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Aerial view of a beach

Overview

Acknowledgement of Country and Traditional Owners

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia, and their continuing connection to land, water and community.

We pay our respects to the people, the cultures, and elders past and present, including within the Department, in our communities and among those we collaborate with to deliver our work.

NOTE The term ‘First Nations’ in this report refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people unless otherwise stated. First Nations people are advised that this document may contain images of deceased people.
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A collage of photos of Natalie James.

Secretary’s introduction

Our purpose is to support people to have safe, secure and well-paid work with the skills for a sustainable future.

Our levers are the workplace relations, skills and employment systems.

It is incumbent on us to use these levers so that people can realise their potential in the current labour market and so that industry can thrive.

Truly understanding the perspectives and experiences of those affected by our programs and policies is essential in the design of our work.

#TeamDEWR is instilling a culture of collaboration and curiosity where listening and openness are central to all that we do.

We are actively seeking out broad views. We are working to engage people and communities in ways that work for them. We need to hear different voices – especially voices that are not easily heard in the traditional and sometimes constrained approaches adopted by governments in policy and program development.

And we must amplify the insight we gain from this engagement in designing solutions to:

  • help close the gap with our First Nations people
  • support communities to navigate the transformation to a net zero economy
  • frame our immigration settings to support the provision of a skilled workforce and to stamp out migrant worker exploitation
  • support all those who want to work to have access to decent jobs
  • design services that are culturally appropriate, easily accessed and connected to appropriate pathways.

Key priorities for the Department in the coming year are:

Leveraging our data – Our Chief Data Officer will draw data-driven insight from across our programs and expertise to inform the work of government and partners on national priorities.

Maturing our engagement with First Nations people – The oldest continuing living culture in the world must be central in the design of solutions intended to close the gap. We are lifting our capacity to engage effectively and support First Nations people to develop peak representative bodies in skills, employment and workplace relations to strengthen the capacity to have their views heard.

A strategic and tripartite stewardship of the skills system – Jobs and Skills Councils and Jobs and Skills Australia will leverage economic analysis and the wisdom of state and territory governments, industry, unions and users. We will also deliver cohesive and targeted funding arrangements agreed with states and territories in the form of a milestone national agreement.

Culturally and situationally appropriate support for job seekers – We must get the balance right between compliance and helping people in our employment programs.

We will work with our employment service providers to deliver sustainable outcomes, especially for people who have relied on income support for a long time.

We will conduct quality evaluations and randomised trials to get better insight about what works, and make changes to better deliver meaningful and respectful support to those who need it most.

Delivering the Government’s workplace relations reforms – Our work laws must produce decent jobs and incentivise bargaining. The flexibility craved by employees should not have to come at the cost of income and job security. Embedding the first tranche of reforms designed to kickstart bargaining remains a key priority: bargaining is the most effective way to tailor workplace arrangements, design productivity-growing work practices, address complexity in the system and support wages growth.

These initiatives, informed by a broader range of voices and perspectives, will deliver enduring reforms and better outcomes for people and communities.

As the Accountable Authority of the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, I am pleased to present our 2023–24 Corporate Plan. This plan covers the period from 2023–24 to 2026–27 and has been prepared for paragraph 35(1)(b) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 ( ).

Natalie James

Secretary

28 August 2023

"#TeamDEWR is instilling a culture of collaboration and curiosity where listening and openness are central to all that we do"

Our purpose

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations supports people to have safe, secure, and well-paid work, with the skills for a sustainable future.

As stewards of the workplace relations, skills, training and employment systems, we are responsible for settings that have the potential to unlock inclusive social and economic growth, economic resilience and productivity. It is incumbent on us to leverage our systems and services in a way that is strategic, connected and targeted, to achieve our purpose and key activities.

We are galvanised to:

  • help people enhance their employability with the skills needed to enter work that suits their circumstances and aspirations
  • assist people to find, and hold on to, secure, well-paid and meaningful jobs
  • connect businesses and industries with the right people, skills, frameworks and tools to ensure fair, safe, inclusive and mutually beneficial ways of working
  • encourage supportive workplace environments where people can drive positive outcomes for their wellbeing, careers, workplaces, and the labour market more broadly.

We know how important it is that our policies and programs recognise, respect, and capitalise on the diversity of the people who interact with our services and systems.

We draw on the expertise and skills of our staff to continuously improve, pioneer new ways of working and robustly test ideas. We act with integrity and are respectful of each other, our partners, the users of our services and the broader community.

We foster an inclusive workplace culture that encourages and supports our staff to invest in their development, actively manage their wellbeing, and be productive and creative.

 

Figure 1.1: The Department’s outcome statements, programs and key activities

We support people to have safe, secure, and well-paid work, with the skills for a sustainable future

Outcome 1 Outcome 2 Outcome 3
Our outcome statements
Foster a productive and competitive labour market through policies and programs that assist job seekers into work, including secure work, and meet employer and industry needs. Promote growth in economic productivity and social wellbeing through access to quality skills and training. Facilitate jobs growth, including secure work, through policies and programs that promote fair, productive and safe workplaces.
Our programs and key activities

Program 1.1 – Employment Services

  • Provide quality services to job seekers and employers
  • Reduce risk of long-term unemployment
  • Support job seekers, including youth, to achieve sustainable employment
  • Support parents to improve their work readiness and prepare for employment.

Program 2.1 – Building Skills and Capability

  • Enhance the quality of vocational education and training ( )
  • Respond to national future skills needs through access to graduates with the required skills
  • Improve language, literacy, numeracy and digital literacy
    ( ) skills for target groups.

Program 2.2 – Student Loans

  • Reduce barriers to undertaking quality .

Program 2.3 – Nuclear-powered Submarine Program

  • Establish a taskforce to provide advice on utilising Australia’s skills and training system to support the workforce requirements of the submarine program.

Program 3.1 – Workplace Support

  • Administer and advise on legal and policy frameworks
  • Administer and implement programs and services.

Our portfolio

The agencies and statutory bodies within our portfolio are key partners in meeting our policy, program and regulatory responsibilities, and delivering improved outcomes for the Government and the community.

