Human resource management

National Archives of Australia
National Archives of Australia Advisory Council
Annual Report 2016–17

Human resource management continues to play a key role in enabling the Archives to deliver its strategic and business objectives. This is governed largely through the oversight of the Human Resource Management Committee and advice from the Workplace Relations Committee.

In 2016–17, the Archives released the Strategic Workforce Plan 2016–2020 and Expertise Development Framework to guide staff towards a digital, innovative and user-centric way of doing business. The Archives also completed a comprehensive culture assessment of its workforce with a cultural action plan to be implemented next financial year. This work focuses on defining and promoting the 'Archives' Way' to create a culture that:

  • supports more innovative ways of working
  • improves leadership and management at all levels
  • directs effort towards being the information knowledge management leader in the APS.

The Archives 2016 APS Employee Census results indicate a number of areas of workforce strength including high employment engagement, satisfaction with work–life balance and general belief that employees are qualified, experienced and committed to undertake their work.

Instruments of employment

During the majority of 2016–17 the National Archives of Australia Enterprise Agreement 2011–14 continued to be the main employment instrument. The 2017–20 agreement superseded this agreement on 23 June 2017. At 30 June 2017, a total of 405 employees were covered by the agreement and, of these, four Executive Level employees had individual flexibility arrangements, in place under clauses 10–14 of the new agreement. Four permanent Senior Executive Service (SES) employees were covered by determinations under subsection 24(1) of the Public Service Act.

Senior Executive Service remuneration

The Archives determines SES remuneration with regard to the annual APS Remuneration Survey. Base salaries are negotiated under subsection 24(1) determinations. Each SES employee develops an individual work plan with the Director-General and is assessed against a five-scale rating system. No bonuses are payable to SES employees.

A range of non-salary benefits are available to SES employees, subject to the nature of work undertaken and approval arrangements. Benefits may include provision of laptop computers, tablets, mobile devices, airline lounge membership and support for professional development.

Workforce planning, staff turnover and retention

The internal organisational structure of the Archives will change over the next three years to accommodate a reduction in appropriation and to reflect and support the Archives' digital transition. This will require support for mobility of skills and resources (capacity) and proactive management of cultural, skills and change aspects (capability).

Staffing levels contracted during 2016–17 in line with ongoing financial constraints. The appropriate mix of employment type used by the Archives has enabled it to be agile, flexible and responsive to the application of resources and delivery of services. A disciplined approach to resource management has also allowed reductions in staffing to be largely met through natural attrition, with a small program of voluntary redundancies completed during the year.

The key demographic data as of 30 June 2017 is provided in Tables 1 to 5. In summary, the Archives workforce is:

  • predominantly female (61%)
  • flexible with both part time (17%) and temporary (18%) workers
  • largely Canberra-based (68%) with a geographic footprint in every capital city (refer Table 4).

The separation rate for ongoing employees in 2016–17 was 12.4 per cent, an increase from the 2015–16 rate of 12.1 per cent. Most separations were the result of resignation, retirement or permanent transfer to another entity. There were 19 redundancies in 2016–17.

The 2016–17 Portfolio Budget Statements provided an estimated Average Staffing Level (ASL) of 390 at the beginning of the financial year. This was adjusted to 385 ASL following the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO). The actual ASL for the Archives in 2016–17 was 362.3, owing to a range of factors including the timing of recruitment processes and the redundancy program.

Table 1: Number of staff by classification and salary range, 30 June 2017

Table 2: Classification of ongoing staff by gender and attendance type, 30 June 2017

Table 3: Classification of non-ongoing staff by gender and attendance type, 30 June 2017

Table 4: Staff distribution by office and employment status

Office Ongoing Non-ongoing Total
Canberra 216 62 278
Sydney 48 20 68
Melbourne 25 3 28
Perth 9 7 16
Brisbane 7 2 9
Adelaide 3 1 4
Hobart 3 1 4
Darwin 3 0 3
Total 314 96 410

Table 5: Classification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff by employment status

Diversity grouping Ongoing Non-ongoing Total
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander 3 1 4
Total 3 1 4

Note: All Archives ATSI employees are female. The non-ongoing component is full-time at the APS 1–6 level. The ongoing component is split full-time (67%) and part-time (33%) and split APS 1–6 (67%) and EL (33%).

Learning and development

The Archives provided a comprehensive range of learning and development opportunities to build individual and organisational capability. The corporate learning and development calendar provided staff with 49 individual courses and seminars over the year. All training and development is aligned with the requirements identified through individual work plan discussions or targeted to develop skills and capabilities identified within the Expertise Development or Capability frameworks. Further opportunities are provided through sections or programs and courses offered at organisation level.

At the Executive Level, a subset of specific programs was focused on building and developing leadership and management capabilities, including study units credited toward post-graduate qualifications. A total of five programs and courses were offered in 2016–17.

The Archives continued to invest in its online learning capability. Induction, mandatory training and a wide range of other professional development courses are offered.

