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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_23264" align="alignnone" width="400"]Freeze2 Navigating recruitment freezes.[/caption]

 

External recruitment freezes have become a harsh reality of life for Australian public servants as governments seek to contain wages and make savings, but is it possible to turn a no-hire zone into something positive?

The usual rules are that when a freeze is on, jobs can only be filled internally, although there are often exemptions such as some frontline staff, fixed-term positions linked to specific projects and critical or revenue-raising positions that cannot be filled internally.

Responses to the hiring ban can include staff acting up or people being transferred or seconded, or the dreaded: hiring contractors.

The painful Australian Public Service hiring freeze began late in 2013 and lasted until mid-2015, after more than 10,000 jobs were shed. Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett announced a six-month halt to external recruitment in December last year, after forecasting a $3.1 billion hole in the state’s finances by the end of June 2016.

Karen Evans, Managing Director of talent management company Acendre, which has many public service clients, spoke to Government News about how to survive and thrive when non-essential hiring shuts down.

On paper a hiring freeze might appear grim and morale sapping but it can give also managers a chance to take stock of the people and range of skills that they have and to concentrate on training, developing and promoting them.

It can also force people to think more strategically and critically about how efficiently they are working and to streamline processes. Of course, it may also leave staff feeling overworked or fearful about losing their jobs in the future.

Ms Evans said human resources had an “absolutely critical role” to play - even in the short term - to support staff, explain the changes and manage them through it.

“HR needs to get itself geared up to support their organisation, particularly initially,” she said. “A lot of managers will be wanting to fill critical roles where they may not be able to. How does HR support them?

“There are changes but there are also huge opportunities with something like this. It’s a chance to think outside the box,” Ms Evans said. “Personally, I would be saying don’t try to sit tight and just wait it out.”

She suggested managers looked at the roles and skills of the staff that they do have and list the skills and roles needed within the organisation.

“Put development plans in place to revise or change roles that you actually need.”

The focus should then be on upskilling staff and giving them opportunities to take on different responsibilities, perform new tasks or accept leadership roles in order to drive their enthusiasm.

“People can get a lot of up and cross-skilling and their engagement really lifts. Put development plans in place for individuals. [Ask] can you merge or upskill roles?”

There is also the chance to work more closely with other departments and agencies and collaborate on projects or even share staff.

For example, the federal government's hiring freeze, it set up a business centre made up of part-time staff and underused staff and funnelled excess work from various teams.

Ms Evans said it was also important to look at staff ready to redeploy and think about how to get them working in another department or agency.

It can also be useful to seek advice from other departments or the same department at a different level of government that have already been through a hiring freeze.

Brisbane City Council reduced the number of contracts it had and moved functions in-house.

“It was a huge saving and it really drove engagement from people within the organisation, being able to do different things and increase their capabilities. It also helped teams work together in a more effective way,” she said.

Despite the opportunities available, there is no point pretending that everyone will be happy about the freeze. It could lower morale, hit productivity or lead to employees walking out the door.

The key to preventing this situation is to engage staff early on, explain what the changes might mean to them and come up with a plan to mitigate the more harmful effects, said Ms Evans.

"Use this as an opportunity because I do think it is one.”
                    [post_title] => Best of 2016: How to survive and thrive under a public sector hiring freeze
                    [post_excerpt] => Upskill, collaborate, communicate.
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                    [post_content] =>  

[caption id="attachment_21485" align="alignnone" width="300"]turnbull train Malcolm takes the train[/caption]

The new broom sweeping through Canberra may have significant consequences for major state government rail projects. Malcolm Turnbull has specifically repudiated his predecessor Tony Abbott’s comment that Commonwealth government funding for infrastructure should be limited to roads.

Turnbull, a noted bus and train traveller, said the Commonwealth should not discriminate between modes of transportation. “There is no ‘roads are not better than mass transit’ or vice versa, each has their place,” said Mr Turnbull after winning the leadership of the Liberal Party.

“Infrastructure should be assessed objectively and rationally on its merit. There is no place for ideology here at all.’’

A number of state leaders have taken Mr Turnbull's comments as a sign that he may back public transport projects in their own backyards.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews met with Mr Turnbull within days of his elevation to the prime ministership. They discussed, amongst other things, funding for Melbourne Metro rail project, which is proceeding apace after the incoming Andrews Labor government cancelled the giant East-west link road project,

“I would welcome a strong and significant financial contribution from the Turnbull government in recognition of the new Prime Minister's clear sense that public transport is so important,” Mr Andrews said.

Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said she had already sent list of potential rail projects to Mr Turnbull, including a ‘no brainer’ business case for extending the Gold Coast’s successful light right project ahead of the city’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games in April 2018.

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett said on ABC radio that he hoped Mr Turnbull would expand the Federal Government's infrastructure funding to include rail as well as roads. Mr Barnett’s government is facing funding problems with its proposed Max light rail project and airport rail link.

Mr Turnbull's comments about funding have been interpreted as a direct dig at Tony Abbott, who wrote in his 2009 book Battlelines of ‘Kings in Their Own Cars’, saying public transport was not suited to Australia’s sprawling ‘suburban metropolises’.

“In Australia’s big cities, public transport is generally slow, expensive, not especially reliable and a still a hideous drain of the public purse. Part of the problem is inefficient, over-manned, union-dominated, government-run train and bus systems," Mr Abbott said in his book.

“Mostly, there just aren’t enough people wanting to go from a particular place to a particular destination at a particular time to justify any vehicle larger than a car, and cars need roads.”

Mr Abbott’s bias against public transport was seen by many as part of his ideological mindset. In 2013 he said: “We have no history of funding urban rail and I think it is important that we stick to our knitting. And the Commonwealth’s knitting when it comes to funding infrastructure is roads.”

