Queensland public service growth bolsters service delivery agencies

By Stephen Easton

July 20, 2016

The Queensland public service workforce grew by just under 2% in the first quarter of 2016, and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk claims nearly all the new jobs are in frontline service delivery areas like health and education.

Estimates hearings have just kicked off in the sunshine state, giving the opposition the perfect chance to question the government’s public service narrative: that it is simply restoring a more appropriate number of teachers, nurses and other public servants who work out in the community after the previous government cut 14,000 in its first budget.

The figures in the Queensland Public Service Commission’s March workforce profile are the latest, but they are also rather late, having only been released yesterday after the end of the June quarter.

The commission reports that just over 91% of the state’s public servants were in “frontline and frontline support roles” as of four months ago. Most of the new hiring was in health and education, which together received 87.86% of the new staff.

The “frontline support” roles could arguably be separated from the actual frontline roles under a different definition to give a clearer understanding of where the growth has occurred. The QPSC explains its view on the matter:

“Frontline roles are those that deliver services directly to the public, including teachers, nurses, doctors, police officers, ambulance officers and firefighters.

“Frontline support roles are ‘non-corporate services’ roles that provide essential support, enabling the effective delivery of frontline services, including hospital and school cleaners, road workers and school groundskeepers.”

The commission also points out that six agencies with “a strong focus on service delivery” account for nearly all — 96.68% — of the growth in the first four months of this year.

Queensland Health put on new staff adding up to just under 2230 FTE, with he majority being graduates in medical, nursing and allied health positions.

The Department of Education and Training got over 1000 more full-time teaching jobs out of a total of about 1200 new FTEs. A reasonable jump of almost 200 staff in in the Department of Justice and the Attorney-General is mostly made up of new correctional officers for the recommissioned Borallon Correctional Centre.

There were also much smaller increases in policing, the TAFE sector and the Department of Transport and Main Roads, which employs school crossing supervisors.

According to the commission, “seasonal changes” in health and education mean workforce growth is normally highest in the first four months of the year.

The increase of just over 4000 full-time equivalents for the first four months of 2016 data is actually about 500 less than the increase in the same period last year, which began with the election of the Palaszczuk government in January 2015.

According to the four-month-old data, almost 80% of jobs are permanent with about 63% of employees working full-time, just over 29% part-time and 7.3% in casual roles.

Women made up nearly 69% of the Queensland public sector headcount at the end of March, but only a shade over 66% of FTEs, mainly because 90% of part-time public servants in Qld are women. Adjusting for this, the QPSC figures show the gender pay gap in average annual full-time earnings stands at $9142 because:

“Females are generally in lower paid jobs than males, with 70.03% of AO2 to AO6 and equivalent roles held by females. This figure decreases to 60.68% in AO7 and equivalent roles, 60.03% in AO8 and equivalent roles, 51.24% in senior officer and equivalent roles and 35.19% in senior executives and equivalent roles.”

As of March, the only levels where women did not outnumber men were the senior executive service at the very top and AO1 level at the other end — where 61% of staff are male and the only example job the QPSC provides is police recruits.

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