APS ‘reservists’ set to assist Services Australia with spike in demand

By Jackson Graham

January 24, 2022

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The ‘APS surge reserve’ had been activated. (Andrey Popov/Adobe)

Australian public servants who’ve offered to help other departments when workloads soar will assist at Services Australia as the latest Omicron outbreak causes demand to spike and puts pressure on the agency’s staff. 

The Australian Public Service Commission confirmed on social media that the “APS surge reserve” had been activated to help Services Australia with assisting Australians affected by COVID-19. 

The APS established the reserve last year, formalising a pool of available staff following mobilisation of public servants during crises, including the pandemic, 2019-20 fires, and 2021 floods. 

The reserve is made up of existing APS employees at the APS1-EL2 range, who receive their usual wage from their home agency while filling a role at another agency experiencing high demand.  

The reserve had 2000 recruits one month after the APSC formally established it. 

Now, hundreds of public servants who have signed up to offer assistance will support Services Australia for an initial period of up to eight weeks. 

“Every portfolio contributes to the reserve, with staff coming from most agencies,” the APSC says on its website.

The reservists will help process payments, among other duties, after the federal government this month allowed people to rely on a positive rapid antigen test as part of their eligibility for an up to $750 Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment through Services Australia. 

Public Service Minister Ben Morton told The Canberra Times last week the government had an expectation that agencies “comb through” their organisations to seek nominations from people to assist the reserve. 

He said there were already about 500 staff volunteering for a redeployment.


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