Figure 1.2: The Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio

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Figure 1.2 The Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio
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People in an online business meeting

Our operating context

Our environment

Our operating environment presents challenges and opportunities in achieving our purpose to support people to have safe, secure and well-paid work, with the skills for a sustainable future.

This section discusses those challenges and outlines how we have considered our key priorities as opportunities to respond to them.

The economic outlook continues to present opportunities and challenges

The Australian economy has shown considerable resilience, particularly in the labour market. It continues to be challenged by some uncertainty in the medium term, however, with global and domestic factors having contributed to slowing economic activity.

Workers and businesses alike are contending with the impacts of elevated inflation. Australia has experienced interest rates rising to a level not seen in over 10 years, which has profoundly impacted the affordability of basic necessities such as energy and housing. While wages growth has improved – particularly for regulated wages – this has not kept pace with the cost of living. The net zero economic transformation also presents a significant change for industry, workers and communities.

The labour market remains tight, with the unemployment rate expected to remain low by historical standards alongside high participation rates. Shortages of skills continue – more than 30 per cent of assessed occupations have been in shortage, with these occupations making up more than 30 per cent of Australia’s total employment; and more than half of the occupations found to be in shortage have a workforce that is less than 20 per cent female.

The gender pay gap remains persistent but has recently reduced to 13.0 per cent, alongside a welcome increase in workforce participation of women. Women tend to work fewer hours than men and face more barriers to working the hours and jobs they want. They are more likely to be engaged on a casual basis, on minimum or award wages, and more likely to have caring responsibilities. This affects their options for career advancement, as well as their lifetime wealth accumulation including superannuation.

We are responding to this environment by prioritising being well informed through direct engagement with experts and those who are impacted by our policies and programs. Focusing on their evidence and on-the-ground experience enables us to develop policies and programs that are appropriately flexible and integrated and that can respond to evolving, persistent and emerging labour market challenges.

The Department will support the Government to respond to key reviews and priorities

Economic and social vulnerability persists and continues to be a focus for the Department in supporting people to access appropriate pathways to safe and secure work.

The Department’s expertise and evidence has informed the Government’s vision for Australia’s future labour market, which will be set out in the forthcoming Employment White Paper. We will have a key role in delivering on the White Paper’s roadmap for Australia to build a stronger, better-trained and more productive workforce.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training commenced its inquiry into the perceptions and status of in 2022, and the House of Representatives Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services is due to report later in 2023. The Department will focus on listening to participants and users of these programs and services to build an evidence base through trials and research which support the Government’s response to the committees’ recommendations.

The Department contributes to key Government priorities that demand an integrated approach to achieve social and economic equality and we aim to ensure our labour market is delivering what communities need to fulfil their potential. This includes ensuring our policies and programs work together to advance women’s economic equality and continue contributing to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

The Department also supports and provides insight and expertise to inform the Australian Universities Accord and the implementation of the forthcoming Migration Strategy, and is actively working across governments and leveraging its programs to support the transformation of communities and the economy to meet Australia’s net zero targets.

Better integrating our services and advice to ensure our programs deliver for communities is a priority. We have an opportunity to leverage and share data and evidence across a range of sources, including our performance information, to better inform the design of new programs and policies.

Our key priorities

Our key priorities recognise our evolving environment and embed the importance of seeking opportunities to improve our way of working by supporting people to have safe, secure and well-paid work with the skills for a sustainable future.

For 2023–24, our key priorities include:

  • addressing disadvantage and long-term unemployment by delivering fit-for-purpose employment services and pathways for people to gain safe and secure work
  • strengthening our skills system, including by securing a new National Skills Agreement with states and territories that enables training opportunities to be delivered on the ground
  • consulting and delivering on workplace relations reforms to support a labour market that works for employees and businesses and enables secure, safe and well-paid employment
  • building an evidence base through research, trials (including randomised trials), and conversations with users to inform reform directions in response to the recommendations of the Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services
  • delivering on the full functions of Jobs and Skills Australia ( ) and its workplan, including labour market and workforce analysis and advice on the performance of the national skills system
  • contributing to the development of the forthcoming Employment White Paper and its vision for Australia’s future labour market
  • acting on opportunities to reduce labour shortages and increase workforce diversity by encouraging more women into the workforce, including through apprenticeships
  • maturing our ways of working to be better integrated across our policy responsibilities. This includes evolving our corporate and people frameworks to reflect our contemporary Department, and a modern enterprise agreement
  • strengthening the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme by consolidating its domestic operations within the Department over the next 4 years
  • supporting the Government in delivering its commitments, such as:
    • helping to improve outcomes with First Nations people through the Closing the Gap agenda by developing our first Closing the Gap Strategy, which aims to ensure our contributions are appropriately planned, resourced and monitored
    • transforming to a net zero economy by developing solutions in close collaboration with governments and communities, as well as doing our part by reducing the Department’s own greenhouse emissions to net zero by 2030
    • implementing significant policy shifts contained in the forthcoming Migration Strategy to further simplify and strengthen the migration system
  • contributing to Australian Public Service ( ) reform, investing in our staff capability, reducing the Department’s reliance on external labour, and converting contracted roles to positions where appropriate
  • building our #TeamDEWR ethos by instilling a connected, collaborative and inclusive culture in our workplace, empowering our people to be stewards of public service, adopting a posture of empathy and trust, and putting wellbeing at the centre of delivery.

"Our key priorities recognise our evolving environment and embed the importance of seeking opportunities to improve our way of working"

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Ways we work

Our governance

The Department’s governance framework (Figure 2.1) provides a mechanism for oversight, transparency and collaboration in decision-making while supporting the Department in achieving its purpose and key activities.

  • The Executive Board, chaired by the Secretary, focuses on policy and organisational stewardship. It is the principal governance committee, advising the Secretary in executing their powers and functions as the Accountable Authority. The Board is responsible for setting the Department’s strategic direction, ensuring delivery against the Australian Government’s objectives, and ensuring compliance with our legal and financial obligations.
  • The Audit and Assurance Committee, a statutory requirement under the , provides independent review and advice to the Secretary. It is supported by its own sub-committees: the Performance Reporting Sub-Committee and the Financial Statements Sub-Committee.

