Year in review

AEC overview

Report on performance: Program 1.1 Electoral roll management

Report on performance: Program 1.2 Election management and support services

Report on performance: Program 1.3 Education and communication

Management and accountability

Financial statements



Human resources

Updated: 18 October 2011

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

'Investing in our people' is one of the three enabling themes of the AEC's five-year strategic plan. The theme has been translated into a program of goals and activities, in three phases. Phase Two was rolled out in 2010–11.

The program

The Investing in Our People (IIOP) program includes six priority areas identified through the Australian Public Service Commission's State of the service employee survey results 2008–09 and refined through in-depth consultations with staff in 2009. The priority areas are:

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

Progress in 2010–11

The AEC uses the results of the Australian Public Service Commission's annual employee survey to monitor the effectiveness of the IIOP program. Following some small gains in 2009, the results of the 2010 survey provided clear evidence that the program is making a positive difference. A clear vote of confidence in the program was illustrated by the 71 per cent of AEC survey respondents who said they were very confident that the organisation was addressing issues identified in last year's survey. This is an outstanding result compared to the Australian Public Service (APS) average confidence level of 19 per cent.

The delivery of some components of Phase Two was delayed by the conduct of the 2010 federal election and the development of a new enterprise agreement for the AEC, both of which saw the redeployment of IIOP staff to other roles in the AEC. The components that were delayed will be incorporated into Phase Three of the program, which will begin in 2011–12.

The AEC continues to face challenges in addressing capability gaps for supervisors, in areas such as managing performance effectively, cultivating productive working relationships and recognising staff members' work contributions and achievements. In 2010, a course in people management was delivered at locations across all states and territories, and a new recognition and rewards program was introduced. These activities will be complemented by a management performance course, piloted in mid-2011, which will become compulsory for all AEC supervisors from 2011–12.

The IIOP's other achievements in 2010–11 comprised:

  • delivering Integrity Matters, an online course for all staff that covers topics such as fraud, the APS Values and Code of Conduct, and the AEC values,
  • delivering mandatory selection panel training for panel chairs, members and delegates,
  • launching the Commissioner's Development Fund, which provides funding for a range of development opportunities to increase leadership capabilities by fostering the personal development and retention of talented employees,
  • implementing policies, guidelines and training to support recruitment practices in the AEC, including a booklet designed to take participants through APS selection processes and develop skills that improve selection opportunities,
  • revising financial delegations to increase the authority of a wide range of managers, including divisional office managers, and
  • further developing job profiles relevant to the state and divisional office network.

Staff development

Learning and development, particularly for polling officials and divisional office staff, received particular attention in the AEC in 2010–11.

Training for polling staff

The AEC faces two major challenges in preparing polling officials to work on a federal election: they are a culturally, generationally and geographically diverse group, and their training must be undertaken within limited timeframes.

Feedback after the 2007 federal election indicated that a more flexible approach to training polling staff for federal election events was needed, and that other electoral management bodies in Australia have improved the accessibility and delivery of election training. Informed by these lessons, and in consultation with instructional design experts, the AEC developed a blended learning solution to provide a more flexible learning program for polling staff in 2010.

The training program for polling staff was rolled out to the divisional office network in early July 2010. Following the announcement of the 2010 federal election 10 days later, a decision was taken to continue with the training program, given the level of investment made by the AEC and the feedback from the previous election.

During the election period and at post-election conferences, the AEC received substantial feedback on the challenges that confronted divisional staff and polling officials using the new training program. The feedback indicated that, although the development of online training was a great leap forward, some aspects required further review and consideration.

Following a post-implementation review, a working party comprising divisional, state and national office staff recommended a series of improvements to the program. A revised polling official training program was developed for divisional staff in 2011, with a focus on being ready should an early election be called. The online content was reduced to critical procedures. The working party is continuing to develop a full program for release in 2011–12.

New learning and development programs

Three new learning and development programs began during 2010–11:

  • Election Awareness – a suite of online, self-paced courses for all staff, covering industrial elections, fee-for-service elections, and protected action ballots,
  • Ethical Decision Making – a facilitator-led program that provides a framework for decision making and an introduction to ethics, covering the APS Code of Conduct, the impact and limitations of decisions, the APS REFLECT model, and resources such as the Ethics Advisory Service, and
  • Selection Panel – an online, mandatory training program for selection panel chairs, members and delegates.

Workforce planning

In April 2010, all branches within the National Office and state offices were issued with data and supporting documentation to assist in the development of their workforce plans, which enables workforce planning, business planning and budgeting to be considered collectively as part of the planning cycle. This assists managers to integrate workforce planning strategies into their business plan activities and to inform the People Services Branch of workforce capability gaps which need to be addressed across the AEC.

