Department of Health Annual Report 2016-17

Part 3.2: People

Page last updated: 19 October 2017

People Strategy

The Department’s People Strategy 2016–20 outlines our approach to continuing to build a contemporary, capable, well led, talented, adaptive and flexible workforce. It has four key areas of action; as shown in Figure 3.2.1.

The People Strategy drives our continued improvement of the way we manage our workforce to ensure we are well positioned to deliver our Purpose. This includes ensuring we build the right capability to meet the challenges ahead.

Figure 3.2.1: People Strategy 2016–20 key areas of action

This figure shows the Department’s People Strategy 2016-20 framework’s key areas of action. These are: managing workforce composition and agility; building the right capability; continue to improve our culture and leadership; investing in career succession.

Organisational performance

The Australian Public Service (APS) State of the Service Employee Census (Staff Survey) continues to provide valuable insight into staff views. The survey was conducted between 8 May and 9 June 2017, with 74 per cent of staff participating.

The Staff Survey shows the Department’s leadership and culture have improved over the past twelve months, placing the Department in a good position to meet its objectives and future challenges. Results show the Department’s staff are more highly engaged than the APS average (6.8 compared to 6.6 out of 10). Staff perception of senior leadership in the Department was significantly above the APS average in all categories. Refer Figure 3.2.2 and Figure 3.2.3.

The Department also conducts a Pulse Survey twice a year, which complements the annual Staff Survey. The Pulse Survey is an internal tool to further measure employee outcomes, organisational performance, leadership and culture. The Pulse Survey links to and supports the Strategic Intent, Our Behaviours in Action and the People Strategy.

The collection of people data is critical in helping the Department continue to drive improvements in performance and culture.

Figure 3.2.2: APS employee engagement

Figure 3.2.2 is a bar graph depicting the level of employee engagement. Healths staff are ahead of the APS average for: job engagement; team engagement; supervisor engagement; and agency engagement.

Figure 3.2.3: APS senior leadership perception

Figure 3.2.3 is a bar graph depicting the perception rates of senior leadership. Healths SES, on average are perceived as: high quality; can be seen in action; effectively communicate; and set a clear direction for the agency.

Workforce composition

As at 30 June 2017, the Department has a workforce of 4,720 APS staff (including staff on leave and secondment). This is a decrease from 5,037 as at 30 June 2016, which is largely attributed to tighter recruitment controls and a Voluntary Redundancy Program. The workforce profile at 30 June 2017 was as follows:

  • 96.1 per cent of staff were ongoing and 3.9 per cent were non-ongoing;
  • 21.6 per cent of staff were employed on a part-time basis;
  • 68.6 per cent of staff were female; and
  • 2.6 per cent of staff identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

Figure 3.2.4: Comparison of gender profile at 30 June 201757, 58

Figure 3.2.4 is a bar graph depicting a comparison of the departmental gender profile broken down by job levels. At 30 June 2016, the Department consisted of 738 males and 2,131 females at the APS level; 743 males and 1,251 females at the EL level; and 69 males and 98 females at the SES level. Comparatively, at 30 June 2017, the breakdown was: 673 males and 1,910 females at the APS level; 723 males and 1,232 females at the EL level; and 80 males and 95 females at the SES level.

Table 3.2.1: Comparison of Indigenous staff by employment status between 30 June 2016 and 30 June 2017

Indigenous staff
Employment status30 June 201730 June 2016
Total Indigenous staff122108
Percentage of Indigenous staff in the Department2.6%2.1%

Staffing retention and turnover

A 2016-17 Voluntary Redundancy Program was implemented to support the Department’s efforts to adjust the size of its workforce. The strategy was, in part, developed in response to a reduction in our staff turnover rate.

The ongoing staff turnover rate in 2016-17, excluding voluntary redundancies, was 7.7 per cent, a decrease from 12 per cent in 2015-16. Including the Voluntary Redundancy Program, the ongoing staff turnover rate was 13.4 per cent.

The strategy has enabled the Department to enter the 2017-18 financial year with a more sustainable workforce profile.

Analysing workforce composition

The Department completed its first full segmentation of the workforce by job family to better understand key factors of different occupational groups, such as attraction, retention and engagement. A job family is a high level grouping of similar jobs that have related skills, tasks and knowledge. This represents a significant step forward in the development of the Department’s workforce planning. Through this information, the Department has increased capacity to identify critical capabilities and roles, develop career pathways for staff and share professional expertise across functional areas as well as the wider APS.

