Equal Employment Opportunity Annual Report – 1995 EEO Activities 1994–1995

Section 6(a) Informing Employees

During 1994/95 staff were informed about a range of EEO-related issues and activities through the internal distribution of material, Bank publications, Bank training courses and local management discussions.

  • Information on general and local EEO issues was provided to EEO contacts in departments and branches. The documentation provided is currently being reviewed to ensure it is relevant to contact officers recently selected at senior department and branch level as part of the decentralisation of EEO responsibility to individual organisational units.
  • Copies of the Bank's EEO Annual Report for 1993/94 were distributed to all staff, including new employees at induction sessions.
  • The Bank's monthly staff magazine – “Currency” – covered a range of EEO issues and activities. During 1994/95 several articles were published on work and family issues, and migrant and language issues. “Currency” also highlighted female achievements within the Bank, including the appointment of the Bank's first female Chief Manager. Highlights from the 1993/94 EEO Annual Report were reported.
  • The Bank's staff information sheet – “Staff Matters” – which is distributed to all employees, reported on the progress and final outcome of the 1995/96 Productivity Bargaining Agreement negotiated with the Finance Sector Union (FSU); the majority of staff are covered by this Agreement. Salient points of the 1993/94 EEO Annual Report were also highlighted.
  • In-house training courses on induction, effective supervision and management continued to include sessions on EEO and managing diversity.
  • The Bank's revised discrimination and harassment policy statement, incorporating changes in Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation, was issued to all staff.
  • A revised “Standards of Conduct”, replacing the existing Code of Conduct, was issued to all staff. The intention of the new standards was to simplify and clarify the behaviour expected of Bank staff.
  • Most branches and departments implemented procedures to improve contact with women on parental leave, including the regular mailing of vacancy and promotion circulars.
  • The Bank's Health Centre in Head Office continued to conduct monthly health promotions and provided a range of information to staff on health-related matters, including work and parenting issues. Brochures on many of these issues were available in different languages. The centre also provided advice and resources to interstate branches.
  • Personnel Policy Department maintained a collection of EEO resources for use by staff including training material, videos and articles.
  • Note Printing Australia (NPA) continued to distribute its weekly newsletter – “Staffline” – to keep all employees informed about personnel, superannuation, health, safety and organisational performance issues. In addition, general meetings of all staff have recently been held with a view to keeping them abreast of the challenges facing the enterprise, and providing an opportunity to question senior managers about NPA's direction and progress.

Section 6(b) Conferring Responsibility

The EEO Plan for the three years to June 1996 comprises two parts – a Personnel Policy Plan which focuses on the development and monitoring of corporate policy on issues of an EEO nature, and Branch/Department Plans which provide a range of strategies suitable for implementation in local work areas. As part of an ongoing decentralisation of decision making on personnel matters, managers across the Bank are responsible for ensuring that EEO principles are reflected in practice in their own area. Each department and branch reports back to Personnel Policy on a six monthly basis on strategies and specific initiatives they have undertaken. A summary of the EEO Plan's objectives is presented in Appendix 1.

The EEO Policy Committee and Personnel Policy Department continue to be responsible for broad EEO policy issues in the Bank. The Terms of Reference of the EEO Policy Committee are set out in Appendix 2. During the year the Committee focused on the monitoring of plans developed in branches and departments. It also considered the issue of employer-sponsored child care.

The Development Section of Personnel Policy Department combines the provision of EEO policy advice and support with more general responsibility for staff development policy in the Bank. This section researches EEO policy issues, liaises with departmental and branch EEO contact officers, disseminates information and maintains links with the finance and Commonwealth sectors in relation to equity matters.

Note Printing Australia (NPA), a division of the Bank which operates as a separate business enterprise with a Board of Directors chaired by one of the Bank's Deputy Governors, continues to set its own goals and strategies for achieving equal employment opportunity.

Section 6(c) Consultation With Trade Unions

In the context of Bank restructuring, productivity bargaining and employment conditions matters generally, discussions were held with unions on a range of EEO-related matters during the year. Some important milestones were reached.

The first of these was agreement with the Finance Sector Union, Reserve Bank Officers' Section (FSU), on the terms of the Reserve Bank of Australia Salaried Employees Award 1995. The Award, the first for salaried employees of the Bank, covers most FSU-covered staff, excluding those at Note Printing Australia. It was signed by the Bank and the FSU, and subsequently registered by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC), in June 1995. The Award details pay rates, hours of work and core conditions of employment, as well as other important matters, such as dispute settlement and grievance procedures.