If a week is a long time in politics, then the last seven days has been an eternity.

 

 

 
                    [post_title] => PM’s public transport comments encourage state leaders
                    [post_excerpt] => Infrastructure does not mean only roads, says Malcolm Turnbull
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                    [post_content] => JUST SAY NO

Local councils in Western Australia are gearing up for a fight after WA Local Government Minister Tony Simpson said he wanted a ‘discussion’ on council rates and WA Premier Colin Barnett called some council rate rises “unacceptable”.

Mr Simpson had initially threatened to hold a ministerial inquiry into council rates, which would have included the possibility of introducing rate capping – a regime loathed by NSW councils, that have been saddled with it since 1978.

An inquiry would have been sure to look at whether to yoke rate increases to the Consumer Price Index, which is currently at its lowest in years, or to the Local Government Cost Index, which measures how much council expenditure has risen.

Last month, WA Premier Colin Barnett slammed recent WA council rate rises, some of which were double the CPI of 2.5 per cent and said that the government was looking at ways of forcing councils to keep a lid on rate rises.

But the state government’s comments have left the WA Local Government Association (WALGA) hopping mad.

WALGA President Lynne Craigie has warned that if rate capping goes head in WA the state would wind up with drastically run-down infrastructure as councils scrambled to underwrite maintenance costs and spent far less on asset management, a process which she said had been happening for years in NSW.

Ms Craigie also hit back at state government criticisms of local council rate increases.

“Local Government is the only sphere of government that isn’t operating in a massive deficit situation,” Ms Craigie said.

“Criticism of local government rates’ increases above 5 per cent doesn’t compare to State charges increasing far beyond this such as the Emergency Services Levy, up 10.6 per cent; street lighting up 7.5 per cent and water up 6 per cent, to name a few,” she said.

“So if State charges are a measure of the cost increases that the community is capable of absorbing, council rates don't deserve anywhere near the level of attention being directed at them by the Premier.”

She said rate capping would not improve service delivery to ratepayers.

"Rate capping isn't good financial management. It creates a higher expense in the long run, that the State will ultimately have to take responsibility for.

"This approach begs the question of what the State’s true agenda might be. Whatever the questions are about Local Government, I'm absolutely certain that rate capping doesn't hold the answers.”

Relations have been somewhat strained between local and state government in WA since Mr Barnett failed in his bid to reduce the number of Perth’s metropolitan councils from 30 to 16, following a backlash from communities and councils.

Mr Barnett has since blamed some of the highest council rates hikes on this failed amalgamation attempt, saying that in many cases it was smaller councils putting up rates and blaming councils for rejecting reforms, an accusation which WALGA rejects.

But Ms Craigie said that “a public slanging match” would not help diffuse the situation, “I would like to think we could have a genuine, adult, conversation about what concerns the State Government has and the best way to go about resolving them in partnership”.

“There is no denying that it's absolutely critical we participate in a discussion with our State Government in the context of reviewing all taxes, including rates, in that debate,” Cr Craigie said.
                    [post_title] => WA councils rail against rate capping
                    [post_excerpt] => Minister backs away from inquiry but wants discussion.
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                    [post_content] => PC purchase

The Western Australian Government has called for submissions for an inquiry it announced last month into information and communications technology procurement and contract management in the state. The WA public sector spends at least $1 billion per year on ICT goods and services.

Explaining the need for an inquiry, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has issued a statement saying: “Over the last ten years, consecutive governments have struggled to ensure that the significant expenditure on ICT is achieving the best possible outcomes.

“The WA Government has been criticised by industry, the media and the Auditor General for its lack of capacity in delivering ICT projects and achieving positive ICT outcomes more generally.”

The inquiry is the result of a 2014 report by Auditor-General Colin Murphy, which found the state was paying much more than it needed to for ICT and should tighten its technology procurement practices.

The WA Government announced in its May state budget that it would cut more than $100 million from the ICT budgets of individual departments and agencies, establish instead a central ‘ICT Renewal and Reform’ fund, and appoint a state Chief Information Officer, who will sit within the Department of Finance and develop a whole of government ICT plan.

