Year in review

AEC overview

Report on performance: Outcome 1

Report on performance: Outcome 2

Report on performance: Outcome 3

Management and accountability



Financial statements

Human resources

Updated: 25 November 2010

The AEC's human resources management framework is designed to provide a workforce with the necessary skills, flexibility and diversity to meet the AEC's current and future business needs, assisted by:

  • learning and development opportunities
  • effective communication and sharing of information
  • effective performance management
  • relevant health and safety practices.

Investing In Our People

In 2009–10, 'investing in our people', one of the three themes of the AEC's five-year strategic plan, was translated into a program of goals and activities spanning all aspects of the AEC's human resources management.

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The AEC's individual report from the Australian Public Service Commission's 2008 State of the Service survey provided the AEC with valuable information about staff issues and concerns. While some of the results were positive, others were disappointing. In April 2009, the Electoral Commissioner gave an undertaking that areas of concern to AEC staff would be further explored in a transparent, consultative way.

In July 2009, a series of workshops and focus groups were conducted by independent consultants in Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. The workshops involved staff, who were randomly selected by the consultants, from all levels, roles and regions and from national, divisional and state and territory functional areas.

The consultants subsequently delivered a report identifying six priority areas for the AEC to address through short-, medium- and long-term activities. The six priorities are:

  • leadership and communication
  • learning and development
  • performance management
  • fair and objective decision making
  • engagement/job satisfaction
  • innovation and change.

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Our approach

The AEC recognises that it is part of a changing Australian Public Service and that it needs to stay competitive, to attract and retain high-quality staff, and to be seen as a high-performing organisation.

In August 2009, the Electoral Commissioner launched the AEC's Strategic Plan 2009–2014 and National Business Plan 2009–10. The strategic plan is underpinned by three themes:

  • modernisation of our products and services, and our organisation
  • collaboration with stakeholders
  • investing in our people.

The National Business Plan 2009–10 included nine key action areas to support the 'investing in our people' theme.

Under this strategic and business planning framework, a project team was created to design and implement the comprehensive Investing In Our People (IIOP) program.

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The program

Making the AEC a great place to work for everyone is a serious investment that will continue over several years. The IIOP program includes several phases which will be actioned over the next three years.

The program addresses both the strategic investment in our people direction outlined in the national business plan, and the six priority areas identified through consultations with staff in 2009 (as shown in Figure 12).

Figure 12 Priorities of the Investing In Our People Program

Figure 12

Text description of Figure 12

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Progress in 2009–10

Phase One activities commenced in 2009 and focused on the first two priorities: 'leadership and communication' and 'learning and development'.

The Electoral Commissioner provided regular progress reports to all AEC staff on the IIOP program, using vodcasts (video communication), all-staff emails and news items on the intranet. The Electoral Commissioner emphasised the executive's commitment to action the AEC's values, including 'respect and listen to our clients and stakeholders and each other', and to improve communication practices across all offices through the use of more innovative and dynamic technology.

Phase One of the IIOP program delivered:

  • workshops for the Executive Management Group and state leadership groups, defining roles and agreed behaviours
  • a two-day People Management course for AEC supervisors across all states and territories
  • training of 28 facilitators, representing all states and territories, to assist in delivering corporate training programs for the AEC
  • a range of self-paced learning modules accessible to all staff
  • an awareness program for new employees, incorporating induction modules, presentations and visits to sites of significance to the AEC, such as the Museum of Australian Democracy and the National Electoral Education Centre
  • more advanced communication tools which enable live online meetings, virtual classrooms and desktop training
  • the launch of the Recognition and Rewards program, to acknowledge and celebrate excellent team or individual contributions and promote a culture of continuous improvement.

Other activities in the IIOP program that were also well advanced by 30 June 2010 included:

  • the introduction of the AEC's online performance system, which will be integrated with the learning management system, on 1 July 2010
  • the ongoing development of policies, guidelines and training to support recruitment practices in the AEC.

Investing In Our People

'Investing in our people' is one of the three themes of the AEC Strategic Plan 2009–2014. In 2009–10, the AEC took the first steps in delivering on its commitment to strengthen the abilities, achievements and workplace satisfaction of its staff.

The starting point in this process was an independent report commissioned by the AEC, which explored in greater detail the results in the 2008 State of the Service report produced by the Australian Public Service Commission. On the basis of the independent report, the AEC developed the Investing In Our People program, which was launched in March 2010.