Table 3.2.2: Staff numbers by classification at 30 June 2017

Holder of Public Office3-2-55
Senior Executive Band 34-4-87
Senior Executive Band 216-13-2930
Senior Executive Band 161250-113107
Executive Level 22705821010548565
Executive Level 1548283424351,2901,327
APS 6697296335241,3521,429
APS 536212714614649726
APS 423973736391460
APS 3341514871117
APS 25128123757
APS 112441113
Health Entry-Level Broadband46-24-7052
Legal 2124712424
Legal 11157-2320
Chief Medical Officer--1-11
Medical Officer 6123177
Medical Officer 581721816
Medical Officer 4541222319
Medical Officer 3106722529
Medical Officer 246311412
Public Affairs 3421-77
Public Affairs 21-1-22
Professional 1-----1
Senior Principal Research Scientist--1-12
Principal Research Scientist-----1
Department total2,3428981,3581224,720595,037

This table includes:

  • headcount figures of departmental staff as at 30 June 2017;
  • staff on leave and secondment; and
  • staff acting at a higher level, for any period as at 30 June 2017 (that is, these staff are listed against their higher classification).

Table 3.2.3: Distribution of staff by State and Territory at 30 June 201760

Australian Capital Territory3,745
New South Wales362
Western Australia66
Northern Territory24
South Australia86
Department total4,720

Employment arrangements

The Department’s practices for making employment arrangements with it’s staff are consistent with the requirements of the Workplace Bargaining Policy 2015 and the Fair Work Act 2009. Information on employment arrangements is outlined below.

Enterprise Agreement

The Department of Health Enterprise Agreement 2016–2019 (EA) provides the terms and conditions of employment for non-SES staff. The EA commenced operation on 3 February 2016 and will nominally expire on 26 January 2019.

The EA contains a flexibility provision, which enables the Department to make an Individual Flexibility Arrangement with a non-SES staff member. An Individual Flexibility Arrangement varies specified terms and conditions provided under the EA for that individual where necessary and appropriate. For further information on the number of staff with these arrangements refer Table 3.2.4.

Table 3.2.4: Non-SES staff covered by Individual Flexibility Arrangements and the EA at 30 June 2017

Number of staff covered by the:
EAEA and an approved Individual Flexibility Arrangement

All salary increases awarded to staff by the EA are funded through savings generated by a range of productivity improvements. These savings have been achieved through corporate initiatives or productivity improvements, such as property and ICT efficiencies, through streamlining processes, and removal of restrictive and/or inefficient work practices.

The Department does not have any Australian Workplace Agreements in place and generally does not use common law contracts. However, common law contracts may be used where necessary to establish and/or supplement conditions and entitlements.

Performance pay

The Department no longer offers performance pay to new or ongoing staff. As a result, no departmental staff received performance payments in 2016-17.

Remuneration for senior officials

The Department maintained a remuneration position consistent with equivalent public sector entities during 2016-17. Base salaries and inclusions, such as the allowance paid in lieu of a motor vehicle, complied with Government policy and guidelines. Individual salaries are negotiated on commencement and reviewed annually by the Department’s Executive Committee. Total remuneration for SES staff may have included non-monetary inclusions or reimbursements for mobile phones and laptops/tablets.

Comprehensive terms and conditions of employment for new departmental SES staff are provided via individual determinations made under section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999.

Table 3.2.5: Average annual reportable remuneration paid to substantive executives during the reporting period



bonus paid

Average total

200,000 and less3495,82515,87510-111,710
200,001 to 225,00034189,86729,19691-219,154
225,001 to 250,00040203,55433,21033-236,774
250,001 to 275,00024225,71836,82147-262,585
275,001 to 300,00018246,18338,88951-285,124
300,001 to 325,0008268,20743,913116-312,236
325,001 to 350,0005293,38743,74952-337,187
350,001 to 375,0003323,40047,523--370,923
375,001 to 400,0003338,45054,571--393,021
400,001 to 450,0004365,70861,368174-427,251
450,001 to 500,0003401,58666,674--468,260
500,001 to 750,000------
750,001 to 775,0001736,84831,409--768,258
Total number
of executives62

