Agency Plan 2018

Agency Plan 2018

Corporate document— August 2018
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Message from the Director

I am pleased to present the corporate plan for the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), which will guide our work over the next four years.

We are the Australian Government's key independent research body and advisor in the area of family wellbeing. Our guiding purpose is to create and communicate knowledge to accelerate positive outcomes for families - because when families thrive, Australia thrives.

Two years ago, we developed our Strategic Directions for the period 2016-20. We set ourselves some ambitious goals. We defined the activities that would take us on a transformational journey and ensure that our culture, capability and systems aligned with our aspiration for our research to have positive impact for families. We have since reviewed our Strategic Directions and committed to a further period to 2021/22. The next four years is a time of building on the solid foundations put in place during 2016 and 2017.

Our pursuit of 'excellence for impact' never stops. It means we need to continue to sharpen our focus on 'discovering what works for families' and ensure our research agenda is able to anticipate emerging challenges in increasingly disruptive times affecting all aspects of our lives, including our employment, housing, education, technology use, and our mental and physical health and wellbeing.

To achieve impact, we have to close the gap between what is known about what works for families and what is done to support families in policy and practice. This requires us to step out of our comfort zone with humility and curiosity. If families are central to our work, we must listen to their aspirations and experiences, and engage them more meaningfully and frequently throughout design of research, policy, and services. A commitment to improving outcomes for families means we place them at the centre and design systems that provide the scaffolding to address their needs, when they need it. This will require us to adapt the way we engage with our stakeholders.

Over the next four years, we will continue to build the evidence base across a wide range of disciplines to improve the understanding of what matters to families, what motivates them and what helps them to do their job well. We will continue to develop knowledge translation capabilities across the whole of the Institute to ensure that our research, policy and practice partnerships are focused on delivering useful evidence that will make a positive difference to children, families and communities.

Our priorities in 2018/19 include:

  • further refining and implementing our strategic research agenda
  • implementing our research partnerships strategy
  • reviewing our performance measures
  • refreshing our website to ensure our research and publications are more accessible
  • embedding knowledge translation capability at whole-of-organisation level
  • finalising the transition to our shared services provider for HR and finance functions.

To enable us to achieve our priorities, we'll continue to experiment, test new ideas and adapt to face our changing environment.

I look forward to productive collaborations with our partners and stakeholders, and working with the incredibly talented and committed team at AIFS to deliver on the priorities set out in our plan.

Ann Hollonds signature - blue

Anne Hollonds
Director, Australian Institute of Family Studies

About us

Our purpose: We create and communicate knowledge to accelerate positive outcomes for families and communities.

Our values

Our shared values underpin our work, our interactions with each other and our interactions with our partners and stakeholders. They help guide our decision making, hold us collectively accountable to behavioural standards and connect us to a higher purpose.

Our staff have contributed to identifying the values and behaviours that are important for us to achieve our strategic goals. They are:

AIFS values - Excellence for impact

Excellence for impact
We are committed to producing excellent work that makes a difference for families.

AIFS values - We are fearless and curious explorers

We are fearless and curious explorers
We value experimentation, creativity and ongoing learning.

AIFS values - We have honest and respectful conversations

We have honest and respectful conversations
We are authentic and have honest conversations including the tough ones.

We are champions of our work and of each other

We are champions of our work and of each other
We want everyone's boat to rise: we take collective pride in each other's work and success.

AIFS Values - We see the lighter side

We see the lighter side 
We value collegiality, humour and fun.

As public servants, we're also committed to upholding the Australian Public Service (APS) values.

At all times, we are:

APS values - impartial, committed to service, accountable, respectful, ethical

Our role

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) is the Australian Government's key research body in the area of family wellbeing.

We were established in 1980 under the Family Law Act 1975. We conduct research and communicate evidence about 'what works for families' and what doesn't. We evaluate policies and programs, and we provide advice to inform the design and implementation of policy and services. Our work aims to increase understanding about the factors helping or hindering the wellbeing of Australian families. It guides systems, policy and service development, and supports individual, family and community empowerment.

Our work builds an evidence base about 'what works for families' that contributes to developing policy and practice to promote the wellbeing of families in Australia.

