Our workforce profile

At 30 June 2017 Comcare had 641 employees based in various locations in Australia which included Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Newcastle, Adelaide and Perth.
In comparison to 2015–16, our workforce has:

  • decreased in total headcount by 3.8 per cent from 666 to 641 employees
  • increased the proportion of employees identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders by 0.5 percentage points from 4 to 7 employees.

Table 21: Comcare workforce profile—at 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017

Size 2015–16 2016–17 Percentage change
Number of employees 666 641 -3.8
Full time equivalent employees 638 613 -3.9
Diversity of workforce5   Percentage points
(percentage of total workforce)
(425 of 666)
(405 of 641)
Women in leadership
EL 2 and SES
(percentage of EL 2 and SES cohorts)
(28 of 60)
(23 of 50)
People with disability
(percentage of total workforce)
(15 of 666)
(14 of 641)
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
(percentage of total workforce)
(4 of 666)
(7 of 641)
Non-English speaking background employees
(percentage of total workforce)
(50 of 666)
(37 of 641)

Table 22: Staffing headcount by classification

  30 June 2016 30 June 2017
Actual classification Ongoing Non-ongoing Total Ongoing Non-ongoing Total
Graduate APS 4 5 0 5 3 0 3
APS Level 1 1 0 1 1 0 1
APS Level 2 8 15 23 9 14 23
APS Level 3 36 15 51 37 7 44
APS Level 4 96 9 105 96 9 105
APS Level 5 114 4 118 115 4 119
APS Level 6 149 18 167 149 7 156
Executive Level 1 107 2 109 103 3 106
Executive Level 2 43 1 44 36 0 36
Legal Adviser APS 4 0 0 0 3 0 3
Legal Adviser APS 5 4 0 4 4 0 4
Legal Adviser APS 6 6 0 6 11 0 11
Senior Legal Adviser (EL 1) 15 1 16 15 0 15
Principal Legal Adviser (EL 2) 9 0 9 8 0 8
SES Band 1 6 0 6 6 0 6
SES Band 2 1 0 1 0 0 0
CEO 1 0 1 1 0 1
Total 601 65 666 597 44 641

People plan

The Comcare People Plan 2016–2019 (People Plan) sets the strategic direction across all aspects of people management. It continues our commitment to building a capable and high performing workforce to deliver on organisational objectives, both now and in the future.

Key People Plan activities completed in 2016–17 include:

  • development and implementation of the Capability Framework
  • development and implementation of the Leadership Development Series
  • development of a Leadership, Learning and Development Strategy
  • development of an Attraction and Retention Framework
  • development of Workforce Plans
  • development of a Change Management Framework
  • completion of the APSC Optimal Management Structures Framework review and development of an implementation plan.

Workplace diversity

Comcare values the experiences and contributions made by all of our employees. By recognising their diverse abilities and backgrounds we seek to create an inclusive and productive workplace. We also believe that embracing diversity enables us to provide a better service to all of our stakeholders. Comcare is committed to creating a workforce that is reflective of the community it serves.

We have continued taking steps toward providing opportunities for all Australians to participate actively in employment. We value and harness the diversity of our workforce and promote awareness of our diversity policies and action plans. These policies and action plans are aligned with the wider APS initiatives including the Indigenous Employment Strategy, Disability Employment Strategy and Gender Equality Strategy.

Reconciliation Action Plan

At Comcare we are committed to the process of reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider Australian community, and to recognising the importance of reconciliation to Australia’s future. We articulate this commitment through our Reconciliation Action Plan 2014–17 (RAP) and ensure actions are monitored and reported on regularly in order that the plan remains a living document.

A key RAP activity undertaken in 2016–17 was the inclusion of diversity statements in our recruitment advertising.

Accessibility Action Plan (AAP)

Comcare’s AAP has a focus on valuing the experiences and contributions made by all of our employees, to create a supportive and positive working environment for all, and provide a better service for the Comcare community. Our commitment to attract, support and retain people with a disability, or those affected by illness or injury (including those with caring responsibilities), is reflected in our investment in improving employment participation and employment experience, and better connecting to our community with accessible services and products.

Key AAP activities undertaken in 2016–17 include:

  • participation in the Australian Network on Disability’s ‘Stepping Into’ internship programme
  • delivery of Mental Health and Workforce Wellbeing training.

Diversity Working Group

Comcare’s Diversity Working Group is a team of employee volunteers who are passionate about diversity in Comcare. Working Group members have an important role in promoting and supporting Comcare’s diversity plans and coordinating events on Comcare’s Diversity Calendar. Comcare has appointed a senior manager as a Diversity Champion who provides leadership and support for diversity initiatives and acts as sponsor for the Diversity Working Group.

Key Diversity Working Group activities in 2016–17 include:

  • annual celebration of diversity initiatives such as R U OK? day, International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, International Day for People with a Disability, National Reconciliation Week and Harmony Day
  • communication and promotion of diversity across the organisation.

