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Management of human resources

Enterprise agreement

The DVA Enterprise Agreement 2012-2014 commenced on 1 January 2012 and expires on 30 June 2014.

In 2012-13, employees received a two per cent pay increase, the second of three pay increases totalling 7.5 per cent over the life of the agreement.

Productivity improvements over the life of the agreement include:

  • productivity and efficiencies achieved through the Choice and Maintainability in Veterans’ Services (MyAccount) project
  • cooperative work arrangements for scheduling of work in service (telephony) centres
  • introduction of an annual eight-day cap on undocumented personal sick leave to support a range of other measures to reduce DVA’s unscheduled absence levels
  • the replacement of flex time for Executive Level 1 and 2 employees with an arrangement whereby Executive Level employees and their managers can agree flexibility in working hours and time off (although not on an hour for hour basis) in recognition of excess hours worked
  • review of recruitment processes and DVA broadbands and advancements during the life of the agreement.

Australian Workplace Agreements

At 30 June 2013, no DVA employees were covered by an Australian Workplace Agreement.

Other arrangements

Common law contracts

All employee remuneration and benefits are provided under either the enterprise agreement, individual flexibility agreements or determinations under subsection 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999.

Individual flexibility agreements

The enterprise agreement contains provisions allowing the Secretary and an employee to make an individual flexibility agreement varying the effect of the terms of the enterprise agreement. As at 30 June 2013, DVA had made 57 individual flexibility agreements providing enhanced individual remuneration or benefits.

Public Service Act determinations

At 30 June 2013, DVA had in place 28 determinations under subsection 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999 delivering remuneration and conditions for SES staff.

Performance pay

Performance pay is not available to DVA employees.

Non-salary benefits provided to employees

Non-salary benefits provided to the SES and a small number of high-performing Executive Level 2 employees included parking facilities at the workplace, airline lounge membership and an executive vehicle allowance that may be salary packaged for a novated vehicle lease.

All staff, including the SES, have access to Commonwealth superannuation arrangements as part of their remuneration entitlements.

Staff also have access to flexible salary packaging administered by an external provider at no cost to DVA. At 30 June 2013, 290 employees (14.1 per cent) were salary packaging compared with 294 in 2011-12 and 274 in 2010-11.

See Appendix A for detailed information about DVA salary ranges.

Workforce planning

DVA continued to use the DVA Workforce Strategy 2010-2015 to guide organisational and workforce development during 2012-13, to ensure access to the people, capabilities and systems the Department needs. The three directions of engage, develop, and attract and retain, supported by ongoing leadership development, helped shape people management practices to meet the challenges and opportunities of the past year.

Initiatives under the current strategy employed during 2012-13 included:

  • introducing a new Leadership Development Strategy emphasising a tailored, blended learning approach to leadership development
  • continuing national leadership development programs, including:
    1. nine Looking Forwards programs for staff at the APS 3-6 classifications
    2. two Executive Leadership programs for Executive Level staff
    3. three SES-Executive Level forums to explore contemporary leadership and strategic issues facing the Department
  • reviewing and enhancing the DVA Performance Feedback Scheme
  • continuing to operate a formal short-term mobility program, the Intra-Agency Network (IAN) which provides one-month work placements for staff outside their usual work area (four staff participated in IAN placements during 2012-13)
  • conducting three intakes of the DVA Mentoring Program, with 56 participants
  • developing and delivering a new client service program, focusing on contemporary clients, called It’s Why We’re Here
  • expanding the Department’s suite of e-learning resources, with 13 new modules
  • supporting the health and wellbeing of staff through the DVA Wellness Strategy
  • participating in the Indigenous Cadetship Support Program and other initiatives through the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) Pathways Program
  • conducting the 2012 and 2013 DVA graduate program, including participating in the APSC whole-of-government Graduate Development Program.

Training and development

In 2012-13, DVA continued to focus on the critical areas of:

  • client service (including technical training)
  • leadership
  • fundamental public service competencies.

Strategies involved enhancing the blended learning approach, adopting the 70-20-10 principle, whereby 70 per cent of effective learning comes from on the job activities, 20 per cent from relationship-based activities and 10 per cent from formal courses. DVA continued to build its e-learning capacity, with over 50 modules now available to staff.

A range of development activities were focused on the changing needs of contemporary veterans. Programs such as It’s Why We’re Here, Understanding Military Culture and Veteran Mental Health and the SES-Executive Level forums involved current and former serving members, which enabled DVA staff to hear firsthand the experiences of contemporary veterans, both in deployment and in dealing with the Department.