Three sub-committees report to the Executive Board to advise on core activities and assist the Secretary in decision-making and oversight. Each group – Corporate and Enabling Services, Workplace Relations, Skills and Training, and Employment and Workforce – also has internal governance arrangements in place to manage its policy and program deliverables.

Figure 2.1: Our governance framework

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Figure 2.1 Our governance framework

The Secretary of the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, as the accountable authority, has the following reporting to them:

- The Executive Board,

- And the Audit and Assurance Committee.

The Executive Board has the following Committees reporting to it:

- The People, Culture and Engagement Committee,

- The Major Project and IT Committee,

- And the Risk, Security and Governance Committee.

The Executive Board is provided advice, for their information, from:

- The Audit and Assurance Committee.

The Audit and Assurance Committee is provided advice, for their information, from:

- The Risk, Security and Governance Committee.

Our culture

We need the best people and we need them to be able to operate at their best to deliver for our communities. We strive to set the standard as a model employer in how we deliver our programs, policies, systems and services.

As stewards within the , we are trusted to deliver programs and policies in the interests of the Australian community. To support this, our people operate with the highest integrity and our culture is one that supports staff to invest in their development and wellbeing, engage appropriately with risk, and be productive and innovative.

To deliver on our purpose and key activities, we are driven to be leaders in building a culture that is inclusive, open, curious and capable. Our behaviours reinforce an environment where all voices are heard, ideas can be respectfully challenged, professional development is encouraged, workplace flexibility is supported, and unique strengths are celebrated to cultivate belonging.

In 2023–24 the launch of our shared vision and mission statements will ignite and sustain our efforts. These statements have been developed through co-design with our people as part of our focus on culture. We will continue to drive our cultural transformation in 2023–24, taking a behaviour change approach to improve our risk management settings and policies. These changes will enable leadership at all levels and position us to deliver as a modern and trusted organisation.

Our integrity

The Department is committed to implementing the public sector integrity reform agenda. We have established an Integrity Unit to build a robust and inclusive Integrity Framework for the management of integrity matters, and to create departmental processes with respect to the Government’s newly established National Anti-Corruption Commission.

Our Integrity Framework will take a user-centric approach and will centralise relevant policies and procedures to create a ‘one-stop-shop’ for staff and stakeholders who may need guidance on integrity matters.

Having a pro-integrity culture is pivotal to public service. We have educated our staff, contractors and service providers in relation to their roles, responsibilities and protections concerning integrity and performance. We also have clear policies to manage conflicts of interest and mandates to guide transparency in decision-making.

The Department responds to integrity matters rigorously. We proactively encourage staff, providers and members of the public to report all integrity issues, such as those relating to fraud and corruption. Reports can be submitted through our electronic reporting tool, which enables informants to engage in ongoing, anonymous dialogue with investigators.

The Department will continue to monitor and improve its integrity policies, processes and frameworks. We will engage an independent Integrity Adviser to work with us to support and embed our pro-integrity culture and ensure that lessons learned from across governments and the private sector are appropriately considered in our work.

Our cooperation and partnerships

Our relationships are critical to our success. We work with people across the communities we serve, because engaging with diverse perspectives and lived experiences helps us achieve better outcomes that are fit for purpose and address specific needs.

We work closely and collaboratively with a wide range of individuals and groups, encompassing job seekers, community members and people from diverse backgrounds. This includes meaningful engagement with priority groups such as First Nations people. We foster partnerships across governments and with service providers, employers, unions, industry bodies, academics, peak bodies, regulators and others to ensure a comprehensive approach to our engagement efforts.

We are seeking opportunities to co-design better policies and programs – in particular, working with First Nations communities on solutions that will help close the gap.

In reimagining employment services for parents of young children, we have spoken with more than 200 affected parents, learning first-hand their challenges and expectations, including what practical support would make a positive impact on their families’ lives.

In developing a third tranche of workplace relations reforms, we have consulted widely across the community, undertaking more than 75 stakeholder meetings prior to the Closing Loopholes Bill 2023 being introduced.

We are also working to embed tripartite governance and practices, ensuring both workers and industry voices are central in institutional frameworks – from the National Construction Industry Forum to and Jobs and Skills Councils – and in how the Department works.

These conversations and arrangements have resulted and will continue to result in better informed and targeted outcomes that account for the perspectives, experiences and needs of those we serve.

We engage internationally through our overseas posts, bilateral partnerships and multilateral forums. This engagement contributes to achieving Australia’s international priorities and obligations.

We are is actively working to mature our own practices to embody genuine principles of engagement, where our partners see that their contributions are valued and that their voices are heard. We are building a network of communications and stakeholder professionals across the Department that will integrate our activities and provide a more joined-up experience when dealing with .

We are also looking to foster more innovative ways of bringing other perspectives to the table and to build the partnerships that will put the people who are impacted by our work at the centre of these discussions.

"Engaging with diverse perspectives and lived experiences helps us achieve better outcomes that are fit for purpose"

Our corporate strategies and operations

The Department’s corporate strategies, plans and operations are central to our capability to undertake our key activities and achieve our purpose. This includes supporting our ministers, our people and the Australian public with the effective and efficient management of:

  • resources, including people, infrastructure and finances
  • information, communications and digital technologies and solutions
  • matters regarding security, legal, risk, integrity and assurance
  • research, analysis and data.

We are building on our corporate capabilities to deliver our purpose, and we look for opportunities to continuously improve. We make connections across the Department and partner with external policy and program areas to help them develop and deliver integrated policy and services.

 

Our People

Our people are central to our success. In 2022–23 we established a strategic people framework that sets the overarching direction, priorities and governance structures to build our workforce capability. Over the life of this plan, we will develop and launch our People Strategy and Workforce Plan, which informs how we invest in our people to support the Government and deliver for Australia.

Our workforce must be prepared and responsive in an environment of continuous and accelerated change. Although competition in the labour market remains high, we must attract and develop the right people to mobilise quickly in delivering priority reforms across skills, training, employment and workplace relations. We are committed to setting the standard as a fair, safe and productive workplace with a diverse, contemporary and dynamic workforce. We are setting a pathway to realising a culture that fosters respect, integrity, curiosity, openness and inclusion, to enable our people to deliver their best work.