Investing In Our People includes a suite of new learning and development programs, and a program that recognises and rewards the achievements of staff. Investing In Our People was developed with close staff involvement, including issues-based working groups.

The new approach to investing in AEC staff starts from day one of their employment. All new employees now participate in a two-day induction program in the national office in Canberra. Previously, staff in state, territory and divisional offices had been expected to gain a national perspective of the AEC's work from their home bases. The new induction program is a simple initiative, but one that should make a significant contribution to the knowledge base and sense of inclusion of new AEC staff throughout Australia.

The vast geographical spread of AEC staff – located in around 130 sites across Australia – has also been addressed in Investing In Our People. The traditional face-to-face approach to staff training has been replaced with a highly flexible system. Staff now have access to virtual classrooms and self-paced learning packages, delivered online, to supplement facilitator-led classes. In the first half of 2010, the AEC conducted 'train-the-trainer' courses for 28 of its staff, enabling them to work as corporate trainers within the organisation.

'Learning Pathways' are being developed for all roles and classifications in the AEC to guide staff in their selection of training courses. Some of the new courses, such as 'Integrity Matters' – promoting equity and fairness in decision-making – are compulsory for all staff.

The 'Recognition and Rewards' component of Investing In Our People comprises informal and formal awards, including new national and local achievement awards. The system is closely linked to the AEC's performance management program, which has also been reassessed and improved. The first national excellence awards for the AEC were announced in July 2010.

Investing In Our People will continue to be developed, implemented and assessed throughout 2010–11, and new courses, such as ethical decision-making and mandatory training for selection committees, will be introduced.

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Workforce planning

Workforce planning was undertaken in all national office branches and state offices in 2009–10. The workforce plan has become a feature of business planning. It assists branches and states to focus on staff development, retention and attraction, and to identify workforce management priorities for the year ahead.

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In 2009–10, the AEC's recruitment and selection policy, procedures and practices were reviewed, and systems were improved. The AEC capability framework was implemented, to provide for more efficient, merit-based and transparent recruitment.

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Policy and framework

Feedback from formal and informal staff consultation about AEC recruitment, as part of the IIOP program, revealed high levels of concern around the transparency of decision making, equal access to employment opportunities, the application of merit and, in some cases, panel composition.

In 2009–10, the AEC commenced a review of its employment policy and guidelines to address those issues while providing sufficient flexibility to allow state managers and branch heads to meet their business and recruitment needs.

The new policy and guidelines are expected to be launched in 2010–11 and will be supported with training packages for selection panels. They require all members of selection panels, as well as delegates, to complete online appropriate training before participating in recruitment processes. The training packages are designed to assist panel members, chairs and delegates to achieve high-quality recruitment and selection decisions.

During 2009–10, the AEC implemented the capability framework which was developed in 2008–09. The framework tools were used by managers:

  • to identify and describe capabilities required by staff – for example, when establishing selection documentation and role descriptions
  • to map the priority areas for learning and development programs.

The successful implementation of the capability framework, which includes new selection criteria for all Australian Public Service (APS) and Executive-level positions, brings AEC recruitment practices more into line with APS best practice.

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The AEC complied with the recruitment advertising guidelines issued by the Department of Finance and Deregulation, which took effect from 1 July 2009, and adopted nationally consistent branding and design of advertisements. In line with new guidelines which will take effect from 1 July 2010, the AEC revised its advertising practices and templates and developed new procedures for non-campaign advertising. An online advertising package purchased in 2009–10 has proven to be a cost-effective option for reaching a wider audience.

In 2009–10, 160 vacancies were advertised, across national, state and divisional offices, as shown in Figure 13.

Figure 13 Vacancies advertised in 2009–10

Figure 13:

Text description of Figure 13

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The use of a common access drive on the AEC's computer network, introduced in July 2009 to provide access to applications for selection panel members, has proven to be time, cost and resource effective.

Also in July 2009, the AEC commenced collecting monthly recruitment statistics, to facilitate reporting on timelines and processes and to measure and improve performance in finalising recruitment activities.

A new online recruitment system for temporary staff employed to assist with polling at federal elections was developed during 2009–10 and is expected to be fully implemented in July 2010. The system will enable prospective polling officials to express interest in, apply for, and accept election work with the AEC; and will enable the AEC to communicate with polling officials by email and SMS.

