1001.0 - Australian Bureau of Statistics -- Annual Report, 2006-07  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/10/2007   
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Contents >> Section VI - How the ABS operates >> Chapter 19 - Management of human resources

Section VI - How the ABS operates

Chapter 19 - Management of human resources


The ABS depends on the combined efforts of capable and motivated employees to achieve its objectives. The ABS needs people who understand Australia’s evolving information needs, and can assist the ABS to satisfy those needs; people who understand the changes to the environment in which the ABS operates, and can help the ABS to adapt to those changes; and people with both professional competence and a commitment to ABS values. As such, human resource management is a critical function within the ABS.

As at 30 June 2007, there were 3325 staff employed at the ABS under the Public Service Act 1999 - 1614 males and 1711 females. This includes operative, paid inoperative and unpaid inoperative staff. There were also 631 staff employed under Regulation 3 of the Statistics Regulations, and appointed as authorised officers for the purpose of the Census and Statistics Act under Section 16 of the Census and Statistics Act 1905, to assist with data collection - mostly household survey interviewers. These numbers do not include the 40 000 temporary staff employed during the year as part of the 2006 Census of Population and Housing.

The tables below present the profile of ABS staff by employment classification and sex, and by location and type of employment for operative and paid inoperative staff. They exclude staff employed under the ABS Act, and 159 unpaid inoperative staff.

Graph 19.1: Employment Classification by sex, 30 June 2007(a)

Employment Classification by sex, 30 June 2007

      (a) Operative and paid inoperative staff
      (b) Includes Australian Statistician (statutory appointment)

Table 19.1: Number of ABS staff by location and status, at 30 June 2007(a)



Central office (ACT)
Data Processing Centre (Melbourne)

(a) Includes operative and paid inoperative staff

The number of women in the Senior Executive Service (SES) in the ABS has continued to increase with women now constituting over one-third of the SES.

Table 19.2: Number of ABS SES by level, sex and year(a)


Year at 30 June


(a) Includes only operative, substantive SES officers as at 30 June, but excludes the Australian Statistician, who is a statutory office holder appointed under the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975
(r) Revised

CORRECTION - In the ABS’ Annual Report 2005–06, the following incorrect statement was made on page 142, ‘There were also 652 staff employed under the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 to assist with data collection, mostly household survey interviewers.’ The interviewers are employed under Regulation 3 of the Statistics Regulations, and appointed as authorised officers for the purpose of the Census and Statistics Act under Section 16 of the Census and Statistics Act 1905.
Australian Public Service values in the ABS

The Australian Public Service (APS) values are actively promoted and strongly adhered to throughout the ABS. At the highest level, the ABS Mission Statement reflects the apolitical nature of the APS as well as its commitment to the provision of comprehensive, accurate and timely advice.

We assist and encourage informed decision-making, research and discussion within governments and the community, by leading a high-quality, objective and responsive national statistical service.

The ABS values are also fundamental to the ABS performing its role as an independent provider of statistical information, and directly relate to, and are congruent with, APS values. These values are long standing and strongly upheld by employees. They include:
    • Relevance - all information provided by the ABS is relevant in terms of timeliness and content
    • Service - understanding the ABS’ service role, seeking to understand and assist its clients’ statistical needs
    • Integrity - data, analysis and interpretation is always apolitical with the highest standards of integrity applied
    • access for all - the ABS ensures its statistics can be easily accessed and used by the community, business and governments
    • professionalism - the professionalism of employees is actively developed to ensure the ABS has the technical and leadership skills required for the future, and
    • trust of providers - the ABS maintains provider trust by adhering to the highest level of data protection and privacy standards.
The importance of the APS values is reflected and integrated in the management and operations of the ABS. For example, the obligations of employees to uphold the APS values and abide by the APS Code of Conduct are:
    • promoted in training courses from induction through to senior management development programs
    • actively applied through human resource processes
    • supported by guidelines, policies and procedures which themselves take account of the APS values
    • reflected throughout ABS corporate material which is readily accessible to employees through the ABS intranet, and
    • promoted via posters and the distribution of bookmarks to all employees and new recruits.
In addition, a mandatory ‘good corporate citizen’ key result area (KRA) has been introduced for all performance agreements. This KRA articulates the expectation that all employees will model appropriate behaviour and conduct in work practices.