Remuneration and conditions of service

The Comcare Enterprise Agreement 2016–2019 (Enterprise Agreement) sets out the terms and conditions of employment and salary scales for APS employees working at Comcare. It applies to casual, non-ongoing and ongoing employees at all levels from APS 1 to Executive Level 2. The Enterprise Agreement provides remuneration increases of 6 per cent over three years, including a 2 per cent increase during 2016–17.

The Enterprise Agreement does not apply to Comcare employees in Senior Executive Service (SES) roles or to contractors hired to work in Comcare.

The CEO determines the terms and conditions of employment for SES employees in Comcare. Determinations are based on individual capability and job requirements and are made under section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999.

Comcare has a range of policies, procedures, and guidelines to support the operation of the Enterprise Agreement—these are referenced throughout the Enterprise Agreement.

Table 23: Salary ranges for employees—at 30 June 2017

Level Minimum salary Maximum salary
SES $204,839 $214,571
Executive Level 2 (or equivalent) $127,395 $173,244
Executive Level 1 (or equivalent) $101,827 $121,332
APS Level 6 (or equivalent) $82,331 $92,263
APS Level 5 (or equivalent) $73,871 $79,248
APS Level 4 (or equivalent) $65,508 $71,644
APS Level 3 (or equivalent) $58,783 $63,810
APS Level 2 (or equivalent) $51,504 $57,032
APS Level 1 (or equivalent) $45,835 $50,135

Reward and recognition

Reward and recognition plays an extremely important role in shaping our culture and the behaviours of our employees. It is a means of improving both individual and business outcomes. The Comcare Reward and Recognition Policy provides the framework under which we to recognise and reward the efforts and achievements of individuals and teams who make a contribution through their work. This policy reflects a culture of demonstrating appreciation and recognition of employees at all levels, and across all areas of the organisation.

The policy aims to reinforce many of the priorities outlined in the Comcare People Plan and provides a framework to:

  • encourage greater teamwork, cooperation and pride in our organisation
  • demonstrate positive workplace behaviours
  • promote innovative thinking and initiative
  • motivate people to make meaningful contributions
  • support a performance based culture
  • commemorate the achievement of significant service to the APS.

Australia Day Awards

Comcare’s Australia Day Awards are supported by the National Australia Day Council and signify the highest level of recognition for our employees. The awards acknowledge people who go above and beyond the requirements of their roles to consistently demonstrate excellence. Recipients join a celebrated group of APS employees who have made a national contribution in the course of their service. In total, six Australia Day Awards were presented on 3 February 2017 across the categories of Leadership, Innovation and Collaboration.

CEO’s Awards

The inaugural Comcare CEO’s Awards were presented on Friday 29 July 2016. These awards recognise high performing teams and individuals who have consistently gone above and beyond expectations to achieve a significant positive impact for the organisation, employees with workplace injuries or illnesses, colleagues or other key stakeholders. In total, 14 individuals and two teams received a CEO Award in 2016.

Leadership, learning and development

In 2017 Comcare developed a Leadership, Learning and Development Strategy that supports Comcare in being an agile learning organisation with the capability to deliver our business objectives now and into the future. The Strategy identifies how we aim to develop leadership, corporate fundamental and technical/job specific capabilities identified in our Capability Framework.

To improve leadership and achieve a ‘one Comcare’ culture that is open, collaborative and innovative, the Leadership Development Series was developed in 2017. Comcare’s four cultural priority areas are the focus of the Leadership Development Series to ensure these values are communicated and supported throughout the organisation. It is a year-long programme delivered to all Executive Level employees, high-performing and/or high-potential APS 6 employees across Comcare.

The Mentoring Programme continues to contribute to the ongoing development of employees’ leadership skills and capability across all levels of Comcare. The programme also supports our ‘one Comcare’ approach through creating mentoring partnerships across business areas.

The People team remain focused on building core skill capability across Comcare by delivering a suite of organisational wide learning programmes targeted to capability needs identified through Performance Development Plans (PDPs) and Workforce Planning discussions. These are delivered through the Comcare learning and development training calendar. Corporate fundamental training continues to be a requirement to ensure all employees are aware of their corporate responsibilities as a Comcare employee, including work health and safety responsibilities.

During the year the People team ran 138 courses—36 per cent being Corporate Fundamentals.

Work health and safety management

Comcare is committed to the health, safety and wellbeing of its employees. This commitment is reflected through the continued development and implementation of our WHS and injury management system processes, strategic plans and the health and wellbeing programme.

During 2016–17, Comcare had a major focus on delivering initiatives identified in our WHS Action Plan, which included:

  • minimising WHS risks
  • ensuring compliance against legislation and subscribed duties
  • strengthening leadership in WHS.

Health and safety initiatives

Throughout the year, Comcare undertook various initiatives to ensure it provides a healthy and safe workplace, which included:

  • reinvigorating and auditing the performance of our WHS management system
  • development of our 2017–2019 WHS Strategy
  • holding consultative meetings with various committees and forums
  • compiling a library of team talks on various work health and safety topics
  • development and distribution of WHS awareness promotional material
  • the Executive participating in scheduled workplace inspections
  • compiling risk assessments of Comcare activities
  • regular reporting to Comcare’s Executive Committee.