The PAC says submissions should address any of the following questions:
  • What are the common problems witnessed in public sector delivery of ICT goods and services?
  • What elements represent best practice in ICT delivery?
  • How do we best measure or define success in ICT delivery?
  • What are the latest developments (domestic or international), in the area of government ICT systems?
  • What jurisdictions (domestic or international) have adopted the latest developments in government ICT systems that have demonstrably reduced the cost, and improved the delivery, of government services?
  • Could such systems be incorporated into Western Australia? If so, what factors need to be taken into account to ensure successful implementation?
The PAC says the inquiry may also show how new technologies and service delivery models might “present new ways for governments to deliver services, engage with the community and save costs.” It lists these as:
  • Implementing policies that drive and guide government adoption of new service delivery models and technologies, such as cloud computing.
  • Stimulating and developing local industry through universities, start-ups and small to medium enterprises.
  • Creating online ‘one stop shop’ portals to rationalise and simplify government services.
  • Centralisation and consolidation strategies to reduce costs such as purpose built government data centres.
  • Revisiting and redeveloping ICT procurement strategies and frameworks.
Submissions close on 11 September 2015 and the PAC intends reporting to Parliament by 28 August 2016.       [post_title] => Procurement inquiry to shake up WA ICT [post_excerpt] => Attempt to rectify past problems [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => procurement-inquiry-to-shake-up-wa-ict [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-07-23 14:09:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-07-23 04:09:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=20679 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 20295 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2015-06-25 16:53:33 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-06-25 06:53:33 [post_content] => Perth Glory v Adelaide Utd The Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) has criticised the state government’s ‘Bigger Picture for Sport’ initiative, saying it includes an expensive new stadium for elite athletes while slashing funding for grassroots facilities and “dismissing the importance of local sports and facilities.” The 60,000 seat Perth Stadium at Burswood was announced by the Barnett Government in 2011 with a $700 million budget and a scheduled completion date of 2018. There has been substantial speculation in sporting circles that it could end up being double this price, and not completed until 2020. WALGA President Troy Pickard, Mayor of the City of Joondalup in Perth’s outer northern suburbs, is not happy. He says the decision to reduce funding for community sport by 65 per cent - from $20 million to $7 million in the 2016 -2017 financial year – is a backward step. “It contradicts the Bigger Picture promotional banner,” says Mr Pickard. “The Department of Sport and Recreation webpage, which confirms the cuts, also proclaims: ‘When We Play Sport, Our Whole Community Wins’. These are the facilities at the heart of local sports and recreation. They are where kids are active, play sports and learn important skills such as team work and leadership,” Mr Pickard says. “These are the places that bring communities together and promote a healthy lifestyle. They are a central part of the West Australian lifestyle that we treasure.” Mr Pickard says the planned cuts will sink funding to an unprecedented low level that is $3 million less than when the Barnett Liberal Government came to power in 2008, having campaigned strongly on an election platform that promised an increase to the Community Sport and Recreation Facilities Fund. “A larger funding pool helps leverage many more millions of dollars in contributory community and local government funding, providing much needed community and sporting infrastructure throughout the state. “For example, the City of Gosnells recently completed a $47 million recreation centre that was initiated and facilitated by a $4 million Community Sport and Recreation Facilities Fund grant. That is a fantastic return on investment for the state and shows the value of the fund. That is why cutting it back is far more damaging to the state than any savings gained.” Mr Pickard says the community sport fund is significantly oversubscribed each year, “which demonstrates its value and there remains a backlog of projects that will only increase with the cuts. “The new stadium at Burswood will undoubtedly be an icon for elite sport in Western Australia, but the State Government also needs to appreciate that it is at local community facilities where our champions get their start and they also need genuine support,” Mr Pickard says. [post_title] => West's councils cry foul on community sports cuts [post_excerpt] => Funding sinks to unprecedented lows. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => wests-councils-cry-foul-on-community-sports-cuts [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-06-25 16:53:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-06-25 06:53:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=20295 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 18063 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2015-02-11 15:12:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-02-11 04:12:42 [post_content] => Perth Skyline 4 Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett appears to be retreating from Perth council mergers saying he is surrendering because it’s all got too hard. The original proposal was to reduce Perth’s 30 councils to 16 but a recent ‘no’ vote by residents in six council areas, which were to be merged into three, has blown a hole in the scheme. Residents in Fremantle and East Fremantle, Kwinana and Cockburn, and South Perth and Victoria Park voted to remain separate councils last weekend. In fact, Kwinana and Cockburn Councils have both indicated that they will each ask the state government for more than $1 million to compensate them for the time and money they have put into amalgamation plans thus far. Mr Barnett told 720 ABC Perth this week: “yep, I’ve failed. So I’ve put up the white flag.” “We gave it, and I gave it, my best shot. I failed, I concede that, we’ll now concentrate on the City of Perth.” There are signs too that the Premier is backing away from other parts of his reform agenda. “Where there’s consensus and goodwill we will move with local government. Where there’s opposition and campaigns being mounted, we probably will just let it be,” he said. In a further blow to Mr Barnett’s hopes for expanding the City of Perth to take in surrounding icons and the City of Vincent, the City of Vincent pulled out last night. Instead, the state government will champion a City of Perth Act and press for icons such as King’s Park and the University of Western Australia to be included in its environs. Other proposals submitted by councils themselves and  billed as ‘boundary changes’, involve redrawing boundaries and combining two or more councils but residents in areas are not able to invoke the Dadour provisions and vote. Dadour dictates that residents may vote only if two or more council areas are to be merged. The premier’s evident frustration has been compounded by the West Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) formally withdrawing its support for the slimmed down council model, with WALGA President Troy Pickard calling it ‘flawed beyond repair”. “Whilst WALGA and the Local Government sector have long supported structural reform, this process has become completely unravelled and we cannot carry on with the remnants,” Mr Pickard said. “Our support has always been for metropolitan-wide reform based on a clear vision, that was fully funded and carried out with a consistent and consultative approach – and the State’s process no longer meets any of these criteria.” WALGA has previously estimated that metropolitan reform would cost around $100 million. The state