To become Australia’s innovation catalyst, we must create a culture and environment that encourages our people to work collaboratively and creatively to deliver a positive impact for Australia and the world.

To become Australia’s innovation catalyst, we must create a culture and environment that encourages our people to work collaboratively and creatively to deliver a positive impact for Australia and the world.

During 2016–17, we have developed our staff and leaders as outlined in our People Strategy. The four focus areas of the strategy are:


Our leaders and staff are empowered to deliver our strategy.

Mobility and agility

Our people are motivated and able to mobilise swiftly to deliver impact. CSIRO is looking to grow its mobility and collaboration with customers and partners to create an organisation-wide secondment program.


We actively attract and develop innovative capability to meet the needs of our customers. CSIRO is looking at its talent pipeline and focusing efforts on its student population and early-career staff.

Diversity and inclusion

Our diverse and inclusive teams drive innovation and deliver for our customers.

Our Human Resources and Organisation Development and Change teams provide leadership on matters relating to our people, offer guidance and ensure compliance with the Equal Employment Opportunity (Commonwealth Authorities) Act 1987. We build a culture and climate that supports existing and future strategic priorities and delivers on our unique purpose. To achieve this aspiration we will:

  • develop our leaders to deliver transformational change by entrusting, engaging and using CSIRO’s highly capable, diverse and willing talent
  • develop our people to deliver CSIRO’s vision, mission and strategy, by supporting their participation in purpose-built events, forums, programs and initiatives
  • empower our people by integrating change management and developing agile systems, processes and management practices
  • leverage and empower the willingness, dedication and capability of our people and teams by helping them see their place in CSIRO; their contribution to the organisation and support of our nation
  • increase our contribution to the mobility and exchange of people and know-how between research, industry and government
  • increase our engagement in education and training from school age to PhD level.

Enterprise Agreements

Enterprise agreements set the terms and conditions of employment for CSIRO staff. Two enterprise agreements are in operation: the CSIRO Enterprise Agreement 2011–14 and the CDSCC Enterprise Agreement 2014–2017.

Negotiations for the new CSIRO Enterprise Agreement have progressed. Following a ballot of eligible staff, CSIRO announced on 23 June 2017 that the majority of staff participating in the ballot had approved the proposed agreement. The proposed agreement was lodged with the Fair Work Commission for approval on 29 June 2017.

The CDSCC Enterprise Agreement reached its nominal expiry date on 18 June 2017. Negotiations to replace the agreement are ongoing within the parameters established by the Australian Government Workplace Bargaining Policy 2015, which applies to the Australian Public Service (APS) and non-APS Australian Government agencies, including CSIRO.

New Enterprise Agreement approved by the majority of CSIRO staff.

Learning and Development

During 2016–17, CSIRO again delivered strong growth in the learning and development opportunities offered, providing 6,498 development days; an increase from the 4,681 days1 delivered in 2015–16.

A number of new programs were launched in support of Strategy 2020 and the Culture and Morale Building Plan 2016. Programs include Launch and Pitch Camps in collaboration with ON, Intensive Development Centres for aspiring and experienced leaders, Career Development Centres for all staff and increased frequency and participation in CSIRO’s Australia’s Innovation Catalyst program (our premier future leaders program). In addition, CSIRO launched an Executive 360 Feedback and Coaching Program targeting the Executive Team and CSIRO Leadership Team. These new offerings complement CSIRO’s core curriculum of over 47 programs.

In line with global workplace learning trends, CSIRO is increasingly using feedback instruments, computer-based simulations, team-based experiential challenges, facilitated development conversations and new platforms to support online learning and learning communities. This year, CSIRO introduced the first of the Leader’s Webinar Series, including Building Trust, Regrouping and Establishing New Team Norms, and Creating Shared Purpose. More than 150 of our leaders participated in the series. We continually add to and refresh the library of eLearning modules available to improve induction of new staff and to augment key initiatives, for example Starting with your Safety and the Code of Conduct.