Agreement was also reached with the FSU on a new two-year Productivity Bargaining Agreement (PBA) covering 1995 and 1996. The new Agreement, registered by the AIRC in June, contains a number of important EEO-related matters. These include payment of child care costs in certain overtime situations; changes to higher duty arrangements to improve effectiveness as a training/development tool and to improve the equity of payment arrangements; and standardisation of long service leave and superannuation aspects for those engaged in part-time work. Issues to be explored by both the Bank and the union during the life of the Agreement include guidelines for the engagement of casual staff; procedures for managing poor performers; working hours flexibility; and the replacement of the current age-based salary scale for base-level recruits with one determined in accordance with skills and performance. The Agreement also provides for the Bank's existing provisions on family leave to be reviewed in the light of an AIRC Test Case.

Some of these issues have application to all employees of the Bankand therefore have been included on the agendas for PBA's being negotiated with other unions. At year end, negotiations were in train with unions representing maintenance staff to agree a new Award and a replacement two-year PBA, and with the Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (LHMU), representing the guards and cleaners.

To cope with surplus staff arising from the restructuring of branches and Head Office support areas announced the previous year, a program of voluntary redundancies continued throughout the first half of 1994/95. The FSU was consulted on several occasions on various aspects of the restructure and the redundancy program.

In addition to the consultation on industrial relations matters, union representatives also participated on various committees which consider issues within the Bank with relevance to EEO. These include the EEO Policy Committee and the Grievance Authority. Unions also participated in the 1995 annual meeting of the Bank's National Occupational Health and Safety Committee.

Monthly meetings of NPA's Joint Union/Management Consultative Committee, at which EEO issues were discussed and acted upon, continued.

Section 6(d) Consultation With Employees

The Bank continues to consult with staff on an individual and group basis.

  • Visits to all departments and some branches took place during the year to improve the awareness of EEO principles and to discuss the implementation of localised EEO plans. There were separate visits to two branches to discuss with staff local issues of compliance with EEO principles.
  • Consultation occurred with the management of some Head Office departments on flexible work issues and with EEO contact officers on the distribution of relevant EEO related material.
  • Managers and supervisors requested information and advice on a range of issues to address EEO-related problems and to provide educative measures in their areas.
  • Individual staff members also sought advice on issues such as flexible work arrangements, training and development needs, balancing work and family responsibilities, concerns over unfair treatment, harassment, recognition of same-sex partners, return to work following parental leave, and the status and availability of part-time work.
  • Contact was maintained with the Bank's clerical trainees to assist those from EEO groups with special needs and to provide support.
  • During the year, NPA introduced the concept of improvement teams into the workplace, with the possibility that these might eventually be developed into self-managed teams. Resulting from this initiative, a representative from each of NPA's thirty teams was invited to participate in a number of meetings to identify the organisation's barriers to high performance and how these might be best addressed.

Section 6(e) Collection Of Statistics

Since establishment of the EEO database in 1987, statistics on staff have been kept up-to-date through the voluntary completion of an EEO Appointment form by new recruits. A high response rate from staff providing EEO statistics has been maintained; at the end June 1995 statistics were available for 97 per cent of Bank staff.

NPA has continued to collect EEO data from all new employees and has maintained a 100 per cent participation rate.

During the year Bank statistics were collected by EEO group on average incomes, salary ranges and classification levels, occupational groups, age distribution and staff movements (recruitment, transfers, promotions and resignations). Where available, information was also collected from external organisations for comparative purposes. Other statistics, collected predominantly by gender, include participation in training/development and study, composition of selection panels, resumptions and resignations following parental leave, use of family leave, exit interview data, nature of grievances reported to Grievance Authority, and incidence of part-time work.

A new computerised personnel information system, expected to become operative in July 1996, should improve the reporting and analysis of EEO data.

Section 6(f) Consideration Of Policies And Examination Of Practices

Policies and practices examined during 1994/95 included:

Staff Selection

Recruitment of Persons from EEO Groups

During the past few years, the Bank has trained over 100 people under the Australian traineeship scheme. To encourage suitable potential applicants from the EEO groups for the 12 month traineeship and the clerical intake, educational institutions, specialist employment agencies and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Network (ATSIEN) were contacted. Several meetings were held with two disability employment agencies to identify employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. Normal clerical aptitude tests for new entrants were modified during the year to accommodate some applicants with disabilities.

During 1994/95, four positions under the traineeship program were filled by Aboriginal people and people with disabilities. At year end, three further such appointments were in prospect.