We undertake a range of research activities, some of which are detailed below. We ensure the quality of our work and corporate governance by:

  • adhering to rigorous ethical standards set by the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research and oversight by an ethics committee
  • benchmarking against international standards
  • subjecting research design, methodology and results to peer review
  • consulting with our various expert advisory groups
  • oversight from the Risk Assessment and Audit Committee.

Our relationships

The Institute operates within the portfolio of the Department of Social Services (DSS), and is responsible to the Minister for Social Services.

We work with departments across the whole of the Australian government, and states and territories, and with researchers, policymakers, and service providers. We engage with family and community members to understand their experiences and aspirations, and what matters most to them.

Our stakeholders include:

  • the Australian Government and state, territory and local governments
  • people who provide services to families and children
  • researchers
  • policy makers
  • families.

Our work

Research and evaluation

We conduct and translate research to make evidence accessible and useful for decision makers, practitioners and the general public. We have been producing high-quality, independent research about Australian families for nearly 40 years.

We undertake primary research involving a range of data collection and analytic methods, such as quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods. We manage a number of major, large scale longitudinal studies, and undertake sophisticated analysis and interpretation of data as well as systematically reviewing existing evidence regarding a range of complex issues that affect Australian families. We also conduct policy and program evaluations.

Some of our major research activities over the next four-year period include:

Growing up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC)

This major study commenced in 2004 and follows the development of 10,000 children from all parts of Australia with two cohorts of about 5,000 families each. The B ('Baby') cohort was aged 0-1 years at Wave 1 and the K ('Kindergarten') cohort was aged 4-5 years.

LSAC is Australia's first nationally representative longitudinal study of child development.

The study provides valuable data about young people, their families and their wider environments, and enables researchers and policy makers to develop a comprehensive understanding of how young people develop in Australia's current social, economic and cultural environment.

The study aims to answer a number of key research questions covering a range of areas, including: health and physical development; social and emotional functioning; family circumstances and relationships; learning and cognitive development; and emerging adulthood.

Building a New Life in Australia (BNLA)

Building a New Life in Australia (BNLA) is a longitudinal study examining how humanitarian migrants settle into life in Australia. The results of this study will provide evidence to inform policy and program development. Close to 2,400 individuals who have been granted permanent humanitarian visas, who are living in communities around Australia, were recruited for the study. Participants had arrived from 35 different countries and speak close to 50 different languages at home.

Elder Abuse National Research Project

This project is developing a rigorous Australian definition of the term 'elder abuse' for research purposes; testing data collection tools to measure the abuse of older people against the agreed definition; and analysing existing data to help answer key research questions about elder abuse.

Ten to Men: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Male Health

Ten to Men is the first national longitudinal study in Australia to focus exclusively on male health and wellbeing.

The study aims to fill the gaps in knowledge about male health and wellbeing across the life course. Its findings will contribute to the development of health programs and policies that are targeted to the special health needs of men and boys. Data from Ten to Men provide a rich source of information on the social, economic, environmental and behavioural factors that contribute to health outcomes in Australian males. They can be used to identify opportunities for supporting men at key life stages to improve their health and wellbeing.

Child Care Package evaluation

We are leading a group of organisations to independently evaluate the Australian Government's new child care package. The evaluation will find out the outcomes and impacts of the package for families, services and providers. We are collecting and analysing a range of information over the next three years. This will include information collected from surveys of and interviews with parents, people working in the child care sector and other key stakeholders. It will also involve analyses of administrative data.

The Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC)

We operate The Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC), which was established under the Commonwealth Gambling Measures Act, 2012 and has been in operation since 1 July 2013. Our gambling research program reflects the Act, embodies a national perspective, and provides a strong family focus consistent with our Families Framework.

The AGRC provides high quality, evidence-based publications and resources to increase the capacity and capability of policy makers, researchers, and professionals working in the sector to reduce gambling related harm.

Knowledge translation and exchange

Knowledge translation helps us to achieve our purpose: to create and communicate knowledge to bring about positive outcomes for families and communities. It is an overarching framework by which relationships, collaborations and communication channels are used to ensure that researchers are:

  • asking and answering the right questions
  • presenting the evidence in a way that is easy to understand and relevant to the end user.

