Capability and development


Identifying emerging and developing current leaders continues to be a priority for the Commission. During 2011/12, the Commission delivered its long-term strategic initiative to enable the profiling of the public sector’s senior executives and leadership cohorts.

Future leaders

The revitalised ‘Graduate future leaders’ program launched in 2012 was redesigned for graduates who have recently commenced employment in the public sector. The competencies are aligned to the Public Sector Training Package, Certificate IV in Government.

Thirty-five graduates were provided with a cross-sector perspective on the political, legislative, policy and operational environment in which they work. The program complements agency-specific induction and development programs, and provides opportunities to meet public sector leaders, senior executives and technical experts.

Ms Francine Goss contributes to discussion at the ‘Graduate future leaders’ programMs Francine Goss contributes to discussion at the ‘Graduate future leaders’ program.

Foundations of leadership and Pathways to leadership programs

In 2011/12, 50 places were awarded to participants across the ‘Foundations of leadership’ and ‘Pathways to leadership’ programs. Emerging leaders (levels 5-9) from metropolitan and regional agencies were selected to participate.

The programs provide participants with opportunities to enhance and build their leadership skills, and increase their awareness and understanding of public sector policy and management issues. This is achieved through the teaching of leadership tools and strategies, and the opportunity to participate in individual and group learning modelled on contemporary leadership and management theory and practice. During the period, 20 participants graduated from each program.

Public Sector Management program

The ‘Public Sector Management’ program enhances the knowledge and skills of middle to senior public sector managers and emerging leaders. This tertiary program awards participants with a Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Management.

The program allows managers and emerging leaders from the Commonwealth, State and local government sectors to combine tertiary study with experiential learning, providing valuable opportunities for improved workplace performance.

In the program’s 20th year, 68 Western Australian public sector employees graduated. The Commissioner acknowledged this milestone with a ceremony attended by recent and past graduates as well as agency heads.

Dr Kim Schofield congratulates ‘Pathways to leadership’ graduate Ms Tracey CullenDr Kim Schofield congratulates ‘Pathways to leadership’ graduate Ms Tracey Cullen.

Australia and New Zealand School of Government

The Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) ‘Executive Fellows Program’ commenced in November 2011, with four senior executive service representatives from WA completing the course.

Ten scholarships to the ANZSOG’s ‘Executive Master of Public Administration’ were awarded to public sector employees. In 2011/12, previous WA scholarship recipients were engaged to develop and implement Commission programs.

Joint applied learning program

The ‘Joint applied learning’ program is a formal collaborative partnership between ANZSOG and the Commission. It provides a structured program of leadership development events for sector CEOs, senior executives and aspiring leaders.

Participation in ANZSOG affords the Commission access to international and national expertise. This enables scholarship recipients from the ANZSOG programs to build public sector capacity.

The Commission presented 24 leadership events, attended by more than 1200 participants and featuring eight international and national guest speakers. These events included:

  • ‘Leadership in challenging times’, presented by Professor Paul Porteous
  • ‘Delivering good policy: myths, challenges, systems and opportunities’, presented by Associate Professor Anne Tiernan
  • ‘Supporting good decision making: learning to write the killer briefing note’, presented in the Kimberley region by Monica Pfeffer.

Leadership forums

Through these forums attended by heads of agencies, the Commissioner responded to identified public sector issues, including the streamlined accountability instruments, greater support for ethical decision making training, increased breadth of skills and development programs and new strategies such as the Aboriginal employment strategy 2011-2015. In 2011/12, the forums included:

  • presentations to 29 agency corporate executives
  • six applied learning workshops attended by 80 CEOs
  • nine forums attended by 72 regional managers
  • one ‘Women in leadership’ forum attended by 23 CEOs.


The Commission has established and delivered a model to support participants in leadership development programs. Mentoring is an important component of the model and has been integrated into a number of development programs including the ‘Aboriginal traineeship’ program, ‘Foundations of government human resources’ program, and both the ‘Foundations of leadership’ and ‘Pathways to leadership’ programs.

Leadership development system

The leadership development system is a talent management system that includes an employee profile and capability assessment. This tool has enabled the Commission to establish alumni groups from previous development programs and will assist in identifying and tracking high-potential employees. This system will support the Commission to tailor targeted development opportunities to agency heads, the senior executive service and aspiring leaders.