We will continue to progress a range of people initiatives which involve:

  • developing a workforce plan that articulates how we attract, develop and retain a motivated workforce and enables us to build the capability of our people so that we can successfully deliver our work
  • delivering a culture program to articulate our purpose, vision and mission and the behaviours needed to achieve them
  • investing in staff capability development, with a particular focus on growing our leaders of today and tomorrow
  • developing a reward and recognition framework; this includes launching our inaugural Secretary’s Awards in 2023–24 to recognise and celebrate our people and achievements
  • establishing contemporary approaches to protect, support and enable the psychosocial safety and wellbeing of our people
  • engaging with our people through our People, Culture and Engagement Committee, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, Consultative Committee, and diversity and inclusion networks
  • maintaining an inclusive workplace culture so that our people feel they can disclose their diversity characteristics and bring their whole selves to work without fear of stigma, hostility or judgement
  • acting on our commitment to reconciliation between First Nations people and non-Indigenous people through our integrated people strategies and development of our Reconciliation Action Plan.

Figure 2.2: Our people

3,499

employees1

Made up of:

Ongoing

3,328

Non-ongoing

171

Full-time

2,980

Part-time

519

Female2

2,088

Male2

1,406

Indeterminate2

5
879

Contractors3

Made up of:

ICT4

Non-ICT

Diversity

employees1 self-identified as:

First Nations5

74

From a non-English speaking background6

279

workforce7 self-identified as:

Person with disability

LGBTQIA+

Neurodivergent

 

Data and analytics

The Department has a wealth of data collected across our skills, employment and workplace relations activities and we acknowledge our important responsibility to protect the privacy of individuals’ personal information. There are also opportunities to better leverage and learn from our data holdings to inform policy development and program design across the Department and government. A strong data capability enables us to create and harness data for better policy development, program management and service delivery, while managing our data safely and securely, and protecting privacy.

In 2023–24, the Department’s Chief Data Officer ( ) will prioritise developing our data strategy and review existing and new data initiatives. The will strategically drive reform and develop a consistent approach to data across the Department and broader portfolio. The will lead and engage across government to share data as appropriate and benefit from whole-of-government approaches.

 

Information and communications technology

Developing secure, robust, and fit-for-purpose ICT infrastructure, end-user equipment, business applications, and services for the Department helps us deliver better employment, skills and workplace relations outcomes. It also benefits other people and organisations who may rely on our ICT to receive the support they need.

Our Digital Business Strategy has been refreshed to guide our ICT direction and support digital service delivery to our users. The strategy outlines 4 key shifts to transform our digital experience. These are:

  • facilitating simple access for users
  • creating cohesive and reliable digital experiences
  • improving the way we use our data to enhance services
  • supporting policy development by ensuring our solutions are modern, integrated and connected.

In 2023–24 we will continue to build cohesive and data-driven digital business services for our users and shared services partners. We will develop data systems in a secure and compliant way, with the privacy of our users’ data at the core of our design-led approaches. We will continue to align with whole-of-government direction and strategies, including the Data and Digital Government Strategy, the Australian Government Architecture, and Digital Identity.

Our ICT Strategy 2020–2023 details how we will achieve our key priorities and deliver the Digital Business Strategy outcomes, which are:

  • achieving excellence in service delivery
  • delivering the workplace of the future
  • transforming our applications to deliver simple, modern, joined-up and personalised services
  • investing in a flexible and capable ICT workforce
  • evolving our platforms to improve security, adaptability and resilience
  • partnering to enable data-driven policy and operations.

During 2023–24 we will update our ICT Strategy to set our priorities and guide the Department’s delivery of outcomes between 2024 and 2027.

To further protect our users and the data entrusted to us, we continue to invest in and strengthen the security of our ICT network, systems and data holdings by maintaining and improving our maturity levels against the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s Essential Eight mitigation strategies to prevent harmful cyber incidents.

The Department operates ICT infrastructure across on-premises data centres and public cloud networks in accordance with the Australian Government Secure Cloud Strategy. In 2023–24 we will leverage modern cloud hosting environments to support the development of new business systems and to deliver value to our partners and collaborators.

In 2023–24 we will continue to build ICT, digital and data capability by recruiting and developing new starters through our entry-level programs and investing in the skills of our people. We will continue to offer career pathways by fostering an inclusive, collaborative and contemporary work environment. We will collaborate with the Australian Public Service Commission’s Emerging Talent Programs Team to administer 3 ICT-entry level programs for the Department: the Digital Traineeship Program, the Digital Cadetship Program and the Digital Graduate Program. We also engage IT Australian School-Based Apprentices.

Infrastructure

Property leases on several departmental offices around the country are set to expire over the next 18 months; this includes offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. This provides the Department with the opportunity to consolidate and rationalise our leased footprint, and to provide more energy-efficient fit-outs and buildings that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and our move to net zero emissions.

Recent Adelaide and Newcastle capital works projects, along with the recently commenced North Ryde accommodation project, demonstrate modern workspace design, including flexible workspaces, lockers, collaboration areas, quiet/focus rooms, and office amenities. The intention is to deliver contemporary fit-outs that provide the latest workspace design components to enable business operations, and continue to build on recent well-received accommodation works across the country.

Similar approaches will be undertaken throughout 2023–24 for our offices in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth.

 
Team sharing pilot, Melbourne

To optimise our existing spaces, a 3 month desk-sharing pilot (within teams) commenced in our Melbourne offices in July 2023. The pilot includes co-located staff from the Department of Education. By sharing our office space at a team level, we can cater for everyone’s work patterns while increasing our capacity to accommodate all staff when they wish to work in the office.

Financial management

Effective financial management is a key element of assessing our performance and accountability. Our approach to financial management enables our staff and stakeholders to be equipped with the right financial information to make informed decisions. Our Finance Strategy sets out the Department’s approach to supporting our financial sustainability through timely and informed investment of our financial resources, guided by key principles.

These principles are:

  • being strategic and forward looking in our capability, development, and investment in financial literacy
  • maintaining financial systems that support the delivery of our business outcomes and provide consistent reporting
  • implementing strong governance and financial controls to support our approach
  • operating within the resources provided by the Government and harnessing opportunities in the external Budget cycle.

