Case Study

Supporting our Ministers

The focus on achieving best practice policies and protocols for supporting our Ministers has continued this year. Particular importance was placed on providing quality support in the lead up to and during the pre-election period and subsequently and meeting the requirements of our new Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries.

During the pre-election period, a broad Caretaker awareness program was conducted. Detailed information was provided via employee information sessions and a Caretaker advice intranet site to ensure Defence members were well aware of the 'Guidelines on Caretaker Conventions' and how this period could affect Defence business. Interest in the new site was substantial and between July and October 2007 leading up to the Federal election, the intranet site received some 28,300 hits. An email advice line was also established to encourage the prompt discussion and resolution of any questions or issues. This awareness program greatly assisted with the smooth progression of Defence business prior to and during the caretaker period.

Immediately following the 2007 election, incoming ministers and their staff received extensive induction briefs (written and oral) on Defence, its roles, activities and business processes. Dedicated support by the Ministerial and Executive Support Branch and other key Defence stakeholders meant the Defence ministerial offices were among the first to be fully functional following the swearing in of the new Government.

Parallel to all of this action, the enhancement of Defence's ministerial awareness and training program continued. Led by the Ministerial Awareness and Training team, in conjunction with Policy Development Division, training and awareness programs were consolidated through regular delivery and evaluation.

The program now comprises formal training (eLearning and face-to-face) in government processes and structures and what these mean for Defence; ministerial writing; the more difficult aspects of developing complex submissions; and how to work effectively with our Ministers and their staff by better understanding their roles and expectations of us. Demand for the training has been extremely high and very positive feedback has been received:

During the year, 460 Defence personnel successfully completed the Defence Ministerial Writing course. The Defence Ministerial Writing course is designed to assist personnel in developing quality briefs and correspondence for our Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries - in particular question time briefs, ministerial submissions and ministerial correspondence.

The newly established Defence Government Awareness course was rolled out to the broader Defence audience in February 2008 following a successful pilot program in the second half of 2007. This course provides an introduction into government and parliamentary processes. Through the use of case studies and examples it shows how these processes relate to an individual's roles and responsibilities as a Defence employee. Since the introduction of the course, 101 Defence participants have successfully completed the course.

Similarly, 236 members of the Defence Senior Leadership Group participated in the half-day 'Working with Ministers' workshops, which aims to improve and shape the organisational culture to engage and support the Ministers through enhancing relationships and advisory skills for Senior Defence managers.

The 'Developing Complex Submissions' workshop, an intensive and interactive one-day training program, was developed in the second half of 2007 for personnel tasked with developing complex advice for our Ministers and Government. The key objective of this workshop is to assist Defence personnel in understanding how to ensure their complex submissions and briefs meet the needs of our Ministers. At the end of June, 339 participants had successfully completed the program.

Defence will continue to deliver the suite of ministerial awareness training during 2008-09 to further skill personnel in support of our Ministers. Table 7.1 shows the breakdown of the courses and number of staff who successfully completed the modules during 2007-08.

Table 7.1 Course Completion
Course Personnel
Democratic System of Government
(e-learning module)
Defence Government Awareness 101
Defence Ministerial Writing 460
Developing Complex Submissions 341
Working With Ministers 264
Total 1,948