Our approach to knowledge translation ensures that we produce work that is relevant to those working in policy and practice. Our goal is to increase the use of evidence in policy and service delivery based on a better understanding of 'what works' for families. Major activities in this area include:

The National Workforce Centre on Child Mental Health

We are one of four agencies delivering the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health, which aims to equip professionals with resources to identify and better support the mental health needs of children aged from 0-12 years.

Child Family Community Australia

The Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) information exchange, is a leading source of evidence-based web resources, publications and professional development for the child, family and community welfare sector. It plays a significant role in providing professional development for the sector.

Data linkage

We undertake data linkage and integration projects that bring together multiple dataset for statistical or research purposes. Connecting and integrating data that already exists helps research:

  • make progress on some of Australia's most challenging issues
  • discover new insights that lead to service and policy improvements
  • lead to better decisions about funding of services
  • contribute to a robust evidence base.

Policy advice

We provide independent advice about a range of issues relating to the wellbeing of families. We contribute our policy advice through both informal and formal channels (such as working groups and reference groups) to assist governments to make sound decisions affecting families. At all times our advice is impartial and based on the best available research evidence.

Our research agenda

In 2018/19, we will be working to define our research and knowledge translation activities to support our research priorities.

Our overarching frame is to produce evidence which helps to address the adaptive challenges facing families over the coming generations, such as:

  • Is the economy working for families?
  • Are our systems supporting families who are dealing with increasing rates of mental illness and distress?
  • Is it time for a measure of family wellbeing in Australia, e.g. a family wellbeing index?

Families Framework

Our What Works for Families Research Framework (Families Framework) guides our research agenda. It articulates our understanding of families, their role, and the supports they need from government and civil society to flourish.

Visit our website to explore our work, publications and events, and to discover our research agenda in more detail.

What works for families?

Families Framework - upper

What helps families do it better?

Families Framework - bottom

Our operating environment

Business environment

We are increasingly dependent on securing competitive tenders to fund our work. Around two-thirds of our revenue comes from commissioned research projects, and one-third from allocated appropriation funding.

Over the last 10 years, there has been a significant change in the value and duration of the projects in our market, with project timelines becoming much shorter, and the average value of contracts dropping by over 50%. This means we have to adapt and use greater discipline in our monitoring and controlling of project scope, timelines and cost. This will become particularly acute over the next 12 months, with a number of long term projects coming to an end. We have secured a couple of new medium-term projects to offset this impact.

To be relevant and competitive means that, more than ever, we must predict and respond to the changing social, economic and environmental issues that affect the well-being of families. Our Strategic Directions 2016-22 is shifting our emphasis to translating our research in ways that increase the likelihood of the evidence being put into practice. We are adapting our research products and resources to meet the needs of our end-users, who are increasingly time-poor, overwhelmed with high volumes of information, and who need complex issues to be translated with simplicity, clarity and rigour.

Like many other Australian Public Service agencies, we are hopeful of achieving a reduction in our operational expenditure by moving to a shared services model for our finance, travel and payroll functions. We are also undertaking work to transform our business processes, resource planning and utilisation. Improved processes will generate better business intelligence on our costs and effort so that we can maximise our efficiency and quality of service delivery.

Collaboration with stakeholders

We collaborate with organisations that also have a stake in research, policy and practice that affect family wellbeing. These relationships help to efficiently build research capability and communications reach, for the benefit of families and the Australian community. Over the next 12 months we will enhance our collaborative relationships through an AIFS research partnership strategy.

We are uniquely located at the nexus of government and community-based service providers, researchers and policy makers. Our strategy for this reporting period to 2022 is focused on increasing the impact of translating our knowledge into practice. We will focus on achieving information exchange and cross-sector dialogue through fora such as roundtables, workshops and seminars.

Social and policy environment

Families are a powerful driver of social and economic health and wellbeing. Australian families continue to adapt and respond to a range of social, economic and environmental influences and challenges. Some of these include changing relationship patterns, fertility, gender roles, relationship breakdown, the balance between work and family, and diversity in family types.

