supervision skills for staff with supervisory responsibilities.
Key areas of training and staff development conducted during the year were:
All staff attended workshops to participate in a review and evaluation of the office's Performance Management Program and to explore key elements of effective performance appraisal, and to discuss ways of preparing effectively and staying on track. Staff also worked through a process for negotiating useful work plans and personal development plans. The workshops were held to consolidate the first full year's operation of the office's new performance management program.
An induction program was held during the year for all new staff members to provide a consolidated overview of the organisation and its functions. Subsequent new staff members were provided with individual sessions on their commencement.
The office also contributed to the development of its staff by providing study assistance to enable a number of staff to undertake courses at educational institutions.
In July 2004, a two-day workshop was held for the office's senior managers to look at some of the strategic challenges facing the office, as well as issues such as juggling priorities, managing workload, encouraging more junior staff and contributing to office-wide priorities. The office's national managers group also met several times during the year to discuss specific issues arising out of the workshop.
As at 30 June 2005, the actual number of employees was 116, which included the Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsman, who are statutory appointments. The full-time equivalent number of employees was 102.
During the year, 34 employees (20 of whom were women) were engaged on an ongoing basis. Nineteen ongoing employees left the office, equating to a turnover rate of 16%. While this turnover is relatively high, given the nature of the office's work and the fact that we run eight offices throughout Australia it is not unreasonable. There is a cost to staff turnover, however, it also provides opportunities for a small office to renew and broaden its skill base.
The numbers of ongoing and non-ongoing employees, by gender and Australian Public Service classification, are shown in Table 9.2. Six employees on long-term leave without pay under the Prime Minister's Directions 1999 are not included in the table. Table 9.3 provides the office's staffing profile by location and gender.