During 2010–11, the AEC developed a draft approach for the development of a plan to incorporate both strategies and operational elements for people and workforce management. The People Plan will provide a vision to align people management practices and set directions for management activities in the short term and the medium term. It will articulate a vision not only for the AEC's current staff but also for future staff.


The AEC employs staff under the Public Service Act 1999 and the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. Recruitment strategies and practices are tailored to meet the requirements of each employment framework and the needs of the business areas.


During 2010–11, the recruitment team continued to focus on initiatives to improve the quality of recruitment outcomes. From October to December 2010, the AEC released a revised policy, specific supporting documentation (including guidelines and step-by-step procedures) and an online training program. Following the release of the documents, a significant reduction in the period from advertising a vacancy to identifying the successful candidate was achieved.

Since the release of online selection panel training in 2010, 46 staff have undertaken online training for the role of chairperson and 112 for the role of panel member.


The AEC complies with guidelines issued by the Department of Finance and Deregulation regarding the use of composite advertisements for recruitment. In addition, the AEC has moved towards greater use of online advertising media to ensure that recruitment advertising reaches prospective candidates to whom newspaper-based advertising would not appeal.

In 2010–11, 135 vacancies in national, state and divisional offices were advertised, as shown in Figure 15. This was a decrease of 10.6 per cent compared to 151 vacancies in 2009–10.

Figure 15 Vacancies advertised in 2009–10 and 2010–11

Figure 15 Vacancies advertised in 2009–10 and 2010–11

Text description of Figure 15


During 2009–10, the AEC developed AEC Employment, a new online recruitment system for temporary staff. The system was commissioned in July 2010 and used to recruit and manage temporary staff for the 2010 federal election. The system allows applicants to express interest in election work, complete their details online and accept offers of employment from the AEC. The system allows the AEC to communicate with applicants by email and SMS, and to organise replacements for staff if they become unavailable up to or on polling day.

A post-implementation review, considering feedback from the AEC's post-election evaluation conferences, commenced in September 2010. A working party was formed to address concerns raised by divisional staff about the timing and usability of the systems release. A revised system, launched in April 2011, addressed the highest priority issues raised. A third release is planned for July 2011 to address a remaining recommendation from the review. This will ensure that the system is election-ready and can be used by state and divisional office staff to prepare for the next election.

Targeted recruitment

The uncertainty of the timing of elections makes early recruitment of temporary staff difficult. The AEC refreshed its register of expressions of interest in 2009–10 and used that information as the basis for planning and preliminary allocations of staff for the 2010 federal election.

To prepare for and conduct the 2010 federal election, the AEC employed 66 874 temporary staff (65 962 in 2007). The announcement of the federal election on 17 July provided 35 days for the AEC to finalise recruitment and train staff for polling day on 21 August.

Completing recruitment and training on such a scale and in such a small timeframe presents some challenges. The changes that the AEC made to its processes and systems for the 2010 election were designed to address those challenges. Having the new system operating and accessible from the AEC's website stimulated significant interest in election employment and provided a large pool of new expressions of interest.

The AEC aims to fill the positions of officer-in-charge of polling place first, as they are the key to successful polling. In 2010, 98.65 per cent of these positions were finalised before polling day. Analysis shows that it was easier for the AEC to fill the roles for medium to larger polling places than for smaller polling places.

For the 2010 federal election, using the new system, 25.91 per cent of offers were accepted on the day they were sent, and 65.55 per cent were accepted within five days of being sent. This compares very favourably to the 2007 federal election, which relied on post, in which 3.66 per cent of offers were accepted on the day they were sent and 25.82 per cent were accepted within five days.

Past election experience is very valuable, given the length of time between electoral events. For the 2010 election, 51.48 per cent of polling staff indicated that they had previous election experience, and 45.7 per cent said that they had been employed during the 2007 election.

The AEC also seeks a range of staff with languages other than English. Among 2010 election staff, 9.55 per cent spoke a second language and a further 1.72 per cent spoke a third language.

Graduate Recruitment Program

Graduate recruitment is an integral component of succession planning in the AEC, which aims to achieve advances in organisational capability and capacity for innovation in delivering a world-class electoral service.

The key elements of the graduate program include undertaking a major project with links to core business and completing the Diploma of Government. Nine of the AEC's 10 recruits from the 2010 intake successfully completed the program, attaining the Diploma in Government. All 10 remain with the AEC.

The 2010 graduates were able to experience the full range of AEC electoral activities during the 2010 federal election. They undertook short-term placements in various divisional and state offices; polling places in urban, rural and remote locations, including among Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory; the National Tally Room; and the Election Visitor Program. This broad experience further cemented the graduates' place within the AEC.

