Our planning framework and reporting mechanisms are illustrated in Figure 8.

Figure 8: Planning, operating and reporting framework

Figure 8: Planning, operating and reporting framework
Table 39: Corporate and business planning documents
Type of document Purpose Reviewed

Business continuity plans

Ensure the continuation of identified critical business functions during and following any critical incident that results in disruption to normal operations

Every three years (or sooner in the event of a major restructure)

Corporate fraud control plan

Identifies areas of corporate fraud risk and sets out strategies to prevent or minimise the incidence and impacts of corporate fraud

Every two years

Corporate IT plan

Provides direction for IT development activities

Every three years

Disability Inclusion Strategy1

Identifies the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 target outcomes that are relevant for the AEC

Not yet defined

Election preparation plan

Sets out and monitors the program of activity required to maintain election readiness

Every election cycle

Electoral fraud control plan

Sets out strategies to prevent or minimise the effects of electoral offences that may affect the result of elections

Every two years

Health and safety action plan

Sets out the activities that underpin our health and safety management arrangements

Every three years

National business plan

Provides high-level guidance on the strategic priorities for the year

Annually

Property plan

Provides direction for the long-term management of leased property

Annually

Reconciliation action plan

Identifies key activities to create an environment of respect and recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Every three years

Risk plan

Identifies areas of business risk and specifies how risks will be managed

Annually

Security plan

Sets out strategies to protect staff, visitors, information, equipment and premises against harm, loss, interference and compromise

Annually

Strategic internal audit plan

Sets out the program of compliance and performance audits for the financial year

Annually

Workplace diversity plan

Sets out a program of activities to enable recognition and valuing of individual differences in the workplace

Every four years

  1. The Disability Inclusion Strategy is in draft and will replace the Disability Action Plan.

Strategic drivers

Strategic Plan

The AEC Strategic Plan 2009–2014 identifies the strategic themes that drive our work programs and performance:

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

The strategic plan provided focus for our activities this year, both business-as-usual and change programs. Activities were managed through the AEC’s business plans.

The three themes of modernisation, collaboration and investing in our people are the key drivers for change in the AEC. The themes are addressed in the national business plan and in a range of other business and program plans, which are developed at national, branch, state and divisional levels.

In 2011–12, we reviewed all of our priority activities against our strategic objectives and our obligations to demonstrate preparedness for both a federal election and a possible referendum. This review will result in a more focused national business plan for 2012–13.

The Strategic Plan was complemented by a suite of corporate and business planning documents that address specific operational or functional requirements, as shown in Table 39.

Balanced Scorecard

The AEC’s Balanced Scorecard is a monthly report that provides senior management with a range of financial and statistical information, such as budgets and expenditure, staffing numbers, and enrolment numbers. This information relates to targets or outcomes as listed in our business plans.

In 2011–12, the Executive Management Group (EMG) discussed the Balanced Scorecard in detail at its meetings held once every two months, with relevant senior managers providing detailed analysis.

The report assisted EMG to determine whether our performance met expectations and planned targets. EMG also discussed whether any remedial action was required to ensure performance was improved.

EMG is currently reviewing the Balanced Scorecard to make the report more valuable to the organisation as a whole. The group will review areas such as cultural and data-related issues.

Internal audit

During 2011–12, we placed emphasis on enhancing the independence of our internal audit framework. In January 2012, our governance framework and assurance mechanisms were improved to:

  • ensure best practice through a review of the Business Assurance Committee’s charter and reporting arrangements to better align it with requirements under Regulation 22C of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act),
  • introduce an independent external person as chair of the Business Assurance Committee reporting directly to the Electoral Commissioner, and
  • ensure that the Business Assurance Committee has a key role in providing independent assurance to the Electoral Commissioner.

The Business Assurance Committee focused on providing assurance to our senior management on the effectiveness of controls in corporate and IT areas and reviewing high-risk core business activities.

Our internal audit program continued to be conducted through an external service provider, KPMG.

Risk management and business continuity

Our revised risk management framework, policy and risk assessment, and treatment workbook continued to provide a formal framework for identifying, managing and monitoring risk in the AEC.

Our risk management framework is consistent with the Australian and New Zealand Risk Management Standard ISO31000:2009.

