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The Museum is committed to creating an environment that people love and this commitment extends to both visitors and employees. Creating and maintaining an organisational culture and environment that successfully attracts and retains high quality employees and supports and enhances individual and team capabilities is fundamental to the Museum’s success. The Museum values excellent performance and diversity and continues to review, develop and implement workplace practices and programs that support staff to perform to the best of their ability.

Museum staff members are employed under the Public Service Act 1999, and employment conditions are established under legislation applying to the Australian Public Service and, in particular, the Museum’s workplace agreement. A review of staffing levels this year has resulted in an overall reduction of staff numbers. At 30 June 2011, the Museum employed 266 staff consisting of 223 ongoing and 43 non-ongoing employees, which represented a full-time equivalent number of 234.02.

Total staff numbers as at 30 June each year

Financial year Total staff numbers
2004–05 263
2005–06 304
2006–07 292
2007–08 282
2008–09 284
2009–10 297
2010–11 266

Impact and features of workplace agreements

As an Australian Public Service (APS) agency, the Museum employs people within a regulatory framework that includes federal workplace relations and related legislation, the Public Service Act 1999 and common law employment contracts.

In a continually evolving workplace relations and public sector management environment, the Museum provides terms and conditions of employment using a range of statutory and common law instruments. A collective agreement negotiated with employees and their representatives is at the heart of the framework. The Museum has maintained a high level of employee support for collectively negotiated arrangements over the past decade, reflecting an ongoing culture of consultation and trust.

The National Museum of Australia Workplace Agreement 2008–11 commenced on 30 October 2008 and is the primary agreement covering the majority of Museum employees. It is a three-year union collective agreement with the Community and Public Sector Union, and has a nominal expiry date of 30 October 2011. The Museum has commenced preparations to negotiate a new workplace agreement for 2011–14 in the second half of 2011.

A number of individual Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) made under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 continue to be in effect within the Museum. These AWAs will operate until they are terminated, as provided under the Fair Work Act 2009, or the relevant employment ceases. Further AWAs will not be made.

The 2008–11 Workplace Agreement provides for individual employees to negotiate pay and conditions enhancements through Individual Flexibility Agreements, designed to provide more flexible working arrangements where appropriate, and a number of these have been negotiated and approved across the Museum.

Attracting the right people

The Museum competes in a highly competitive employment market with public sector agencies, other museums and cultural institutions, academic institutions and private enterprise. Longer-term demographic trends in the Australian population, including the ageing of the Australian working population and the retirement of the ‘baby boomer’ generation, is leading to increased competition for highly qualified, experienced and skilled people. Despite the competitive employment market, the Museum continues to attract highly skilled external and internal applicants for vacancies.

As a business priority, the Museum is actively seeking to employ a diverse workforce representative of the Australian population and to maximise the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Staffing by division, as at 30 June 2011

Directorate 5 1 6
Operations 63 2 65
Collections, Content and Exhibitions 72 15 87
Audience, Programs and Partnerships 83 25 108

Staffing by employment status, as at 30 June 2011

Ongoing full-time Principal Executive Officer (PEO) 0 0 0
Non-ongoing full-time PEO 1 0 1
Ongoing full-time Senior Executive Service (SES) 3 2 5
Ongoing full-time non-SES 53 100 153
Ongoing part-time SES 0 0 0
Ongoing part-time non-SES 15 50 65
Non-ongoing full-time SES 0 0 0
Non-ongoing full-time non-SES 7 19 26
Non-ongoing part-time SES 0 0 0
Non-ongoing part-time non-SES 5 11 16

Staffing by APS level, as at 30 June 2011

PEO 1 0 1
SESB2 0 0 0
SESB1 3 2 5
Executive Level 2 9 15 24
Executive Level 1 11 26 37
APS6 12 34 46
APS5 9 21 30
APS4 11 33 44
APS3 4 14 18
APS2 23 35 58
APS1 0 0 0
Cadet 1 2 3

Supporting and maintaining a high performance culture

The Museum’s performance management framework, Workplace Conversations, provides managers and staff with the opportunity to engage in timely discussions regarding job roles and expectations and individual development opportunities. It aims to support employees and managers to have a ‘guided conversation’ about performance expectations and individual needs.

Workplace Conversations is a formal process that requires staff members to have regular performance discussions with their manager. These formal discussions, linked to overall strategic and business objectives, cover the scope and deliverables of a staff member’s position, the support required to deliver them, and a documented agreement on relevant learning and development opportunities.

Mid-cycle team conversations encourage discussions on team performance and complement the regular individual focus characteristic of Workplace Conversations.

In 2010–11, over 90 per cent of Museum employees participated and successfully completed the Workplace Conversations process.

Sustaining a consultative culture

The Museum is proud of its consultative culture and has successfully embedded a consultation framework that provides all employees with the opportunity to be an integral part of the decision-making process. The Museum Consultative Forum, consisting of the Director, representatives appointed by the Director and staff representatives, oversees and engages on strategic issues impacting on the Museum. This forum is supplemented by a Workplace Consultative Committee that monitors and consults on operational matters affecting Museum staff.

