Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
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Effective communication skills are a vital part of the effective work of an authorised officer.
The purpose of this volume is to provide basic knowledge with the requirements for communication, our organisation’s values that support those, and some tips on how to communicate effectively with clients.
By the end of this volume you should be able to:
- understand the APS values and culture
- adhere to related legislation, policies and guidelines required of an officer
- understand the communication reporting lines
- be aware of some effective communication techniques
- be aware of effective conflict management techniques
- have an increased awareness to be respectful and understanding of cultural and linguistic diversity.
Relevant Legislation, Policies and APS & Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Values
There are a number of policies under which authorised officers must communicate with internal and external clients. Officers must be aware of these and adhere to the relevant guidelines.
Some of the legislation, policy and guidelines relevant to Public Service and departmental communication include:
Public Service Act 1999
- APS Values
- APS Code of Conduct
Privacy Act 1988
- DAFF Governance Framework
- DAFF Workplace Diversity Strategy
- DAFF Email and Internet Code of Conduct
- Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Service Charter
Authorised Officers employed by the Commonwealth must adhere to all relevant federal legislation such as the
Public Service Act 1999.
As a Commonwealth employee, Authorised Officers must abide by the APS Values and Code of Conduct as a condition of employment.
The Values and Code of Conduct set the behaviour and expectations that all commonwealth employees are to embrace when representing the government.
The APS Values are as follows:
- The APS is apolitical, performing its functions in an impartial and professional manner.
- The APS is a public service in which employment decisions are based on merit.
- The APS provides a workplace that is free from discrimination and recognises and utilises the diversity of the Australian community it serves.
- The APS has the highest ethical standards.
- The APS is openly accountable for its actions, within the framework of Ministerial responsibility to the Government, the Parliament and the Australian public.
- The APS is responsive to the Government in providing frank, honest, comprehensive, accurate and timely advice in implementing the Government’s policies and programs.
- The APS delivers services fairly, effectively, impartially and courteously to the Australian public and is sensitive to the diversity of the Australian public.
- The APS has leadership of the highest quality.
- The APS establishes workplace relations that value communication, consultation, co‑operation and input from employees on matters that affect their workplace.
- The APS provides a fair, flexible, safe and rewarding workplace.
- The APS focuses on achieving results and managing performance.
- The APS promotes equity in employment.
- The APS provides a reasonable opportunity to all eligible members of the community to apply for APS employment.
- The APS is a career-based service to enhance the effectiveness and cohesion of Australia’s democratic system of government.
- The APS provides a fair system of review of decisions taken in respect of APS employees.
APS Code of Conduct
- An APS employee must behave honestly and with integrity in the course of APS employment.
- An APS employee must act with care and diligence in the course of APS employment.
- An APS employee, when acting in the course of APS employment, must treat everyone with respect and courtesy, and without harassment.
- An APS employee, when acting in the course of APS employment, must comply with all applicable Australian laws. For this purpose, Australian law means:
- any Act, or any instrument made under an Act, or
- any law of a State or Territory, including any instrument made under such a law.
- An APS employee must comply with any lawful and reasonable direction given by someone in the employee’s Agency who has authority to give the direction.
- An APS employee must maintain appropriate confidentiality about dealings that the employee has with any Minister or Minister’s member of staff.
- An APS employee must disclose, and take reasonable steps to avoid, any conflict of interest (real or apparent) in connection with APS employment.
- An APS employee must use Commonwealth resources in a proper manner.
- An APS employee must not provide false or misleading information in response to a request for information that is made for official purposes in connection with the employee’s APS employment.
- An APS employee must not make improper use of:
- inside information
- the employee’s duties, status, power or authority
- in order to gain, or seek to gain, a benefit or advantage for the employee or for any other person.
- An APS employee must at all times behave in a way that upholds the APS Values and the integrity and good reputation of the APS.
- An APS employee on duty overseas must at all times behave in a way that upholds the good reputation of Australia.
- An APS employee must comply with any other conduct requirement that is prescribed by the regulations.
Workplace Diversity Strategy
The deparment expects its officers to demonstrate a commitment to workplace diversity. Workplace diversity acknowledges difference and adapts work practices to take into account the individuality of employees.
Managing diversity successfully means creating an environment that values and uses the contributions of people with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.
All employees are responsible and accountable for ensuring the workplace is free from discrimination and harassment, and valuing diverse skills, cultural perspectives and backgrounds.
Email and Internet Code of Conduct
Where the department provides e-mail and internet access to staff, in order to:
- conduct the business of the Department
- make, develop and maintain professional contacts
- research and improve professional, scientific and business practices
- provide an effective high-quality service to the Department's clients.
Refer to the Regional Plant Export Program manager for guidelines and code of conduct for access and use of such services.
The department's Service Charter is a document accessible by staff and clients to set boundaries for service delivery and expectations.
Rights of Clients
Clients should expect to be provided with:
- accurate advice and information
- timely responses
- transparent decisions
- privacy and confidentiality
- access to information under the
Freedom of Information Act 1982
- ability to appeal decisions made.
Rights of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
The department strives to provide a high level of service to clients. It is expected that its clients:
- familiarise themselves and comply with Australian Government requirements and legislation for importing/exporting goods
- be open and honest
- tell us if an interpreter is required
- provide complete, accurate, and timely information
- treat our staff with respect.
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Service Standards
- When delivering services to clients, the department is committed to providing services with professionalism, integrity, fairness and respect.
- The department's service will also be efficient, effective and consistent.
- Authorised Officers must understand their service obligations. It is important to understand these obligations in order to uphold the Service Charter.
Communication Reporting Lines
It is important for an officer to be aware of their relevant reporting lines relevant to export horticulture and grain programs.
A supervisor or manager must be notified immediately if an issue of concern arises including incidents in the areas of WHS, regulations, legislation, work practice/guidelines, or a breach of the organisations values or code of conduct.
In addition, any incident likely to attract the interest of the media should also be reported immediately.
Reporting occurrences of aggressive or inappropriate behaviour is important to ensure that disputes are resolved and future situations do not arise. Incidents should be reported to your supervisor.
Immediately following any incident it is best practice and a safeguard to make notes of the circumstances and the conversation details. A person could make a complaint to the Minister, the newspaper, the Executive Director or to any number of people.
If the complaint is made months after the event, notes will ensure that evidence of the occurrence is documented. Notes should be made immediately after the event when the details of the incident are still fresh in your mind.
The Compliance and Investigation Program provide advice and will investigate breaches of legislation including:
- threatening to cause harm
- causing harm
- obstruction, hindering, intimidating or resisting a departmental officer in the performance of their functions
- failing to provide assistance.
Discuss with the Regional Plant Exports Program Manager any need to liaise with the Compliance and Investigation Program in the first instance.
Industry Consultative Committees
The department maintains close contact with industry clients through industry consultative committees (ICCs), to ensure efficient and effective service delivery. ICCs are instrumental in developing effective operational responses to government policy for export and import programs.
Volume 14 |
Volume 15 (cont.)