Workforce and diversity planning

Workforce planning continued to be a high priority for the Commission, promoted via an advice and consultation service, professional development and training, and resource materials for public sector agencies.

In 2011/12, workforce planning initiatives included the commencement of a mid-point evaluation of Strategic directions for the public sector workforce 2009-2014 as well as its inclusion in CEO performance agreements. The Commission expanded the online workforce planning toolkit for public sector agencies (comprising more than 80 tools) and delivered 16 workshops relating to attraction, retention, workforce capacity, regional issues, leadership, and public sector flexibility and efficiency.

Commissioner’s Circular 2011-02 - Workforce planning and diversity in the public sector encourages agencies to develop a workforce plan by 30 June 2012 to ensure they are well-positioned to respond to an anticipated increase in demand on public services due to economic, social, technological, environmental and political factors.

As at 30 June 2012, workforce plans were received from 61 of 102 public sector agencies, with a further 28 agencies being provided with an extension (22 of this 28 are expected to be received by 30 September 2012). Once submitted, 99 per cent of the public sector workforce (134 833 employees) will be covered by a workforce plan.

In 2012/13, the Commission will shift its focus from developing workforce plans to assisting agencies with implementing the plans.

Equal opportunity in public employment

The Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment (DEOPE) is a statutory officer with responsibility for the functions outlined in Part IX of the EO Act. Part IX aims to remove discrimination in employment and promotes equal opportunity for all employees within public authorities. The DEOPE is co-located with the Commission and works towards common objectives associated with supporting quality practices in equal employment opportunity and diversity.

For full details on the functions and activities of the DEOPE, see the DEOPE Annual report 2011/12 on the Commission’s website.

Aboriginal employment strategy 2011-2015 - Building a diverse public sector workforce

The Commission, in collaboration with agencies and Aboriginal employees, developed the Aboriginal employment strategy 2011-2015 for the Western Australian public sector. The strategy focuses on long term, sustainable employment opportunities and career pathways for Aboriginal people across the sector.

Launched by the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, the Hon. Peter Collier MLC and the Commissioner on 5 October 2011, the strategy is a key component in Western Australia’s commitment to the Council of Australian Government’s Indigenous Economic Participation National Partnership. The strategy provides the sector with a blueprint for achieving the State’s commitment to increase Aboriginal employment in the public sector to 3.2 per cent by 2015.

The Commission has established a dedicated Aboriginal Employment Unit responsible for the implementation of the strategy. A key component of implementing the strategy is the employment of 30 Aboriginal young people in government traineeship positions. The trainees have been seconded to metropolitan-based agencies for the duration of their traineeship. The Commission has also commenced employment of regional Aboriginal trainees.

To build the capability of Aboriginal leaders, the Commission funded four Aboriginal scholarships in 2011/12. These scholarship provided two placements in the ‘Public Sector Management’ program, and one placement in each of the ‘Foundations of leadership’ and ‘Pathways to leadership’ programs.

Recruiting a skilled public sector workforce

Promoting public sector employment and government skills

The Commission has a key role in promoting public sector employment to prospective employees and advancing the development of career skills. To this end, the Commission liaises with educational institutions promoting specific programs as well as general entry-level employment opportunities.

In 2011/12, the Commission presented to high school students on career paths and delivered information sessions to university career advisory services and vocational education and training coordinators.

Entry-level employment program

The Commission coordinates the ‘Entry-level employment’ program which provides agencies with access to job seekers who are interested in entry-level public administration positions. Agencies sourced candidates from the program for level 1 administrative positions on a fixed-term or permanent basis.

In 2011/12, the Commission facilitated 232 placements across the public sector.


In February 2012, the Commission successfully launched the ‘Government traineeship’ program. This is an employment-based training initiative for young people aged 25 years and under to develop entry-level employment skills while earning a wage and completing either a Certificate II, III or IV in Government.

Designed to replace the ‘Business traineeship’ program, the program prepares young people for a career in the public sector, developing sector-specific skills while focusing on the ethical and legislative aspects of public sector employment. In 2011/12, the Commission placed 87 full-time trainees within 21 public sector agencies.