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Targeted recruitment

In 2009–10, 19 positions were advertised for field officers and field officer coordinators for the AEC's Indigenous Electoral Participation Program, and Indigenous people were strongly encouraged to apply. In total, 240 applications were received; of the 19 successful candidates, 16 are Indigenous Australians.

The AEC successfully recruited 10 outstanding scholars, including four IT specialists, to its graduate program. In addition, the AEC is supporting two participants in the APS Information and Communications Technology Apprenticeship Program.

During 2009–10, in preparation for the 2010 federal election, the AEC refreshed its register of expressions of interest for people interested in electoral work. Other materials to be used to promote work in the AEC were also developed to ensure sufficient numbers of staff can be identified.

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The AEC's employee retention rate for ongoing staff in 2009–10 was 90.8 percent, an increase compared with 88.5 percent in 2008–09 and 86 percent in 2007–08. (The retention rate of 84.4 percent reported for 2008–09 in the Annual Report 2008–09 was calculated using data for both ongoing and non-ongoing AEC staff.)

In 2009–10, a range of strategies were implemented to promote and encourage the retention of mature-aged staff with the skills and experience valued by the AEC, including flexible working arrangements.

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Employment agreements

The majority of AEC employees are covered by the AEC Enterprise Agreement 2010–11 which took effect on 23 June 2010. Employees who agreed to conditionally terminate their Australian Workplace Agreements as part of the negotiations are now covered by the enterprise agreement.

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Collective agreement

During 2009–10, the AEC Collective Agreement 2007–10 applied to all AEC staff below senior executive level who are employed under the Public Service Act. This agreement was replaced by the AEC Enterprise Agreement 2010–11, with a salary increase of 3 percent to apply from 1 July 2010.

The salary ranges for each classification under the AEC Collective Agreement 2007–10 are shown in Table 38.

Table 38 AEC Collective Agreement 2007–10 salary ranges, by classification, 30 June 2010
Classificatio Remuneration band ($)
Executive Level 2 96 751–112 771
Executive Level 1 83 925–94 575
APS Level 6 67 203–75 320
APS Level 5 60 709–66 532
APS Level 4 54 431–59 648
APS Level 3 48 837–53 519
APS Level 2 42 875–47 548
APS Level 1 37 885–41 872

APS = Australian Public Service

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Collective determination

The AEC also reviewed the terms and conditions for polling staff to ensure compliance with the Fair Work Act 2009. The new conditions will be applied for the period of the 2010 election and are covered by a collective determination set by the Electoral Commissioner under s.35 of the Electoral Act. From time to time, the AEC uses its employment powers under s.35 of the Electoral Act to recruit temporary staff as required for the purposes of:

  • the conduct of an election, referendum, ballot or roll review; or
  • the conduct of education and information programs to promote awareness of electoral and parliamentary matters.

During 2009–10, the AEC conducted two by-elections. The total number of temporary staff employed for the period was 629, totalling 1 180.75 hours (157.45 full-time equivalent).

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Australian Workplace Agreements

The classifications and numbers of staff who continue to be covered by Australian Workplace Agreements are shown in Table 39.

Table 39 Employees covered by Australian Workplace Agreements, 30 June 2010
Classification Staff covered
Senior Executive Service 2
Executive levels 1–2 1
APS levels 1–6 0
Total 3

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Section 24(1) determinations

In 2009–10, the terms and conditions of employment of eight Senior Executive Service (SES) employees were set by individual determinations under s.24(1) of the Public Service Act.

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Performance pay

All salary progression in the AEC is subject to meeting required performance standards. The AEC did not offer performance bonuses to employees below the SES level in 2009–10.

In previous years, the Electoral Commissioner determined performance pay for those statutory appointees designated as Principal Executive Office holders under the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973, in accordance with parameters set by the Remuneration Tribunal. However, consistent with government policy and in accordance with the trends in other agencies, the Electoral Commissioner consulted with the Remuneration Tribunal and determined new remuneration packages that excluded any provision for performance bonuses for this category of employee. The new packages provide for an increase in fortnightly remuneration with a resultant increase in salary for superannuation.

The Electoral Commissioner also determines performance pay for senior executive level and SES staff employed under the Electoral Act or the Public Service Act, in accordance with the AEC's senior executive performance appraisal guidelines and remuneration policy. It is intended that performance bonuses for these employees also be rolled into total remuneration packages for 2010–11.