To do their job well, families need the right support at the right time. At every stage of life, or at major transitions, families face a range of issues, challenges, or external influences that shape their relationships and their social and economic participation.

We create and communicate research evidence to help policy makers and service providers understand the needs of families and provide solutions to support their wellbeing. Key stakeholders seeking this information include the Australian Government; state, territory and local governments; providers of services to families and children; researchers and policy makers; and the broader Australian community. Addressing the issues faced by families is challenging because of the fragmentation of service delivery and the multiple layers in service systems.

Below are a number of broad trends that are affecting the lives of Australian families in this reporting period, however this list is not intended to be exhaustive. For more context, see our Families Framework.

Persistence and change in gender roles

Views about the division of labour in the care of children are becoming more progressive, women are enjoying greater access to education and employment opportunities and are increasingly occupying leadership roles in the workplace. However, in the home traditional gender roles for men and women continue to persist, with little shift in the caring responsibilities taken on by men.

Household labour is often divided along gender lines, especially in relation to the care of very young children but also in relation to housework. The gender divide is most apparent at the transition to parenthood, at which time women tend to take a period of leave from work, change to part-time work, or withdraw altogether from the workforce. Men's workforce participation generally does not change at this time. Gender divisions persist even after children move through school and beyond.

The gendered nature of work and care reflects continuing social norms, which affects take up of flexible working arrangements, as well as labour market factors such as the continuing gender pay gap and lack of access to family-friendly work arrangements in some jobs.

From a policy perspective, the gendered nature of caring means women with children may be more vulnerable when relationships end, which also has flow on effects to their retirement living standard as their superannuation contributions are often lower. Single mothers who have never married/remarried face similar challenges. As a result, we see higher rates of poverty among single women, particularly single-parent women and elderly single women, than we see for men.

An ageing population

An ageing population is a testament to the advances in health, education, employment and living standards over the last century. On the one hand - as with other nations - this success does present social and economic challenges for individuals, families, communities and governments. An ageing population has implications for lower workforce participation and a declining tax base with which to fund public services and amenities. On the other hand, an ageing population is a good news story, with positives such as increased educational standards, enhanced knowledge economies, increased volunteering and caring capacity, and strengthened intergenerational bonds.

However, the benefits and challenges of our ageing population are not distributed equally. The social determinants of health and wellbeing play a large role in contributing to outcomes for older Australians. There are opportunities to respond to these challenges with policy and system reform to reduce ill-health, isolation and disability among some segments of our older population.

Interpersonal violence over the lifespan

The last decade has seen increased awareness and commitment of governments to address the complex and overlapping nature of child abuse and neglect, family and domestic violence and sexual violence. Interpersonal violence and associated trauma can have negative impacts on mental and physical health, family and other relationships, economic participation and social connectedness. The needs of families experiencing these issues can be complex. Increasingly, the imperative is to develop integrated co-ordinated and appropriately tailored support systems to improve the long-term outcomes for survivors, as well as facilitate the prevention of family and interpersonal violence, and child abuse.

Greater acceptance of diverse family types

There are increasing levels of community support for marriage equality rights for gay and lesbian people, and the right of LGBTI people to adopt or foster children. There is an increasing prevalence of same-sex couple families with children. At the same time, childless couples are on track to be Australia's most common family type by 2023.

Uneven distribution of economic growth benefits

After two decades of sustained economic growth, changing economic conditions, both domestically and internationally, have challenged Australian families and policy makers, and intergenerational equity issues have emerged as key drivers in current economic policy debates. Low wages growth, job insecurity, under-employment and increasing costs of housing affect the wellbeing of families - particularly poorer families, given continuing inequalities across the income and wealth distribution within society.

The increasing role of technology

Developments in information and communication technologies affect how we interact with one another, where we work and how we socialise. For example, recent studies indicated digitisation is likely to replace about half of known jobs within 20 years. Technology is also blurring the distinction between work and home, and greater flexibility in work patterns, with a rise in working from home. One of the side effects is that technology is contributing to the expectation that workers will be available outside of traditional business hours.

