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Management of human resources

Enterprise Agreement

The DVA Enterprise Agreement 2012–2014 commenced on 1 January 2012 and expired on 30 June 2014.

In 2013–14, employees received the final payments under the Agreement – a 2.5 per cent pay increase and a 0.25 per cent lump sum productivity payment.

Productivity improvements over the life of the Agreement included:

  • 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 days cap on undocumented personal sick leave to support a range of other measures to reduce DVA’s unscheduled absence levels
  • flex time for Executive Level 1 and Executive Level 2 employees was replaced by an arrangement whereby Executive Level employees and their managers can agree, subject to operating requirements, flexibility in working hours and time off in lieu, 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.

In June 2014, the Department formally commenced bargaining for a replacement Enterprise Agreement. In accordance with the Australian Government Public Sector Workplace Bargaining Policy any improvements in pay and conditions will be affordable, consistent with the policy and offset by genuine productivity gains.

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 the Enterprise Agreement, individual flexibility agreements or determinations under section 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 2014, DVA had made 66 individual flexibility agreements providing enhanced individual remuneration or benefits.

Public Service Act determinations

At 30 June 2014, DVA had in place 29 determinations under section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999 delivering remuneration and conditions for Senior Executive Service (SES) staff.

Performance pay

Performance pay is no longer 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 2014, 314 employees (15.7 per cent) were salary packaging compared with 290 (14.1 per cent) in 2012–13 and 294 (14.1 per cent) in 2011–12.

See Appendix A for detailed information about DVA salary ranges.

Workforce planning

DVA continued to use the DVA Workforce Strategy 2010–2015 to guide our organisational and workforce development during 2013–14, to ensure we have access to the people, capabilities and systems we need. 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 conducted during 2013–14 included:

  • embedding new leadership development planning tools into the performance feedback cycle, as part of the DVA Leadership Development Strategy (LDS)
  • evaluating early implementation of the LDS
  • continuing our national leadership development programmes, including:
    • four Looking Forwards programmes for staff at the APS 3–6 classifications
    • one Executive Leadership programme for Executive Level staff
    • six SES – Executive Level forums to examine organisational capacity, particularly moving DVA towards 2020 and the three themes of leadership, strategy and delivery which guide the Australian Public Service Commission’s (APSC) Capability Review Program
  • investing in practical management skills by piloting programmes from the APS Core and Management Skills suite. These programmes focus on practical and critical APS skill areas such as structuring work, dealing with and managing change, performance management, coaching, communication and relationship building
  • releasing a new DVA Change Management Toolkit to all staff for a six-month pilot period, pending a formal launch during 2014–15
  • introducing a new Leadership Talent Management Program to select and corporately fund participants in high value external leadership development programmes
  • continuing to operate a formal short-term mobility programme, the Intra-Agency Network, which provides one-month work placements for staff outside of their usual work area – 23 staff participated in IAN placements during 2013–14
  • conducting two intakes of the DVA Mentoring Program, with 40 participants in total
  • expanding the Department’s suite of e-learning resources, with nine new courses extending the DVA e-learning suite to 70 courses
  • maintaining competitive remuneration and key flexible working arrangements through the DVA Enterprise Agreement 2012–2014
  • supporting the health and wellbeing of staff through the DVA Wellness Strategy
  • continuing to enhance our National Induction Program
  • participating in the Indigenous Cadetship Support Program, and other initiatives through the Australian Public Service Commission Pathways Program
  • developing a new DVA Temporary Employment Register
  • conducting the 2013 and 2014 DVA Graduate Program, including participating in the APSC RecruitAbility and whole-of-government graduate development programmes.

Training and development

In 2013–14, DVA continued to focus on the critical areas of:

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

Strategies involved enhancing our 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 70 modules now available to staff.

A range of development activities were focused on the needs of contemporary veterans. The national client service workshop ‘It’s Why We’re Here’ enabled DVA staff to hear firsthand the experiences of contemporary veterans, both in deployment and in dealing with the Department. A number of courses focusing on veterans’ mental health, both e-learning and face to face, were undertaken by staff.