Table 3.2.6: Remuneration paid to highly paid staff during the reporting period



bonus paid

Average total

200,001 to 225,00010179,63930,962123-210,724
225,001 to 250,0002197,84634,224--232,070
250,001 to 275,0001220,57433,938--254,512
275,001 to 300,0001244,17035,420--279,590
300,001 to 325,0002263,14942,6241,560-307,333
Total number of highly paid staff6416-----

Table 3.2.7: SES staff and equivalent staff with Individual Agreements at 30 June 2017

Nominal classificationNumber of staff with Individual AgreementsTotal
Senior Executive Band 3347
Senior Executive Band 2141125
Senior Executive Band 1534194
Chief Medical Officer-11
Medical Officer 6347
Medical Officer 59918

Table 3.2.8: Non-salary benefits

Non-SES staff
Access to engage in private medical practice for Medical Officers
Access to Individual Flexibility Arrangements
Access to negotiated discount registration/membership fees to join a fitness or health club
Access to paid leave at half pay
Access to remote locality conditions
Access to the Employee Assistance Program
Additional cultural and ceremonial Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employee’s leave
Australian Defence Force Reserve, full-time service or cadet leave
Annual close down and early stand down at Easter and Christmas Eve
Annual leave
Annual free onsite influenza vaccinations for staff
Bereavement and compassionate leave
Breastfeeding facilities and family care rooms
Community service leave
Financial assistance to access financial advice for staff 54 years and older
Flexible working locations and home-based work including, where appropriate, access to laptop computers, dial-in facilities, and mobile phones
Flextime (not all non-SES employees) and time in lieu
Hepatitis B vaccinations for staff who are required to come into regular contact with members of the community classified as at increased risk with regard to hepatitis B
Miscellaneous leave with or without pay
Parental leave – includes maternity, adoption and partner leave
Personal/carers leave
Provision of eyesight testing and reimbursement of prescribed eyewear costs specifically for use with screen-based equipment
Public Transport Loan Scheme
Purchased and extended purchased leave
Recognition of travel time
Reflection room
Study assistance
Support for professional and personal development
SES staff
All the above benefits except flextime and access to Individual Flexibility Arrangements
Airport lounge membership
Car parking
Cash-out of annual leave
Executive Vehicle Allowance
Individual determinations made under section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999
IT Reimbursement Scheme

Salary ranges

Table 3.2.9: EL and APS levels salary structure

ClassificationSalary ranges at 30 June 2017
Executive Level 2139,182
Executive Level 1112,377
APS 690,455
APS 577,459
APS 470,607
APS 365,376
APS 255,696
APS 149,044
Staff at 20 years of age39,740
Staff at 19 years of age35,374
Staff at 18 years of age30,569
Staff under 18 years of age26,202

Table 3.2.10: Health Entry-Level Broadband

Local titleAPS classificationSalary ranges at 30 June 2017
Health Entry-Level (T, I, A, or G)APS 470,607
APS 365,376
APS 255,696
APS 149,044
Staff at 20 years of age39,740
Staff at 19 years of age35,374
Staff at 18 years of age30,569
Staff under 18 years of age26,202


(T) = Trainees

(I) = Indigenous Australian Government Development Program participants

(A) = Indigenous Apprenticeship Programme

(G) = Graduates

Table 3.2.11: Professional 1 salary structure

Local titleAPS classificationSalary ranges at 30 June 2017
Professional 1APS 577,459
APS 573,573
APS 468,662
APS 4*66,824
APS 3**62,411
APS 360,651


* Salary on commencement for a professional with a four year degree (or higher).

** Salary on commencement for a professional with a three year degree.

Table 3.2.12: Medical Officer salary structure

Local titleSalary ranges at 30 June 2017
Medical Officer Class 4167,183
Medical Officer Class 3145,827
Medical Officer Class 2131,246
Medical Officer Class 1113,830

Table 3.2.13: Legal salary structure

Local titleAPS classificationSalary ranges at 30 June 2017
Legal 2Executive Level 2144,054
Legal 1Executive Level 1121,930
APS 688,475
APS 574,213
APS 469,573

Table 3.2.14: Public Affairs salary structure

Local titleAPS classificationSalary ranges at 30 June 2017
Senior Public Affairs 2Executive Level 2144,750
Senior Public Affairs 1Executive Level 2132,500
Public Affairs 3Executive Level 1120,805
Public Affairs 2APS 690,549
APS 577,459
APS 470,606
APS 4*66,824


* This level is generally reserved for staff with less than two years’ experience.

