Annual Report 2005-2006

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1. Overviews2. Performance3. Corporate4. Appendixes5. Financials6. Glossaries and Compliance Index

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The department's flexible work structures, supported by centralised staffing arrangements, allowed us to respond promptly to changing priorities in a demanding international environment. We effectively deployed staff to manage consular and emergency situations. Our well established crisis management systems, including 24-hour crisis centres in Canberra and short notice deployment of emergency response teams overseas ensured timely and effective responses to incidents such as the London and Bali bombings, the Cairo bus accident and emerging civil unrest in Solomon Islands and East Timor.

We continued to provide strong support to staff operating in difficult and stressful environments through our enhanced staff welfare network.

Working closely with key domestic agencies, we developed and put in place well defined contingency plans for the continued delivery of consular and other emergency services overseas in the event of an avian influenza pandemic, as well as arrangements for funding supplementation and for the protection of government staff and dependants overseas.

We initiated work to review and update, in close consultation with other agencies, the 1985 Prime Minister's Directive on Guidelines for the Management of the Australian Government Presence Overseas. The new guidelines, to be finalised in early 2006–07, will reflect the reality of administering a modern overseas mission in a whole of government framework.

With the department's certified agreement expiring on 30 June 2006, we successfully concluded the process of developing and implementing a replacement agreement. We undertook intensive consultations with staff, in Australia and overseas, including through the department's Workplace Relations Committee, and held a staff ballot. The new employee collective agreement took effect from 6 July 2006. It will deliver a pay increase to staff of 12 per cent over three years.

To ensure sufficient appropriately skilled staff to meet the department's expanding agenda, we accelerated recruitment to bring on line new employees, including 39 graduate trainees and seven corporate and financial management trainees, in addition to managing a large number of generalist and specialist recruitment processes.

We finalised the outcomes of the review of overseas conditions of service and implemented changes to the department's management of domestic travel acquittals.

The department continued to work to improve the efficiency of our management and accountability practices, including management of corporate budgets and out-year budget reconciliation, through increased training for staff, redesigned reporting and enhanced divisional and post budget planning in our financial management information system (SAP). We undertook extensive work on HR business process mapping to better understand requirements from our human resource management information system. We undertook a thorough review of our fraud control procedures before issuing a revised Fraud Control Plan in early 2006–07.

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