We encouraged staff to undertake risk assessments for business planning purposes and for projects, as part of good business practice. In addition, we provided guidelines for formal risk assessments to be undertaken for all procurement activities.

New federal electoral events risk register and risk management plan

During 2011–12, we placed a major emphasis on developing a federal electoral events risk register and risk management plan. The risk register includes key risks impacting on national, state, territory and divisional offices prior to, during and immediately after a federal electoral event.

The risk management plan focuses on risks specifically related to the preparation and delivery of federal electoral events, including referendums. We consulted extensively with staff in preparing the plan and in identifying and assessing areas of vulnerability and recognised threats. This included the identification of existing controls and the need for any mitigating strategies. The plan provides a level of assurance that our business outcomes can be achieved.

Business continuity planning

During the year, our Business Continuity Policy and Framework was updated to reflect the significant development work underway in business continuity. This ensures the continuity of our critical operations should a major disruption occur.

Our initial focus was election and referendum preparation planning. We reviewed and updated business continuity plans for election critical functions, including selected testing of these plans in the simulated election exercise during June 2012. The development of full testing schedules for each critical election function commenced in May 2012. We will continue to test business continuity plans in the lead-up to the next federal election.

Work is also underway to review business continuity plans for critical core and program functions, as well as incident management plans tailored to each office’s specific environment and location.

Fraud

We continued to maintain a comprehensive corporate fraud control plan, based on fraud risk assessments, which complies with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines 2011.

The AEC's Fraud Control Committee reviews the AEC’s processes and systems in relation to fraud prevention, detection and investigations. The committee met prior to each Business Assurance Committee meeting this year, and provided that committee with a report on matters considered and recommendations as required.

We are currently reviewing the governance arrangements for fraud control, and are in the process of updating the terms of reference for the committee.

We continued to focus on fraud awareness among staff. Staff were required to undertake an e-learning fraud awareness online training module. The module is a question-and-answer style tool designed to provide staff with awareness of what constitutes fraud, their obligation to report fraud, and how to attain assistance if they suspect fraud is occurring.

Fraud control certificate

Service charter

Our service charter provides information on the AEC's functions, values and commitment in providing Australians with impartial and accessible electoral services. The service charter is available online or on posters in our offices across Australia. We also provide copies on request.

In 2011–12, we continued to encourage members of the public to provide feedback about their experiences with us.

We listened carefully to the public and responded to suggestions on how we can improve our services. We also began the development of a new service charter. The new charter will build on the existing version and include specific performance measures against the service standards. This will allow our staff to accurately capture the nature and volume of complaints, enquiries, and other feedback.

Customer enquiries, issues and complaints

We received enquiries and feedback from the public and a range of other external stakeholders through a variety of channels, including telephone, email, facsimile and post.

During 2011–12, we received more than 330 000 phone calls to our general enquiry phone number (13 23 26). The calls were directed to the caller’s nearest divisional office. International calls were received and managed at the National Office switchboard; however, this will change in 2012–13. We are setting up a new dedicated international number to improve handling of these calls.

We received more than 17 000 emails through our generic enquiries mailbox (info@aec.gov.au). This is comparable to email volumes received in past non-election years. More than 9 450 of the enquiries were about enrolment and change of enrolment details, while a further 6 347 emails related to responsibilities whilst living overseas and overseas notifications forms. The rest were general enquiries.

VITS LanguageLink (VITS) provided dedicated language-specific telephone interpreter information lines for 16 key languages in addition to a multi-language information line. VITS handled approximately 1 500 calls in 2011–12, of which 875 callers utilised the interpreter service to speak to our staff. The three top languages used were Mandarin (505 calls), Cantonese (196 calls), and Arabic (192 calls).

We continued to use the National Relay Service for contact with callers who have a hearing or speech impairment.

We responded to 70 letters referred to us from the Special Minister of State. We responded within the agreed timeframe, which was generally two weeks from the date of receipt by the minister’s office, unless a more urgent response was required. Of the 70 letters, seven related to complaints about the AEC. This type of correspondence helps us to improve service delivery and educate people about the electoral system in Australia.