Requests received by the Bank for work experience for people from EEO Groups continue to be accommodated where possible. EEO Plans returned from branches and departments reported on four people with disabilities who had been given work experience during the year.

Panels for Promotions

To help maintain good practice in the Bank's merit selection procedures, an analysis of the gender composition of selection panels was undertaken during the year.

Career Development and Staff Training

EEO Target Groups

The 1994/95 EEO Plans for departments and branches focused heavily on developing staff from the EEO groups through formalised training courses, encouraging external study, job rotation, acting in higher graded positions and external secondments. Supervisors were encouraged to assess their employees' training and development needs through the performance appraisal process and to agree on appropriate action.

Following a positive evaluation, the Bank continued to offer internal non-residential courses to meet the needs of staff with family responsibilities and those working part-time: Also after evaluation, membership of the Women and Management Association was continued. Nine female staff attended Spring-board, a career development program directed at women. Two senior women participated as mentors for the program.

A self-paced learning centre was officially opened in March 1995 to complement internal training courses. The centre is equipped with a range of compact discs, video tapes, computer based training courses and books, which are available also on a take-home basis, and has four programs related to English language and communication skills. This type of learning provides flexibility for people with family and other responsibilities. A directory of the resources is available to all staff on the Bank's computer information network. Staff usage patterns will be monitored over the coming year. Last year Sydney Branch developed a self-learning PC package, which covers branch operations and other services; this package is now available for staff in all the Bank's branches.

The Bank continued to offer internal training in Business Writing. Information on English language training available outside the Bank was provided on request to branches and departments. In the period ahead there will be a closer examination of possible efficiencies to be gained by offering a course within the Bank or through a common provider.

EEO Awareness for Staff

EEO continues to be featured in orientation sessions for new employees and in Supervision and Management courses.

At NPA, an Induction Pack has been developed which provides new employees with copies of Sexual Harassment, Equal Employment Opportunity and other policies, as well as other relevant information about the organisation.

A revised Policy Statement on Discrimination and Harassment was issued during the year and information and advice on the prevention of harassment provided to areas on request. All branches and departments were reminded of the need to keep staff informed of options available to resolve workplace grievances, and many individual areas have instigated discussions and circulated related information to their staff.

A kit on harassment developed by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission was used during the year by some branches and departments to raise general awareness of the issues. A new video addressing broader forms of harassment, and tested at a recent Supervision Course, is to be purchased for wider use in the Bank.

A self-paced training program on hazard awareness is being developed, mainly in pictorial format, catering for staff with no computer skills and limited understanding of English.

New publications and videos from external suppliers are continually reviewed for possible use within the Bank.

Staff Appraisal

The current performance appraisal scheme for staff has been fully operational for four years. While the underlying scheme remained unchanged in 1994/95, revised performance pay arrangements were introduced. The changes include different-sized salary increments to reward different levels of performance, the extension of eligibility for performance payments to those at the top of their salary band, the introduction of quotas for rewarding different levels of relative performance, and abolition of the rule which required staff to be at desk at level for at least six months to be eligible for a performance payment. It is anticipated that this will enhance access to the scheme for women who have had a period of parental leave during the appraisal year. Women who are on part-time work contiguous with parental leave are eligible to receive the full time equivalent performance increment. A procedure for monitoring outcomes has been put in place to ensure that these arrangements are applied consistently across the Bank.

Health & Safety

In accordance with the Occupational Health & Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1993, the Bank's Occupational Health and Safety Policy and Agreement was drawn up in conjunction with the unions and ratified in 1993. An associated training program for Health and Safety Representatives for Designated Work Groups was completed in November 1994.

The Bank's Health Centre staff continued to provide advice to branches and departments to assist in making reasonable accommodation in the workplace for staff with a disability.

At NPA, a study by an external rehabilitation provider was undertaken to eliminate manual handling risks in one of the main processing areas where staff are predominantly women. As a consequence, those risks have now been removed.

Conditions of Employment

Flexible Work Arrangements

Following consultations with the FSU, permanent and temporary part-time work arrangements came into effect in May 1994. These supplement the part-time work option already in place for staff resuming duties following maternity leave.

Local managers continued to examine where permanent part-time positions may be appropriate, and discussions occurred on the prospects for temporary part-time work in some positions. The number of salaried staff moving to part-time work has remained quite small. This partly reflects a lack of interest by staff, since shortly after the new flexible work options were introduced Voluntary Redundancy Offers (VROs) became available to surplus staff. This included some on parental leave or those who had returned but had not been appointed to substantive positions.