Mental health

It is well recognised that mental illness is a significant issue across the life course in Australia, with approximately one in five people aged between 16 and 85 experiencing a mental illness in any year. The effects on families can be significant, and the quality of support and services to families and affected family members is crucial. Mental illness impacts not just on the individuals affected but also on the family relationships around them, including parents and children.

Poor mental health has a range of personal, social, economic, health and productivity impacts. The complex interplay of the impacts of mental illness on individuals and families means coordination of policy and services across sectors, systems, levels of government and portfolios is crucial to delivering timely and appropriate support to individuals and families. Reducing discrimination and the stigma of mental illness are also important as these are often barriers to individuals seeking support for mental health.

Our Strategic Directions 2016–22

Our Strategic Directions commenced in July 2016. Initially they were a four-year timeframe and covered the period 2016-20. The Strategic Directions are a rolling plan that we review annually, and we are currently in Year 3 of the plan. As part of the yearly review, we reviewed our goals and believe them to be relevant until 2021/22. One of the activities this year is to review our plan to refine our goals and performance measures in our outlook.

See the table below for the relationship between our Portfolio Budget Statements, our Strategic Plan and our Annual Report.
PORTFOLIO BUDGET STATEMENTS

Outcome 1

Increased understanding of factors affecting how families function by conducting research and communicating findings to policy makers, service providers and the broader community.

Blue arrow table

Program 1

Program 1.1 - To increase understanding of factors affecting how Australian families function by conducting research and communicating findings to policy makers, service providers and the broader community, AIFS will manage its resources to:

  • undertake high-quality, impartial research relating to the wellbeing of families in Australia
  • disseminate findings through multiple channels to identified target audiences
  • connect and collaborate with organisations that have a stake in research, policy and practice influencing the wellbeing of families
  • build and maintain a successful organisational culture that ensures high standards of performance, underpinned by ethical behaviour, sound risk and resource management, effective governance, and rigorous accountability procedures, as expected of an Australian Government agency.

Blue arrow table

HOW WE WILL ACHIEVE OUR PURPOSE: OUR FOUR STRATEGIC PILLARS 
Pillar 1: Create Knowledge Pillar 2: Communicate for
Impact
Pillar 3: Collaborate and Connect Pillar 4: Activate
Research and advice in the design, implementation and evaluation of policy and practices Resources and education for policy, practice, researchers and the public Bringing policy makers, service providers and researchers together Sustainability as an independent Institute
2022 Goals 2022 Goals 2022 Goals 2022 Goals
We are recognised as the premier research organisation investigating factors affecting the wellbeing of children and families.

Government and non-government sectors engage us to undertake research and provide advice that informs policy, practice and program development.

We are the leading source of accessible, timely and relevant resources to support the work of policy and practice and to inform the broader community.

Our resources are used to inform national discussions about family and wellbeing.

We are recognised as thought leaders in accelerating positive outcomes for families and communities.

We influence national conversations about family and wellbeing.

We are operationally efficient and financially sustainable.

We maintain a sustainable program of incoming research that enables AIFS to achieve our purpose.

We are an organisation of choice for Australia's best social researchers.

Blue arrow table

ANNUAL REPORT
Report against
performance criteria
Report against
performance criteria
Report against
performance criteria
Report against
performance criteria

Our plan 2018/19

 
OUR PURPOSE
We create and communicate knowledge to accelerate positive outcomes for families and communities.
OUR PILLARS
Create Knowledge Communicate for Impact Collaborate and Connect Activate
OUR GOALS BY 2021/22
We are recognised as the premier research organisation investigating factors affecting the wellbeing of children and families.

Government and non-government sectors engage us to undertake research and provide advice that informs policy, practice and program development.

We are the leading source of accessible, timely and relevant resources to support the work of policy and practice and to inform the broader community.

Our resources are used to inform national discussions about family and wellbeing.

We are recognised as thought leaders in accelerating positive outcomes for families and communities.

We influence national conversations about family and wellbeing.

We are operationally efficient and financially sustainable.

We maintain a sustainable program of incoming research that enables AIFS to achieve our purpose.

We are an organisation of choice for Australia's best social researchers.