Ethical standards

We have policies and guidelines in place on the standards of behaviour expected when working in the AEC, and the consequences if these standards are not met. The cornerstone of these policies and guidelines are the AEC’s values, which are articulated in our Strategic Plan and reinforced by the APS Values, Code of Conduct and REFLECT decision-making model.

To strengthen our commitment to maintaining high ethical standards, our Enterprise Agreement 2011–2014 highlights a commitment to adhere to the APS Values and Code of Conduct.

In 2011–12, we actively promoted the use of the APS Commission’s Ethics Advisory Service, where staff can discuss, seek advice and make sound decisions on ethical issues that occur in the workplace.

We conducted 11 facilitator-led sessions of the Ethical Decision Making program, following a successful pilot in Queensland in May 2011. The sessions were attended by 211 staff from across Australia.

The program provided staff with a framework for sound decision-making and an introduction to ethics. Staff were taught to understand the APS Values and Code of Conduct and recognise the importance of making sound decisions by using resources such as the APS REFLECT decision-making model and the Ethics Advisory Service.

Staff consultation

Throughout 2011–12, we held a number of AEC consultative forums at the national, state and territory level. The role of these forums was to consult with employees on matters that directly impact their employment, have implications for their employment, and affect the way their work is to be performed. Staff were able to express their views on the matters and to have their views considered.

In May 2012, we conducted elections for forum representatives, following a new enterprise agreement agreed upon in November 2011. The terms of the new representatives will last for the life of the AEC Enterprise Agreement 2011–2014.

Workplace health and safety

On 1 January 2012, we transitioned to the new work health and safety (WHS) laws. We were already compliant with the previous occupational health and safety legislation. However, some changes were required.

Transitioning to the new work health and safety laws

We worked across all levels of the AEC to achieve a seamless transition to the new WHS laws and to improve health and safety in the workplace.

We implemented an effective health and safety model that uses a risk management approach to reduce incidents ensuring a safer workplace.

We undertook a gap analysis before the WHS laws were introduced, and identified activities that were critical for supporting our transition, such as:

  • a review of our current safety management systems,
  • development of effective representation and consultation processes,
  • implementation of health and safety risk management procedures to offer staff the highest level of protection from hazards and risks as is 'reasonably practicable',
  • delivery of advice, information, education and training for staff on the requirements of the new legislation,
  • development of robust issue resolution processes and broader consultation processes, and
  • establishment of effective processes for union right of entry.

We developed a comprehensive communication plan to raise awareness of the new laws. The plan included a number of channels to notify staff of the legislative changes. We also recognised that ongoing communication was needed to ensure that compliance was maintained.

Our communication activities included:

  • all staff training,
  • a briefing to our Executive Management Group,
  • development of an intranet page with information on the WHS legislative changes,
  • National Health and Safety Committee briefings,
  • regular intranet news items, and
  • a range of forums to continue engagement with staff.

Our senior executive staff and members of the national and state health and safety committees are the main advocates of the new laws. They are responsible for ensuring that staff understand the impact of the laws on the AEC and their role under the new legislation.

We will continue to provide further training to staff, and make improvements to our safety management system to ensure that compliance is met and maintained.

Complying with work health and safety laws

A key focus of the new WHS legislation is a risk management approach to worker health and safety. This includes controlling workplace health and safety hazards, and eliminating and minimising risks.

To meet this obligation, in 2011–12, we developed a comprehensive suite of documents to ensure managers and staff were aware of their responsibilities. The documents explain how staff can work safely in the workplace and how they can identify, eliminate, isolate or minimise hazards or potential hazards. Our Health and Safety Team worked with the Elections Branch to ensure that risk management processes were embedded into election readiness processes.

Risk assessments have always been an integral part of our work and decisions about ensuring a safe and supportive working environment for all. This year, we recognised that further work was needed to develop staff awareness in relation to risk management, including identifying hazards, managing and improving our safety, and reporting. In 2012–13, we will begin a project to further develop risk management awareness across all our offices.

Incident management

In 2011–12, staff reported 39 incidents (see Table 46). This was slightly less than in previous financial years other than the 2010 election year. Figure 12 provides a comparison of work health and safety from 2008–09 to 2011–12.

Our incident management regulator, Comcare, was not required to investigate any incidents, nor were we subject to any provisional improvement notices.

Of the 39 incidents, most involved falling or muscular stress. This highlights the importance of further developing our prevention strategies.