government offered $5 million each year for three years and $45 million in loans. “When you consider the effect of remaining boundary adjustments, orphan suburbs, questions around the proposed City of Perth Act and the fact some Councils will actually reduce in size, this process is clearly no longer delivering on its objectives,” he said. But Mr Barnett said WALGA had previously supported the changes. “It’s somewhat ironic given that the Local Government Association actually started the whole process by advocating a reduction in the number of councils,” Mr Barnett said. The mergers and boundary changes have stirred up a hornet’s nest of ill-feeling between state and local government. Mr Barnett told 720 ABC Perth that some council mayor’s (that he refused to name) had privately pledged support for mergers but said the opposite in public. NSW Premier Mike Baird will be nervously watching Mr Barnett’s trials and tribulations in the run-up to the NSW election in March as he pushes ahead with his own blueprint for council mergers. Firmly on the agenda will be the Local Government Review Panel’s report recommendations that 105 of NSW’s 152 local councils consider and that Sydney Councils should be “significantly reduced” from 41 to between 15 and 18. Local councils having to submit their Fit for the Future applications – proving they are sustainable or agreeing to merge with their neighbours – by June 30. Unlike their Western Australian counterparts, NSW residents will not be able to vote to halt mergers, despite many local councils carrying out their own community polls.     [post_title] => WA Premier surrenders as residents reject council mergers [post_excerpt] => Amalgamations off the table [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => wa-premier-surrenders-residents-reject-council-mergers [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-02-12 19:01:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-02-12 08:01:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=18063 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 16846 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2014-10-28 09:51:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-10-27 22:51:07 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_16848" align="alignnone" width="614"]I hate you Kenny There are plenty of branding and merchandise opportunities available for the new City of South Park...[/caption] The number of Perth metropolitan councils is being slashed from 30 to 16 and a new City of South Park created by the Barnett government. Last week, Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett officially gave the green light for the first part of its reform agenda that will  amalgamate six Metropolitan councils to three, change local government boundaries and subject council staff at the newly-created City of South Park to years of prank calls. South Park Council, crucially, will contain the Burswood Peninsula and its cash cow, James Packer's Burswood Casino, in a move that has triggered deep resentment from City of Perth Mayor Lisa Scaffidi. The other two amalgamations include the City of Fremantle with the Town of East Fremantle and merging the cities of Cockburn and Kwinana to form the new City of Jervoise Bay, mercifully avoiding the portmanteau Cocknana Council and potentially stealing Coffs Harbour’s Big Banana thunder. Local Government Minister Tony Simpson – who unfortunately isn’t lending his surname to a creating a rival satirical city of Simpson(s) – has touted the benefits of the changes, including estimated savings of between $20 and $30 million in elected member's allowances, gained by cutting their numbers by 100, and more than $30 million in Chief Executive Officer packages over ten years saved by letting ten CEOs go. Local government staff are expected to be told that their jobs are guaranteed for two years after the changes. The reforms contain nine significant boundary changes affecting 15 local councils and will mean that each council represents on average 114,000 people compared with 63,000 previously. While the Liberal WA government is pushing ahead with boundary changes and mergers recommended by the Local Government Advisory Board, it stopped short of pressing for a merger between the City of Perth and the City of Vincent and merging five of the western suburbs councils because it did not agree with some of the detail. Mr Simpson said the Board’s proposal for Perth city was rejected because it did not include major icons such as the University of Western Australia or the Queen Elizabeth Medical Centre in the City of Perth's boundaries. The flow on effect of this decision meant the western suburbs proposal was also dismissed. Meanwhile, Mr Barnett has signalled his intention to introduce a City of Perth Act to set new boundaries for the city that do take in the university, the hospital, Kings Park and the City of Vincent. “The City of Perth must be better-equipped to respond to the demands of a growing State - and better represent WA in the international market,” Mr Barnett said. “This report provides a clear direction for the most significant step forward for local government reform in 100 years and people in the metropolitan area can clearly see how this process will affect them and the local government authority in which they will live.” The WA government backs the creation of one council from the five western suburbs governments to form the proposed City of Riversea. Reactions from Perth’s metropolitan councils so far have been mixed. City of Perth Lisa Scaffidi is mostly content (casino amputation aside) but City of Vincent’s Mayor John Carey says residents fear being swallowed up by Perth and becoming ‘second-class citizens’. Meanwhile, City of Stirling Council is feeling the sting of the decision to cut its boundaries and Kalamunda shire president Sue Bilich, whose council will be entirely absorbed into the City of Belmont under the boundary changes, has called the decision “an absolute disgrace”. Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) President, Mayor Troy Pickard, welcomed the outcome. “It takes the number of metropolitan Councils from 30 to 21, and eventually to 16 when the City of Perth Act is passed and the City of Riversea established,” Mr Pickard said. “There are some councils that will be in support of today’s announcement and some opposed, but all will be relieved that decisions have finally been made," he said. But Mr Pickard warned the WA budget had not provided sufficient funding for metropolitan reform. “The Association estimates the true cost of reform to be around $100 million, far in excess of the government’s current inadequate funding offer of $5 million each year for three years and $45 million in loans. Within such a tight timeframe, inadequate funding by the State has the potential to derail the process.” Mr Pickard said local communities would end up paying the price of a funding shortfall through increased rates, reduced services or the sale of community assets. The new arrangements kick in from July 2015, just before local government elections in October. The cities of Joondalup, Rockingham and Wanneroo remain the same. [post_title] => Barnett's metro merger 'authoritah' creates new City of South Park [post_excerpt] => Perth council shake-up: mergers, new boundaries [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => perth-metro-councils-respect-barnetts-authoritaay [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-10-28 11:45:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-10-28 00:45:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=16846 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 15681 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2014-07-16 18:19:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-07-16 08:19:31 [post_content] => Hospitals in the West are set to be hit by more rolling stoppages this week and next week after the Health Services Union of Western Australia (HSUWA) confirmed it will continue with planned industrial action as part of its pay dispute with the state government. Royal Perth Hospital will be the next big teaching hospital hit with a stoppage from 6am on Thursday 17th July as health workers angry over