Our Portfolio Budget Statements 2023–24 contain further information regarding the Department’s Budget estimates (departmental and administered), average staffing levels, and financial statements for the reporting period.

Embedding a positive risk culture

Our risk culture

We consider a positive risk culture to be a culture where our staff share a set of values and behaviours that characterise how we engage with risk in our day-to-day activities.

We recognise that to enable staff to support the Department’s purpose, we must have a positive risk culture – one which considers that not all ‘risk events’ are bad and that sometimes taking well-informed and considered risks can deliver benefits we would not otherwise realise. By promoting an environment where staff are able to consider both the threat and the opportunity of risk, we strengthen our risk culture and increase our departmental risk maturity and capability.

 

Enterprise risk management arrangements

The Department manages risk in accordance with the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy and through our Accountable Authority Instruction for Risk Management. We also use our Enterprise Risk Management Policy and Framework.

We encourage our staff to use risk management as a way to inform decision-making. This also guides how we consider and communicate risk in our daily activities.

We ensure that we engage and work with our internal and external stakeholders in a collaborative way so that we manage shared risk with a unified purpose.

Our goal is to appropriately manage all risks to maximise opportunity, protect our interests, and minimise disruption to critical business functions.

Risk governance

We recognise that effective governance arrangements support positive engagement with risk. We have built appropriate frameworks and systems to oversee our enterprise risk management arrangements. Our enterprise-wide risk focus areas are at the core of our strategic thinking and drive risk-informed discussions at our Executive Board and our audit and risk committees.

We promote an environment where risk governance supports compliance but also supports innovative ways to achieve outcomes. We encourage risk discussions that prepare us for future challenges.

Our Chief Risk Officer ( ) plays an important role in championing a positive risk culture and building departmental risk capability. The is supported by a dedicated enterprise risk area.

 

Strategic risk environment

For each of our 5 key enterprise-wide risk focus areas we have key mitigation strategies (Figure 2.3). We monitor these risks on an ongoing basis and take action to ensure that they remain within our risk appetite.

Figure 2.3: Key risk focus areas and mitigation strategies

Key Risk Focus Area Key Mitigation Strategies
ENTERPRISE-WIDE RISK 1

People

  • Work Health and Safety
  • Resourcing
  • Capability
  • Diversity and Culture

Positive wellbeing and safety are at the core of our culture. We adhere to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and have strategies in place to prevent and manage physical and psychosocial risks and hazards.

We provide a safe and secure physical environment for our people by adhering to the protections outlined in our Protective Security Policy Framework.

We actively encourage and empower staff to consider new and better ways of doing work and to manage workloads. We have a focus on health and wellbeing and offer flexible working initiatives to ensure our people feel valued and trusted.

We are committed to a respectful, inclusive, and diverse workplace for all, supported through our actions, systems, value statements, networks, and policies.

We attract and retain capable and skilled people and have learning and development activities to support the growth of leadership and the broader ongoing development of our people.

ENTERPRISE-WIDE RISK 2

Policy Development, Advice and Engagement

  • Quality and Timely
  • Evidence Based
  • Stakeholder Engagement

The Department develops policy with a focus on the outcome to be achieved, based on research, data, engagement, and evidence.

Our internal strategies, policies and frameworks ensure that standards and guidelines are clearly articulated to our people whilst aligning to whole-of-government best practice.

We ensure that we provide accurate and timely advice to our external stakeholders as an internally connected organisation.

We proactively support tripartism, collaboration and stakeholder insight, to encourage ongoing discussions, with a view to meeting the needs of policy recipients.

ENTERPRISE-WIDE RISK 3

Delivery and Assurance

  • Environment of Change
  • Programs, Projects and Services
  • Payment Integrity
  • Fraud/Risk/Audit
  • Assurance Protocols

We are committed to implementing programs, projects and services that focus on achieving outcomes as intended, that are of a high quality, and that are in line with the proper use of public resources8.

We protect the integrity of our payments to third parties by focusing on preventing inaccurate payments, fraud and corruption using a range of control measures.

Our risk, fraud, audit, and assurance mechanisms reinforce the correct, compliant detection-based protocols to support monitoring and oversight. Our policies and assurance activities are conducted through robust internal audit and assurance programs.

The Department’s governance arrangements support policy implementation within legislative requirements, manage risk and align with whole-of-government requirements including the Protective Security Policy Framework.

ENTERPRISE-WIDE RISK 4

Financial Management and Regulatory

  • Internal/External Budgets
  • Procurement and Contractual
  • Legislation and Regulations

We maintain stringent oversight of departmental financial processes and budgetary decisions, supporting efficient, effective, economical, and ethical use or management of public resources in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

Our investment decisions, procurement practices and contractual agreements represent value for money and our internal procedures comply with Commonwealth guidelines.

Our legal practices comply with legal obligations and regulatory requirements to ensure we act lawfully in the delivery of our operations.

Our deregulation approach involves our people integrating the best practice regulation into their daily work and identifying and improving business processes that avoid imposing obligations on investment and job creation.

ENTERPRISE-WIDE RISK 5

Information Management and Information and Communications Technology

  • Privacy
  • Information and IT Security
  • Infrastructure and Systems
  • Records Management

Information and communications technology is embedded across the organisation. By modernising the architecture and platforms that support our business systems, we have ensured that we can meet the future needs of the Department.

The protection of our information and data is a priority. Our environment is safeguarded by robust systems, monitoring, and oversight underpinned by our Protective Security Policy Framework. We apply the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s Essential Eight mitigation strategies to mitigate potential cyber threats to our organisation.

We embed privacy awareness within the Department. We manage our information appropriately under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 and the Privacy Act 1988.

We meet best practice in records management and comply with all our obligations, including under the Archives Act 1983.

 

Operating risk environment

Our operating risk environment (Figure 2.4) demonstrates the connection between whole-of-government legislation and standards, our enterprise risk management arrangements, and operational risk resources and guidance.

We embed risk assessments at all levels of our operations through our enterprise risk management system, which is aligned to our Enterprise Risk Management Policy and Framework. Our mandatory risk plans must address people, work health and safety, finance, fraud and climate risks.

