Information about Management and Accountability.
There were no grants awarded by the Department of Human Services during 2017–18.
People with disability
Since 1994 Commonwealth departments and agencies have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy.
In 2007–08 reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service Report and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at the Australian Public Service Commission website. Since 2010–11 departments and agencies have no longer been required to report on these functions.
The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020, which sets out a ten‑year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high‑level two‑yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the strategy and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first of these reports was published in 2014 on the DSS website.
For more information about the department’s specialised services and support for and engagement with carers and people with disability, see:
- People with disability and carers
- Social work carer assessments
- Employing people with disability
- Carers and People with disability on the home page of the department’s website.
Freedom of information
In 2017–18 the department received 6,219 freedom of information (FOI) requests. The department received 14 requests for amendment or annotation of personal records. Taking into account cases pending from previous years, the department finalised 6,324 FOI requests.
Of these requests:
- 1,891 were withdrawn before decisions on access were made (in most cases because the department provided access by way of administrative release)
- full access was granted in 2,047 cases
- part access was granted in 1,746 cases
- access was refused in 618 cases
- 22 cases were transferred to other departments/agencies.
In 2017–18 the department received 129 FOI requests for internal review of access or amendment decisions. Taking into account requests pending from previous years, the department completed 133 of these reviews in 2017–18. Of the 133 completed decisions, 82 affirmed the original decision and 27 set aside the original decision and granted further access in full or part. The remaining 24 requests for internal review were withdrawn or otherwise finalised.
Required FOI reporting—Information Publication Scheme
Information that must be published under the FOI Act is available in various documents on the website. It can easily be identified by the IPS logo on the freedom of information page.
In 2017–18 the information on the website included:
- information about the IPS
- details of the department’s organisational structure
- details of the department’s functions, including its decision‑making powers and other powers affecting members of the public (or any particular person or entity, or class of persons or entities)
- appointments of officers under legislation (other than APS staff), such as statutory office‑holders
- the department’s annual reports
- the department’s consultation arrangements
- contact details to enquire about access to the department’s information or documents under the FOI Act
- the department’s operational information
- information in documents to which the department routinely gives access in response to requests under Part III (access to documents) of the FOI Act, except information that is otherwise exempt
- information that the department routinely provides to parliament in response to requests and orders from parliament.
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
In 2017–18 the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner published 18 decisions on applications for review of the department’s FOI access decisions. Of these, 11 affirmed the department’s decisions and seven varied or set aside the department’s decisions.
Personal information requests
The department offers various ways for people to access their own information, including through online services. The department also responds to requests to release personal information, with the individual’s consent, in the public interest or under specific legislative provisions.
In 2017–18 the department responded to 91,400 personal information requests.
Injury management, work health and safety
The department’s work health and safety policy, guidelines and procedures aim to identify, adopt and develop best practice in health and safety management to reduce the social and financial cost of work‑related injury and illness and improve business outcomes.
The department actively manages work health and safety programs to educate staff, reduce injury risks and ensure legislative compliance. In 2017–18, the department reviewed and updated its Work Health and Safety Policy, which will clarify and strengthen understanding of responsibilities.
The department complies with its obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. These include:
- ensuring that the health and safety of the department’s staff underpins its decisions
- using risk management processes
- engaging in consultation and delivering training
- meeting reporting and response requirements.
In 2017–18, Comcare conducted an audit to measure the effectiveness of the department’s work health and safety management systems. For the 25 criteria assessed, the department achieved 92% conformance. The department is working to address the areas identified for improvement.
The department’s Work Health and Safety Strategy commits it to reducing serious injury rates (claims resulting in one or more weeks of absence) by 30% by 2022 (from 2012 rates). The rate of serious injury for 2017–18 was a reduction of 71% from the 2011–12 rate.
The department has a number of initiatives to enable early return to work and, in turn, reduce the likelihood of matters progressing to a claim for workers’ compensation. These initiatives continued to show good progress against strategy targets. The work health and safety outcomes in 2017–18 included reducing the number of workers’ compensation claims submitted in 2017–18 by 34.53% (compared with 2011–12), including a 57.41% reduction in the number of body stress injury claims.
In 2014 the department began an internal campaign focusing on preventing body stress injuries. Since then, the body stress injury rate has decreased by 77%.
Guided by the department’s Psychological Health Strategy, launched in November 2016, the department is developing positive work environments that support mental health and wellbeing throughout the mental health continuum. This approach also aims to minimise the risk of psychological injury. The strategy focuses on improved prevention, early intervention and psychological injury management.
The figure below shows a breakdown of injury claims in the department that were accepted in 2017–18.
Work Health and Safety Act 2011—reporting
In 2017–18 Comcare undertook eight reactive workplace inspections in the department. These were visits related to an incident or complaint. In addition, Comcare completed nine proactive workplace inspections. These were visits not related to an incident or complaint and aimed at education and continuous improvement. Comcare identified one contravention of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and issued one improvement notice under the Act.
A total of 39 incidents in the department were notified to Comcare in 2017–18 (compared with 32 in 2016–17).
|Type of incident||Number|
|Serious injury or illness||24|
Advertising and market research
Communication and advertising campaigns
The department did not undertake any communication or advertising campaigns in 2017–18.