Table 3.2.15: Research Scientist salary structure

Local titleAPS classificationSalary ranges at 30 June 2017
Senior Principal Research ScientistExecutive Level 2176,761
Principal Research ScientistExecutive Level 2155,884
Senior Research ScientistExecutive Level 2141,548
Research ScientistExecutive Level 1105,879
APS 684,224


Building the right capability

The Department’s Learning and Development Strategy 2016–2019 (L&D Strategy) supports the People Strategy and aims to create a diverse learning environment that builds a capable workforce to achieve departmental outcomes. The L&D Strategy also identifies a number of key drivers and learning principles, recognising the different influences, learning methods and future staff challenges the Department faces.

In 2016-17, the Department delivered a number of new learning and development initiatives including:

  • 21st Century Services pilot program to develop strategic policy – an instructor-led program delivered to 90 staff to provide participants with a foundation for applying design and systems thinking in the workplace;
  • Cultural Appreciation Program – an internally facilitated program delivered to 176 staff, growing from the pilot program delivered in August 2015 reaching 106 staff, to build the knowledge and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives, history, diversity and culture for all staff; and
  • Early Intervention pilot – delivered to 145 staff to equip managers and staff to confidently recognise and respond when an employee is showing signs of injury and/or illness, in order to reduce the risk of long term injury and illness.

The Department continued to deliver training incorporating elements from the Australian Public Service Commission fundamental programs. To build the capability of the Department’s staff through face-to-face learning, 7,981 instructor-led training places were filled across subject areas including:

  • information technology;
  • writing and communication;
  • stakeholder engagement;
  • fraud and corruption awareness;
  • project management; and
  • leadership and management.

The Department also offers e-learning programs to staff, encompassing subjects such as APS Values, cultural awareness, work health and safety, financial management and knowledge management. In 2016-17, the Department focussed training on fraud awareness and record keeping. E-learning programs were accessed 8,811 times during 2016-17.

Training participation rates in 2016-17 have significantly increased on last year, largely due to the Department’s increased focus on fraud and corruption awareness, and an upgrade to records management software that has required additional training of staff.

Continuing to improve our leadership

The Department continues to deliver leadership development programs, building the leadership and management capability within the Department. During 2016-17, leadership programs were redesigned to address the need to build leadership capabilities at all levels and strengthen key capabilities outlined in the Strategic Intent 2016–20.

During 2016-17, the Department’s leadership development programs were redesigned to address the need to build leadership at all levels and strengthen key capabilities outlined in the Department’s Strategic Intent 2017–21, People Strategy 2016–20, and Our Behaviours in Action. The leadership programs include:

  • Ignite – to equip participants to better deal with emotions and behaviours in the workplace;
  • Foundational – to strengthen capabilities critical to supervisor success;
  • Expansion – to strengthen and deepen capabilities that enable more influential and collaborative work practices to address complex leadership issues and challenges in a dynamic work environment; and
  • Section Leaders – to support and strengthen leadership capabilities that support organisational and enterprise leadership.

Specific support and capability development for Executive Level (EL) staff has been a focus in 2017-18. The Department’s 360 degree feedback survey was incorporated into the revised Expansion and Section Leaders leadership development programs. The survey enables EL staff to identify professional strengths and developmental opportunities through feedback received from their staff, colleagues and supervisors.

The Department has been working to provide additional support and guidance for its leaders beyond instructor-led programs, with the development of the Leadership and Management Framework. The Framework outlines the leadership expectations required at each level and provides an overview of core leadership and management options available for staff. The Framework supports the People Strategy, and embeds Our Behaviours in Action through the development of leadership at all levels.

The Department also continued to develop the leadership capability of SES staff, by providing ‘SES Snapshot’ sessions which focus on an individual topic of interest each month, as well as facilitating ‘learning circles’ that allow our SES staff to share and discuss matters in an open and supportive forum. These initiatives provide for continual learning and development through practical and social learning.


Workforce inclusivity and diversity

The Department is committed to reflecting the diversity of the Australian community in its workforce by building an inclusive culture that respects and celebrates differences. Diversity in our experiences, backgrounds, skills, talents and views enriches our working environment and capacity to deliver health outcomes for all Australians.

In 2016-17, the Department appointed nine new Diversity Champions from its Senior Executive cohort. These officers raise awareness and understanding by educating colleagues and advocating for diversity across the Department more broadly.

