Secretary's review

Secretary Renee Leon

I am pleased to present the Department of Employment Annual Report 2016–17. It celebrates our achievements and outlines our work to deliver the Australian Government’s employment and workplace relations priorities.

Delivering on our purpose

Throughout 2016–17, the Department delivered against the priorities detailed in our Corporate Plan. In particular, we developed and continued to strengthen our partnerships and collaboration with our major stakeholders including employers, unions, employees, our network of employment services providers, job seekers, the Australian public and other Commonwealth agencies to help more people looking for work into jobs, and to support fair, productive, flexible and safe workplaces.

The jobactive program continued to deliver strong performance in job placements and employment outcomes. A focus for 2016–17 was implementing the Government’s Youth Employment Package, including Youth Jobs PaTH (Prepare–Trial–Hire) and Encouraging Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment measures. The Transition to Work service has also helped young people become job-ready and move into work or education. 

We collaborated throughout the year with our Commonwealth partners, local stakeholders, and on the international stage, to address challenges around the Future of Work. As policy advisers, we continually take into account broader economic, social and technological changes that will transform the way we work. While there is sometimes a focus on jobs impacted by automation, there have been new opportunities for employment growth as well. Overall, the changing nature of work and workplaces offers many potential benefits for individuals and our society, including supporting older Australians, women, and people with disability to maintain or enter stable and rewarding employment. The Department’s Future of Work project is developing future-focused strategies to enable people and organisations to take advantage of emerging opportunities presented by the changing global environment. 

We continued to work closely with other government entities during 2016–17 to deliver better employment outcomes, particularly for vulnerable groups including Indigenous Australians, ex-offenders and refugees. This work included the Department establishing a cross-agency Migrant Workers’ Taskforce to provide advice to the Government on ways to protect migrant workers from exploitation.

The Department also continued to support the delivery of other complex priorities to promote safe, productive, fair and flexible workplaces. The Fair Entitlements Guarantee Recovery Pilot Program continued to have a positive impact, resulting in the program being made permanent from 1 January 2017. The Department helped develop numerous pieces of important legislation, including to establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission and the Registered Organisations Commission, which were both passed in late November 2016. 

The way we work 

I am proud of the collaborative work our Department has done to strengthen our culture and operational practices. We have released a new Strategic Plan, developed through extensive consultation with staff across the Department, which guides and reflects on how we work together to achieve our purpose. We also launched our Organisational Capability Vision in November 2016 which describes priority areas in which we will grow our capability over time.

Our people are central to achieving our purpose. During the year, we developed our Workforce for the Future 2016–17 plan which provides overarching direction on how we will prepare our workforce for technological change, the competition for talent and emerging policy challenges.

In December 2016, we welcomed staff from the former Shared Services Centre following machinery of government changes. There was considerable effort and collaboration with other departments to implement the changes. I thank everyone who contributed to our involvement with shared services for making the transition as seamless as possible.

The Department’s 2016 Australian Public Service Employee Census results were once again pleasing to see. Staff engagement remains high and the results showed improvement across most areas compared to 2015. In keeping people at the core of everything we do, we will continue to undertake a range of initiatives to further promote a high-achieving, supportive and inclusive workplace. To take active steps to support victims of domestic violence, we have started the process to become accredited as a ‘White Ribbon’ workplace.

We made significant progress against our 2014–16 Reconciliation Action Plan, implementing initiatives to ensure we are working in a culturally appropriate way. Through our new 2017–2020 Reconciliation Action Plan, launched as part of National Reconciliation Week, we will continue to build on existing foundations to foster our Indigenous workforce.

I thank my leadership team and everyone at the Department for the positive way they approached their work during 2016–17 and their significant achievements. I am proud of the responsive support we provided to our portfolio minister, the Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash. Moving into 2017–18, we will continue to build on our performance, and I look forward to working with all stakeholders to deliver against our purpose.

Secretary Renee Leon signiture

Renée Leon PSM