Working in partnership with the Swan Education Industry Training Association, the Commission continued to facilitate the ‘School-based traineeship’ program. This initiative provides year 11 and 12 students with employment in a public sector agency for two days per week as part of their school program.

In 2011/12, 45 school-based traineeships were offered.

Internship program

The public sector internship program provides final year university students with work experience opportunities on a range of initiatives across the sector. The program also aims to raise the profile of the sector amongst university students and increase awareness of the diversity of career opportunities available.

In 2011/12, 44 students were placed in agencies for one day per week over the course of one semester. Students were engaged on an unpaid basis to complete a project for the agency under the guidance of an agency supervisor. Eighty-four per cent of interns indicated they would pursue a career in the public sector after the program.

Public sector induction

The Induction to the Western Australian public sector - a handbook for new employees was developed to support the Commission’s whole-of-sector monthly induction seminars. The seminars give participants an understanding of what it means to be a public sector employee and where they fit in the broader public sector, while complementing agency-based inductions, codes of conduct and relevant policy and procedures.

In 2011/12, 486 new public sector employees attended the seminars, with presentations on accountability and integrity requirements from three of the sector’s leading integrity bodies.

Ms Amy Manners attends the Commission’s whole-of-sector induction seminarMs Amy Manners attends the Commission’s whole-of-sector induction seminar.

Developing public sector employees

Foundations of government human resources program

The Commission collaborated with public sector agencies to build the capacity of human resource practitioners across the sector through the development of the inaugural ‘Foundations of government human resources’ program.

The program keeps pace with contemporary human resource theory and practice, is mapped to the human resources capability framework for the public sector, and covers eight elective units of competency from the Certificate IV in Government. The six-month program comprises six modules delivered as a series of one-day workshops. Upon successful completion of the program, participants achieve the Certificate IV in Government or the Certificate IV in Government Human Resources.

Policy capability framework

The Executive Coordinating Committee (ECC) is a committee of CEOs established to oversee the implementation of endorsed recommendations of the Economic Audit Committee. A priority of the ECC is to build the policy capacity and capability of the public sector. In 2012, the Commission became the lead agency in a collaborative project to develop a policy capability framework to improve policy skills within the sector.

A draft framework has been developed in consultation with the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and the Policy Capability Framework Reference Group. Feedback from agency heads will be sought prior to submission to the Committee for implementation.

Supervising talent program

The Commission piloted a ‘Supervising talent’ program, providing professional development for supervisors of trainees across the public sector. The program develops the supervision, mentoring and training capabilities of trainee supervisors.

In 2011/12, 23 participants received a nationally-recognised skill set from the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

Study assistance scheme

The Commission has established alliances with four Western Australian universities to provide public sector employees a 10 per cent discount on courses for a range of government-related postgraduate and masters programs.

In 2011/12, the Commission negotiated with the universities to expand the list from 35 to 126 courses available under the scheme. Also during the period, 186 study assistance applications were processed.

Ethics and accountability

Conduct guide

In 2011/12, the Commission prepared two Commissioner’s instructions; the first reissuing the Code of Ethics and the second requiring all public sector bodies to develop and promote a code of conduct and provide employees with training on accountable and ethical decision making. The Conduct guide has been published to support these instructions, assisting public sector bodies to develop or review their codes.

Accountable and ethical decision making

The ‘Accountable and ethical decision making’ program continues to be a priority for the Commission to inform and educate employees about ethical requirements in the public sector.

In 2011/12, the program was reviewed and resulted in two changes. First, the ‘conflict of interest’ module has been updated to include an emphasis on the risks associated with the acceptance of gifts and benefits. Second, a new module on ‘the reporting of wrongdoing’ has been developed to ensure agencies are aware of—and actively address—their own integrity issues.

In this reporting period, the Commission delivered the program to:

  • seven new CEOs and directors general, taking the total of agency heads trained in ethical decision making to 132
  • 98 ministerial staff across all ministerial offices
  • 278 regional employees across a range of agencies
  • 1179 public sector employees from a range of metropolitan agencies.