The 1995–96 Productivity Bargaining Agreement with the FSU included a commitment to review the existing part-time work schemes before the end of 1995 to assess their effectiveness in assisting staff to better manage their work and family commitments consistent with the efficient functioning of the Bank.

Parental Leave

A booklet on the Bank's parental leave provisions has been developed, particularly to assist staff while on leave, and will be distributed to all branches and departments through personnel officers.

Arrangements for the provision of Bank cars to senior officers were modified during the year to allow relevant officers on parental leave to retain the use of their car for up to twelve months.

Arrangements for the employment of casuals in the Bankare currently being developed. As part of this work, consideration is being given to the potential use of staff on parental leave on a voluntary basis to fulfil short-term work assignments.

Childcare Costs and Family Illness Leave

Preliminary investigations have begun into the issue of salary sacrificing and employer-sponsored child care to determine the extent of demand and whether such an initiative would assist the Bank in retaining skilled staff.

As part of its Productivity Bargaining Agreement with the FSU, the Bank agreed to pay additional child care costs where a staff member is required to work overtime with less than 24 hours notice and to review existing family illness leave provisions in the light of a forthcoming AIRC Test case. Analysis during the year showed that 29 per cent of staff used the family illness leave entitlement; females represented just under half of the occurrences, with an average duration of 1.95 days – well below the annual entitlement of 5 days.

Superannuation and Long Service Leave

Changes to the rules of the Bank's Officers' Superannuation Fund were made during the year, allowing staff who are not yet Australian citizens to be eligible to become contributing OSF members.

Long service leave and superannuation entitlements for staff engaged in part-time work contiguous with parental leave were changed during the year to bring them into line with pro-rated entitlements applying to those on other forms of part-time work.

>Housing Loans

Staff housing loan arrangements were changed during the year to allow eligible staff to apply for a new or additional advance while on any form of paid leave associated with parental leave.

Handling Grievances

At any hearing, the Grievance Authority comprises the Chairperson, together with one Bankand one Union representative, each selected from a panel of three, one of which is a female.

During 1994/95 the Bank's Grievance Authority met in response to 11 matters lodged by staff. Of these, five were from women. One complaint, jointly lodged by six staff members, related to disciplinary action taken against a group of staff involved in a single incident, two related to voluntary redundancy termination conditions, two related to a performance payment, and one related to treatment on return from parental leave. At NPA, no grievances were lodged during the year.

Section 6(g) Setting Objectives And Selecting Indicators

Merit is the sole basis for staffing decisions within the Bank. In this regard, EEO policies and practices have an important role to play. The Bank seeks to ensure that there are no practices that discriminate against certain sections of its staff. It also seeks to ensure that policies do not adversely affect particular groups of people; that managers are aware of any biases that may influence their decisions; and that all staff have an equal opportunity to develop their skills. EEO plays an important role in meeting these requirements which are crucial if a merit based approach is to work in the best interests of the Bank and its staff.

As part of the Bank's EEO program, a series of EEO plans have been developed. The current plan sets out a series of EEO-related aims and goals under the main headings of: staff selection, career development, staff training, staff appraisal, health and safety and conditions of employment. Details are included in Appendix 1. These broad EEO objectives are supported by specific strategies and outcomes for each department and branch and for the corporate Bank through Personnel Policy Department. Each local area in the Bank has been encouraged to develop additional goals or specific strategies, and to develop appropriate indicators.

The range of indicators currently used to monitor the progress of EEO groups in the Bank includes salary ranges, salaried classification levels, average incomes, occupational groups and staff movements – recruitment, promotions, transfers and resignations. Data are also maintained on retention rates following parental leave, participation in training and development and the provision of study assistance. The Bank's new personnel information system is expected to improve the capacity to produce and analyse statistical data of relevance to EEO.

While many of the initiatives detailed in this report are described as EEO initiatives, they could equally be described as staff development issues which apply to all staff. It is the Bank's objective to ensure that all staff have equal opportunity for skills development and career progression.

Section 6(h) Monitoring And Evaluation

The Bank's 1994–96 EEO Plan requires departments and branches to select appropriate strategies from those provided and to report back on progress each six months. Personnel Policy Department, in turn, monitors this progress and reports to the EEO Policy Committee on a regular basis. In the period under review, all areas returned plans as requested and the early indications are that progress has been made in most areas of the Bank in implementing many of the strategies.

The statistics set out in Appendices 3 and 4 provide some measures of change in the relative positions of staff represented in EEO groups.

