Communication Branch supports the department and its ministers to communicate employment, workplace relations and small business programs and policies to employers, employees and the broader community. Services include providing communication expertise across a range of products and delivery such as: developing and implementing communication strategies; media advice, materials and engagement; graphic design; events; speechwriting; social media; campaign advertising and website development and management.

Regular, targeted staff communication and events are undertaken to build a productive and inclusive workplace culture.

The department uses paid advertising to inform the community about the programs and initiatives it administers, consistent with the requirements of the Australian Government guidelines on information and advertising campaigns. Appendix 3 provides more information on our advertising initiatives.

Social media channels

The department’s social media channels continued to expand during the year, promoting programs and policies directly to the community with engaging and innovative content.

Social Media Channel breakdown across Departmental websites
Photo: Social Media Channel breakdown across Departmental websites

The newsroom

On 30 April 2018, the department launched an online newsroom to deliver stories and information in ways that better meet the needs of media. It aims to inform newsmakers and increase the likelihood of accurate coverage on policies and programs, and influence public discourse.

In developing the newsroom, consultation was undertaken with:

  • journalists and news producers, representing national and regional media across TV, radio, print and online
  • colleagues from other Government departments with an online news site, and
  • senior management.

The Communication Branch led the newsroom’s development with collaboration and input from the Governance Risk and Assurance Branch on project planning, risk assurance and integrating research results. An editorial advisory group was established to guide the initiative, and included key representatives from across the department.

Since launching in April, the newsroom has published fresh stories each week. Further enhancements are being developed for the site to provide engaging, useful and timely information. Newsroom screenshot
Photo: Newsroom screenshot

Communicating with staff

The Communication Branch works closely with the Secretary, Executive and internal clients to communicate with and engage staff on the department’s work and priorities. The branch uses various strategies and platforms, including the Secretary’s weekly snapshot email, a weekly wrap-up newsletter, all staff events and the intranet. The intranet continues to be a primary communication channel and is going through constant review and enhancement to improve its effectiveness.

Communication Branch supported a number of external forums during the year to engage stakeholders on particular aspects of the department’s work. The branch also continued to support the National Office social club, which fundraises for community organisations. In 2017, $13,500 was raised for Pegasus Riding for the Disabled, a not-for-profit community organisation that provides horse-riding activities for people with disability. Working closely with People Branch, the Communication Branch implemented a creative internal communication strategy to encourage staff to participate in the 2018 APS Census. This approach contributed to the department achieving the highest response rate of any APS agency, at 95 per cent.

Data management

The department supports the Government’s public data reforms, which aim to release non-sensitive data and promote the effective use and reuse of data to support evidence-based policy.

In 2017–18, the department maintained its focus on increasing data capability skills. It supported a number of staff to study applied data analytics with the Australian National University, and also ran specific data courses to enhance data reporting, presentation and analysis aligned with the use of Qliksense software.

Departmental data assets have increased from 13 to 35 and are publicly available on—the whole-of-government data sharing platform. Data services include data access via the Labour Market Information Portal and other departmental websites, as well as responses to ad-hoc requests. The department collaborates with other agencies on data activities and is a member of the Economic Data and Analysis Network (EDAN).

As in 2016–17, the department was a GovHack sponsor and participated in the 2017–18 event to help promote the release and use of open government data. The department released a New Business Assistance with NEIS dataset on which received more than 170 views during the competition. The department will be a sponsor for the 2018–19 event.