Figure 2.4: Our operating risk environment

Legislation
Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013
Standard
Australian/New Zealand ISO 31000: 2018
DEWR Enterprise Risk Management Policy and Framework
Policy
Commonwealth Risk Management Policy
Accountable Authority Instructions (AAI)
Risk Education and Awareness
Framework
Oversight
Governance and Assurance
Risk Appetite and Tolerance
Risk Process
Enterprise Wide Risks
Risk System (RN2)
Strategic Risk and Operational Risk Assessments
Reporting
Positive Risk Culture
Performance and Review

“Our staff share a set of values and behaviours that characterise how we engage with risk”

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People in a meeting, working on a laptop

Our performance

The 2023–24 Corporate Plan is the Department’s primary planning document. It sets out our purpose, operating context and key activities, and outlines how we are working together to deliver our purpose.

We are accountable through:

  • Portfolio Budget Statements to inform the allocation of resources within the Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio
  • integrated business, workforce and risk plans
  • performance agreements between managers and team members
  • annual reports to demonstrate how we delivered on our purpose and key activities as set out in our corporate plans.

Together, these activities and documents provide transparency as to the Department’s overall role and responsibilities.

Figure 3.1: Our performance planning and reporting process

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Figure 3.1 Our performance planning and reporting process

Our performance framework

The performance information published in this plan is underpinned by the Department’s performance framework, which is based on requirements under the and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 ( ).

The performance framework reflects our ongoing commitment to transparency, accountability and continuous review and improvement.

Measuring our performance

The Department’s performance results and analysis demonstrate how we are delivering on our purpose and provide accountability to the public and the Parliament. We report on our performance annually in the annual performance statements within annual reports. Our performance measures and targets are also reviewed annually and revised as required.

The performance information listed in our corporate plan is monitored by the Department’s Executive Board.

This section outlines the key activities we will undertake, what we expect to achieve, and how we will measure our performance against our purpose for 2023–24 and over the 4-year outlook.

Our regulatory performance

The Federal Safety Commissioner

The Federal Safety Commissioner and their Office (the ) operate within the Department and have regulatory functions, including to develop, implement, administer and promote the Australian Government’s Work Health and Safety Accreditation Scheme ( ) for Australian Government building and construction work.

 

Regulatory performance measure

The Total Recorded Injury Frequency Rate ( ) is collectively reported by accredited companies under the .

The oversees compliance by companies accredited under the with the requirements via onsite safety system auditing and reporting of safety incidents. Compliance with the requirements promotes safer workplaces, which is measurable through continual improvement to the annual of accredited companies.

Target: rate is lower than the previous calendar year.

This measure assesses the effectiveness of the .

This measure is a reflection of the overall impact of the ’s work and aligns with all 3 principles of regulatory best practice.

For more information about this performance measure, see measure WR004.

Regulatory approach

The works to align regulatory performance to the 3 principles of regulatory best practice:

  • continuous improvement and building trust
  • risk based and data driven
  • collaboration and engagement.

operations seek to target companies at highest risk of non-compliance with requirements. This is determined through a risk framework that considers factors such as safety incident history, audit performance and non-compliance with jurisdictional work health and safety laws.

The seeks to be responsive and accessible to stakeholders and to build trust and confidence in its regulatory functions. To this end, the conducts annual censuses of companies accredited with the . At the conclusion of each audit, companies are also given an opportunity to evaluate the performance of the auditing Federal Safety Officer and the wider organisation. The results of this feedback and the annual census are then assessed for potential points of process enhancement, leading to a continuous improvement cycle that aligns with regulatory best practices.

The undertakes quarterly reviews of its performance under its Continuous Improvement Policy to identify opportunities to improve its effectiveness. These reviews draw on key operational performance data as well as stakeholder feedback measures identified above. One such improvement has been the initiative of an annual external review of the consistency of audit criteria interpretation by the . This highlights interpretative differences which are then treated through retraining of staff.

NOTE A Ministerial Statement of Expectations and a Regulator Statement of Intent will be developed and published on fsc.gov.au. Performance reporting relating to this regulatory function will be reviewed following publication of the statements.

Our performance measures

The Department’s performance measures for 2023–24 to 2026–27 are presented below, showing how each measure relates to outcomes, programs and key activities.

The following performance measure tables establish targets, where appropriate, and briefly indicate the methodology for determining achievement against each target.

Where more than one target relates to a single performance measure, the result of each component is intended to be reported individually.

The Department expects to report achievement against these targets in the 2023–24 annual performance statement.

“We are delivering on our purpose and provide accountability to the public and the Parliament”

Employment and workforce performance

Outcome statement 1: Foster a productive and competitive labour market through policies and programs that assist job seekers into work, including secure work, and meet employer and industry needs.

 
Program 1.1 – Employment Services

The employment services system has the following key objectives:

  • to help job seekers find and keep a job
  • to deliver high-quality and efficient employment services
  • to support target groups to improve their work readiness and find employment.
Key activity Provide quality services to job seekers and employers Years reported in
Program Performance measure Target Methodology 2023–24 2024–25 2025–26 2026–27

1.1

Number of registered Workforce Australia Digital Platform users who log in to the platform

[EM001]

1,500,000 unique users9 or more

The count of unique registered Workforce Australia Digital Platform ( )10 users who log in to the platform during a 12-month period.

Data source: employment services administrative data
       

1.1

Proportion of Workforce Australia Services participants who are satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of services delivered by their provider

[EM002]

66% or higher

Proportion of a representative sample of job seekers who indicate that they are either satisfied or very satisfied with the services received from their Workforce Australia Services provider during the reference period11.

Responses are weighted to reflect each employment services provider’s relative significance within the total population.

Data source: Post-Program Monitoring Quality and Progress survey
       

1.1

Number of employers that lodge a vacancy through the Workforce Australia Digital Platform

[EM003]
16,000 unique employers12 or more

The count of unique employers13 that directly engage with the by logging into the system and lodging a vacancy during a 12-month period.

Data source: employment services administrative data
       
Key activity Reduce risk of long-term unemployment Years reported in
Program Performance measure Target Methodology 2023–24 2024–25 2025–26 2026–27

1.1

Proportion of Workforce Australia Services participants who receive a service during any month

[EM004]

80% or higher

The proportion of participants14 who have received at least one service facilitated by a provider during a month, aggregated over 12 months. Services include attended appointments, job placements, attended activities, and Employment Fund usage.