Ms Rebecca Harris presents the Commission’s ‘Accountable and ethical decision making’ trainingMs Rebecca Harris presents the Commission’s ‘Accountable and ethical decision making’ training.

Public interest disclosure (PID)

The PID Act facilitates the disclosure of public interest information, provides protection for those making disclosures and those who are the subject of disclosures, and provides a system for the matters disclosed to be investigated and for appropriate action to be taken.

As well as being a named authority under the PID Act (as outlined in the Public interest disclosure reviews section), the Commission has responsibility to issue a code, raise awareness of PID and assist public authorities (public sector agencies, local government and public universities) to comply with the PID Act. In addition, the Commission provides training to PID officers in handling PID matters.

The Commission was represented as a best practice integrity body at the national Public Interest Disclosure Oversight Forum in May 2012. The Forum—hosted by the New South Wales Ombudsman’s office—was attended by key agencies from Australian jurisdictions who work with PID legislation. The Commission facilitated discussions on the provision of best practice advice and guidance materials to public authorities.

In 2011/12, the Commissioner met with the four WA public universities and the Western Australian Local Government Association to discuss local governments’ obligations under the PID Act and notify of potential changes to the PID Act proposed by the Attorney General.

Also during the period, the Commission contacted 237 PID Officers, trained 119 PID officers and responded to 473 requests for assistance on the PID advisory and information line.

Advising public authorities

The Commission assisted public authorities with questions regarding ethical obligations through a range of advisory services, including responding to phone and email enquiries, and meeting with public authorities to review their policies and codes of conduct.

Integrity Coordinating Group (ICG)

The Commissioner continued to be an active member of the ICG, which was established to promote and strengthen integrity in Western Australian public authorities.

The ICG works collaboratively on developing common resource materials around integrity issues that cover the work of all agencies. In 2011/12, the Commission continued to deliver workshops around the ICG’s premier products: Conflicts of interest and Integrity in decision making.

Regional development

The Commission conducts regular regional training and development sessions as part of its commitment to ensuring the regional workforce has access to contemporary human resource and ethics knowledge and assistance.

Information sessions and workshops conducted have included:

  • highlights from the Commission’s State of the sector 2011 report
  • modules from the ‘Accountable and ethical decision making’ program
  • information to assist agencies to create a positive reporting culture
  • good governance training specifically for regional boards.

Twelve regions have been visited since July 2011, with the Commission presenting to 319 regional employees. Regional sessions were supported by the Commission through six video conferences and four regional broadcasts.

Public Sector Commissioner Mal Wauchope meets the Kalgoorlie-Esperance regional manager’s networkPublic Sector Commissioner Mal Wauchope meets the Kalgoorlie-Esperance regional manager’s network.

Photo ©Kalgoorlie Miner

Supporting the regions

In March 2012, the Commission was successful in securing ‘Royalties for Regions’ funding to support an expansion of services across regional Western Australia. Specifically, funding of $2.425 million was approved by Cabinet to enhance program delivery over a three year period to:

  • implement Strategic directions for the public sector workforce 2009-2014
  • establish contemporary learning and development programs and access to leadership development programs
  • provide training in accountable and ethical decision making and the PID Act
  • increase opportunities for entry-level employment and traineeships
  • increase Aboriginal employment programs
  • review the effectiveness of the project.

These initiatives will realise a range of real benefits, including an increased capacity to progress the public sector’s workforce planning agenda in a regional context.

Between March and June 2012, six memoranda of understanding were negotiated to ensure clarity and accountability for regional workforce initiatives that will be progressed in 2012-2015. In addition, three regional workshops relating to leadership and accountable and ethical decision making were delivered, attended by 70 people.

Regional development commissions

Following Cabinet endorsement in July 2011 of the Government response to the review of the functions and responsibilities of regional development commissions, the Commission was tasked to undertake:

  • a skills assessment of each regional development commission (RDC) in light of recommendation 8 of the Government’s response, which specifies the development of a new model for RDCs and the Regional Development Council through amendments to the current legislation
  • an assessment of whether the ‘non-core’ functions of each RDC could be undertaken by the Department of Regional Development and Lands
  • a review of the remuneration of RDC Board Members.