The ABS understands that people are the key to achieving its corporate goals. Therefore, effective recruitment continues to be a priority. As the ABS faces a tightening labour market and a changing workforce, there continues to be pressure to source and recruit capable staff. In 2006–07, the ABS continued to work toward improving its attraction strategies and recruitment processes with a particular focus on the graduate market, as well as strengthening its professionalism through enhancing recruitment capability across the organisation. The ABS is committed to increasing its ability to provide a recruitment and selection framework that will enhance the quality and effectiveness of ABS management and workforce.

Census collectors are key to ensuring the quality of the census coverage, and turnover of field staff during the census can impact on the quality of the census count. During the 2006 Census, in some areas, 10 per cent or more of field staff changed during the operation. Staff turnover can be caused by issues such as workload and suitability of remuneration. A review of field staff remuneration is to be conducted to identify how pay rates relate to market rates for similar activities.

The ABS is working progressively toward a strategic recruitment framework, with improved alignment of recruitment activities to business needs; further refinement of national recruitment business processes; and an environment that better supports and guides managers, employees and candidates through open, fair and transparent recruitment and selection processes. In particular, this year has seen achievements in:
    • improved leadership of, and consistency in, ABS recruitment
    • stronger partnerships with business areas across the ABS, which enabled improvements in timely and efficient recruitment services
    • upgraded communication strategies, which are regular and systematic, between key ABS recruitment stakeholders
    • improved graduate recruitment coordination and strategies including piloting an e-recruitment system
    • enhanced recruitment training programs for selection committee members and recruitment stakeholders, and
    • more use of a project management approach to bulk round recruitment exercises.

Graduate recruitment

Graduate recruitment forms a significant part of the ABS’ succession planning and entry level recruitment strategy. Recruitment to the ABS’ graduate program has become progressively more challenging as competition increases for a reducing pool of entrants. A particular focus in 2006–07 has been to further enhance the ability to attract and source a large pool of graduates by positioning the ABS as an employer of choice, and effectively promoting the ABS as an organisation with diverse career opportunities.

This year’s campaign saw a 50 per cent increase in the number of applicants to the graduate program, in spite of the competitive market. To achieve this, the ABS undertook the following:

    • introduced a graduate employment brand designed to make the ABS more visible in a busy, competitive graduate recruitment market. The concept depicted a more vibrant, youthful and contemporary workplace and was designed to maintain a link to the general recruitment brand and communicate the message that the ABS offers a diversity of work and opportunity for people with a range of qualifications. The graduate brand was integrated into all marketing and promotional material
    • implemented an online advertising plan designed to provide maximum exposure of the ABS graduate campaign
    • increased its presence at university career fairs
    • redeveloped the graduate website with a focus on improving the visual impression of the site in terms of design, concept, appeal, first impression and layout, and improving the content of the website by reinforcing the message of a diverse range of career opportunities and providing information about the ABS, its graduate programs, opportunities and selection processes, and
    • trialled an e-recruitment solution that fostered a more integrated organisational approach to graduate recruitment across the ABS, and facilitated a more timely, efficient and consistent graduate recruitment and selection process, and an improved recruitment experience for candidates.
The introduction of a graduate employment brand contributed to an increase in applicants to the ABS graduate program
The introduction of a graduate employment brand contributed to an increase in applicants to the ABS graduate program

Workforce shaping

Workforce shaping is a high priority for the ABS and is undertaken to ensure there are enough staff with the right capabilities, now and in the future, to meet the ABS’ business requirements. The term ‘workforce shaping’, rather than ‘workforce planning’, has been adopted by the ABS as a way of differentiating the ABS’ approach from other workforce planning processes and also to broaden the traditional definition applied to workforce planning.