The Museum also works closely with the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) on all relevant matters affecting staff and a CPSU representative also sits on the Museum Consultative Forum.

Supporting and making workplace diversity a priority

A fundamental aim of the Museum is to deliver exhibitions and programs that encourage awareness and understanding of Australian history and culture. Museum staff play an integral role in delivering these exhibitions and programs by bringing diverse perspectives, backgrounds and understandings to their work. Accordingly, the Museum constantly strives to maintain and encourage diversity within the workplace. The Museum’s Workplace Diversity Plan seeks to create an environment that is supportive of people’s diversity by building knowledge and capabilities from many backgrounds within the Museum, having business processes that support diversity, and developing diverse ways to work.

In 2010–11, the Museum formally established a Workplace Diversity Reference Group and three supporting workgroups to represent the following groups: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment, disability, and cultural and linguistic diversity. Each workgroup is developing strategies and implementation plans for consideration by the Workplace Diversity Reference Group.

This year, progress has been achieved through the ongoing promotion of APS values relating to diversity, maintaining a network of workplace support contacts and giving attention to increasing awareness and developing skills on ways to prevent bullying and harassment in the workplace. The Museum continues to be a member of the Australian Network on Disability, an employer group dedicated to improving employment conditions for people with disabilities, and has reviewed accessibility issues by ensuring Museum facilities are updated to comply with current building code requirements.

The Museum continued to take particular measures during the year to provide and support employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Particular highlights include:

  • ongoing commitment to an Indigenous Employment Support network
  • ongoing support for three cadets
  • engagement of an ongoing Volunteers and Diversity Support Officer.

The Museum is proud that the first Indigenous cadet, Rebecca Richards, graduated with honours, completed an internship with the Smithsonian Institution and was selected to be Australia’s first Aboriginal Rhodes Scholar.

The Museum received financial assistance from the Workplace Modification Scheme for staff through JobAccess, a government initiative to assist with workplace solutions for the employment of people with disabilities.

Museum staff diversity

GroupNo.% total staff
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 14 5.3
People with disabilities 5 1.9
Culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds 40 15
Females 182 68

Enhancing our capability through learning and development

The Museum’s corporate training program is aligned with its capability profile and strategic business objectives. During 2010–11, the program focused on building capability in leadership, interpersonal skills and building better relationships, writing, performance management and application of the APS Values and Code of Conduct.

As in previous years, the Museum participated in the Cultural Management Development Program, with one employee successfully completing the program at the end of 2010. The Museum continued to assist staff to undertake formal tertiary or other educational studies that link to the corporate and operational requirements of the Museum, and the Workplace Agreement provides special provisions for staff to learn languages other than English.

Other staff training focused on core behaviours, skills and knowledge required by staff across the Museum, and included:

  • ‘respectful workplace behaviour’ training
  • seminars on OHS for all staff, through induction presentations, as well as focused OHS presentations for visitor services teams
  • manual handling training
  • security awareness training
  • courses for first aid officers, wardens and section health and safety representatives.

Recognising people

Staff recognition at the Museum is usually expressed formally between those involved in individual performance management via the Workplace Conversations framework. This is a critical level of recognition, stressing the importance of having constructive conversations, aligned with strategic and business priorities, throughout the year.

To provide wider recognition of significant contributions and achievements by its staff, the Director presented Australia Day Achievement Medallions to four employees, including one volunteer, who had made noteworthy contributions to the work of the Museum during the past year or over a number of years.

Staff achievements and news are published regularly on the Museum’s intranet and through the internal newsletter, the Loop.

The contribution of volunteers

This financial year 105 volunteers contributed 6179 hours, or 3.2 full-time equivalents, to areas including curatorial, administration and festival days. Volunteers also contributed to:

  • Education: Thirty-two volunteers contributed 2695 hours assisting in the delivery of the Museum’s Education programs, enhancing the students’ and teachers’ experience of Australian history. Volunteers also helped visitor services hosts with introductions for teacher-guided groups.
  • Public Programs: Four volunteers assisted in delivering school holiday programs for families.
  • Library: Two volunteers spent 124 hours assisting Library staff.
  • Exhibitions: Twenty-five volunteers contributed 683 hours in the Not Just Ned: A True History of the Irish in Australia temporary exhibition, helping visitors to research their own family history.
  • Office of the Principle Indigenous Advisor to the Director: One volunteer contributed 79 hours providing research and office assistance.

The Museum’s largest volunteer program supports the 130-year-old paddle steamer, PS Enterprise — the crew being drawn entirely from volunteers. Depending on qualifications and experience, the 38 volunteers perform various roles aboard the vessel: master, mate, engineer, leading deckhand, deckhand and galley hand. The crew brought the PS Enterprise to life each weekend from September 2010 to May 2011. In 2010–11 the volunteer crew contributed 1833 hours, ensuring the PS Enterprise operated most weekends.

Post-separation employment

There were no applications for post-separation employment during the year.

