Agencies to share their expertise through APS Academy

By Shannon Jenkins

February 19, 2021

2022 Queen’s Birthday public sector honours listed here. (Image: Adobe/Rafael Ben-Ari)

The new Australian Public Service Academy is set to open at Old Parliament House in July, according to assistant public service minister Ben Morton.

The school, which was first announced earlier this month, will offer a new network model for learning and development in the APS to support a “world class” public service, Morton said.

“It focuses on lifting core APS skills in the areas that are unique to the APS craft,” he told an APS event on Friday.

“Leadership, integrity, governance, policy, delivery, and engagement; leadership that inspires a sense of purpose that drives high performance; continuing to promote a pro-integrity culture; good governance through the provision of rigorous advice to ministers; brokering policy design and development across government; ensuring effective delivery and implementation of government decisions; and constructive engagement with businesses, communities and citizens.”

Each of these capabilities will be designed and delivered in partnership with the agencies that have known strengths in those areas. For example, Services Australia and the Department of Defence will help boost delivery and implementation capabilities and citizen-focused perspectives across the APS, while central agencies will help lift capabilities to support governance and policy design.

APS commissioner Peter Woolcott, who also spoke at the event, said the involvement of agencies in delivering courses was “most pleasing”.

“The outcomes will be better for it. It’ll be more practical and valuable across the APS,” he said.

Woolcott noted that mandatory integrity training would feature as part of the academy, and would begin soon.

“The e-module sets out foundational aspects of integrity, and will be extended to support APS employees at each stage of their career. This recognises that as people progress through the ranks, their exposure to integrity challenges, and their responsibility for driving a culture of integrity becomes more acute,” he said.

The work of the academy will build on the increased access to online learning programs during 2020, Morton said, to ensure that learning and development is accessible to all public servants, irrespective of location. Face-to-face course delivery will be carried out at Old Parliament House.

The academy will connect to existing APS centres of excellence, and will also develop external networks with academic institutions and specialist providers. It will be led by the APSC, and will replace the former APSC Learning Centre.

APS Census shows positive results

Morton and Woolcott revealed some key figures from the 2020 APS employee census results, which have been delayed due to COVID-19.

Almost half of APS employees have worked on activities directly related to COVID-19 since February last year, the census found.

While 56% of employees were working from home at the highest recorded point last year, productivity levels did not fall. In fact, almost half of all respondents said their productivity improved, and 65% said their workgroup had used the pandemic to improve the way they worked.

Of the five APS values, the majority of APS employees said ‘commitment to service’ was the value that is most often applied to their work, and 85% of employees said they believe strongly in the purposes and objectives of the APS.

More than 90% of respondents said they understood how their role contributes to achieving an outcome for the Australian public.

Finally, APS employees said they witnessed less corruption in 2020 than in 2019, dropping from 4.4% to 3.5%.

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