TO ACHIEVE THESE GOALS BY 2022 OUR OBJECTIVES IN 2018/19 ARE TO
Implement a strategic roadmap that demonstrates our research impact to address the complex issues facing families in the 21st century. 

Implement a research partnerships strategy to strengthen capability and reach across sectors and disciplines.

Strengthen capacity for impactful communication and collaboration with our stakeholders. Strengthen internal business processes to improve efficiency and operational decision-making. 

Build a high-performance work culture.

Workforce planning, talent and retention.

SPECIFIC ACTIONS IN 2018/19 TO ACHIEVE THESE OBJECTIVES
Implementation plan for the research roadmap 

Develop partnership strategy

Formalise major research partnership

Deliver on existing research projects while seeking new opportunities that reflect our research agenda

Implement the website strategy 2018 to make it user-centred, that provides content relevant to our audiences, and offers a seamless experience of AIFS 

Content audit of our website

Content governance framework

Stakeholder research and analysis

Expand our suite of 'resources' to include new channels with higher engagement factor, such as seminars, webinars, policy roundtables, events, blog posts

At research initiation stage, establish a knowledge translation plan that identifies the target audience and dissemination methods 

AIFS Conference 2018 execution and evaluation

AIFS Conference 2020 planning

Develop events strategy

Develop a national media strategy which broadens our focus from research outputs and seeks opportunities to influence national conversations on key family wellbeing issues

Increase opportunities for cross-sector dialogue and exchange

Implement knowledge translation strategy across the organisation

Conduct mid-cycle review of our Strategic Directions, including goals and performance measures 

Review recruitment practices

Leadership development program for managers

Refresh policies and plans for workplace diversity

Improve capability of managers to recruit people with disabilities

Finalise transition to shared services and determine best approach for improving project management

Review and strengthen risk management framework

Implement new Privacy Management Plan, and enhance our data management policies and processes

Our capability

Research excellence

With almost 40 years' experience conducting high-quality, responsive and impartial research, we have research credentials in a broad and diverse range of issues affecting Australian families. We have high level expertise in:

  • primary research involving a range of data collection and analytic methods, including quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods
  • large-scale surveys and longitudinal studies
  • data linkage and integration
  • sophisticated data analysis and interpretation
  • policy and program evaluation
  • translating knowledge and evidence in a way that is easy to understand for the end user, such as policy makers and practitioners
  • building evaluation skills and capacity in the family services sector.

We have multi-disciplinary research teams with expertise in:

  • economics
  • public health
  • demography
  • data science
  • psychology
  • sociology
  • anthropology
  • criminology
  • socio-legal studies
  • gender studies.

Our research excellence is underpinned by the following capabilities:

Capacity to work with administering departments and other stakeholders

We have a very strong track record in working in close cooperation with a range of administering departments, partner organisations, scientific advisory groups, fieldwork providers and study participants. We are renowned for our collaborative approach, capacity to maintain open and responsive communication, and delivery of solutions that meet the needs of diverse stakeholders.

Understanding and willingness to support customised methodologies

We have a breadth of experience with innovative studies which require complex solutions, including data collections with unique populations (such as humanitarian migrants), as well as diverse data collection approaches such as online surveys, computer assisted interviews, tablet-based surveys and paper-based surveys.

High-level sampling expertise

We have in-depth expertise in the selection of participants for new studies, or the refreshment or augmentation of samples, including the development and successful implementation of sound and complex sampling designs.

State-of-the-art instrument development

We have a highly dedicated team with world-class expertise in the development of instruments and questionnaires for use in national surveys and with diverse populations.

Demonstrated excellence in psychometric and large scale data-analytic work

We have data analysts from various backgrounds such as health science, psychology, statistics, social science and econometrics, including highly experienced experts in the analysis of large-scale and longitudinal datasets as well as linked administrative datasets.

High-level expertise and experience in data linkage

We are one of only three accredited Data Linkage Integrating Authorities in Australia. This means we are authorised to undertake data integration projects involving Commonwealth data for statistical and research purposes. Data linkage has been a key element of many of our longitudinal studies, and as a result we have exceptional skills in this area.