Data source: employment services administrative data
       
Key activity Support job seekers, including youth, to achieve sustainable employment Years reported in
Program Performance measure Target Methodology 2023–24 2024–25 2025–26 2026–27

1.1

Proportion of Workforce Australia Services participants who achieve a 26-week Employment Outcome

[EM005]

15% or higher

The proportion of participants in Workforce Australia Provider Services15 who recorded at least one job placement which converted to a 26-week outcome, over a 12-month period.16

Data source: program administrative data from the ESSWeb system, which is used to administer employment services
       

1.1

Proportion of participants in work or study three months after exiting services

[EM006]
  1. Workforce Australia Online: 80% or higher
  2. Workforce Australia Services: 60% or higher
  3. Workforce Australia – Transition to Work: 60% or higher

The proportion of participants surveyed through a representative sample who are in work or study 3 months after exiting employment services.

Responses are weighted to be representative of the population at the time of selection.

Data source: Post-Program Monitoring Labour Force survey
       
Key activity Support parents to improve their work readiness and prepare for employment Years reported in
Program Performance measure Target Methodology 2023–24 2024–25 2025–26 2026–27

1.1

Proportion of ParentsNext17 participants who increase their work readiness

[EM007]

75% or higher

Number of parents who increase their work readiness18 based on their results in the Work Star assessment tool, over the total number of parents who have had more than one work readiness assessment using the tool.

Data source: Work Star Online Service User Report
       

1.1

Proportion of ParentsNext17 participants who complete training or education, or participate in employment

[EM008]

20% or higher

Number of ParentsNext participants who complete training or education, or participate in employment, over the number of participants who are engaging in the program.19

Data source: program administrative data, including Department of Social Services declared earnings data
       

Skills and training performance

Outcome statement 2: Promote growth in economic productivity and social wellbeing through access to quality skills and training.

 
Program 2.1 – Building Skills and Capability

The Australian Government is working to create an effective and efficient skills and training system that is industry led and delivers the skills Australian employers need. Building skills and capabilities is central to Australia’s economic growth, competitiveness, and business productivity. The national training system provides employees and potential employees with the skills and capabilities required for a job and pathway into a job.

Key activity Enhance the quality of Years reported in
Program Performance measure Target Methodology 2023–24 2024–25 2025–26 2026–27

2.1

Proportion of graduates who are satisfied with the overall quality of the training

[SK001]
  1. All graduates: 85% or higher
  2. First Nations graduates: 85% or higher
  3. Female graduates: 85% or higher
  1. Number of graduates who were satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of their training, over the total number of graduates.
  2. Number of First Nations graduates who were satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of their training, over the total number of First Nations graduates.
  3. Number of female graduates who were satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of their training, over the total number of female graduates.
Data source: National Centre for Vocational Education Research ( ) Student Outcomes Survey
       

2.1

Proportion of graduates who are employed or enrolled in further study after training

[SK002]
  1. All graduates: 80% or higher
  2. First Nations graduates: 80% or higher
  3. Female graduates: 80% or higher
  1. Number of graduates who had a labour force status of ‘employed’ or were enrolled in further study at the time of the survey, over the total number of graduates.
  2. Number of First Nations graduates who had a labour force status of ‘employed’ or were enrolled in further study at the time of the survey, over the total number of First Nations graduates.
  3. Number of female graduates who had a labour force status of ‘employed’ or were enrolled in further study at the time of the survey, over the total number of female graduates.
Data source: Student Outcomes Survey
       
Key activity Respond to national future skills needs through access to graduates with the required skills Years reported in
Program Performance measure Target Methodology 2023–24 2024–25 2025–26 2026–27

2.1

Maintain the number of apprenticeship commencements

[SK003]

Maintain numbers at pre COVID-19 levels (2019–20 commencements)

Number of apprenticeship commencements in the first 6 months of the financial year compared to the number of commencements for the first 6 months of the reference year.

Data source: , National Apprentice and Trainee Collection
       

2.1

Proportion of employers that report use of the system20

[SK004]

50% or higher

Number of businesses with employees that, in the previous 12 months, have used nationally recognised training, have had apprentices/trainees, or have had jobs that require a vocational qualification, over the total number of businesses with employees.

Data source: statistics, Survey of Employers’ Use and Views of the System (SEUV)
       
Key activity Improve skills for target groups Years reported in
Program Performance measure Target Methodology 2023–24 2024–25 2025–26 2026–27

2.1

Proportion of participant assessments in targeted programs that increase one or more levels on the Australian Core Skills Framework ( ) or the Digital Literacy Skills Framework ( )

[SK005]

80% or higher

Number of assessments undertaken by clients which achieve an increase to their or level in one or more indicators after completing 200 hours or more of training, over the total number of assessments completed by program participants.

Data source: / assessments completed by service providers
       
Program 2.2 – Student Loans

The program aims to remove the up-front cost barriers to training to increase access and participation. This is achieved through the provision of income-contingent loans for students undertaking certain higher level courses.

Key activity Reduce barriers to undertaking quality Years reported in
Program Performance measure Target Methodology 2023–24 2024–25 2025–26 2026–27

2.2

Proportion of student loans students who are satisfied with the quality of their training provider

[SK006]

80% or higher

Number of student loans students who respond to the electronic Commonwealth assistance form ( ) survey and provide an average rating of ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’, over the total number of student loans students who respond to the survey.

Data source: Student survey results
       

2.2

Proportion of student loans students who complete units of study

[SK007]

70% or higher

Number of reported equivalent full-time study load ( ) units of study completed, over the total number of units of study, excluding any ongoing courses.

Data source: program administrative data
       
Program 2.3 – Nuclear-powered Submarine Program

The program establishes a taskforce within the Department to support Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine program under the AUKUS partnership.

