The Australian Public Service (APS) 澳洲公務人員體系
One of the foundational institutions of our democracy is the Australian Public Service, the APS – or ‘civil service’. The APS performs a critical role, supporting the government of the day to perform efficiently and effectively in order to fulfil its responsibilities. It is apolitical, merit-based, open, and underpinned by integrity.
Just like other institutions, the APS also needs to continually reform to remain “fit for purpose” – to prepare for future opportunities and challenges, and to best serve all citizens now, and in the future. A well-functioning civil service is essential to create a more prosperous economy and society for all citizens.
For civil servants, the APS offers us the opportunity to make our societies a better place, and make a real difference to peoples’ lives. In essence, our role is to serve the community – to deliver on the government’s priorities, to provide the highest quality advice, to ensure high-quality services, and to implement decisions effectively and efficiently.
Australia is a federation comprising the Australian Government, and six states and two territory governments, each with their own civil service. The APS has 150,000 employees, 14 different Departments and some 100 agencies and authorities, in more than 500 locations across Australia and around the world. It is supported by the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) – a small policy agency that works to position our workforce for the future, and ensure it meets the expectations of the Australian Government and people. The APSC works to: support quality workforce management; build leadership for the future; lift capability; and foster trust in civil service integrity.
The APSC’s Commissioner reports annually to the Australian Parliament on the state of the APS, including changes in the environment and infrastructure of the APS and emerging issues.
The APS seeks to reflect the diversity of Australian society, including specific strategies to attract more Indigenous people, people with a disability, and people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, into the APS. This enables us to better support the Australian people, and to better engage with our international partners.
We believe the APS performs at its best when we work together, with a clear purpose, bringing together different perspectives and disciplines to address challenges – ensuring the best possible governance, and the best possible service.
The challenge of COVID clearly underscored the importance of the APS, and the importance of good governance. Just as in Taiwan, our civil service was called on to demonstrate enormous flexibility, resilience, and compassion. We have played a central role in protecting people’s health, and supporting communities recover from a global pandemic – providing high – quality advice to government, protecting our citizens at home and overseas, and supporting wellbeing and productivity.
The APS Values, Employment Principles, and Code of Conduct
In Australia, civil servants are bound by a set of values – the APS Values – and a Code of Conduct, which underpin our work and all our dealings with government and the Australian people.
The Values embody the principles of good public administration which lie at the heart of the democratic process, and the confidence that the public has in the way civil servants exercise authority when meeting government objectives. The Values require that civil servants are impartial, committed to service, accountable, respectful and ethical.
Good public administration is a protection not only against inefficiency and poor performance, but also against fraud, corruption, inequity, inability to conduct business confidently, and infringement of human rights.
Crucially, the APS is apolitical and provides the Government with advice that is frank, honest, timely and based on the best available evidence; it is seen as trustworthy; and is open and accountable to the Australian community under law.
We also have a set of Employment Principles, that are a statement of standards for the APS as an employer and provide for employment arrangements that are fair and transparent, and a safe, diverse, non-discriminatory and merit-based workplace.
Together, the APS Values and Employment Principles shape the organisational culture of the APS. They are core components of a positive culture, fostering high performance and leadership, and a united 'one APS'.
Senior leaders in the APS are required to uphold the Values and Employment Principles, and to promote them by personal example.
All civil servants are required to comply with the Code of Conduct, and at all times to uphold the APS Values and Employment Principles, and the integrity and good reputation of their agency and the APS. A breach of the Code of Conduct can result in sanctions, ranging from a reprimand to termination of employment.
The APS has a range of career opportunities, while also providing the scope to change career direction. Recruitment is conducted by individual agencies through a competitive process, and many people start in the APS though a graduate trainee program. Mid-career professionals can also join the APS and utilise the skills they have already developed elsewhere. And people can also start in an administrative support or client service role and then develop their skills for managerial, technical or professional careers.
APS jobs are advertised widely, and applicants have a chance to review the job description, selection criteria, and the standards expected of the job’s level. The APS recruits staff based on merit, which means that from a field of applicants, we select the best person for the job. To do this we compare and weigh-up the skills, abilities and experience of each applicant. We use different tools and techniques, such as written applications, CVs, interviews and work-sample tests, to collect the evidence we need to make a merit-based decision.
Although it is generally expected that people will be Australian citizens to work in the APS, agencies may choose to employ non-citizens who have the relevant work permits. Other requirements may include a health clearance, security and character clearances (including a police check), a period of probation, or meeting all of the requirements of the employing agency’s entry level training program.