Workforce shaping priorities were determined in conjunction with business areas and are based on business goals and objectives.

During 2006–07 the key workforce shaping achievements involved future capabilities; work capacity and sustainability; and retention.

Future capabilities

Future capabilities was a pilot project undertaken in the Population Statistics Group (PSG), with the aim of developing an approach that would help determine the future capabilities likely to be required of the PSG workforce, and assisting to build and develop such a workforce. An important objective of the pilot was to identify and measure the importance of capability gaps and to work collaboratively on identifying possible strategies to address those gaps. The approach successfully identified and prioritised a number of critical capabilities and work is continuing to assist the business area to prioritise and plan for its future workforce needs.

Workforce capacity and sustainability

Workforce capacity and sustainability was a pilot project undertaken with the International Accounts and Financial Statistics Branch in the Economic Statistics Group, with the aim of developing an approach that would assist managers to understand how they can more flexibly structure and adapt the ways that work is undertaken, to match the available labour market. The approach looked at issues relating to filling positions, workforce capacity and the ongoing sustainability of the workforce. The outcomes of the pilot revealed a number of broader human resource issues, which are being addressed by the management team at the local level and are being considered in the context of developing an integrated human resource strategy for the group. This will also inform national strategy development.


The ABS has been examining options and strategies to improve employee retention, with an initial focus on the retention of ABS graduates. This project included surveying former graduate employees who have recently left the ABS, and examining other data, such as the results of employee surveys, employee departure questionnaire, and holding focus groups of current graduates. This research revealed a range of factors impacting on graduate retention and highlighted key areas for improvement for both graduates and the wider ABS workforce.

All workforce shaping has assisted the ABS to place new and emerging people issues in context, and highlighted the need for an integrated human resource approach to meeting its future workforce and capability needs.

Consultation in the ABS

The ABS is committed to communication, cooperation, and effective consultation with employees and, where they choose, their representatives, about matters that affect their workplace. The ABS consultative framework includes line managers, who are important conduits for communication and consultation in the workplace. It also includes fourteen consultative forums, which provide employees with the opportunity to participate on a range of issues, employee representatives meeting with management as necessary, and an annual ABS National Forum, which includes participants from each consultative forum, management and employee organisations.

The 2007 National Forum was held in March. The key topics of discussion were:

    • future directions for the ABS
    • occupational health and safety
    • relocation assistance
    • environmental management system
    • internal security procedures
    • regional office work programs, and
    • ABS staffing profile and workforce shaping initiatives underway.
Agreement making

The ABS has three collective agreements in place, which cover the majority of employees. These are the ABS Certified Agreement 2006–09, the ABS Interviewers Certified Agreement 2005–08, and the 2006 Census of Population and Housing Data Processing Centre Certified Agreement 2005–07. All the agreements were certified prior to the amendment of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 with the Workplace Relations Amendment (WorkChoices) Act 2005.

Processing for the 2006 Census of Population and Housing will be completed during 2007, after which the Data Processing Centre will be wound up, and the expired certified agreement will be terminated.

Preparatory work is underway with the aim of developing a new collective agreement for ABS interviewers in mid-2008.

Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) were redeveloped during the year to meet the requirements of the amended Workplace Relations Act, and are available to all ABS employees. Details of the number of staff covered by an AWA or a Certified Agreement
at 30 June 2007 are as follows:

    • There are thirty-six SES and ninety-three non-SES employees covered by an AWA.
    • There are 3126 employees covered by the ABS Certified Agreement 2006–09.
    • There are 631 employees covered by the ABS Interviewers Certified Agreement 2005–08.
    • There are seventy employees covered by the 2006 Census of Population and Housing Data Processing Centre Certified Agreement 2005–07.

