Department of Communities Agency Capability Program

The Agency Capability Program will strengthen the Department of Communities’ capability so it can better deliver services to, and restore the trust and confidence of, the Western Australian community.
Diagram showing the three capability streams of the ACP. These streams are improving outward focus, strengthening people and enhancing systems and processes.

What will the program achieve?

The ACP will strengthen Communities’ capability so it can better deliver services to, and restore the trust and confidence of, the Western Australian community.

Our people, our partners and our community will all continue to be critical in this endeavour.

The ACP has three capability streams: improving outward focus, strengthening people and enhancing systems and processes.

  • Improving our Outward Focus: An outward focus is intrinsic to the work of the agency and incredibly important right now as we drive the social recovery work for WA following COVID-19. Communities’ purpose ‘to collaborate to create pathways to enable individual, family and community wellbeing’, especially in this recovery phase, can only be realised through engaging and working with our partners effectively.
  • Strengthening our People: Communities’ outcomes and relationships are delivered by its workforce. Well-managed, supported and developed staff are critical to the delivery of our services.
  • Enhancing our Systems and Processes: An organisation as large as Communities cannot function effectively without adequate systems and processes that support leaders and teams to make robust, evidence-based decisions, and ensure the consistent delivery of services.

How we will work

We are supporting our staff to:

  1.  Commit to different and diverse ways of working that deliver results; agile project teams that are iterative, responsive and with a continuous improvement focus.
  2.  Demonstrate continued growth in cultural competence.
  3.  Exemplify ethics and values, acting with integrity at all times.
  4. Celebrate and recognise diversity and inclusiveness, to better reflect the community we serve.
  5. Undertake a strengths-based approach that celebrates and builds on our agency’s and partners’ expertise and collective strengths.
  6. Work in collaboration and partnership with internal and external stakeholders and experts; overcoming silos and valuing diversity of knowledge and experience and the benefits of inclusive practice.

The Key ACP Actions to date

Improving our Outward Focus

The Department has:

  • sought feedback from stakeholders on the potential roles and functions of a Specialist Child Protection Unit, with ongoing external engagement via a reference group.
  • established an Aboriginal Cultural Council to strengthen the department’s commitment to Aboriginal outcomes and improve cultural understanding.
  • leveraging from the learnings of the COVID-19 Taskforces partnership approach, Communities is working to establish and sustain various strategic partnership mechanisms to harness relationships and opportunities to improve social outcomes. This includes the recent establishment of a strategically focussed sector partners group to collaborate purposefully to maximise opportunities of mutual relevance for the delivery of human services.
  • been running a fortnightly leadership forum to ensure the Department’s leaders receive up to date information on the changing external context in which we operate and can benefit from a range of external guest speakers who can provide insight and advice.
  • established a Agency Capability Program Advisory Board to provide expert advice and strategic guidance on the department’s Agency Capability Program and its implementation.
  • established the WA Recovery Plan Implementation Oversight Committee established to direct and guide implementation of the department's recovery program.

Strengthening our People

The Department has:

  • established a new performance optimisation process “Let’s Talk”, leadership development framework in implementation, ongoing leadership forums to support leadership communication, awareness and alignment and regular seminars held to support new capabilities as part of ACP.
  • established a new senior leadership structure, including Chief Finance Officer and Chief People Officer.
  • established new departmental divisions, with increased focus on strategy and partnerships, governance and oversight, asset management and integrated service delivery along with a senior Aboriginal position on at the senior leadership table ensuring focus and accountability for Aboriginal outcomes.
  • almost 80 per cent of staff now trained in Aboriginal cultural appreciation.
  • launched an intranet hub featuring LBGTIQ+ information. First agency participation in Perth Pride march.
  • developed an Integrity Governance Framework. Conduct and integrity policies updated to align with Public Sector Commission’s Integrity Strategy for WA Public Authorities.
  • established an Integrity Advisory Committee to steward the prevention and management of integrity, fraud and corruption across the department.
  • Corruption and Crime Commission Director Operations David Robinson joins the department for six months to support corruption and fraud prevention and education activities.
  • almost 50 per cent of staff completed improved Accountable and Ethical Decision-Making training.
  • improved departmental processes for staff to report misconduct.

Enhancing our Systems and Processes

The Department has:

  • implemented a single HR payroll system.
  • achieved Disability Confident Recruiter Status from the Australian Network on Disability.
  • adopted a Fraud Corruption and Control Plan.
  • appointed an independent chair and member to Audit and Risk Committee.
  • established a Finance and Investment Committee and meeting to provide stronger governance over finance and funding. Independent chair (John Langoulant AO) and independent members appointed.
  • released a new delegations policy to ensure governance reform.
  • commissioned an internal forensic financial audit to identify learnings from the corruption incident and rectify control weaknesses.
  • program progressing to strengthen internal financial controls, including:
    • improved vendor management
    • single financial management manual and improved policies and guidelines
    • accounts payable remediation
    • program of ongoing fraud risk analytics monitoring
    • improved single purchasing card policy and system
    • delivery of a single finance system.
  • appointed a Chief Risk Officer to improve risk management, emergency management and business continuity planning, and support implementation of the WA Recovery Plan.
  • developed new and enhanced data capabilities for the department’s COVID-19 response and the State Government’s social recovery.
  • already completed 49 of the 56 recommendations in the recently tabled Public Sector Commission Review of the Housing Authority and the Department of Communities with the remaining seven progressing well.

The ACP is a continuous cycle of reviewing, monitoring and improving Communities’ capability that responds to the changing circumstances, rather than a time-limited program.

Page reviewed 13 August 2021