Secretary's review

Secretary Renée Leon PSM

In the department’s first full year of operation we achieved substantial progress towards our vision of More Jobs. Great Workplaces. We did this working across the domains of delivery, collaboration, people and being forward-looking, as set out in our Strategic Plan 2014–2017.

We also provided responsive support to our portfolio ministers, the Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon. Eric Abetz, and the Assistant Minister for Employment, the Hon. Luke Hartsuyker MP, and the Australian Government as a whole.


The department is increasingly recognised for our ability to deliver robust policy advice, effective programmes and valued services in support of the government and the community.

The government’s new five-year model for employment services, jobactive, was prepared for launch on 1 July 2015 following the release of the tender in October 2014. The successful delivery of jobactive is a significant milestone in the department’s history, requiring years of preparation and development by many people. I thank Martin Hehir, Deputy Secretary, Employment, and everyone involved. The national Work for the Dole programme was also launched as part of jobactive with 53 forums held for potential host organisations in May and June. I am confident that we will achieve some excellent results for employers and job seekers through the innovative and client-focused improvements embedded in jobactive.

In September 2014 we were the lead agency in organising and hosting the successful G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting in Melbourne. The department supported Minister Abetz in his role as chair, providing secretariat services for this logistically complex event. This was a welcome opportunity to showcase Australian employment and workplace relations policies and programmes internationally. The meeting contributed to strengthening global economic growth, improving international employment outcomes and boosting resilience in the face of future events affecting the labour markets of participating nations.

During the year we supported the government in the complex and dynamic area of workplace relations and I thank Sandra Parker, Deputy Secretary, Workplace Relations and Economic Strategy, for her leadership in these areas. We contributed to the government’s submission to the Fair Work Commission’s Annual Wage Review, and assisted Safe Work Australia to examine model work health and safety laws for red tape reduction opportunities.

Our exceptional governance structure—linking the corporate, strategic, business and individual performance plans—continues to enable the department to clearly outline our performance targets and how we will deliver against them at organisational, team and individual levels. Regular review of the structure and planning tools ensures ongoing effectiveness and reinforces our commitment to innovation in what we do.


Collaboration is essential to being a high-performing organisation and I have asked all of the department’s employees to strengthen our collaborative efforts within the government sector and externally with the private, academic and community sectors.

I chaired the governance board of the Shared Services Centre during the year. The centre is an innovative development in public service administration and collaboration at the Commonwealth level, having been established in 2014 to share the corporate support and enabling services of the Department of Employment and the Department of Education and Training between the two partner departments and with other government agencies. The Shared Services Centre continues to expand the number of agencies served—most recently including the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.


A positive and connected culture and effective leadership are also crucial to a high-performing organisation. During 2014–15 we invested in the development of our current and future leaders to support them in being inspiring, honest, accessible, effective communicators and able to build respectful and lasting relationships with colleagues at all levels.

In November I was proud to present the inaugural Secretary’s Achievement Awards, recognising excellence in the work of our employees.

The state network undertakes a valuable and demanding role, including as our point of contact with many of our employment partners. I was very pleased to visit all state offices in the network through the year and personally acknowledge the excellent work underway.

In the department we consider Indigenous business is our business. We promote a positive culture of recognition and advancement, marking significant national events such as NAIDOC Week and using our Reconciliation Action Plan to engage all employees. Our active Indigenous staff committee is led by Indigenous Leader Rob Willmett and supported by our Indigenous Champion, Jo Wood. I was delighted to welcome five new Indigenous Australian Government Development Programme recruits to the department in November.


Moving into 2015–16 we are building on our strengths in delivery by seeking further opportunities to use our expertise, capability and data in the service of the Australian community.

We are also maintaining our focus on implementing the Australian Government’s agenda of working with employers to create more jobs, ensuring job seekers are job-ready, fine-tuning the workplace relations system and improving return to work outcomes for injured workers. We continue to contribute to the government’s red tape reduction target.

As a department we are always looking for innovative ways to achieve our vision of More Jobs. Great Workplaces. We are forging a collective mindset of being thought-leaders in our areas of expertise, consciously embedding innovation into every aspect of our work through the implementation of an innovation framework. This will add to our already strong capability to respond rapidly to economic and social trends affecting Australian workforces, workplaces and job seekers.

In early 2015 the department participated in a voluntary capability review, facilitated by the Australian Public Service Commission. The report noted many areas of strength in our capabilities and highlighted possible areas where our abilities could be improved. At the time of publishing this report we are developing a capability improvement plan to address these findings and outline the possible benefits to be realised—I look forward to overseeing this process of growth and continuous improvement.

Finally, I thank everyone in the Department of Employment for the positive way they have approached their work during 2014–15 and the significant achievements made. I look forward to continuing to work with all employees and our partners to deliver more jobs and high-performing workplaces as we serve the government and, through it, the Australian community.

Renée Leon
October 2015

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