the Barnett government’s offer of an at inflation pay rise of 2.75 per cent walk off the job and hold out for a 4 per cent increase in 2014 and a 5 per cent rise in 2015. Secretary of HSUWA, Dan Hill, told Government News that further stoppages are planned for public hospitals in Bentley and Armadale on Tuesday 22nd July, followed by a stoppage at Freemantle on Thursday 24th July. On Tuesday around 500 staff at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital walked off the job as part of the ongoing dispute over pay with the state government, a row that has been inflamed by politicians receiving a 3.8 per cent pay increase this year while nurses in WA also secured a 4 per cent pay increase for 2014. Mr Hill said that HSUWA members felt “completely devalued by this government and Health Minister Dr Kim Hames in particular.” “They do not understand how the government can grant doctors, nurses and support staff wage increases of around 4 per cent and then expect [HSUWA members] to accept 2.75 per cent,” Mr Hill said. By its own account, the latest run of stoppages by the HSUWA is the widest industrial action mounted by the union in 13 years and will result in the cancellation and rescheduling of elective surgery, “diagnostic tests and treatments, as well as outpatient appointments.” The union has also imposed work bans on revenue related activities, including encouraging the use of private insurance in public hospitals, processing Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme claims “and data entry for activity-based funding.” The HSUWA says it represents around 18,000 staff the West’s public hospitals and health services that range from physiotherapists, pharmacists, medical imaging technologists and clinical psychologists to social workers, administrative staff, clerks, technicians, medical scientists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, dieticians, podiatrists, radiation therapists and mental health workers. But the WA government is digging in for fight, urging its employees to reconsider stoppages and warning that if they engage in strike action they will not be paid for time off the job. “Strike action will achieve nothing except to inconvenience public hospital patients,” said WA Commerce Minister, Michael Mischin, who has official ministerial responsibility for public sector industrial negotiations. “The offer made to the HSU is fair and reasonable in light of the State’s financial position and provides for the maximum available under the State Government’s wages policy, with increases of 2.75 per cent and 2.5 per cent for the following year. These increases match projected growth in the Perth Consumer Price Index.” Mr Mischin said that that a similar offer “based on the same percentage increases” had been made to police, firefighters and other public servants who had all accepted the at inflation pay rise. The WA Commerce minister also pointed to the HSU’s previous agreement, which expired last month obtain pay rises of 4 percent-a-year over three years from 2011-12 to 2013-14. “This 4 per cent increase was well above inflation [which ran at] 3 per cent, 3.2 per cent and 3.25 per cent for each respective year. Mr Mischin said. “These generous pay rises have ensured HSU members are among the best paid public servants in Australia compared to their colleagues doing similar jobs in other jurisdictions. Given these generous rises, the current offer to the HSU will continue to see workers remain among the best paid in the country.” Affected hospitals are now counting the cost of the dispute. A spokesperson for Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital said the industrial action had resulted in the need to cancel 21 elective surgeries originally scheduled for Tuesday’s stoppage and had also affected Allied Health outpatient services. “Contingency plans implemented ensured the ongoing safe delivery of care to inpatients and emergency patients attending the hospital,” the spokesman said. “Once again, we sincerely apologise to all patients and families affected by the strike action.” [post_title] => WA public hospitals hit by rolling strikes [post_excerpt] => Pay row escalates to industrial action. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => wa-public-hospitals-hit-rolling-strikes [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-07-18 00:06:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-07-17 14:06:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=15681 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 15591 [post_author] => 2 [post_date] => 2014-07-07 15:40:06 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-07-07 05:40:06 [post_content] => ????????????????? Councils in Western Australia are putting strong pressure on the state government to change existing legislation so communities hit by proposed boundary changes will have an opportunity to vote on the matter. The Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) says it wants the state government to amend the Local Government Act 1995 to allow for a community vote on boundary adjustments in an effort to prevent unwanted changes being forced upon residents. Councils attending the WALGA State Council collectively backed a change to the legislation that would allow communities in one or more local governments set to be abolished or significantly affected by boundary changes to demand a poll on the proposal. Under the change, the ‘significantly affected’ term would be defined as causing a 50 per cent variation in population or rateable properties or revenue. This is presently prohibited under the existing legislation, but it does allow for the community to demand voting or poll provisions for council amalgamations. The demand from WALGA is the latest development in the ongoing stoush between WA councils and the Colin Barnett government over the Premier’s controversial plan to redraw boundaries in the Perth metropolitan area. It follows a string of quarrels between councils and the state government since the 2014-15 State Budget was released in May 2014. The WA state Budget angered many councils who claim it simply failed provide sufficient funding for the proposed boundary changes and amalgamations, a shortfall that has provoked a collective threat from local governments to dump their support for the reform. Without the adequate funding to conduct the expensive changes, councils are now looking at ways to prevent happening at all to avoid wearing high administrative costs. The state government’s plan means boundary adjustments that will merge 20 metropolitan councils into just 10 new entities, with three existing councils to remain unchanged and seven others set to amalgamate into a new council in the western suburbs. WALGA President Troy Pickard said many councils have expressed concern that under the existing legislation, a boundary adjustment could be used to merge two councils without the opportunity for the community to have a say. “While there were a number of variations on the specific solution, many in the sector are strongly of the view that to use a boundary adjustment to absorb an entire Council without an ability for the community to trigger a poll, hinders their ability to voice concern,” Mr Pickard said. He said the belief is that boundary adjustments were intended to be used for minor adjustments to councils to align changing operational circumstances such as waste collection routes but not to make wholesale changes. Mr Pickard said that such an amendment would be “unlikely” to be implemented prior to the Local Government Advisory Board’s recommendation of the structure of metropolitan councils to the Local Government Minister later in July. But he maintained hope that the state government will give “serious consideration” to amending the legislation so that communities can have a “a say in their future”. [post_title] => WA councils demand referendum on Perth boundary changes [post_excerpt] => The battle between WA councils and the Colin Barnett government has intensified as local governments demand communities be able to vote on proposed mergers if they are "significantly affected". [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => wa-councils-demand-referendum-perth-boundary-changes [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-07-08 11:46:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-07-08 01:46:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=15591 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 15582 [post_author] => 2 [post_date] => 2014-07-03 14:58:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-07-03 04:58:01 [post_content] => Chopping Wood While the federal government’s controversial Budget cuts have provoked strong levels of protest from the Australian Public Service, the state level has given an equally passionate response. In an attempt to persuade the Abbott government to reverse its decision to cut $5.5 billion in funding to the state, the South Australian government has initiated a plan to create a ‘Federal Budget Response Taskforce’. It is a new group designed to lead the campaign against federal Budget cuts and what it calls the “Americanisation” of Australia’s health and tertiary education systems. It is a significant cut to the state which has been feeling the economic pinch since the announced closures of auto-manufacturing plants with Ford, Holden and Toyota shutting down their South Australian-based factories by 2017. Now Premier Jay Weatherill fears that the state is at risk of suffering even more as a result of federal cuts to health and education, as he accused the federal government of trying to push the health sector towards an “American-style pay-as-you-go system that benefits the rich”. “It’s doing the same thing with universities – this is not the Australian way,” Mr Weatherill said. Mr Weatherill warned of grave consequences if the federal cuts to health are passed on in full, saying that they would shut down 600 hospital beds in South Australia, the equivalent of the Flinders Medical Centre or 3,000 nurses. He said the state had acted to implement measures to fund some of the $655 million health funding black hole left by the federal government, “but a $332 million gap still remains”. According to Mr Weatherill, the taskforce would meet periodically, work in sector-specific groups and with the community to lobby against the cuts. Presently, South Australia is alone in its initiation of such a Taskforce, given that it’s the only Labor state government left since the Lara Giddings government in Tasmania was defeated at the recent March 2014 election. Despite South Australia’s political isolation, it isn’t the only state that’s been openly critical of federal cuts in the recent 2014-15 Budget. A high profile cut in the federal Budget that was certain to hit every state government across Australia was the slash to pensioner concessions. This cut frustrated even Liberal state governments because they would be forced to pay for the federal shortfall. The local government sector was also angered over the cuts because it meant that not only would vulnerable pensioners on a fixed income face significant difficulty in paying their rates, councils would also be forced to hike rates and fees and cut back community services. However state governments including South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland each offered to fill the federal shortfall. The Colin Barnett government in Western Australia, on the other hand, decided against filling the shortfall. [post_title] => SA launches counterattack on federal cuts [post_excerpt] => South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has initiated a campaign against the Abbott government's Budget cut of $5.5 billion to the state that will impact on health and education. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sa-launches-counterattack-federal-cuts [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-07-08 11:42:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-07-08 01:42:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=15582 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 15487 [post_author] => 2 [post_date] => 2014-06-19 16:02:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-06-19 06:02:31 [post_content] => 11746064545_4e2d19511c_b The New South Wales government has become the latest jurisdiction to backfill a federal Budget fund that has stripped millions from councils by slashing subsidies for pensioner concessions. With a political backlash quickly growing over cuts to the National Partnership Agreement on Certain Concessions for Pensioner Concession Card (NPA) that takes effect from 1st July 2014, state governments including Queensland and South Australia have moved to prop-up the popular discounts amid fears that many elderly ratepayers simply would not be able to find the money to pay full rates. The pensioner concession cuts have angered the both local government sector and their state parents because without continued concessional contributions, many councils face being forced to hike rates and fees as well as cutting back community services. However in the NSW 2014-15 Budget delivered this week the Baird government revealed the state would now cover the funding gap for pensioner rate rebates for a one-year period. The temporary bailout will buy the Baird government valuable political time and insurance as it prepares to battle Canberra over massive cost shifting back to the states ahead of going to the polls in March 2015. Councils in NSW have expressed relief that the state government has thrown them a financial lifeline, with the sector’s peak body Local Government NSW (LGNSW) commending the Baird government for “swiftly” stepping-in to support “some of the most vulnerable people” in the community. LGNSW president Keith Rhoades attacked the federal concession cuts as a “callous move” which “came out of the blue” and without consultation of local government and pensioner peak bodies. But councils are still worried they will cop the rates slug later, a problem compounded in NSW by state government rate pegging that strictly limits the scale of any rate rises. The inability to ratchet-up rates in NSW means that many councils there would have little choice other than to cut services to stay solvent - a particularly unpalatable option before an election. "Evidently further discussions are required with both the State and Federal Governments about pensioner rate concessions to ensure the gap left by the Australian Government isn't cost-shifted onto councils come the 2015-16 financial year,” Mr Rhoades said. That sentiment has been echoed by the Local Government Association of South Australia (LGA), which welcomed state Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis’ commitment to maintain pensioner concessions. The LGA’s president David O’Loughlin said if the state did not support concessions then councils would simply not be able to fill the gap. “While councils are not expected to run the welfare system, if they were asked to fill the gap it would mean a rates hike for other ratepayers which would fall the hardest again on communities with a higher proportion of seniors,” Mr O’Loughlin said. The Queensland government has similarly proposed that it will reinstate the full level of pensioner and senior concessions. With an election recently behind it, the Western Australian government has less political skin to lose and is playing hardball with its councils. Pressed on the issue in State Parliament this week, Premier Colin Barnett said at $430 million his government’s state concessions were already the most generous in the country, and he would not be making up for $25 million the shortfall left by the federal Budget. “The federal government has made its decision; it is not going to change its mind,” Mr Barnett said. “Accept the reality, it is not going to.” [post_title] => States bail-out pensioner rates concessions... except WA [post_excerpt] => NSW, Qld and SA have promised to fund pensioner rebates stripped out of the federal Budget, but WA is holding out. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => states-bail-pensioner-rates-concessions-except-wa [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-06-27 10:04:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-06-27 00:04:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=15487 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 15411 [post_author] => 2 [post_date] => 2014-06-17 10:03:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-06-17 00:03:21 [post_content] => Eraser end of pencil sticking out between pages The plan to change council boundaries in Perth has never been short of controversy, but local governments in the West are now demanding an explanation over how and why a key requirement for members of the Local Government Advisory Board (LGAB) to declare conflicts of interest has been suspended. The LGAB is the group charged with reviewing the proposed boundary changes in Perth councils, a big part of the Barnett government’s controversial plan to halve the number of metropolitan councils from 30 to 15. The Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) has put a broadside into the state government over the surprise publication of an order in the Government Gazette that effectively cancels out a disqualification requirement in the case of conflicts of interest by members of the LGAB. The state’s key group for councils is now on the offensive over why its members were not advised of the change by Minister for Local Government Tony Simpson with WALGA president Troy Pickard writing to Mr Simpson to demand an explanation for the “temporary removal” of the conflict of interest provision. “It’s a significant decision to suspend such a pivotal requirement and prior advice would remove any prospect of speculation as to the minister’s motivations,” Mr Pickard said. He said “rather than speculation”, Mr Simpson needs to provide an explanation as the provision of declaring conflicts of interest “is a critical requirement of governance” within the sector. Mr Pickard said it was disappointing that Mr Simpson had not advised the local government sector of the change or consulted with councils prior to its publication to “ensure there was no confusion”. Although WALGA is crying foul over the lack of a consultation process, it has stopped well of levelling direct accusations, with Mr Pickard saying that there “may well be” an “entirely appropriate rationale” as to why LGAB members now don’t have to disclose conflicts of interest while discussing metropolitan reform. “For example, I imagine the composition of the LGAB as predominately comprising Local Government representatives may be unworkable if all associations need to be declared and participants then vacate discussions,” he said. But he called on the government to make this explanation public “in the interests of transparency”. [post_title] => Conflict of interest disclosures draw fire in West [post_excerpt] => Western Australian local governments are demanding answers as to why the state government has stealthily suspended the requirement to declare conflicts of interest for the group reviewing the structure of metropolitan councils. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => conflict-interest-disclosures-draw-fire-west [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-06-20 09:17:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-06-19 23:17:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=15411 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 15218 [post_author] => 2 [post_date] => 2014-05-30 10:03:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-05-30 00:03:52 [post_content] => Council House Lights - Perth, Western Australia Councils in Western Australia have slammed Premier Colin Barnett over claims he made on ABC Radio that council rate increases are now “really getting out of control”. The Premier’s broadside into local government management claimed that smaller councils can be less efficient than their bigger counterparts, leading to discrepancies in rates bills between councils. The Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) is furious over the sledge and immediately jumped to the defence of its members following the Premier’s comments, sheeting the back to the State Budget. WALGA warned that local governments “should not be blamed” as primary cause of likely increases in council rates, especially after the raft of funding cuts and cost increases sheeted back to local government the 2014-15 State Budget. The most recent WA Budget was a big loss for councils, who were expecting a helping hand from the State government following its ambitious move to push through big mergers in the Perth metropolitan area that would halve the number of councils from 30 to 15. WALGA has estimated that between $65 million and $100 million is collectively required for councils to adequately carry out mergers. However the peak body is now warning that that actual funding now consists of only $5 million for each of the next three years   with councils able to access low interest loans from a $45 million funding pool – money that is says simply isn’t enough. The big problem for local governments set to amalgamate is that without adequate funding from the state government, they must bear the costs of merging themselves, a shortfall that would then require a rate hike to cover the extra expense. The state funding hit is another straw on the camel’s back for financially struggling councils which must now face further funding reductions after federal government’s Budget freeze on Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs), that will strip $10 million from councils in WA. Other losses include state government cuts of $70 million over three years to local roads funding; an increase of 50 per cent in street lighting charges over three years; and an increase in the household waste levy. WALGA President Mayor Troy Pickard said the state government could not expect to cut significant funding streams to local government and hike up charges to the sector without having an impact. “It is misleading to suggest that councils are to blame for having to increase rates when it was the state government who reduced council funding and increased costs,” Mr Pickard said. He said it was “unfair” to blame councils for state government budget decisions and warned the Premier the “rate payers will see through the smokescreen”. “I have been calling on the state government; ironically with support from the Premier, former Treasurer and Local Government Minister; to initiate a general review of the local government fees and charges regime for over a year now, and I’m still awaiting confirmation from the Treasurer as to the scope and Terms of Reference of the inquiry,” Mr Pickard said. [post_title] => WA Premier Barnett slammed by councils over rate hike blame game [post_excerpt] => Hostilities have erupted between the Western Australian government and the local government sector over State Budget cuts to funding for controversial metropolitan council mergers. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => wa-premier-barnett-slammed-councils-rate-hike-blame-game [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-06-03 10:44:03 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-06-03 00:44:03 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=15218 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 15072 [post_author] => 2 [post_date] => 2014-05-20 09:36:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-05-19 23:36:58 [post_content] => HB 204 ANPR Ops with HB 202 in the distance The Western Australian government plans to add a new revenue-raising weapon to its arsenal of law enforcement technology by using new number plate recognition cameras to ferret-out fine and infringement payment evaders. Planned as part of the Colin Barnett government’s so-called “suite of measures” to target the West’s “worst fine bludgers”, the mobile licence plate recognition camera will soon be hitting streets to chase down defaulters where they work and where they shop. The latest tool to enforce state laws is targeting hold out fine and infringement defaulters who owe individually more than $2,000 each in infringements or who owe court fines. The Barnett government reckons that collectively the state’s fine dodgers owe the Western Australian community more than $279 million - a figure large enough to fund school chaplains of local government Financial Assistance Grants across Australia for an entire year. Assuming of course that defaulters have the financial means to settle their outstanding accounts. The latest get tough measure follows laws that came into