Each year, the projects undertaken by graduates are assessed by the Australian Public Service Commission, and the best are identified for special mention. A team of AEC graduates was in the top five teams across the APS for the 2010 calendar year. Another measure of success was the involvement, in both 2010 and 2011, of AEC graduates in the Great APS Graduate Debate.

In 2011, the AEC recruited 13 graduates from a field of more than 130 applicants. Of the 13, four are IT specialists and one is an Indigenous graduate.

Group photo of 2011 Graduates

2011 Graduates
Back row (L to R): Bo Pang, Evan Ekin-Smyth, Nic Tofoni, Steven Thompson, Jess Carney, Megan Leahy, Beth Parkin, Kimberley Hare
Front row (L to R): Malama Gray, Sukanthan Aravindan, Adam Fitzgibbons, Karla Bransky
Absent: Amy Brougham


The AEC's employee retention rate for ongoing staff in 2010–11 was 89.2 per cent, a decrease from 90.8 per cent in 2009–10.

Employment agreements

The majority of AEC employees are covered by the AEC Enterprise Agreement 2010–11. As at 30 June 2011, the bargaining phase of a new three-year agreement (2011–14) was complete, and the agreement was progressing through final drafting stages.

The salary ranges for each classification under the AEC Enterprise Agreement 2010–11 are shown in Table 36.

Table 36 AEC Enterprise Agreement 2010–11 salary ranges, by classification, 30 June 2011
Classification Remuneration band ($)
Executive Level 2 99 654–116 154
Executive Level 1 86 443–97 412
APS Level 6 69 219–77 580
APS Level 5 62 530–68 528
APS Level 4 56 064–61 437
APS Level 3 50 302–55 125
APS Level 2 44 161–48 974
APS Level 1 39 022–43 128

APS = Australian Public Service.

Collective determination

From time to time, the AEC uses its employment powers under s.35 of the Electoral Act to recruit temporary staff. In 2010–11, this option was primarily exercised in relation to the 2010 federal election. Terms and conditions for this type of employment are covered by collective determination set by the Electoral Commissioner under s.35 of the Electoral Act.

During 2010–11, the AEC considered the use of s.35 employment and decided that some irregular and intermittent work should be offered under the Public Service Act 1999 and covered by the AEC enterprise agreement in future. A project commenced in May 2011 to manage the transition of employees to the new arrangements and ensure that their issues are included in the negotiation of the new enterprise agreement.

Australian Workplace Agreements

The classifications and numbers of AEC staff who continue to be covered by Australian Workplace Agreements are shown in Table 37.

Table 37 Employees covered by Australian Workplace Agreements, 30 June 2011
Classification Staff covered
Senior Executive Service 2
Executive levels 1–2 0
Australian Public Service levels 1–6 0
Total 2

Section 24(1) determinations

In 2010–11, 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.

Individual flexibility arrangements

The AEC Enterprise Agreement 2010–11 provided scope for the Electoral Commissioner to agree to an 'individual flexibility arrangement' with an employee, in relation to one or more of the following matters:

  • arrangements about when work is performed
  • overtime rates
  • penalty rates
  • allowances
  • leave loading.

The arrangements provide flexibility to meet the genuine needs of the AEC and individual employees. During 2010–11, two employees entered into individual flexibility arrangements allowing for the payment of allowances specific to their roles and/or locations.

Performance pay

All salary progression in the AEC is subject to meeting required performance standards.

Prior to 2009–10, the Electoral Commissioner determined performance pay for those statutory appointees designated as Principal Executive Officer holders under the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973, in accordance with parameters set by the Remuneration Tribunal. However, consistent with government policy and trends in other agencies, during 2009–10 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. From 2 March 2010, Principal Executive Officers remuneration was increased as a result of rolling in performance bonuses.

The Electoral Commissioner also determined performance pay for executive level and SES staff employed under the Electoral Act or Public Service Act 1999, in accordance with the AEC's senior executive performance appraisal guidelines and remuneration policy. Effective from 1 July 2010, performance bonuses for these employees were rolled into total remuneration packages.

A total of nine statutory appointees and eight senior executives were paid performance pay during 2010–11, for performance in the 2009–10 financial year prior to bonuses being rolled into total remuneration packages. The aggregated amount paid for the year was $251 833. The performance pay average was 10.6 per cent of the employee's total remuneration, with the minimum payment being $2 587 and the maximum being $29 049. 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 34.

The AEC did not offer performance bonuses to any other employees during 2010–11.

Performance management

The AEC's new Performance Management Program was introduced for the 2010–11 performance cycle. The simplified program focuses on the provision of ongoing feedback and the development of positive and productive working relationships to enhance performance, and is complemented by the new Recognition and Rewards program.

