I am pleased to present the Department of Jobs and Small Business Annual Report 2017–18. It highlights our achievements and outlines the work the department has been doing to help job seekers find a job, small businesses to grow, and to foster safe, fair and productive workplaces.
The department’s name was changed during the reporting year from the Department of Employment to the Department of Jobs and Small Business. This was as a result of Administrative arrangements introduced on 20 December 2017 when the department gained small business and regulatory policy functions.
While the department’s name has changed, it will continue to focus on the challenges of globalisation, technological progress and demographic change that will continue to impact on the skills required in the workplace and the ability of workers to transition between jobs. Ensuring that the workforce can successfully navigate these changes will promote increased productivity and labour force participation, and provide businesses with a skilled workforce for the future.
Making a difference
The department makes a difference in the lives of many Australians and businesses, particularly small businesses.
In August 2017, the Government announced the locations of five trial sites for the new Career Transition Assistance program ahead of a national rollout in 2019. The program helps prepare mature age Australians for emerging new job opportunities.
Representing the culmination of 12 months’ work, on 15 September 2017 the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 took effect. It reinforces workplace laws to protect vulnerable workers and includes strengthened penalties to deter unscrupulous employers.
In November 2017, our representatives at the Fourth Global Conference in Argentina on the Sustained Eradication of Child Labour pledged Australia to progress ratification of the International Labour Organization’s Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention 1930. The protocol recognises that the context and forms of forced labour have changed since Australia ratified the original convention in 1932.
During the year there was much effort to ensure The Stronger Transitions Package was in place to commence on 1 July 2018. The package provides support to individuals, in five identified regions that have been especially impacted by structural change, to transition to new jobs and prepare for jobs of the future. The new targeted job seeker compliance framework was also made ready for 1 July 2018.
Similarly during the year work commenced on the design of the future employment services model to replace jobactive, which is due to end in mid-2020. In January 2018, the Employment Services Expert Advisory Panel, chaired by Mrs Sandra McPhee AM, was appointed to further this activity.
jobactive celebrated a significant milestone in April 2018: one million job placements since it started on 1 July 2015. jobactive links employers to local providers who work closely with them to understand their recruitment needs and provide a tailored solution. Significantly, more than one third of the jobactive placements were in regional Australia.
April 2018 also marked the first anniversary of Youth Jobs PaTH, a flexible and new approach to helping more young people into employment. PaTH includes three flexible elements: prepare, trial and hire. The ‘prepare’ element, for example, is ‘Employability Skills Training’ (EST) where young people attend courses to better understand what employers expect in a workplace.
Preparing for the future
As a department, we pursue innovation, collaboration and evidence-based research to give the people who use our services the best possible outcomes. We are adjusting the way we work for the future and, at the same time, promoting the inclusiveness appropriate for a 21st century workplace.
To coincide with Innovation Month the Pride Network and People Branch organised for Ally Training to be introduced in July 2017 as part of the department’s commitment to promote workplace inclusion. Ally Training facilitates a workplace culture that enables LGBTIQ staff to bring their full selves to work without fear or discrimination. In April 2018, our new Diversity and Inclusion Strategy was also released. Through this strategy we celebrate and embrace our differences so that we can focus on what matters— supporting all our people to achieve their best. In May 2018 the department announced the appointment of its first Senior Executive Service Pride Champion.
In November 2017, after receiving a 94 per cent response rate to the 2017 APS Employee Census, the department received a 72 per cent score on the APS wellbeing index—10 points above the APS average. Where there were areas for improvement a departmental Census Action Plan was put in place to address career development, the risk culture, communication and workforce management. In June 2018, the department achieved a 95 per cent completion in the 2018 APS Employee Census—the highest rate of return for any large agency—demonstrating the significant engagement of our staff.
On 20 June 2018, I launched our People Strategy—a roadmap that will allow us to adapt the way we work to meet current and future workforce demands over the next five years. The strategy was designed with the knowledge that the work environment is changing. With the introduction of new technology, increased flexibility, greater citizen engagement and changing workforce demographics, we need to change with it. The strategy develops our greatest asset—our people—giving them the tools, skills and environment needed to deliver the department’s priorities now and into the future.
In June 2018, we launched a new mandatory eLearning module as a key element of the department’s compliance with the Commonwealth Child Safe Framework and the National Statement of Principles for Child Safe Organisations. The principles develop a nationally consistent approach to creating organisational cultures that foster child safety and wellbeing across all sectors. The safety and welfare of children is at the heart of our response.
I would like to thank all staff for their hard work and dedication over the past 12 months. Their professionalism and expertise ensures we are well placed to continue to successfully implement employment, workplace and small business policies and programs.