The Department supports three formal staff networks – the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Network, Health Pride Network, and Disability and Carers Network – that also aim to raise awareness of the benefits of an inclusive culture. In 2016-17, the Department participated in a number of whole-of-Government fora, roundtables and meetings with stakeholders and corporate partners including the Australian Network on Disability, and Pride in Diversity.

In 2016-17, the Department developed the first Accessibility Action Plan and the fourth Reconciliation Action Plan, as well as establishing a working group to develop a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Action Plan. The new Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan 2017–19 was developed in consultation with Reconciliation Australia, Health’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Champions, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Network, as well as other employees across the Department. These plans collectively outline clear pathways for the Department to achieve a more inclusive workplace. For further information on the Accessibility Action Plan, refer Part 3.4: External Scrutiny and Compliance.

This image is the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Network emblem.
This image is the Health Pride Network emblem.
This image is the Staff with Disability Network emblem.

Recognising staff

The Department actively participates in the Australia Day Achievement Awards, offered by the National Australia Day Council. The awards aim to promote a sense of national pride, and a commitment to our country and its future among all Australians. In 2017, four individual and four team awards were presented across the Department in the categories of innovation, service, relationships and leadership.

Career and Succession

Performance development

Creating a culture of high performance and an environment that provides both job satisfaction and opportunities for career growth are a continuing focus for the Department. All staff engage in a formal Performance Development Scheme process twice a year to discuss their achievements, work responsibility and development.

The Department is improving the process and systems that support staff to achieve the Department’s, and their own, performance goals. Improvements during 2016-17 include:

  • development of a performance management framework to strengthen and simplify understanding of the Department’s performance processes and tools;
  • reviewing and updating the Department’s performance, underperformance and reward and recognition policies and guidelines;
  • ongoing development of tools and training to support quality performance conversations;
  • updates and simplifications to the IT systems used to support the formal performance assessment process.

Investing in high performance is central to Our Behaviours in Action, with nurturing talent and building capability fundamental to this investment.

During 2016-17, the Department continued its commitment to ensuring the highest ethical standards. This included the provision of a range of behavioural and ethical education and training opportunities aimed at embedding staff knowledge and understanding of their responsibilities, and emphasising the workplace behaviours expected of all staff under the APS Code of Conduct.

All alleged breaches of the APS Code of Conduct are treated seriously and managed in accordance with best practice. The majority of complaints received were handled through local management action or preliminary investigation. The Department finalised 12 APS Code of Conduct investigations during 2016-17, resulting in nine breaches of the APS Code of Conduct being determined.

Entry-level programs

During 2016-17, improvements have been made to learning and development for the Department’s entry-level programs, including Graduates and Indigenous Entry Level Program participants (Trainees).

The revised Graduate training approach incorporated learning in the following key areas:

  • understanding Government;
  • understanding the health system; and
  • understanding self.

The Trainees undertake core learning and development through their respective trainee programs – the Indigenous Apprenticeship Programme and the Indigenous Australian Government Development Program.

Once Trainees successfully complete all components of the program, they receive a nationally recognised accredited qualification, the Diploma of Government.

These areas for development are underpinned by the APS core skills programs and consist of a number of blended learning methods including face-to-face, online, on-the-job and self-directed learning which align to the 70:20:10 principle.

Grads lead the charge on innovation

This image depicts a smart phone.

All levels of staff are encouraged to embrace innovation and members of our 2016 IT graduate program readily took up the challenge.

In partnership with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the graduate group developed the MedSearch app – taking the product information search capability available on the TGA website and recreating it for iOS and Android mobiles.

The app allows health professionals and consumers to quickly search for and retrieve product information, including scientific information about medicines and how to use them safely and effectively. The MedSearch App also includes extra features, including the ability to add results to a favourites list for easy access.

The app has already received accolades, winning project of the year at the Australian Government ICT Entry-level Programs graduation ceremony, beating teams from across the public service to take out the top honour.

“Everyone involved in MedSearch blossomed to meet the challenges of the project. You hope that what you did is going to make a real difference for people in the community.” – Grant Millsteed, Health 2016 ICT graduate

Career development and mobility

The Department is committed to career development, and supports secondment and mobility opportunities both with the APS and private sector. Health is one of seven agencies participating in Operation Free Range, an Australian Public Service Commission-led study on APS mobility. The study seeks to understand the barriers to, and good practice for inter-agency mobility. Ongoing staff are encouraged to apply, and hiring managers are encouraged to consider mobility into the agency.