Table 19.3 Salary ranges by classification, at 30 June 2007(a)

Minimum ($)
Maximum ($)

Australian Public Service (APS) level
APS1 (Adult)
33 996
37 397
38 476
42 323
43 821
48 202
49 331
54 263
55 023
60 525
62 586
68 844

Executive Officer Level (EL)
76 596
84 255
96 839
106 522

Senior Executive Service (SES) level
SES Band 1
117 521
144 021
SES Band 2
144 021
174 087
SES Band 3
174 087

(a) The APS1 to EL2 salary ranges took effect from 28 June 2007. SES Band 1 to SES Band 3 salary ranges took effect from 1 January 2007
(b) Not applicable as there is no maximum level for this classification

The ABS salary system

The ABS Certified Agreement 2006–09 outlines the salary arrangements for ABS employees.

In 2006–07, salary increases for APS1 to EL2 employees were paid from 13 July 2006, with two components to the salary increases:

    • a general salary increase of 4 per cent for all employees rated as effective or better, and
    • a performance based increase
        • – equivalent to a one pay point movement (2 per cent of the minimum of the relevant salary range) for all employees rated as effective or better, subject to the maximum of the salary range not being exceeded, and
        • – for employees rated as outstanding, a one-off lump sum payment of 2 per cent of the minimum of the relevant salary range after the general salary increase was applied.
In July 2006, the minimum and maximum amounts of the salary ranges were increased by 4 per cent.

During 2006–07 the total amount paid as one-off lump sum bonus payments was $471 148. It was paid to 358 employees.

Table 19.4 shows the performance pay component of the salary increases paid in 2006–07, including pay point movements and bonus payments.

Table 19.4 Performance pay by level

ClassificationNumberAggregate ($)Average ($)

Australian Public Service (APS) level
1 971
3 720
203 280
376 435
437 956
678 249

Executive Officer Level (EL)
392 200
188 971

Senior Executive Service (SES) level
100 648

2 383 430

Reward and recognition

The ABS operates a Recognition and Reward Scheme, which recognises exceptional one-off achievements by individuals and work groups. Rewards may be made in the form of certificates, hospitality (such as work group lunches), prepaid vouchers and cash bonuses. Total ABS expenditure for the scheme in 2006–07 was $110 342.30.

Learning and development

Learning and development activities across the ABS are designed and undertaken to enhance organisational capabilities, ensuring that the ABS can respond to business challenges. Staff training attendance over the past twelve months has dropped slightly from an average of 5.6 training days in 2005–06 to 4.7 days in 2006–07. A number of new training courses were introduced, including Macro-economics, Estimation and Imputation for Business Surveys, Professional Presentations and Essential Writing Skills.

The Organisational, People and Learning System is now well established, with about 60 per cent of employees having completed their capability profile. The information collated in this system is now being used by divisions and regions to determine training needs and to develop staff utilisation strategies. An awareness campaign was prepared in 2006–07 and was rolled out in 2007. As a result of this strategy, it is expected that a greater understanding of the overall capabilities and needs of the ABS will become more evident. This will then enable better planning and delivery of learning and development programs.

Table 19.5 ABS staff training(a)

Total ABS operative staff(b)
Attendance days
Average training days

14 797
10 431
12 562
16 163(c)
14 264(d)

(a) Excludes on-the-job training
(b) Comprises full-time and part-time staff at their full-time equivalent
(c) The 2005–06 total was revised down slightly from last year due to improved data capture in the new OPALS system
(d) Excludes Census Data Processing Centre training

The current ABS Certified Agreement articulates that the ABS is committed to providing opportunities for all employees to develop and enhance their skills and qualifications to meet current and future skill requirements, in line with corporate goals and individual career development. As part of this commitment, changes to assisted study leave were introduced in 2006–07, and Studybank was replaced with the Study Support Program. The most significant changes were an automated application process and the introduction of some financial assistance to students.

Statistical skills continue to be further developed through programs conducted in partnership with a number of universities, including the Australian National University, the University of Wollongong, the University of Queensland and Adelaide University. In addition, negotiations are underway to further strengthen ties with the universities to provide greater access to statistical and mathematical courses for ABS officers.