A significant amount of work was invested by Comcare in the reviewing its WHS contractor management processes and developing educational material. Additionally, Comcare’s WHS Team Talk library was expanded to 33 topics addressing various issues including mental health, care and maintenance of personal protective equipment, body stressing, and field work based WHS risks.

Comcare participated in a long-term study into the effectiveness of software-based prompts influencing sit/stand desk usage. The study commenced in October 2016 with the first three months involving collection of baseline data. In February 2017, the software prompts were activated. In March 2017, the initial results of the study were presented by the PhD student at the Applied Ergonomics Conference in Florida, United States of America. The initial results include: 80 per cent increase in standing time per day, nearly triple the amount of postural changes per day and a reduction from 50 per cent to 20 per cent of employees not using their sit-stand workstation. The next phase of results analysis against six months’ post intervention data is scheduled for July 2017.

Wellbeing initiatives

Comcare’s wellbeing initiatives were focused on addressing physical activity, mental health, nutritional health, alcohol consumption, smoking and modifiable chronic disease risk factors.

Our physical health activities were centred on providing influenza vaccinations for 297 employees, use of sit/stand desks and 256 employees achieving 96,814,309 steps in the annual 10,000 steps challenge. The mental health activities entailed promoting the Employee Assistance Program, holding seminars during R U OK? Day and World Mental Health Week, and training volunteer employees as mental health contact officers. For nutritional health, alcohol consumption and smoking habits Comcare focused on promoting the services of relevant state and territory advisory services.

Comcare believes in empowering its employees to incorporate healthy lifestyle choices into their daily lives and provides support in the form of a health and wellbeing reimbursement. In 2016–17, 75 per cent of eligible employees claimed this reimbursement and continue making healthy lifestyle choices outside of the workplace.

Employee Assistance Program

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP), provided by Assure Programs, provides telephone and face‑to‑face access to confidential individual counselling that supports the psychological wellbeing of employees and their families. In addition to individual counselling, a Manager’s Hotline, online information, onsite trauma and critical incident counselling, conflict resolution and mediation support services are available.

In 2016–17 the EAP usage rate (new referrals) was 13.33 per cent of the total Comcare workforce for the nine-month period, with a predicted annual usage rate of 17.77 per cent at the conclusion of the 12 month reporting period in October 2017. The percentage of employees of Comcare attending was 76 per cent, with 24 per cent of consultations for non-Comcare employees. The percentage of personal to work-related issues, as the primary reason for accessing this service, was 75 per cent to 25 per cent respectively. These figures indicate an increase in use for personal issues and decrease in work-related issues compared to the previous financial year.

Early intervention programme

Comcare continues to focus on reducing injury claims through active injury prevention strategies and provision of early intervention. The early intervention programme provides timely and tailored support to employees and includes provision of short-term treatment (physical or psychological), access to EAP support, workplace rehabilitation providers, workplace assessments and fitness for duty medical assessments.

As part of the early intervention programme, Comcare provides workstation assessments for all new employees upon commencement, with 123 conducted in 2016–17. During 2016–17, 230 assessments were conducted for existing employees reporting pain or discomfort as a prevention strategy.

Comcare’s early intervention programme, including the mandatory early intervention training course and new starter workstation assessments, continues to be assessed as the likely cause for the reduction in workers’ compensation claims in 2016–17.

Notifiable incidents

During the reporting period Comcare notified the regulator of three notifiable incidents and was not involved in any statutory enforcements or investigations.

Workers’ compensation claims

In total, there were four workers’ compensation claims for Comcare employees accepted in 2016–17. This is a 50 per cent increase from the two accepted claims in 2015–16. The average weeks lost time increased from 3.9 weeks in 2015–16 to 10.6 weeks in 2016–17. The table below compares Comcare’s claim performance, average claim cost and lost time with the ‘all Australian Government’ average in the financial years 2013–14 to 2016–17.

Table 24: Comcare workers’ compensation claim performance—at 30 June 2017

Claims performance 2013–14 2014–15 2015–16 2016–17
Submitted claims—all Comcare6 18 15 5 9
Accepted claims—all Comcare 13 13 2 4
Total likely future cost—all Comcare $734,647 $2,679,415 $192,384 $190,532
Average likely future cost—all Comcare $56,511 $223,285 $192,384 $47,633
Average likely future cost—Australian Government $71,409 $79,415 $109,046 $109,467
Average cost to date—all Comcare $43,263 $61,759 $18,156 $18,001
Average cost to date—Australian Government $42,052 $33,283 $20,359 $21,128
Total weeks lost—all Comcare 194 303 7 21
Average weeks lost—all Comcare 14.9 27.6 3.7 10.6
Average weeks lost—Australian Government 25.4 17.9 11.3 11.5

5 Workforce diversity data relies on self-identification.
6 Submitted indicates claims registered in the financial year period.