Cross-outcome work

The Review of Security of Payments Laws

The Department is assisting Mr John Murray AM in conducting the Review of Security of Payments Laws in the building and construction industry. Mr Murray has held more than 60 consultations with a range of stakeholders—including industry bodies, contractor and subcontractor representatives, unions, adjudicators and government agencies with policy and regulatory responsibility for security of payments—in all jurisdictions. He will report to the Minister by 31 December 2017.

Data management

The Department seeks to increase the use of data to improve its policies and programs, including by making non-sensitive data publicly available. Our work in this area is driven by the Australian Government Public Sector Data Management Agenda.

In 2016–17, we continued to develop our data management strategy. Work focused on coordinating policies, processes and protocols for the sharing and use of data. To date, we have released 13 datasets on the open government data platform, data.gov.au.

The Department sponsored GovHack in 2016–17. This annual competition encourages people from both the private and the public sectors to use open government data to develop new insights into pressing policy questions. Winning entries created interactive maps that showcased growth industries by location and job creation and industry activity by region. The intention is to sponsor GovHack again in 2017–18.

The Department is working on building its data analysis capabilities. In 2016–17 a number of departmental staff were supported to study data analytics at the Australian National University. These staff augmented their skills, shared their learning with their peers, and were involved in a number of new data projects. Study support for staff will continue in 2017–18.

The Future of Work project

The Department is working to ensure that all Australians have access to more jobs and great workplaces as the labour market evolves. Current changes are being driven by structural shifts in the Australian economy towards services, an increase in intangible goods and services, closer integration with Asian economies, and advances in technology.

The Department conducts research to fill data gaps, build knowledge of labour market disruption, and improve its understanding of future policy challenges and opportunities. This includes tapping new data sources for more up-to-date and detailed information about the skills that are needed in our workforce.

Behavioural economics

Behavioural economics approaches often involve modifications to policies and programs based on psychological insights that help explain the actions and decision-making processes of individuals and organisations. The Department applies such approaches to support effective program design and implementation and achieve better outcomes for Australian job seekers, employers and jobactive providers. It evaluates behavioural economics interventions using randomised controlled trials, the ‘gold standard’ for measuring improvements to policy and program outcomes.

The Department has a number of behavioural economics trials underway with a view to enabling job seekers to better market themselves to employers, improving the use of wage subsidies, improving response rates to a survey seeking feedback on the Department’s jobs programs, and increasing the use of departmental services. Evidence gathered from these trials has been incorporated in the design of policies and programs. This supports one of the key departmental objectives—evidence-based policy.

The Innovation Framework

Innovation at the Department of Employment means putting ideas into practice to benefit staff, stakeholders and clients. The Department continues to build an innovation culture and capability through its mindset (to be creative, collaborate and engage with risk), its environment (putting forward and testing new ideas), and its infrastructure (our ideas management system, Spark, and our innovation process and tools).

The Department’s work is guided by the Innovation Framework 2016–18. The refreshed framework, launched in December 2016, was developed through user-centred design activities with departmental staff and builds on the achievements of the preceding 12 months, including:

  • building a more mobile and flexible workforce through short-term job placements, secondments and the Flexible by Default trial
  • building the capability of people through practical application of the innovation tools
  • implementing the Department’s thought leadership program—rippleffect—to learn from subject matter experts
  • implementing the innovation process—from ideas generation, development and implementation, including the intranet redevelopment project and searchable directory
  • supporting an ideas generation and implementation culture through the launch of Spark, the online ideas management system
  • increasing collaboration through online platforms and informal networks such as Yammer and the Emerging Leaders Network
  • trialling approaches to enhance our policy design and service delivery, including behavioural economics and user-centred design approaches.

The Innovation Framework focuses on four priorities: evolving the Department’s capability and unlocking people’s expertise, designing policies and services by applying user-centred design to meet the diverse needs of stakeholders, exploring a variety of policy levers and non-legislative approaches, and demonstrating the value the Department creates for staff, stakeholders and clients.

One of the ways the framework is being put into action is through regular challenges using Spark. By co-designing solutions, the Department harnesses diverse expertise to meet the needs of and create better outcomes for stakeholders and clients.