In 2006, the ABS conducted a joint tender process with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to secure a new panel of training providers. The panel is now in place and has enabled the ABS to secure the services of a range of companies to deliver on its diverse requirements, including leadership, management, supervision, project management, writing skills, and facilitate forward work planning days.

Occupational health and safety

The ABS is committed to providing and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace, and meeting its responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 (OHS Act) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act). The ABS continues to honour its commitments under the ABS Occupational Health and Safety Policy and Agreement, and under a statement of commitment with Comcare that aims to significantly improve OHS outcomes by 2012.

ABS Health and Safety Week 2006 proved very popular, with high participation in all offices
ABS Health and Safety Week 2006 proved very popular, with high participation in all offices

A dedicated section in the ABS central office, complemented by representatives in all regional offices, ensures the requirements of the OHS Act and the SRC Act are met. A network of OHS committees is the vehicle for consultation on OHS issues affecting staff. Following recent changes to the OHS Act, the ABS has revised its Health and Safety Management Arrangements, to be implemented in late 2007.

In 2006–07, forty-four employees were selected or elected as Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) under the OHS Act, with most receiving training during the year.

There were eight notifiable accidents/dangerous occurrences reported to Comcare in 2006–07.


During 2006–07, no Comcare OHS investigations were undertaken in the ABS and no provisional improvement notices, improvement notices or prohibition notices were issued.

Workplace injuries and illness

The ABS continued to invest in a risk management approach to the prevention of work-related illness and injuries. Key features of this approach included:

    • the annual national workplace inspection program involving OHS inspections of all ABS workplaces
    • increased employee awareness and compliance reporting of hazards in the workplace
    • investigations of accident, incidents and near misses in the workplace, and
    • immediate preventative interventions to address pain, discomfort or other signs of potential injury reported by employees.
A comparison of workers’ compensation claims for the periods 2001–02 to 2006–07 is detailed in Table 19.6. The increased incidence of claims in 2006–07 is largely due to 108 claims resulting from the 2006 Census enumeration.

Table 19.6: ABS premium group claims incidence (number)

Financial year
Number of claims


(a) Includes 203 claims from the 2001 Census
(b) includes seven claims from 2006 Census
(c) includes 108 claims from 2006 Census


The ABS implements early intervention and rehabilitation in both compensable and non-compensable cases. Training for ABS rehabilitation case managers and OHS coordinators was provided during the year to enhance ABS rehabilitation performance. Training for managers has been improved by upgrading OHS modules of ABS management courses.

The ABS received a commendation in the ‘Leadership in Injury Prevention and Management’ category of the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission Safety Awards, which were presented on 18 October 2006. The award recognised greatly improved outcomes in injury rates, average cost of injuries, unscheduled absence rates, and a reduced workers’ compensation premium.

Comcare premium

Improved injury prevention and management strategies, including early intervention as a high priority in preceding years, has resulted in the ABS workers’ compensation premium for 2007–08 being approximately $750 000 less than initially advised. Comcare provided notification that the ABS’ premium rate for 2007–08 has been set at 1.67 per cent of total salary (including GST). The details of the ABS and the agency pool average premium rates are contained in Table 19.7. Continued efforts by all ABS offices to implement effective injury prevention and management strategies is necessary to achieve a downwards revision to the 2007–08 premium rate, as well as a reduction to future premiums.

Table 19.7: Comcare workers’ compensation premium rate (percentage of wage and salary expenditure)


Agency pool average


Measures taken to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees during 2006–07 included:

    • continual review and development of the ABS’ OHS policy framework based on risk management principles
    • education and awareness of employees and managers on their OHS responsibilities, preventing injuries and OHS risk management
    • conduct of the second annual National Workplace Inspection Program which resulted in greater awareness by employees and managers of their OHS roles and responsibilities, identified major hazards and enabled risk mitigation strategies to be effectively implemented
    • use and continual improvement of systems to promote early intervention and improve the management of rehabilitation in the ABS
    • continued promotion of health and fitness across the ABS, and
    • implementation of recent legislative changes in the OHS Act and SRC Acts into ABS business practices and processes.

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