Business areas continued to provide specific client service training for staff, particularly in managing sensitive conversations and effective communication. Technical packages aimed at improving the technical and legislative skills and knowledge of staff were also developed.

Leadership development continued with a focus this year on practical management skills and targeted selection of participants for high-value external programmes (see Workforce Planning).

Staff also underwent development in public service competencies such as records management, written correspondence, cultural awareness, selection/recruitment, career management, respectful workplace behaviour and use of applications in DVA’s upgraded IT operating environment.

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

Figure 19 shows the expenditure on learning and development over the past six years. Expenditure in 2013–14 was slightly more than in 2012–13.

Figure 19: Expenditure on learning and development 2008–14

Expenditure on learning and development 2008-09 to 2013-14 ,shown in dollar value: comparison over the last 6 financial years


Thirteen graduates, including two ICT and one Indigenous graduate, completed the APSC whole-of-government Graduate Development Program in December 2013 and attained a Diploma of Government.

Fourteen graduates, including three ICT graduates, commenced the structured 11-month programme in February 2014 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 2014 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 about 1.6 per cent. However, we remain committed to the Government’s target of 2.7 per cent Indigenous employment in the APS by 2015.

DVA continues to be a participant in the Australian Public Service Commission Pathways Program, participating in the graduate employment careers fair and assessment centres.

Eight Indigenous cadets participated in work placements for the DVA Indigenous Cadetship Program in 2013. Those cadetships are partly funded through the National Indigenous Cadetship Support programme. One cadet resigned from the programme in September 2013, and the remaining seven cadets will continue with the Department during 2014, for the duration of their studies.

People strategies – recruitment and turnover

At 30 June 2014, DVA had a total of 1,987 employees, compared with 2,058 in 2012–13. This figure includes employees paid from Administered funds and excludes those staff on more than three months unpaid leave. Non-ongoing employees made up 2.0 per cent of DVA’s total workforce at 30 June 2014, compared with 6.6 per cent at 30 June 2013.

In 2013–14, the turnover rate of ongoing employees was 6.7 per cent, compared with 9.9 per cent in 2012–13. This compares with an APS-wide turnover rate of 6.2 per cent in 2012–13. Table 40 shows the number of ongoing and non-ongoing commencements and cessations at 30 June 2014.

Table 40: Number of ongoing and non-ongoing commencements and cessations at 30 June 2014
  Employee commencements Employee cessations
Ongoing Moved within APS: Promoted 10 Moved within APS: Promoted/transferred 12
Moved within APS: Transferred 39
Ongoing engagement of non-ongoing 43 Redundancy 14
Joined APS: Engaged 60 Left APS: Resigned or retired 107
Total commencements 152 Total cessations 133
Non-ongoing Total commencements 66 Total cessations1 163
All employees All commencements 218 All cessations 296

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

Workplace absence

In 2013–14, the average rate of workplace absence for DVA employees Australia-wide was 14.5 days per full-time equivalent employee. This compares with 14.1 days in 2012–13 and 15.0 days in 2011–12.

Table 41 shows the number of days of workplace absence for the past five years.

Table 41: Number of days of workplace absence 2009–10 to 2013–14
  2009–10 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14
Number of days 14.9 14.8 15.0 14.1 14.5

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.

In 2013–14, the Department used a number of strategies to reduce workplace absences and managers were provided with regular reports on employees with higher rates of absence. Initiatives to reduce employee absences included providing annual flu shots, encouraging employees to participate in wellbeing and health education activities and making adjustments to the workplace so that employees could return to work after injury.

The Human Resources team is working in partnership with managers to provide support to those with illness/injuries. Unfortunately, in 2013–14 an increased number of employees suffered from chronic or age-related illnesses, underwent treatment for cancer, or had to undergo surgery.

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