Key activity Establish a taskforce to provide advice on utilising Australia’s skills and training system to support the workforce requirements of the submarine program Years reported in
Program Performance measure Target Methodology 2023–24 2024–25 2025–26 2026–27

2.3

Establish a taskforce and commence work in support of the nuclear-powered submarine program21

[SK008]
  1. Taskforce established by 30 September 2023
  2. Initial collaboration and engagement occurs by 30 September 2023

Taskforce is considered established when:

  • leadership is in place – Band 1 commenced in the taskforce
  • staffing is in place – 2 commenced in the taskforce.

Work is considered to have commenced when the Department has communicated with key stakeholders including the Department of Education, the Defence Industry Pathways Program, the South Australian government, , Jobs and Skills Councils and the Department of Defence.

Data source: human resources and departmental record keeping systems
       

Workplace relations performance

Outcome statement 3: Facilitate jobs growth, including secure work, through policies and programs that promote fair, productive and safe workplaces.

 
Program 3.1 – Workplace Support

This program contributes to the outcome through:

  • the promotion of fair workplaces by ensuring the protection of employee entitlements in certain circumstances
  • ensuring the efficient operation of the workplace relations system through initiatives designed to encourage employers and employees to adopt fair, productive, flexible and safe workplace relations.
Key activity Administer and advise on legal and policy frameworks Years reported in
Program Performance measure Target Methodology 2023–24 2024–25 2025–26 2026–27

3.1

Proportion of assessed economic data and analysis to support the effective operation of the workplace relations system that is timely

[WR001]

100%

Timeliness will be assessed on compliance with the following deadlines:

  • the Government’s submission to the Fair Work Commission’s Annual Wage Review submitted by the deadline set by the Fair Work Commission at the start of each Annual Wage Review process
  • each quarterly Trends in Federal Enterprise Bargaining report published on the Department’s website prior to the end of the subsequent quarter (for example, the September quarter report is to be published by 31 December).
Data source: program administrative data
       
Key activity Administer and implement programs and services Years reported in
Program Performance measure Target Methodology 2023–24 2024–25 2025–26 2026–27

3.1

Average processing time for initial claims under the Fair Entitlements Guarantee program

[WR002]

14 weeks or less

Claims are managed in the Fair Entitlements Guarantee ( ) claims database, which records all relevant information relating to the claim and its lodgement, processing and payments. The time between applications and claims being considered effective and processed is calculated by the system. Data is collected continuously and reported monthly. The 14-week timeframe is measured from when a claim is made effective to when a claim decision is made.

This is a proxy measure of efficiency. When combined with WR003 it provides an understanding of the efficiency of this program.

Data source: eFEG system (SmartClient framework)
       

3.1

Proportion of claim payments made under the Fair Entitlements Guarantee program that are correct

[WR003]

95% or higher

The Program Management Office administers an accuracy testing process that is based on assessing the accuracy of a random sample of 40 claim decisions per month. Over the course of a year, the results of these monthly assessments provide an annual measure of claim decision accuracy.

Data source: eFEG (SmartClient framework)
       

3.1

Total Recorded Injury Frequency Rate
( ) collectively reported by companies accredited under the Work Health and Safety Accreditation Scheme

[WR004]

Rate is
lower than the previous calendar year

Accredited companies report to the twice annually on the number of safety incidents that have occurred on their sites and the number of work hours performed. The for all accredited companies is calculated by dividing the total number of safety incidents for all companies by the total number of hours worked. The result is multiplied by 1 million to give a per 1 million work hours. The measure is for the calendar year rather than the financial year.

Data source: Directly from accredited companies
       
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Compliance

Table 4.1: requirements

This corporate plan has been prepared and published in accordance with the requirements of section 35 of the . The following table sets out matters included in compliance with section 16E of the .
Source Matters to be included Section
Introduction

16E(1)

The corporate plan for a Commonwealth entity must cover a period of at least four reporting periods for the entity.

Secretary’s introduction

16E(2)1(a)

The corporate plan must include a statement that the plan is prepared for paragraph 35(1)(b) of the .

Secretary’s introduction

16E(2)1(b)

The corporate plan must specify the reporting period for which the plan is prepared.

Secretary’s introduction

16E(2)1(c)

The corporate plan must specify the reporting periods covered by the plan.

Secretary’s introduction

Purposes

16E(2)2

The corporate plan must state the purposes of the entity.

Our purpose

Key activities

16E(2)3

For the entire period covered by the plan, the corporate plan must outline the key activities that the entity will undertake in order to achieve its purposes.

Our purpose Figure 1.1

Operating context

16E(2)4(a)

For the entire period covered by the plan, the corporate plan must state the environment in which the entity will operate.

Our environment

16E(2)4(b)

For the entire period covered by the plan, the corporate plan must include the strategies and plans the entity will implement to have the capability it needs to undertake its key activities and achieve its purposes.

Our corporate strategies and operations

16E(2)4(c)

For the entire period covered by the plan, the corporate plan must include a summary of the risk oversight and management systems of the entity, and the key risks that the entity will manage and how those risks will be managed.

Embedding a positive risk culture

16E(2)4(d)

For the entire period covered by the plan, the corporate plan must include details of any organisation or body that will make a significant contribution towards achieving the entity’s purposes through cooperation with the entity, including how that cooperation will help achieve those purposes.

Our cooperation and partnerships

16E(2)4(e)

For the entire period covered by the plan, the corporate plan must include how any subsidiary of the entity will contribute to achieving the entity’s purposes.

Not applicable. The Department does not have subsidiaries.

Performance

16E(2)5(a)

For each reporting period covered by the plan, the corporate plan must include details of how the entity’s performance in achieving the entity’s purposes will be measured and assessed through specified performance measures for the entity that meet the requirements of section 16EA of the .

Our performance measures

16E(2)5(b)

For each reporting period covered by the plan, the corporate plan must include details of how the entity’s performance in achieving the entity’s purposes will be measured and assessed through specified targets for each of those performance measures for which it is reasonably practicable to set a target.

Our performance measures

Publication and distribution

16E(3)

The corporate plan must be published on the entity’s website by the last day of the second month of the reporting period for which the plan is prepared.

This corporate plan was published on dewr.gov.au by 31 August 2023

16E(5)

The corporate plan must be given to the responsible Ministers and the Finance Minister.

This corporate plan was given to the responsible Ministers and the Finance Minister prior to publication