Knowledge translation and dissemination

Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) is our information exchange and clearing house for practitioners, policy makers, service providers and researchers working with children, families and communities. The clearing house is a primary source of quality, evidence-based information, resources and interactive support for professionals in the child, family and community welfare sectors. In addition, we host a program of seminars and webinars to give our target audiences access to the latest evidence and practice implications on a range of topics.

We have exceptional expertise in writing for a broad range of audiences including policy makers, researchers, practitioners, study participants and the general community. We have extensive experience in producing a variety of products ranging from complex reports and peer-reviewed articles to fact sheets, newsletters and other materials designed for a lay audience.

People and culture

By 2022, we are aiming to become an employer of choice for researchers and knowledge translation professionals. The results of our recent APS Employee Census are very pleasing and signal some big improvements in a number of areas as a result of sustained effort in addressing feedback from staff.

Of particular note is that we are now ranked 8th in the APS for staff engagement; 6th in the APS for staff wellbeing and 10th in the APS for innovation. In 2018/19 we are continuing to focus on the following priorities to increase the engagement of our people, and reach our goal to become an employer of choice.

Workforce planning

We are working to ensure we have staff with the right capabilities to meet our goals; and that they have clear pathways to progress and develop their talents. We are reviewing our recruitment practices to ensure we are sourcing and nurturing relationships with a pool of talented people so that we are better able to match candidates with roles when they become available.

Learning and development

Managerial capability will be a strong focus of our learning and development program in the coming year, with a series of workshops planned that will explore leadership styles and building performance.

Values and culture

We will continue to undertake activities that embed the values and behaviours staff have identified as critical to achieving our goals and desired culture. We will continue to implement priority actions identified from staff feedback in the 2018 Employee Census to help promote the behaviours and culture we value.

Staff wellbeing

Staff wellbeing initiatives continue to be a strong focus of our work with plans in 2018/19 for increasing capability in the management of mental health and rehabilitation, and the promotion of preventative health strategies.

Diversity

We are focusing on refreshing our policies and action plans for workplace diversity. These include our Reconciliation Action Plan, and plans to increase Indigenous representation, representation of people with disabilities, gender equality and culturally and linguistically diverse representation in our workforce. This coming year has a particular focus on improving the capability of our managers to recruit and lead people with disabilities in our workforce.

We expect to maintain an average staffing level of around 82 full-time equivalent employees. We offer flexible working conditions to attract high quality professional staff who value the opportunity to balance their work and caring responsibilities or other commitments. This is consistently identified by staff as one of our organisational strengths. Over 48% of staff work on a part-time basis and over 75% of our staff are women. Just over 63% of staff hold post-graduate degrees, which reflects the fact that our work is complex and specialised, requiring a high degree of skills and qualifications.

Over 48% of staff work on a part-time basis and over 75% of our staff are women. Just over 63% of staff hold post-graduate degrees

Property

In 2017/18, we made a significant investment in our future by selecting and fitting out new premises at Southbank. The new premises are predominantly open plan, with lots of meeting rooms, collaboration spaces and quiet rooms provided to allow staff to hold one on one and larger meetings, conduct collaborative work and undertake concentrated work activities and interviews.

At the heart of the fit-out is the AIFS kitchen/dining area, which provides a focal point where staff can come together, undertake informal meetings or discussions and also provides an alternate space for working other than desks.

A photo of the kitchen in the new AIFS location

In 2018/19, we will complete the fit-out by making a significant investment in our AV equipment to allow greater interactivity of presentations in meeting rooms, including video conferencing capability. The new premises have helped us realise benefits including: greater value for money; cost reduction; and improved internal culture as a result of involving staff in the design and fit-out of the space.

Project management and business process improvements

From July 2018, we are implementing a new financial management information system through the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Shared Services hub. This will allow us to streamline a number of internal processes and provide more efficient budget and project management arrangements.

We are also continuing to investigate the best ways to invest in our project management and accounting capability, through the introduction of an operating model using activities-based costing, scheduling, monitoring and governance. This project is ongoing, with scoping currently underway and implementation expected to be completed in 2019. The result will be greater visibility over the costs of our operations, allowing us to plan our workforce and resource allocation processes with much greater confidence.