Although Canberra is typically seen as the ‘home’ of the APS, around two-thirds of employees are located outside Canberra. The vast majority of jobs are open to the Australian community. Only a very small number are for people already in the APS.
However, some jobs are advertised as only available to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. These are jobs where knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and cultures, as well as the ability to communicate sensitively with Indigenous Australians, are required. Generally they will involve the development or delivery of Indigenous specific policies, programs or services.
The APS also takes measures to support the employment of people with disability, and makes reasonable workplace adjustments on the understanding that people with disability can often perform the tasks of a job where adjustments are made to allow them to work to the best of their ability. A particular job in the APS may also be open only to people with disability, or with a particular type of disability, helping address the under-representation of people with disability in APS agencies.
When applying for a job it is likely that applicants will be asked to submit a written application along with their CV. This could be in the form of a statement addressing particular selection criteria, or a short ‘pitch’ or statement setting out their skills, abilities and experience relevant to the job.
Applicants need to provide evidence to back up their claims, using actual, specific examples of what they have done, how well they did it, what they achieved, and how it relates to the requirements of the job.
Applications are assessed by a Selection Committee, formed for the specific purpose of determining which applicant should be awarded a specific position. Applications are assessed against the requirements of the job and compared with other applicants to make a short-list of those applicants who are suitable, or most suitable, to be considered further. This comparison is generally done by examining an applicant’s CV, application, statement or pitch. Short-listing may sometimes involve a phone or video interview, or use online assessment methods such as video interviews, multiple choice questions or psychometric testing. Virtual or face-to-face interviews may include behavioural-based questions and/or hypothetical scenario questions.
As part of, or in place of an interview, applicants may also be asked to do exercises such as a work sample test, a presentation, or psychometric testing. If an agency is recruiting for a number of jobs, applicants may go through an assessment centre which could include group work exercises.
Following the interview or other forms of assessment, the selection panel makes a recommendation to the decisionmaker about who is most suitable for the job. They may first contact referees for confirmation of applicants’ skills, abilities and experience. Once the panel’s recommendation is approved, the successful applicant is offered the job. Unsuccessful applicants can seek feedback on their application, their performance at the interview or on other assessment activities, or where they may need to improve their skills and abilities or gain more experience.
Once in the APS, employees continue to engage in lifelong, continuous learning. This can include graduate and postgraduate study, secondments to other organisations, on the job training, or study through the APS Academy – our national academy. The Academy provides formal learning and professional development opportunities across the APS, and works to build skills in what we call ‘public-service craft’.
Each APS agency is also responsible for implementing a Performance Management Framework that assists with this ongoing learning and development, with rewarding and recognising talent, and managing underperformance when required.
Recruitment, retention and the ongoing development of talented civil servants is central to maintaining an effective civil service. And an effective civil service is a foundational institution of any democracy, and in Australia, the civil service is today more nimble and agile, more collaborative, and more professional than ever before.
We face many challenges and opportunities, and through them we have a chance to make a real, positive difference to people’s lives. No matter our specific role, our work will ultimately impact the lives of our fellow citizens.
This is both a great privilege and a great responsibility. One that must be carried out with integrity, professionalism and humility, and which relies on an efficient, effective, and fair system of recruitment that puts merit at its apex. By ensuring that the best person is hired for any APS job, we ensure that the APS serves the Australian community to the best our ability.
There is no manual on how to be a successful public servant. But as our APS Commissioner Peter Woolcott recently told our new recruits:
Be authentic, and true to yourself.
Be bold and put your ideas forward.
Be open, be curious and be collegial.
Think creatively, and do not be afraid of failure.
If you make mistakes, own them and learn from them.
Always proceed with integrity, honesty and a good conscience and ask for guidance if you need it.
Be well informed, beyond the area of your expertise, understand the whole of government context, and the political and the global context.
Fundamental to the public service is that we are impartial.
Embrace challenges and embrace change. Be adaptable and open to different ways of working and thinking.
By following these principles, by recruiting a high quality and diverse staff, and by listening carefully to the needs of the community, the APS will continue to deliver the essential services and provide the outstanding policy advice that has served Australia so well to date.
本文作者為澳洲駐台代表Jenny Bloomfield 露珍怡，授權轉載自《國家人力資源論壇》。更多精彩內容，請<點此> （編按：露珍怡女士日前離任，現任澳洲駐台代表為Robert Fergusson馮國斌）