The Leadership Development Strategy was launched in 2012-13. It builds on leadership and career conversations between manager and staff member, thus enabling the tailoring of specific leadership development activities.

Business areas continued to provide internal technical training for staff, particularly in decision-making and case management. Staff also underwent development in public service competencies such as records management, procurement processes, financial management, selection/recruitment and career management.

Programs were evaluated primarily through feedback sheets, surveys and focus groups of participants after the event. Suggestions from participants were incorporated into future programs.


Figure 22 shows the expenditure on learning and development over the past five years. Expenditure increased slightly from last year despite the tight fiscal environment, due mainly to staff commitment to the three day SES-Executive Level forums and a number of new training programs.

Expenditure on learning and development 2008-09 to 2012-13 shown in dollar value, comparison over the last 5 financial

Figure 22: Expenditure on learning and development 2008-09 to 2012-13


Fifteen graduates, including one ICT and one Indigenous graduate, completed the APSC whole-of-government Graduate Development Program in December 2012 and attained a Diploma of Government.

Thirteen graduates, including one Indigenous and two ICT graduates, commenced the structured 11-month program in February 2013, which is designed to provide graduates with exposure to the broad range of work DVA undertakes. Three work placements are offered over this period to provide graduates with the opportunity to be placed in different business areas within DVA. The 2013 DVA graduates continue to participate in the APSC Graduate Development Program, which also includes in-house training and location visits, arranged through DVA.

Indigenous employment initiatives

DVA’s current Indigenous employment staffing level is 1.6 per cent and the Department remains committed to the government’s target of 2.7 per cent Indigenous employment in the Australian Public Service by 2015.

DVA continues to be a participant in the APSC Pathways Program, participating in the graduate employment careers fair and assessment centres. DVA also participated in the Work Exposure with Government program which is administered by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and sees 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students experience working in a government department for a day.

DVA recruited one Indigenous cadet into the DVA Indigenous Cadetship Program for 2013, to maintain a total of eight cadets in the program. This was to replace a cadet who completed their study at the end of 2012 and moved into the 2013 DVA graduate program. Each cadet commenced a work placement prior to Semester 1 2013, and will continue with the Department for the duration of their studies. These cadetships are partly funded through the National Indigenous Cadetship Support program.

Changes to disability reporting in annual reports

From 2010-11, departments and agencies were no longer required to report on their performance under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy, which was overtaken by the new National Disability Strategy 2010-2020. This strategy sets out a 10-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with a disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high level two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the Strategy and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first of these reports will be available in 2014, and will be available at

People strategies –recruitment and turnover

At 30 June 2013, DVA had a total of 2058 employees, compared with 2115 in 2011-12. This figure includes employees paid from Administered funds and excludes those staff on more than three months leave. Non-ongoing employees made up 6.6 per cent of DVA’s total workforce in 2012-13, compared with 4.8 per cent in 2011-12.

In 2012-13, the turnover rate of ongoing employees was 9.9 per cent, compared with seven per cent in 2011-12. This compares with APS-wide turnover rates of 6.6 per cent in 2011-12. Table 44 shows the number of ongoing and non-ongoing commencements and cessations at 30 June 2013.

Table 44: Ongoing and non-ongoing commencements and cessations
  Employee commencements Employee cessations
Ongoing Moved within APS: Promoted 4 Moved within APS: Promoted/ transferred 19
Transferred 14
Ongoing engagement of non-ongoing 26
Joined APS: Engaged 53 Left APS: Resigned or retired
Voluntary redundancy
Total commencements 97 Total cessations 190
Non-ongoing Total commencements 192 Total cessations 1 153
All employees All commencements 289 All cessations 343

1 Includes cessation of non-ongoing employees to enable ongoing engagement.

Workplace absence

In 2012-13, the average rate of workplace absence for DVA employees Australia-wide was 14.1 days per full-time equivalent employee. This compares with 15 days in 2011-12 and 14.9 days in 2010-11.

Table 45 shows the number of days of workplace absence for the past five years.

Table 45: Workplace absence
  2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
Number of days 16.6 14.9 14.8 15.0 14.1

Note: Workplace absence includes long-term workers compensation cases. Workplace absence reporting in DVA uses the definition set by the APSC for the annual State of the Service Report.

The Department is employing a number of strategies to continue to reduce workplace absence. This includes introducing a cumulative cap in the current Enterprise Agreement on how much sick leave can be taken without documentary evidence, providing managers with regular reports on employees with higher rates of workplace absence and assistance with health issues to help people to return to work through the Early Intervention Program. Other initiatives include annual influenza shots and encouragement to participate in wellbeing and health education activities.

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