Information technology

The move to new premises is also being enhanced by the roll out of improved IT and telephone system capability that will allow staff to work much more flexibly anywhere within our office or beyond.

Data Linkage and Integration

We are one of only three accredited Data Linkage Integrating Authorities in Australia. This means we can demonstrate that we meet stringent criteria relating to project governance, data management and capability. We have experience in linking survey data to the following administrative data sets:

  • Medicare Benefits Scheme
  • Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
  • National Childhood Immunisation Register
  • National Childcare Accreditation Authority
  • National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN)
  • Australian Early Development Census (AEDC)
  • MySchool
  • Income support.

As a Data Linkage Integration Authority, we are reviewing the rapidly changing landscape that is data linkage, data sharing and exploitation of big data across the Commonwealth. Following the Productivity Commission's Inquiry into Data Availability and Use, we are actively working with the National Data Commission and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on a range of data sharing and release initiatives. These will enable better use of data while ensuring robust data safeguards are in place. We are developing ourselves to take an efficient and accessible role within the evolving data sharing and release framework.

Our risk oversight and management

Our governance structures are based on accountability, transparency and fairness. The Director and the Executive Team oversee our risk management, information and privacy management, control and compliance requirements. They are supported by the Risk Assessment and Audit Committee (RAAC), which ensures effective and efficient use of public resources by reviewing the performance and operation of our internal controls and performance management systems.

The RAAC reports directly to the Director and is chaired by an external member. It meets four times a year, addressing a range of issues including internal budgets, Portfolio Budget Statements, mid-year budget reviews, internal and external audit processes, fraud control, risk register and risk profile, PGPA Act compliance reviews, and updates of our Accountable Authority Instructions and Financial Guidelines. From 2018/19, the RAAC will also have oversight of the Agency's privacy management plan.

We also receive strategic advice in respect to our research through the Ethics Committee and a range of expert advisory groups.

Internally, the Senior Leadership Group reviews our risk register and privacy management plan monthly. Risk management is an integral part of our project governance. Project managers undertake risk assessments for all projects and are required to report monthly on risk and mitigations. They also develop privacy impact assessments on all projects with high privacy risks. Our Information Governance Committee meets quarterly and has responsibility for the management of our information and data holdings, as well as privacy compliance obligations and the privacy management plan.

Risk management is an ongoing and iterative process, and an updated Risk Management Policy and Framework will be finalised early in the 2018-19 financial year as part of new financial management systems and processes. Our first privacy management plan was introduced in July 2018.

Our performance measures

MEASURES

TARGETS
2018/19 2019/20 2020/21 2021/22
CREATE KNOWLEDGE ABOUT FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES
No. of bodies commissioning work by AIFS 22 22 22 22
No. of research projects at AIFS 47 47 47 47
No. of longitudinal studies at AIFS 5 5 5 5
COMMUNICATE KNOWLEDGE ABOUT FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES
No. of publications disseminated or downloaded from AIFS website 3.2 million 3.4 million 3.4 million 3.4 million
Total media mentions of AIFS research 7,500 7,000 7,000 7,000
No. of publications released by AIFS 80 80 80 80
No. of presentations given by AIFS staff 120 120 120 120
No. of bibliographic records generated at AIFS 2,300 2,400 2,400 2,400
CONNECT RESEARCH, POLICY AND PRACTICE
Total attendance at AIFS conferences, seminars, webinars and forums 3,500 3,500 3,500 3,500
No. of partnerships, MOUs and collaborations in place 32 32 32 32
No. of conferences, seminars and forums hosted by AIFS 20 20 20 20
Government submissions 8 10 10 10
ACTIVATE ORGANISATIONAL CAPABILITY
Percentage of research staff with post-graduate qualifications 65% 70% 70% 70%
Reduction in operational costs 5% Steady Steady Steady
Percentage of clients satisfied with AIFS' services 85% 90% 90% 90%
Percentage of stakeholders satisfied with AIFS' services 85% 90% 90% 90%

We will be conducting a mid-cycle review of our goals and performance measures in 2018/19 to see if our goals are still appropriate, and assess whether we are setting the right targets and indicators to measure our performance.

Publication details

Corporate document
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, August 2018.

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