Advertising costs—media advertising
In 2017–18 the department’s total expenditure on advertising was $1,907,390. This includes spending on print and online advertising in areas such as recruitment, public notices and tenders.
|Payee||Purpose||2017–18 $ (including GST)|
|Dentsu Mitchell Media Australia Pty Ltd||Advertising||867,890|
|Sensis Pty Ltd||White pages||1,039,500|
Market research payments
In 2017–18, the department commissioned the projects listed in Table 68 below. They involved gathering, analysing and reporting information from external audiences or sources to provide insight on a particular topic or issue.
|Vendor||Description||2017–18 $ (including GST)|
|Colmar Brunton Research||Financial Information Services, First Principle Review(a)||70,000|
|Colmar Brunton Research||Integrated satisfaction program||1,525,448|
|Colmar Brunton Research||Correspondence testing program||302,439|
|Colmar Brunton Research||Website redesign refinement(a)||78,980|
|Dialogue Consulting Pty Ltd||Social media evaluation||18,900|
|Freeform Strategy Pty Ltd||Departmental communication research||71,569|
|Grey Advantage Consulting Pty Ltd||Service delivery model research||126,500|
|Instinct and Reason||Correspondence testing program||44,000|
|Instinct and Reason||Agents and access points research||33,049|
|Instinct and Reason||Testing departmental messages||37,499|
|McNair YellowSquares Pty Ltd||Recruitment of participants||318,552|
|Wallis Consulting Group Pty Ltd||Communication needs and preferences research||194,909|
|University of New South Wales||Gender equality research(a)||17,600|
- Relates to payments in 2017–18 for research funded from and completed in 2016–17.
The department is committed to carrying out business in an environmentally responsible and resource‑efficient way.
The department’s environmental management system aligns with international standard ISO 14001:2015: Environmental management systems—Requirements with guidance for use. It helps the department to manage and report on greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, resource use and waste arising from building operations, motor vehicle and air travel, ICT and stationery supplies.
The department is dedicated to achieving better practice environmental performance for energy use, resource consumption and waste. The department supports reputable environmental standards for application in procurement processes.
Supporting these measures drives resource efficiency and innovation in supply chains and across industry.
See Appendix C for more information about the department’s contribution to ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance.
Carer Recognition Act 2010 report
The Carer Recognition Act 2010 prescribes the following obligations for all public service agencies.
Section 7(1)—Each public service agency is to take all practicable measures to ensure that its employees and agents have an awareness and understanding of the Statement for Australia’s Carers.
The department raises staff awareness and understanding of the Statement for Australia’s Carers through a suite of online resources. The statement, set out in Schedule 1 of the Carer Recognition Act, sets out the rights, opportunities and choices of carers. Resources on the department’s Intranet include links to the Carer Recognition Act and information about support available to help staff with their caring responsibilities.
Section 7(2)—Each public service agency’s internal human resource policies, so far as they may significantly affect an employee’s caring role, are to be developed having due regard to the Statement for Australia’s Carers.
The department complies with section 7(2) of the Carer Recognition Act through the Department of Human Services Enterprise Agreement 2017–2020 and internal human resource policies.
The department consults with staff and representatives, providing the opportunity for comments and feedback while having due regard to the Statement for Australia’s Carers. It supports staff with caring responsibilities through:
- flexible working arrangements
- part‑time work
- home‑based work
- an elder care advisory service
- the department’s Employee Assistance Program.
Section 8(1)—Each public service care agency is to take all practicable measures to ensure that it, and its employees and agents, take action to reflect the principles of the Statement for Australia’s Carers in developing, implementing, providing or evaluating care supports.
The department is committed to the principles of the Statement for Australia’s Carers. The payments, services and information the department provides to carers reflect this, as does the development and implementation of carer programs and supports.
The department works with partner agencies to ensure that carer policy and service delivery align with the statement and priorities identified in the Australian Government’s National Carer Strategy Action Plan (2011–2014). The department will continue to develop and implement practical actions against each of the six priority areas.
The department actively supports awareness and understanding of carer issues within the community—for example, by participating in National Carers Week through outreach and community activities and by promoting awareness of carer issues to staff.
The department also produces News for carers—an online publication for people receiving Carer Payment and Carer Allowance and for peak carer organisations. It provides information about national initiatives and services for carers.
Section 8(2)—Each public service care agency is to consult carers, or bodies that represent carers, when developing or evaluating care supports.
The department continues to promote service models that involve carers as partners in the provision of care. The department consults carers and carer peak bodies on the development of new measures as required.
Section 8(3)—Each public service care agency must prepare a report on its compliance with section 7 and this section in each reporting period. The report must be included in the agency’s annual report for the reporting period.
For more information about the department’s specialised services for, and engagement with, carers see People with disability and carers.
Corrections to previous annual reports
|Page 32||Table: Access to HPOS services||The number of Accesses to HPOS for 2016–17 should read ‘4,825,438’.|
|Page 48||The year when the adult vaccines pneumococcal (pneumonia) for people over 65 years of age and zostavax (shingles) for people aged 70–79 years were added to the National Immunisation Program was incorrectly stated as September 2017.||Two adult vaccines, pneumococcal (pneumonia) for people over 65 years of age and zostavax (shingles) for people aged 70–79 years, were added to the National Immunisation Program in September 2016.|
|Page 115||Table: Child support compliance and enforcement actions. The table incorrectly lists the number of Departure Prohibition Orders for 2016–17 as ‘1,892’.||The number of Departure Prohibition Orders for 2016–17 should read ‘1,952’.|
|Page 115||Table: Child support compliance and enforcement actions. The table incorrectly lists the number of Departure Prohibition Orders for 2015–16 as ‘911’.||The number of Departure Prohibition Orders for 2015–16 should read ‘928’.|
|Page 185||Annual Performance Statement: Performance Measure Results. The number of ‘Medicare: Completed interventions with customers for compliance purposes’ was incorrectly listed as ‘499’.||The number of ‘Medicare: Completed interventions with customers for compliance purposes’ should read ‘498’.|