Congratulations to the finalists of the 2023 Spirit of Service Awards!
The finalists were selected from a strong field of nominations from across the Australian and ACT public sector, demonstrative of initiatives that bring positive change to the Australian community.
They will go on to deliver a 3-minute video pitch presentation of their initiative to our esteemed judging panel. Winners and runners-up for each category will be announced at the Spirit of Service Awards Gala Dinner on 8 November 2023 in Canberra.
Here are the finalists in the four award categories:
Compassionate Foundations: Building a suicide prevention culture in the APS
Australian Public Service Commission & Department of Defence
The need to invest in public sector suicide prevention capability has also been called out in national reviews including the National Suicide Prevention Adviser’s final advice which highlighted the critical role that all government portfolios have in Australia’s suicide prevention effort. To address this critical issue in the APS, the APS Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Unit (the Unit) in partnership with the Department of Defence (DoD) undertook a large project that eventuated in the authorship and delivery of Compassionate Foundations, a first of its kind public sector suicide prevention eLearning suite that teaches staff about suicide and suicide prevention skills framed around relationships and connection not risk assessment.
ACT Government Flexible Work Program
ACT Public Service
The ACT Government aspires to be the most progressive jurisdiction in Australia for the provision of flexible working options for its employees. Through an iterative cycle of prototyping and continuous learning commencing in 2015, the ACT Government has normalised flexible and hybrid working for all of its officebased employees.
Implementation of the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering
Department of Social Services
The Commonwealth Department of Social Services has led the all-of-government response to online gambling and harm minimisation under the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering (the National Framework), which for the first time, delivers 10 nationally consistent protections for online gambling consumers.
Indigenous Development and Employment Program
National Indigenous Australians Agency
The IDEP is a 3-year program for future First Nations leaders in the APS, tailormade to individual needs of participants based on their experience and capability. With 11 partner agencies across the APS, the IDEP has established itself as a flagship leadership program.
Cross-departmental collaboration to deliver the 2022 federal election Secure Telephone Voting service
Australian Electoral Commission
Faced with extraordinary circumstances brought by the pandemic, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) recognised that a significant number of Australian citizens would likely be unable to attend polling places and risked being disenfranchised. While COVID-affected voters could apply for a postal vote, the legislated deadline for applications was the Wednesday before the election. To overcome this gap, the Australian Government enacted legislation in February 2022 allowing telephone voting for people who became infected with COVID-19 in the final days of the election period. This emergency measure required the AEC to urgently and significantly expand the capacity of its existing telephone voting service which was previously limited to voters who are blind or have low vision and those in Antarctica.
Territories Stolen Generations Redress Scheme (the Scheme): meaningful and ongoing collaboration to ensure trauma-informed, survivor-centred design and service delivery
National Indigenous Australians Agency
The Scheme has been built and operates on a strength-based approach underpinned by the principles: safety, transparence and trust, choice, collaboration, and empowerment. Central to the Scheme’s success has been ongoing collaboration with Stolen Generations survivors, key stakeholders and government agencies. The Scheme works with community, seeking ongoing advice from its External Advisory Board. The Board is comprised of survivors with lived experience and organisations providing direct support to survivors, to ensure the Scheme operates to best meet survivors’ needs.
Provider Connect Australia (PCA) service
Australian Digital Health Agency
The Australian Digital Health Agency developed an innovative new service – Provider Connect Australia (PCA) – to help solve the issue and give health practitioners time back in their days for patient care. PCA enables healthcare services such as general practices and pharmacies to maintain an up-to-date record of their healthcare service details and publish them to stakeholders (including health service directories) that require complete, accurate and up to date information about services. This reduces administrative burden and improves data quality throughout the healthcare ecosystem.
European Wasp Control
ACT Public Service
Daniel Patterson identified that 2020/2021 recorded the highest incidents of wasp incursion in the ACT to date. In partnership with CoreEnviro and with the use of a European wasp hotline, 1111 nests were identified and destroyed across Canberra. Nuisance wasps prevent the public from enjoying outdoor facilities such as parks, BBQ and picnic areas where they forage in large numbers. Increasing populations of European wasps impact cafes/restaurants and other businesses, feeding from customer’s plates and increasing the risk of stinging incidences. Concerned that TCCS was being reactive in this space, waiting for nests to be reported, Daniel worked with Core Enviro Solutions to identify hot spots to proactively bait and trap European Wasp Queens before incursions arise. Together, Daniel’s team and CoreEnviro Solutions have trapped 1,551 European wasp queens, preventing an estimated 6.2million wasps from impacting the community in 2022.
Operation Protego communication and media approach: community engagement tackling GST fraud
Australian Taxation Office
Operation Protego is an ATO-led approach to address widespread GST fraud. It involved multifaceted activities to address the fraud, especially given the pervasive nayre of social media misinformation. This nomination highlights the innovative activities delivered via the ATO’s Communication, Marketing and Media Relations (CMMR) professional stream to engage with the community. This included leveraging relationships with government agencies, law enforcement agencies (State and Federal), banks, and social media platforms to stop the fraud promotion being proliferated on social media and to deter, disrupt, and demonstrate the consequences of fraud.
Reforming care and legal protections for people with variations in sex characteristics
ACT Public Service
Intersex people have innate sex characteristics (such as chromosomes, gonads or hormones) that differ from medical norms for female or male bodies. People with these variations in their sex characteristics risk violence, stigmatisation and being subject to harmful medical practices because their bodies are seen as different. The ACT Government made a commitment in its LGBTIQ+ action plan under the Capital of Equality Strategy, to collaborate with intersex people, human rights organisations and healthcare professionals to form a plan on how prohibition of deferrable medical interventions on intersex people could operate in the ACT. The language reflected a high degree of uncertainty around what could be achieved and how. Over the next 3.5 years, the Office of LGBTIQ+ Affairs (the Office) was charged with finding a way to implement the first reform of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
Community engagement at Fitzroy Crossing Service Centre
Services Australia (the agency) is re-imagining face to face services. Building service delivery experiences Australians said they cared about that are simple, helpful, respectful and transparent. The agency is transforming service centres by improving the customer experience through a new contemporary look and feel, a welcoming environment and enhanced services. Through customer insight research, the agency identified a number of communities to include in the design of the tailored service experience, to get a deeper understanding of local needs and cultural sensitivities. Fitzroy Crossing is an Aboriginal community in the very remote Kimberley region of Western Australia. Agency staff visited Fitzroy Crossing in July 2022 to meet stakeholders and customers to discuss the design and development of a new service experience. The agency incorporated a respectful engagement approach, a key component to develop a culturally sensitive face to face customer experience.