The Commission finalised its report in December 2011, with broad recommendations subsequently approved by Government. The recommendations will guide the next phase of the project which is the implementation of the model. The Regional Development Council, Department of Regional Development and Lands and the individual RDCs will jointly take on the responsibility to implement the recommendations, with the Public Sector Commission’s continuing oversight and assistance.


In 2011/12, the Commission delivered 460 professional development sessions to more than 11 000 participants, increasing awareness and understanding of whole-of-sector administration and management issues. The Commissioner also hosted a number collaborative and commemorative events, outlined below.

Excellence in public sector management

The ‘Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management’ is in its 17th year and offers an opportunity for agencies to promote projects that best serve the community of Western Australia.

The Commission—on behalf of the Premier—promotes, coordinates and manages the awards. The overall winner of the 2011 Premier’s Award was the Western Australian Museum for its collaborative project with Woodside Energy, ‘Exploring the marine diversity of northern Western Australia’. The awards were hosted at the State Reception Centre and were attended by 159 guests, including ministers and officials from public sector agencies, local governments, and universities.

For the first time, the awards were followed by an official tour of the winning agency, the Western Australian Museum. The Premier, Public Sector Commissioner and Director General of the Department of Culture and the Arts celebrated this achievement with the Western Australian Museum’s CEO, board members and staff.

Excellence and innovation

To recognise and reward innovative thinking across the sector, the Commission showcased Premier’s Award winners and other examples of best practice at the Commission’s annual ‘Excellence in the public sector’ conference. The Commission, in collaboration with the Institute of Public Administration Australia (WA), hosted the event attended by 135 participants and featuring speakers from across the public sector, local government and public universities.

In 2012, the Commission published an article ‘Reform and innovation: A partnership’ in Public Administration Today to highlight Western Australia’s achievements in these areas.

Sir Charles Court memorial

A statue commemorating the life and service of Sir Charles Court was unveiled on 29 September 2011, marking what would have been the 100th birthday of the former Premier.

The Commissioner facilitated the development of the memorial statue including providing support for the Steering Committee chaired by Alastair Bryant PSM. The memorial was originally proposed by former Premier, the Hon. Alan Carpenter, and became a symbol of bipartisan support for an important figure of Western Australia’s political history. Artist Tony Jones—known for Eliza, a much loved statue in the shallows of the Swan River at Crawley—was commissioned to complete the work.

Following speeches from the Premier of Western Australia, the Hon. Colin Barnett MLA, and former Premier, the Hon. Richard Court AC, the Governor, His Excellency Malcolm McCusker AO QC officially unveiled the memorial.

Former Premier, the Hon. Richard Court AC (on left), and the Premier of Western Australia, the Hon. Colin Barnett MLA officially unveil the Sir Charles Court memorialFormer Premier, the Hon. Richard Court AC (on left), and the Premier of Western Australia, the Hon. Colin Barnett MLA officially unveil the Sir Charles Court memorial.

Mission to Singapore

During this reporting period the Commission, in collaboration with the Department of State Development, identified an exchange program to further the interests of the Singapore and Western Australian Governments. The program fosters closer cooperation and collaboration between the two governments to help grow and further develop the respective countries and the region into the future.

On 15 March 2012, the Commissioner presented the ‘Public service exchange’ program to Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore. The presentation was part of the Premier of Western Australia’s official Mission to Singapore. To promote the program and develop relationships with allied agencies in Singapore the Commissioner met with the Office of the Prime Minister Public Service Division, Singapore Civil Service College, Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau and the Auditor General.

Possible exchange options have been developed by the Commission in consultation with the Commonwealth Department of Foreign Affairs and the Government of Western Australia’s Trade Office. It is anticipated the Commission will facilitate the first exchange in 2012/13.

International Women’s Day

In support of the 2012 International Women’s Day in March, the Commissioner invited all female CEOs and directors general, including those from local government and public universities, to hear from the former Agent General, Ms Kerry Sanderson AO.

Ms Sanderson shared her personal career journey through the public sector, with a focus on women in leadership roles. She discussed the progress made in this area over the years, key challenges that remain and proposed a course of action to strengthen the representation of women at senior levels.

Page last updated 4 November 2015