The Internal Development Education Awareness Seminars is an internal program designed to support professional development. Five sessions were provided in 2016–17, with external guest speakers presenting on topical issues, providing a pathway for employees to learn about developments in areas of professional interest. Topics ranged from subjects within the archivist profession to building leadership capability within organisations.

Three per cent of employees were supported during 2016–17 through financial and study leave support for tertiary study relevant to the Archives or the broader APS.


External programs contributing to diversity

Two complementary exhibitions opened at the National Archives in Canberra focusing on Indigenous Australians at war and the prejudice they faced at home, Facing Two Fronts: the fight for respect and Indigenous Australians at War from the Boer War to the Present. The digital exhibition Facing Two Fronts was curated by the Archives as a key deliverable, for its partnership in the ANU's Indigenous military history program, Serving our Country. Indigenous Australians at War, a touring exhibition from the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, celebrated the courage, tenacity and resourcefulness of Indigenous Australians who have served in the armed services.

Continuing touring exhibitions curated by the Archives include A Place to Call Home? Migrant hostel memories and A Ticket to Paradise?


Presentations included:

  • 'Indigenous rights in the 20th century' (History Teachers Association of Australia Annual Conference)
  • promotion of the Serving our Country project and the Facing Two Fronts exhibition (International Indigenous Librarians' (IIL) forum).

Indigenous activities

The Archives provided assistance to cultural institutions through the development of programs to mark both the 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision and the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum. This included updated content on our VRROOM website for students and teachers, providing access to records relating to Australian history, civics and citizenship.

Indigenous visits

There were a number of visits to the National Office including:

  • University of Newcastle students and elders from the Wollotuka Institute visited to discuss the records held about, and services provided to, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Australian National University Indigenous Collections and Exhibition students visited to discuss the work the Archives does with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  • Representatives of the Maralinga Tjarutja Council visited to receive presentations from reference staff on the collection and services provided by the Archives.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy and Reconciliation Action Plan

The Archives' Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy was adopted in May 2017. It represents the Archives' commitment to being an organisation that welcomes, engages and collaborates with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; provides culturally appropriate services and programs; and demonstrates best practice in the management of collection material about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) working group has actively engaged in the promotion and implementation of RAP targets. The working group consists of dedicated representatives from across different work areas and geographical locations within Australia, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and stakeholders. During 2016–17, the RAP working group also supported specific activities during NAIDOC Week and National Reconciliation Week.

Diversity program and statistics

The current Workplace Diversity Program (2014–17) promotes diversity in the Archives' workforce, culture and service delivery. It promotes opportunities for external clients from diverse backgrounds to access the Archives' collection and sets the agenda for targeted recruitment, and training to support inclusivity within the Archives. During 2016–17 the program centred on building capability of employees and management to support inclusion.

The Workplace Diversity Program sets a target of 2.7 per cent of Indigenous employees, and at 30 June 2017, the Archives had a total of 0.97 per cent. All employees are continuing to build cultural capability through mandatory training and the introduction of extended online learning through the Core Indigenous Awareness training developed by AIATSIS. This year a total of 79.5 per cent of Archives employees completed cultural awareness training.

Table 6: Diversity groupings 2015–17

Diversity grouping Headcount
Diversity grouping 30 June 2015 30 June 2016 30 June 2017
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander 4 4 4
Person with a disability 11 12 13
Culturally and linguistically diverse 73 84 83
Total 88 100 100

As at 30 June 2017, female employees represented 61 per cent of the Archives' workforce. The gender balance remained consistent across all classifications at the Archives. At the SES level the female representation was 100 per cent – with all four positions filled by females.

APS Employee Census responses indicate that approximately 90 per cent of all employees have a favourable view of the Archives embracing inclusive work practices to support diversity in the workplace. New staff are integrated through onboarding processes and the induction program. Internal training programs such as Managing Unconscious Bias and Building Disability Confidence are held regularly.

Changes to disability reporting in annual reports

The Commonwealth National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 sets out a 10-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disabilities, 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. These reports are made available at

Work health and safety

The Archives continues to update policies and procedures in accordance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and other applicable codes of practice.

The Workplace Relations Committee continues to function as the National Health and Safety Committee.

The Archives promotes a supportive work environment by providing staff access to an external Employee Assistance Program and providing a comprehensive internal health and wellbeing program. It demonstrates the Archives' commitment to the mental health of employees through awareness sessions and a network of mental health first aid officers.

The Archives actively manages workers' compensation claims, supporting injured employees back into the workplace. During 2016–17 one new workers' compensation claim was accepted and 13 were closed.

External rehabilitation case management and implementation of early intervention strategies were provided to assist injured employees returning to work. A Comcare audit on the rehabilitation management system was conducted within 2016–17 with an 80 per cent achievement against the key performance indicators. A corrective action plan to address the four non-conformances has been put in place.

Table 7: Work health and safety performance, 2014–17