Making the Museum accessible and safe

The Museum recognises the importance of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. Compliance with the Act helps to identify and remove barriers that might prevent people with disabilities from accessing Museum programs, services and employment opportunities. The Museum meets its obligations under the Act by implementing the Commonwealth Disability Strategy and the Museum’s Disability Action Plan. Additionally, the Museum has:

  • developed and implemented the Assistance Animal Access Guidelines and Procedures, referred to as model policy by the Australian Human Rights Commission
  • introduced braille and large-print maps and guides, created by CanBraille at the Canberra Blind Society
  • implemented countertop hearing induction loops for visitors with hearing impairment
  • joined the National Relay Service, training key staff to receive these calls
  • provided visitor services hosts with training to assist and interact with people who have a carer or assistance animal, or who are vision, hearing or intellectually impaired.

Educational and developmental opportunities

The Museum continued to be a sought-after venue for secondary and tertiary students seeking work experience, with ten students undertaking work experience placements, primarily in our visitor services team, during the year.

The Education section continued to host interns and undergraduates as part of their tertiary studies. Interns from the Australian National University’s Museums and Collections program, which is coordinated jointly between the Museum’s Centre for Historical Research and the university, were also hosted at the Museum.

Promoting a healthy and safe workplace

The occupational health and safety (OHS) of staff, volunteers, visitors and contractors continued to be a priority for the Museum during 2010–11. This was achieved through the Museum’s well-established framework for OHS management, which includes:

  • regular OHS Committee meetings
  • health and safety representatives and deputies in each of the five designated work groups
  • targeted safety improvements
  • incident reporting and investigation
  • provision of timely information to employees via a dedicated intranet website.

There was a renewed focus on developing the awareness of health and safety issues among Museum staff and volunteers, especially at the Mitchell sites. Some of the initiatives undertaken to achieve this include voluntary health assessments, providing access to a quit-smoking course at no cost and providing flu vaccinations to all Museum staff and volunteers.

Training for staff and volunteers is recognised as being one of the key elements in achieving and maintaining a high standard of workplace safety. Training provided during 2010–11 included:

  • online OHS training courses for all new employees
  • induction presentations for all visitor services hosts focusing on their OHS obligations to each other and to the public
  • training courses focusing on the OHS obligations of managers and supervisors
  • ongoing recruitment and training of wardens, first aid officers, and health and safety representatives.

The Museum continued to ensure that all contractors working on Museum sites receive a site induction prior to commencing work. Site inductions aim to increase contractor awareness of OHS obligations and to reduce the risk of injury and/or damage to collection items. The Museum enhanced its practice of identifying, assessing and rectifying safety hazards in a functional and practical way, which also takes environmental and aesthetic aspects into consideration. Inspection and reporting tools have been reviewed and disseminated to health and safety representatives to help them conduct regular workplace inspections and report findings to the OHS Committee.

Advice on OHS issues is also fed into the exhibition and gallery development programs, including both the Landmarks gallery development and the temporary exhibition program. Input was provided at all stages of these programs, from design to installation.

There were a total of 98 minor injuries (those that require no medical treatment or only first aid treatment and include potential exposures to chemicals) and five serious injuries (those that require emergency medical attention by a doctor, in a hospital or in an ambulance) reported by staff, visitors or contractors during the year. There were also eight dangerous occurrences (those incidents that could have, but did not, result in serious injury or death). The serious injuries and dangerous occurrences were reported to Comcare in accordance with Section 68 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991. There were no fatalities or provisional improvement notices recorded during the year.

Category of person injured, 2010–11

Causes of injury or dangerous occurrences, 2006–11

Column graph indicating the causes of injury or dangerous occurences with the financial years 2006-11 represented by four different colours. The causes are divided into falls/slips/trips, body stressing, hitting objects, being hit by objects, heat/radiation, electricity, other. Falls/slips/trips is the most common occurrence reported for each of the financial years.

Category and number of reported incidents, 2006–11

Year Minor injuries Serious injuries Dangerous occurrences
2006–07 63 0 4
2007–08 60 3 5
2008–09 85 6 3
2009–10 89 1 1
2010–11 98 5 8


During 2010–11 the Museum’s Security section continued to maintain a safe and secure environment for visitors, staff, contractors and collections, including the National Historical Collection, and all Museum buildings and infrastructure.

Security camera upgrades continued this year and the Museum also installed additional cameras and electronic door locks, alarms and signage to provide enhanced security to the Museum’s assets.

Indemnities and insurance

In accordance with Section 16 of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies (Report of Operations) Orders 2008, which requires reporting on indemnities and insurance premiums for officers, the Museum confirms that it has:

  • director’s and officers’ liability insurance cover through Comcover, the Commonwealth self-managed fund
  • not entered into any deeds of indemnity in relation to director’s and officers’ liability.

The Museum reviewed its insurance coverage during the year to ensure that it remained appropriate for its operations. It also participated in the Comcover Risk Management Benchmarking program, which recognised the ongoing positive impact of the Museum’s risk management framework and activities by awarding the Museum a discount on its 2011–12 insurance premium.

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