Current Organisational Structure

  • Since the EEO statistical benchmarks were established in 1987, total staff numbers in the Bank have halved. The process of decline continued during the year under review, with completion of the latest phase of the Bank's restructuring program. In the twelve months to June 1995, 389 staff left the Bank; almost half of these were surplus to the Bank's needs and accepted voluntary redundancy offers.
  • The proportion of women who accepted such offers was higher than in previous years: of the 190 staff exiting with redundancy offers, 60.5 per cent were women, over a quarter of whom were on, or had recently completed, maternity leave. Overall since 1991, female staff in the Bank have decreased by 37 per cent and males by 24 per cent.
  • These departures, together with the relatively limited recruitment undertaken by the Bank in the past few years, have continued to change the gender mix in the Bank. Women now represent 48 per cent of salaried staff, compared with 54 per cent four years ago. The proportion of women in salaried positions Level 3 and below has fallen quite sharply, but the proportion in management positions (Level 5 and above) continued to increase: 8 per cent of this group were female in 1991, but the proportion was almost 15 per cent in 1995.
  • The representation of people from non-English speaking backgrounds continues to increase gradually. People born in a non-English speaking country now represent 13 per cent of staff, and a further 10 per cent have a parent from a non-English speaking background.
  • The representation of people with disabilities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has remained constant during the period under review.
  • The Bank's reported representation of people with disabilities may be conservative since staff have not been surveyed since 1987, so that staff who have acquired disabilities since then are not identified in the database.
  • Analysis of the distribution of staff within different occupational groups showed that an increasing proportion of women are employed in clerical/administrative occupations and that female representation in the clerical support areas of the Bank continued to fall.

    Graph Showing Age Distribution of Staff
  • The number of permanent part-time staff in the Bank did not change significantly over the period, except at NPA where it doubled.
  • Statistics on the Bank's age distribution show that 63 per cent of women, compared with 36 per cent of men, are under 35.
  • Data from exit interviews collected during the period and analysed by location, gender and employment level, showed no significant differences between men and women as to the reasons given for leaving the Bank.

Staff Selection

  • Recruitment increased 73 per cent from last year, partly due to an increase in natural attrition and the opening up of new specialist positions as a result of restructuring. Of the 209 staff recruited, 23 were for trainee fixed term positions, 36 for entry level clerical positions, 33 for graduate research positions and 117 for other fixed term or permanent appointments. Overall, 50 per cent were women, 27 per cent came from non-English speaking backgrounds, 2 per cent were people with disabilities and 1 per cent were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders.
  • Females represented 42 per cent of the graduate intake, compared with 37 per cent of total applicants. Once selected for interview, females received more position offers than males: 87.5 per cent against 48 per cent.
  • Promotions also increased this year due, in part, to restructuring in the clerical/administrative stream. Females made up 48 per cent of the 171 promotions, last year the corresponding figure was 40 per cent.
  • Females continued to move into non-traditional occupations. During the year two female staff from NPA and two from Perth were appointed as Security Guards. These followed only a few previous appointments to this formerly all-male group.
  • 74 per cent of promotion selection panels held in Sydney/Head Office over the past six months had female members and 12 per cent were chaired by a woman. Twenty-six staff members, of whom almost half were women, were trained in selection panel procedures during the year.

Staff Training and Career Development

  • Study assistance for courses approved by the Bank was provided during the year to 136 staff members, 36 per cent of whom were females. 7.4 per cent of female staff and 10.1 per cent of male employees currently receive study assistance. Six employees, including two women, undertook full-time post-graduate study with Bank support during the year. Five women were seconded during the year to other organisations locally and overseas.
  • Approximately 50 per cent of most EEO groups attended some internal training during the year, a similar rate to men. The rates for attendance at external training were lower: around 40% for men and 24% for women. The average duration of courses tended to be shorter for women and people from a non-English speaking background.

    Graph Showing Study Assistance
    Graph Showing Women Completing Parental Leave

Conditions of Employment

  • 117 women (17.6 per cent of female staff) used parental leave and/or part-time work contiguous with parental leave during 1994/95. Three per cent of males took parental leave.
  • During 1994/95, there was a slight fall in the proportion of women returning to work following parental leave, due in part to the voluntary redundancy program. Of those who returned to work, two-thirds initially returned on a part-time, rather than full-time basis. This is an increase on previous years.


Overall, the statistics suggest some improvement in the relative status of women, especially for the mainstream salaried staff of the Bank and in the relative status of people from non-English speaking backgrounds. The representation of other EEO groups has remained much the same as last year.

Further improvements will continue to depend on on-going attention to corporate personnel policies and appropriate consideration of equity issues in the day-to-day staffing decisions made by individual managers.