The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will slash 50 jobs in Canberra and 10 roles from across eight international posts.
While the department plans to make some cuts at the Senior Executive Service level to “consolidate teams”, all other cuts will impact executive level one and two level roles, according to the Community and Public Sector Union.
DFAT hopes to reduce the size of its workforce using natural attrition and redeployment, and without any redundancies.
The CPSU noted that while the department has not reached its limit under the Average Staffing Level cap, the motive for the cuts is financial.
It said the federal government had directed DFAT to “run like a business”.
“These job cuts will have a significant impact on the department’s role and ability to push our national interests. If the Morrison Government think they can run an arm of Australia’s soft power like a business, they are terribly mistaken,” CPSU deputy national secretary Beth Vincent-Pietsch said.
“DFAT has not met its Average Staffing Levels, and given the increasing global challenges we face, the government should be increasing DFAT number not cutting them.”
The department is currently advertising 40 job vacancies in Canberra.
It has a 6000-strong workforce, according to its 2018-19 annual report.
Over the past few months, more than 80% of DFAT staff have taken part in the COVID-19 response effort. They have helped more than 345,000 Australians get home, including more than 6500 from 51 cruise ships.
Employees also answered more than 250,000 calls and produced 917 Heads of Mission videos during the height of the pandemic.
Hundreds of staff have also been seconded to Services Australia, where they have helped process JobSeeker and JobKeeper applications.
Vincent-Pietsch said the pandemic has “shone a light” on the important work that DFAT undertakes.
“Our members have been working hard to bring Australians home from across the globe and ensure their safety, as well as continue our important trade and diplomatic work,” she said.