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  Chapter Title - Human Resource Management
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A key element of DOFA's strategy to deliver high quality outputs for its Ministers is to effectively manage its people. For this reason, and to further the goal of being a high performance organisation, DOFA has implemented and developed a principles based employment framework that enhances flexibility.

The cornerstones of DOFA's employment framework are:

  • a broad banded classification system
  • flexible and competitive remuneration arrangements appropriate to DOFA's employment market
  • choice of either a collective or individual agreement for expressing terms and conditions of employment
  • a performance management system that applies to all staff.

The framework is integrated into all DOFA's business areas to help it to attract, retain and reward staff with competitive remuneration and non-monetary benefits and allow staff maximum flexibility to balance work and family commitments.

Flexibility and Choice in Remuneration
All DOFA staff below the SES level can choose either the collective agreement (certified agreement) or an individual workplace agreement (AWA) for expressing terms and conditions of employment. Both types of agreement give access to pay rises as skills and responsibilities increase, as well as flexible working arrangements to help balance work and home commitments. Also they both provide financial and other assistance to promote ongoing learning and development, as well as regular feedback to help improve performance. At 30 June 2000, 56 per cent of staff were covered by AWAs compared to 32 per cent of staff at 30 June 1999.

A Focus on Performance Management
DOFA's performance management framework applies to all staff, with performance bonuses awarded to staff rated competent or superior. It aims to improve both individual and organisational performance, and comparison of the last three years' performance management cycles highlights that the average rating of staff performance has risen steadily. On a ten point scale, the average performance rating for staff below SES has moved from 6.45 in 1997-98 to 6.61 in 1998-99 to 6.68 in 1999-2000. In addition, the percentage of staff assessed as borderline or unsatisfactory has dropped, with almost 98 per cent rated competent or better in 1999-2000 and receiving performance pay.

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Planning for the Future
DOFA has initiated a number of strategies to ensure it maintains a sustainable workforce to meet its needs. These strategies include identifying current and future key jobs and ensuring that high quality backup candidates are available through training and various recruitment and retention activities.

One mechanism to identify and retain DOFA's key leadership and management talent is the Long Term Incentive Plan. The plan was developed to retain employees in business critical positions and reward them for sustained high performance. The plan involves paying a retention bonus to participants if they remain employed by DOFA for three years and are assessed as eligible for a performance bonus in each of those years. Retention bonuses are paid at the conclusion of each of the third, fourth and fifth annual performance cycles in the plan.

During 1999-2000, only three employees out of 55 participating in the plan left DOFA. This equates to a turnover rate of less than 6 per cent, significantly less than for the whole of DOFA.

Graduate Recruitment and Development
DOFA has an ongoing commitment to employ high quality graduates, and conducts an annual graduate recruitment programme. In 1999-2000, DOFA recruited 27 graduates across a range of disciplines and from a variety of locations across Australia. DOFA gives graduates challenging opportunities to develop and prove their abilities, with targeted training and development plans. DOFA also runs development centres for new graduates to help them identify their strengths and areas for development. Graduates then can liaise with their manager and plan their development and career growth.

Training and Development Strategies for All Employees
DOFA has an ongoing commitment to all staff to continue staff development over their careers, with a range of development options available. The Performance Management Framework encourages all staff to identify career opportunities and goals each year, and to actively pursue strategies to achieve them.

Other options available for staff development include using the flexible working arrangements, participating in special project teams, and gaining experience in other organisations. Staff are able to study at outside institutions and negotiate reimbursement for their successful completion of business-related studies and time off to study.

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Developing Leadership
A key priority for DOFA is to improve leadership at every level. As part of a department-wide leadership programme, managers and staff identify strengths and areas for improvement, using results from diagnostic leadership tools. Then they develop an individual plan that will encourage leadership growth. DOFA has five leadership behaviours: creativity, will to win (desire to make a difference), ability to learn, people management, and expertise in a particular field. Because these behaviours are fundamental to contributing to DOFA's outcomes, they feature in DOFA's recruitment, leadership development and performance management programmes and activities.

During 1999-2000, DOFA renewed its membership of the Leadership Consortium, a Melbourne based organisation, which comprises several well known private sector companies and public sector organisations. The consortium aims to improve leadership among its members through a targeted and tailored programme of course work, reading, formal seminars and a work-based project. DOFA uses the consortium's Leadership Development Programme to provide officers with leading edge development and networking opportunities. Participants are required to work on a strategic project that Management Board identifies. The outcome not only is a development opportunity for participants, but assists DOFA to address key challenges facing its business.

Encouraging Diversity
DOFA values and capitalises on the diversity of its workforce and has mechanisms in place to give effect to workplace diversity principles. Commitment to diversity is underpinned by DOFA's Workplace Diversity Plan, the Certified Agreement, Australian Workplace Agreements and the performance management framework. DOFA's workplace diversity programme identifies strategies to increase employment of people with disabilities and Indigenous Australians. For example, DOFA placed graduate recruitment advertisements in the Koori Mail to encourage applications from Indigenous Australians. DOFA provides high quality, accessible facilities for people with a disability, and its flexible approach to home based work is an advantage for staff with specialised needs.

DOFA recently implemented new procedures to capture up-to-date and relevant staff information (for both current and new staff) which, supported by the new Australian Public Service Employment Database, will allow it to compare more comprehensively performance against benchmarks.

DOFA made good progress in employing women, particularly at senior levels. The number of women in DOFA at the senior officer level rose to 39 per cent in 1999-2000 (8 per cent higher than the APS average), while the number of women at the SES level rose from 22.5 per cent in 1998-99 to 38 per cent in 1999-2000. This is 16 per cent higher than the current average across the APS. DOFA has a women's network that meets monthly and offers a programme of supportive activities, including an annual conference and regular seminars. Currently 50 women participate in the network.

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Balancing Work and Home Life
One of DOFA's initiatives supporting diversity in the workplace, is the Work and Home Life Balance programme. Encouraged by the receipt of a Mother Friendly Workplace Award from the Nursing Mother's Association of Australia in June 1999, DOFA established a Work and Home Life Balance project in July 1999. It aims to develop an environment where people can achieve high performance within a supportive, flexible workplace, while maintaining a healthy balance between work and home.

To reinforce DOFA's long term commitment to this initiative, it included work and home life balance aspects as a key result area in the business planning framework and in individual performance agreements. DOFA also developed family friendly policies and practices, and staff can work from home. Other family friendly initiatives include family oriented social club activities, library resources, maternity leave information kits and onsite facilities for expressing and storing breastmilk. DOFA also supports the health management and well being of staff through a Healthy Bodies Healthy Minds Programme.

Although work and home life balance is a matter of individual responsibility and personal choice, DOFA believes it can assist by creating a work environment that promotes and supports people's physical, emotional and psychological well being. In this way, DOFA staff are encouraged to achieve their full potential, perform at high levels and have more control over their choices in seeking to balance their lives.

Further Information
DOFA's Occupational Health and Safety performance, including its compliance with the relevant legislation, is in Appendix F. Staffing statistics are in Appendix H.

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