The Performance Management Program is also supported by:

  • the implementation of a new electronic performance system, through which employees develop individual performance and development plans and complete performance reviews. The performance system links to the AEC's learning management system, which enables enrolment in internal courses, assessment of learning, and evaluation of those courses.
  • the development of a series of job profiles for operational staff, which provide a comprehensive 'this is your job' overview. The job profiles identify responsibilities, key activities and tasks, performance standards, and technical and generic capabilities for each role.

To assist AEC managers to develop required capabilities in managing performance, a performance management course for supervisors was developed and piloted in 2010–11 and will be rolled out across the AEC in 2011–12.

Staff consultation

The AEC has state/territory and national consultative forums as formal mechanisms for consulting 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.

Occupational health and safety

The AEC is committed to providing and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace in order to meet its responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991. The health and safety management arrangements for the agency have been reviewed and where possible updated to reflect the introduction of the new national legal framework for work health and safety that is expected to take effect on 1 January 2012. The new arrangements include:

  • revised terms of office for health and safety representatives,
  • a risk management model for the AEC, and
  • the health and safety committee structure.

As in previous federal election years, the AEC focused on health and safety in preparing for and delivering the federal election in 2010. A range of communication strategies were implemented to ensure that key messages reminding staff to look after themselves and others were delivered. The messages included information relating to:

  • manual handling
  • slips, trips and falls
  • reducing fatigue
  • meal breaks
  • incident reporting
  • the use of the Employee Assistance Program.

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

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 was to establish how the AEC would give effect to the principles outlined in its workplace diversity policy and provide for a harmonious, safe and productive environment. The Workplace Diversity Program will be reviewed and updated in 2011–12, in line with recommendations from the AEC Disability Advisory Committee.

The AEC's network of workplace harassment officers, OHS officers and health and safety representatives has been alerted to disability issues and is responsive to the principles identified in the Disability Action Plan 2008–11. The Disability Action Plan will be assessed and reviewed during 2012.

The AEC provides flexible working conditions for its employees and promotes retention processes that address issues of diversity and reward candidates on the basis of merit. Individuals from under-represented groups (for example, people with disabilities, Indigenous Australians and people from culturally diverse backgrounds) have been encouraged to build careers in the AEC, consistent with social inclusion principles. This practice is supported by mandatory selection panel training that focuses on eliminating discrimination in employment and offering reasonable adjustment for people with a disability.

The AEC is committed to increasing Indigenous employment and thereby reducing disadvantage among Indigenous Australians, as part of the Australian Government's wider policy objective of bridging the gap between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. The AEC has undertaken significant work to define the scope of and to draft a reconciliation action plan. The AEC's Indigenous Electoral Participation Program has allowed the AEC access to a larger group of Indigenous employees, whose input during the development of the plan has been both sought and appreciated. It is expected that the reconciliation action plan will be published in 2011–12.

Table 38 shows the representation of particular groups as proportions of total staff numbers and classifications at 30 June 2010. Figure 16 and Figure 17 show trends in the representation of the same groups over the past five years.

Table 38 Workplace diversity profile, 30 June 2011
  Total staffa Female CLDB ATSI PWD
Senior Executive Service staff and Australian electoral officers 20 9 2 0 1
Executive Level 2 41 18 1 0 0
Executive Level 1 108 55 11 2 1
APS Level 6 238 127 13 5 5
APS Level 5 71 34 4 12 1
APS Level 4 71 46 5 0 0
APS Level 3 180 143 9 2 2
APS Level 2 184 171 11 1 1
APS Level 1 3 0 0 0 0
Total 916 603 56 22 11
Proportion of total (%) 100.0 65.8 6.1 2.4 1.2

APS = Australian Public Service, ATSI = people from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds; CLDB = self-identified people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; PWD = people with disabilities.

a Includes all staff (operative, inoperative, ongoing and non-ongoing) employed under the Public Service Act 1999, and the Public Service Act 1999, and Australian Electoral Officers in the AEC on 30 June 2011, based on the information supplied by the employees on commencement. Numbers in the CLDB, ATSI and PWD categories are minimums, as not all staff that could belong to one of those groups identify themselves in that way.

Note: A staff member could be classified under more than one heading.

Source: PayGlobal HR System.

Figure 16 Trends in diversity target groups as proportions of total staff, 2006–07 to 2010–11

Figure 16 Trends in diversity target groups as proportions of total staff, 2006–07 to 2010–11

Text description of Figure 16

ATSI = people from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds; CLDB = self-identified people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; PWD = people with disabilities.

Note: A staff member could be classified under more than one heading.

Figure 17 Male and female employees as proportions of total staff, 2006–07 to 2010–11

Figure 17 Male and female employees as proportions of total staff, 2006–07 to 2010–11

Text description of Figure 17