A total of eight statutory appointees and nine senior executives were eligible for performance pay during 2009–10, for performance in the 2008–09 financial year. The aggregate amount paid for the year was $308 068. The performance pay average was 11 percent of the employee's total remuneration, with the minimum payment being $2 921 and the maximum $35 141. Due to the small number of executives in each classification band, the AEC has not disaggregated the payment of performance bonus information. Executive salary rates are shown in Table 37.

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Staff development

Learning and development, as one of the priority areas of the IIOP program, received particular attention in the AEC in 2009–10. Table 40 describes the new, targeted activities delivered under that program during the year.

Table 40 New learning and development programs launched in 2009–10

National Awareness Program (Induction)

A blended learning solution that welcomes and introduces new employees into the organisation, its systems and its programs.

Includes detailed information for new starters and their managers, self-paced online courses, a buddy system and Introduction to the AEC, a face-to-face session at the national office where participants meet the Electoral Commissioner and other members of the Executive Management Team.


Facilitator-led course designed to prepare selected AEC staff as facilitators to present interactive training sessions as required by their state/territory or branch.

People Management

Face-to-face sessions for managers, covering topics such as motivation and engagement.

Election Awareness

A suite of online and self-paced courses for all staff, covering industrial elections; fee-for-service elections; and protected action ballots.

Election Delivery

A suite of online and self-paced courses for all staff, covering the conduct of the federal election. Implementation was staged to support activities in the simulated election.

Integrity Matters

A suite of online courses for all staff, covering APS Code of Conduct and Values; ethical behaviours; knowledge of privacy; and knowledge of fraud.

The AEC purchased a learning management system that has enabled the AEC to place different blended learning solutions – such as facilitator-led training, self-paced learning and e-learning – in one location. The tool provides a calendar of learning, enables employees to choose the method of learning that best suits their learning style, tracks enrolment status, and enables proper assessment and evaluation of training methodologies and learning.

Through the newly acquired learning management system, polling officials will be able to access their training modules for the 2010 federal election through a portal known as Checkpoint. A best practice approach was followed in designing and developing the modules, to create a training package that is both dynamic and user-friendly. With training available online and in hard-copy workbooks, polling officials will benefit from a stronger focus on individual learning styles and increased capacity to access materials.

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Seminar series

In 2009–10, the Electoral Commissioner supported a series of monthly seminars for AEC staff as part of the AEC's commitment to 'investing in our people', one of the three key themes in the organisation's strategic plan.

The Electoral Commissioner has been keen to give AEC staff the opportunity to observe and listen to leaders in the Australian Public Service and in state public sector organisations. He wrote to a number of agency heads to invite them to speak at the monthly seminars. He also invited state-based electoral officials to share their experiences and perspectives.

From June 2009 through to July 2010, 10 guest speakers spoke on a broad range of issues of interest to AEC staff. The seminars were a mix of corporate or generic topics and electorally focused subjects.

Mr Mick Keelty APM, the then Commissioner, Australian Federal Police, gave a presentation on leadership in incident management and on his work in East Timor, Indonesia and Solomon Islands.

Ms Lynelle Briggs, the then Australian Public Service Commissioner, spoke on the 2008 State of the Service employee survey results and the AEC.

Mr Andrew Metcalfe, Secretary, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, linked his department's experiences to the AEC's themes of modernisation, collaboration, and investing in our people.

Mr Colin Barry, New South Wales Electoral Commissioner, spoke on his work as a state electoral commissioner and on the relationship between state electoral commissions and the AEC.

Other guests spoke on leadership, change or risk management, and their experiences of and insights into overseas elections, their work in central agencies or their management of large agencies.

The seminars, which are held in Old Parliament House in Canberra, have been well attended by AEC staff and received very positively by them. Staff have taken advantage of the question and answer sessions at the end of each presentation to interact with guest speakers in an informal and relaxed setting.

The Electoral Commissioner, who attended most presentations, has had sessions filmed so that he can share them with state and divisional office staff. The videos give those staff the opportunity to see national office-based people with whom they may have interacted by phone and email.

The seminars will continue in 2010–11, but with a break over the federal election period.

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Performance management

The performance management program which will commence on 1 July 2010 is an important component of the IIOP program. It is designed to support the AEC's change and business reform agenda and to promote continuous improvement of individual and organisational performance.

Building on the results of previous consultations, a series of working parties was convened in early 2010 to progress the development of the program. The working parties focused on:

  • the overall look and feel of the program
  • the proposed policy and guidelines
  • job profiles for staff based in divisional offices
  • customisation and user-testing of the online program tools
  • the proposed content of performance management training.