force in August 2013 which allow state Sheriff’s officers to wheel-clamp vehicles, seize licence plates and other property as well as being able to ‘name and shame’ fine defaulters. Since the passage of those laws, 421 wheel clamps had been applied and 362 licence plates had been removed with a respectable $70.8 million recovered. However the physical act of clamping a vehicle isn’t always an effective measure, especially if the price of a new wheel or angle grinder is less than the outstanding amount – hence the call for the number plate cameras. Western Australian Attorney General Michael Mischin said vehicles were most commonly clamped when they are parked at someone’s home, “however this can be quite limiting as people take their cars to work or go out during the day” – a nice way of saying that the loathed practice of clamping can park innocent people in. “Also, the addresses for some hard-core fine and infringement defaulters are not always current, and sometimes those defaulters deliberately don’t park their vehicles on their own property to avoid being clamped,” Mr Mischin said. He said the sheriff will use the camera in busy areas during the working day, such as shopping centres, train stations and the main streets of country towns where the wheel clamping laws are in force. “From the sheer volume of cars scanned, we expect to catch fine and infringement defaulters who would otherwise avoid detection. This is about reclaiming millions of dollars which rightfully belongs to WA taxpayers, who have been footing the bill for this small group of hardcore fine dodgers for too long.” The technology hasn’t been installed on police vehicles as yet, however, as the government has released a tender notice for the camera, which is expected to either be hand-held or mounted on a sheriff’s vehicle. It isn’t by any means the only form of technology used by police to catch evaders, after the WA Government launched an SMS trial in Ellenbrook and Albany. That program contacts defaulters via text message to warn them that they could face wheel clamping, licence plate removal or have property seized if they did not pay their debt. Western Australia also isn’t the first jurisdiction to implement such high-tech gadgets into its law enforcement arsenal. The Victorian government and the Queensland government have both implemented similar measures to sift out evasive fine dodgers. The Victorian government has been ahead in the game as it rolled out the technology in its police vehicles in a trial in 2007, which has since been implemented in the vehicles of Sheriff’s officers to make “Victorians more accountable for their unpaid fines”. In 2011, the Queensland government introduced its own Automated Number Plate Recognition to deal with traffic offences, but in August 2013, the government moved to expand its use into the field of hard criminal investigations of burglaries, sexual assaults, stolen vehicles and drug related offences. [post_title] => WA targets number plates to catch "worst fine bludgers" [post_excerpt] => Hard-core fine evading drivers will have nowhere to hide as the Western Australian government looks to add a number plate detection camera to its stockpile of high-tech law enforcement weaponry. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => wa-targets-number-plates-catch-worst-fine-bludgers [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-05-23 10:12:23 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-05-23 00:12:23 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=15072 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23243 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-12-20 15:22:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-20 04:22:01 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_23264" align="alignnone" width="400"]Freeze2 Navigating recruitment freezes.[/caption]   External recruitment freezes have become a harsh reality of life for Australian public servants as governments seek to contain wages and make savings, but is it possible to turn a no-hire zone into something positive? The usual rules are that when a freeze is on, jobs can only be filled internally, although there are often exemptions such as some frontline staff, fixed-term positions linked to specific projects and critical or revenue-raising positions that cannot be filled internally. Responses to the hiring ban can include staff acting up or people being transferred or seconded, or the dreaded: hiring contractors. The painful Australian Public Service hiring freeze began late in 2013 and lasted until mid-2015, after more than 10,000 jobs were shed. Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett announced a six-month halt to external recruitment in December last year, after forecasting a $3.1 billion hole in the state’s finances by the end of June 2016. Karen Evans, Managing Director of talent management company Acendre, which has many public service clients, spoke to Government News about how to survive and thrive when non-essential hiring shuts down. On paper a hiring freeze might appear grim and morale sapping but it can give also managers a chance to take stock of the people and range of skills that they have and to concentrate on training, developing and promoting them. It can also force people to think more strategically and critically about how efficiently they are working and to streamline processes. Of course, it may also leave staff feeling overworked or fearful about losing their jobs in the future. Ms Evans said human resources had an “absolutely critical role” to play - even in the short term - to support staff, explain the changes and manage them through it. “HR needs to get itself geared up to support their organisation, particularly initially,” she said. “A lot of managers will be wanting to fill critical roles where they may not be able to. How does HR support them? “There are changes but there are also huge opportunities with something like this. It’s a chance to think outside the box,” Ms Evans said. “Personally, I would be saying don’t try to sit tight and just wait it out.” She suggested managers looked at the roles and skills of the staff that they do have and list the skills and roles needed within the organisation. “Put development plans in place to revise or change roles that you actually need.” The focus should then be on upskilling staff and giving them opportunities to take on different responsibilities, perform new tasks or accept leadership roles in order to drive their enthusiasm. “People can get a lot of up and cross-skilling and their engagement really lifts. Put development plans in place for individuals. [Ask] can you merge or upskill roles?” There is also the chance to work more closely with other departments and agencies and collaborate on projects or even share staff. For example, the federal government's hiring freeze, it set up a business centre made up of part-time staff and underused staff and funnelled excess work from various teams. Ms Evans said it was also important to look at staff ready to redeploy and think about how to get them working in another department or agency. It can also be useful to seek advice from other departments or the same department at a different level of government that have already been through a hiring freeze. Brisbane City Council reduced the number of contracts it had and moved functions in-house. “It was a huge saving and it really drove engagement from people within the organisation, being able to do different things and increase their capabilities. It also helped teams work together in a more effective way,” she said. Despite the opportunities available, there is no point pretending that everyone will be happy about the freeze. It could lower morale, hit productivity or lead to employees walking out the door. The key to preventing this situation is to engage staff early on, explain what the changes might mean to them and come up with a plan to mitigate the more harmful effects, said Ms Evans. "Use this as an opportunity because I do think it is one.” [post_title] => Best of 2016: How to survive and thrive under a public sector hiring freeze [post_excerpt] => Upskill, collaborate, communicate. 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