Table 46: Work health and safety incidents, 2011–12
Type of incident Number of reports

Fall from the same level

9

Exposure to muscular stress factors

7

Fall from a height

4

Hit by falling object

4

Exposure to chemical or substance

3

Vehicle accident

3

Trapped by equipment and/or other

3

Other and multiple mechanisms

3

Contact with sharp objects

2

Exposure to environmental factors

1

Note: There were no reports of abuse, assault, animal or insect bites, contact with electricity, contact with hot objects, drowning or immersion, exposure to biological factors, exposure to mental stress factors, exposure to traumatic events, harassment or bullying, or being hit by a moving object or hitting a stationary object.

Figure 12: Work health and safety incidents, 2008–09 to 2011–12

This figure provides the number of incidents that have occurred over the previous four years

* The 2010 Federal Election was in financial year 2010–11.

Claims management

We continued to comply with the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act) for provision of workers compensation and injury management. The SRC Act has a strong focus on workplace rehabilitation.

Under this Act, employers are responsible for coordinating and managing the return to work of injured employees.

In order to meet our obligations as an employer under the SRC Act, we have a dedicated rehabilitation case manager responsible for workplace rehabilitation.

We operated within a similar framework for the management of non-compensation injuries and remain proactive in managing staff with pre-existing or new non-work-related injuries or illnesses. The breakdown for 2011–12 is 70 per cent non-compensable and 30 per cent compensable.

In 2011–12, we managed 11 new cases for compensation and 26 cases of non-compensation injuries (see Figure 13).

Figure 13: Percentage of compensable and non-compensable injuries during 2011–12

Percentage of compensable and non-compensable injuries during 2011–12

Table 47 shows the number of new cases we managed for compensation and non-compensation injuries over the past four years.

Table 47: Management of injury cases, 2008–09 to 2011–12

Case management type

2008–09

2009–10

2010–11

2011–12

Compensable

9

12

27

11

Non-compensable

0

37

26

26

Health and safety representative elections

In 2011, we conducted elections for all Health and Safety Representative and Deputy Health and Safety Representative positions. People were elected to the positions for three years and were provided with five days training to help them to undertake their new role. The training was required under the provisions of the previous occupational health and safety legislation.

Representatives undertook their duties in accordance with AEC health and safety management arrangements, which include:

  • representation within their state on health and safety committees,
  • annual workplace inspections, and
  • investigation of workplace incidents.

Health and wellbeing programs

We continued to offer preventive programs to ensure the health and safety of workers, as required under the new WHS laws. The programs included annual influenza vaccinations, workstation assessments, eyesight testing reimbursements, and financial support for early intervention on health matters.

In 2011–12, 266 staff members received flu vaccinations, an eight per cent increase on the previous year.

Figure 14 shows the number of staff who received flu vaccinations each year from 2008–09 to 2011–12.

Figure 14: Flu vaccinations, 2008–09 to 2011–12

Figure RMA1 shows the trend in the number of people on the electoral roll from the 2007 election to 30 June 2012. The number of people enrolled is shown for 24 November 2007 (the day the 2007 election was held), 30 June 2008, 30 June 2009, 30 June 2010, 21 August 2010 (the day the 2010 election was held), 30 June 2011 and 30 June 2012. The number of people enrolled increases from each point to the next. For each of these points in time, the figure also shows the trend in the estimated participation rate. From 24 November 2007 to 30 June 2010, the estimated participation rate decreased. After this, it shows a very small increase.

During 2011–12, we addressed a number of areas to promote employee wellbeing and enhance workforce resilience. One area that we focused on was mental health. Psychosocial hazards are now recognised as one of the leading contributors to the burden of occupational disease and injury to employees. We recognised that better management of hazards was essential to minimising both financial and personal costs.

We partnered with our employee assistance providers, PPC Worldwide, and conducted 20 mental health awareness training sessions for managers across the AEC network. The aim of the sessions was to raise awareness of the impact of mental health issues in the workplace and to ensure we are best placed to identify and address hazards.

This training is part of a broader strategy to promote wellbeing for staff and to enhance their resilience.

Annual premium

Our workers compensation premium for 2012–13 under the Comcare scheme is $789 819.

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