The program will be reviewed and refined in 2011.

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Staff consultation

The AEC has both state/territory and national consultative forums as a formal mechanism to consult with employees about workplace issues that affect them. Elections are held to select employee representatives, who may self-nominate to participate. The employee representatives on the national consultative forum are elected by staff.

As well as the formal national consultative forum, significant consultation was undertaken with staff as part of the negotiation of a new enterprise agreement. Membership of the negotiation committee included managers, employees and union representatives.

The AEC also uses a variety of tools – such as internal surveys, workshops, dedicated email addresses and online discussion forums – to seek feedback on its products and services and on proposed changes to the way it does business. In 2009–10, these included:

  • a survey on internal communication methods and preferences
  • opportunities to have input to the Mobilise the Franchise project
  • workshops to consider how the AEC will do business in future.

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Occupational health and safety

In 2009–10, the AEC maintained its commitment to ensuring the health and safety of all its employees through its policies for the management of compensable and non-compensable injuries and illnesses. The OHS and Injury Management Plan 2008–10 assisted the AEC in tracking its occupational health and safety (OHS) performance. The Health and Safety Management Arrangements are now embedded into the organisation with further elections, as well as a review of the arrangements themselves, due late in 2010.

The AEC also continues to promote good management of health and safety, planning, evaluation and a high level of commitment by staff at all levels. A national OHS conference was hosted in May 2010, with an emphasis on refreshing information and knowledge and on OHS and election readiness. A new branding for all OHS documentation was launched: Our people and places counting on you. This will be used for all correspondence, to reiterate the AEC's commitment to OHS in the workplace.

More information on the AEC's OHS policies, claims management, initiatives and outcomes is provided in Appendix C.

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Workplace diversity

The AEC's commitment to workplace diversity is outlined in the AEC Service Charter; the AEC Enterprise Agreement 2010–11; the Workplace Diversity Program 2007–10; the Disability Action Plan 2008–11; recruitment and selection guidelines; and the induction program. The main objective of the Workplace Diversity Plan 2007–10 is to establish how the AEC will give effect to the principles outlined in its workplace diversity policy and will provide a harmonious, safe and productive environment.

The AEC promotes retention processes that address issues of diversity and reward candidates on the basis of merit. Individuals from under-represented backgrounds (for example people with disabilities, Indigenous Australians and people from culturally diverse backgrounds) have been encouraged to build careers in the AEC.

The AEC provides flexible working conditions to its employees; findings from the Australian Public Service Commission's 2008 State of the Service employee survey confirmed that flexibility is one of the most important workplace attributes impacting on job satisfaction in the AEC. The survey also revealed that 73 percent believe that the AEC workplace culture supports achievement of a good work–life balance.

Table 41 shows the representation of particular groups by proportion of total staff members and classification at 30 June 2010, while Figure 14 and Figure 15 show trends in the representation of the same groups over the past five years.

Table 41 Workplace diversity profile, 30 June 2010
  Total staffa Female CLDB ATSI PWD
Senior Executive Service staff and Australian Electoral Officers 20 8 2 0 1
Executive Level 2 42 19 1 0 0
Executive Level 1 116 57 12 0 1
APS Level 6 250 119 10 2 5
APS Level 5 73 37 6 2 1
APS Level 4 67 44 5 0 1
APS Level 3 185 145 9 1 1
APS Level 2 179 165 8 1 2
APS Level 1 2 0 0 0 2
Total 934 594 53 6 14
Proportion of total (%) 100.0 63.6 5.7 0.6 1.5

ATSI = people from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds; CLDB = self-identified people from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds; PWD = people with disabilities. A staff member could be classified under more than one heading.

a Includes all staff (operative, inoperative, ongoing and non-ongoing) employed under the Public Service Act 1999, senior executive staff engaged under both s.35(1)(b) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and the Public Service Act 1999 and Australian Electoral Officers in the AEC on 30 June 2010.

Source: PayGlobal HR System as at 1 July 2010.

Figure 14 Diversity target groups as a proportion of total staff, 2005–06 to 2009–10

Figure 14

Text description of Figure 14

ATSI = people from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds; CLDB = self-identified people from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds; PWD = people with disabilities. A staff member could be classified under more than one heading.

Figure 15 Male and female employees as a proportion of total staff, 2005–06 to 2009–10

FIgure 15: stacked bar graph

Text description of Figure 15