All programs are monitored to ensure they achieve good value for investment and meet expectations. Where ratings are not achieved, programs are either redesigned or stopped.

Diversity and Inclusion

The CSIRO Strategy and the People Strategy clearly articulate our commitment to realising the innovation benefits that derive from an inclusive workforce diverse in its background, thinking and experiences. CSIRO has had a multi-year focus on diversity and inclusion in its broadest forms, with a targeted focus on gender, cultural diversity and Indigenous Australians.

Diversity and inclusion initiatives this year had a strong emphasis on opportunities for women to progress to senior science roles. To this end, CSIRO is participating in two key government-funded, National Innovation Statement initiatives: the SAGE program, initiated by the Australian Academy of Science, and Male Champions of Change STEM.

SAGE is a program of activities designed to improve gender equity and diversity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) via the pilot of the Athena Swan Charter in Australia. The Charter is an evaluation and accreditation framework from the UK that addresses gender equity policies and practices in STEM.

Athena Swan Awards offer Bronze, Silver and Gold levels in recognition of institutional capacity to eliminate gender inequity and a demonstrated commitment to bolster the employment, promotion and retention of women.

CSIRO’s submission for a Bronze Award demonstrates our solid foundation for eliminating gender bias, developing an inclusive culture that values all staff and our commitment to creating opportunities for women to progress to senior science roles.

Highlights of 2016–17 include:

  • announcing the Balance flexible workplace initiative that will commence on 1 July 2017, supported by a project team with senior business unit representation to lead its development and implementation
  • establishing a SAGE Self-Assessment Team to lead the initiative and complete CSIRO’s submission for the Athena Swan Bronze Award
  • increased leader engagement through the SAGE program, roadshows and focus groups
  • development of diversity and inclusion committees to support the establishment of Diversity and Inclusion Plans
  • delivery of training to eliminate unconscious bias
  • integration of diversity and inclusion content into CSIRO leadership development curriculum
  • development of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Network Strategy to provide support and social networking for people who identify in these groups
  • establishing the LGBTI Ally Network.

Since 1994, departments and agencies have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007–08, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service report and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at: From 2010–11, departments and agencies are no longer required to report on these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020, which sets out a 10-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high-level two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the Strategy and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first of these reports is available at: Disability and Carers: National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 .

The percentage of CSIRO staff who recorded a disability as at 30 June 2017 was four per cent.

Indigenous Engagement Strategy

CSIRO believes that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have made and will continue to make extraordinary contributions to Australia across cultural, economic and scientific domains. Furthermore, we recognise the social and economic disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and is committed to overcoming the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

CSIRO initiated its Indigenous Engagement Strategy in July 2007. The Strategy aims to achieve greater participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our research and development agenda and activities, and to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Building on that strategy, CSIRO launched its Reconciliation Action Plan in late 2016. The plan outlines activities and deliverables aimed at closing that gap.

We are reviewing and revising CSIRO’s cultural awareness program and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy. This strategy provides activities aimed at the recruitment, development, promotion and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff. As at 30 June 2017, 104 (1.9 per cent) of our employees identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, an increase from 22 (0.3 per cent) at 30 June 2011. Of these, 19 are cadets, 21 are trainees and 64 are research, technical and administrative services staff.

We engage and partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across a range of areas, such as marine and environmental science, human resources, property services, astronomy and space science, information management and technology, mining, horticulture and aquaculture. In this way, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are contributing to research affecting the productivity and sustainability of Australian industry. CSIRO also has Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represented on various advisory committees such as the Indigenous Strategic Advisory Council and the Indigenous STEM Education Project Steering Committee.

Research engagement has continued to develop with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This includes the partnerships led by Land and Water, Oceans and Atmosphere, Health and Biosecurity, Astronomy and Space Science and Education Services. CSIRO works towards meeting the Australian Government’s target of three per cent of all purchases made from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander–owned businesses.

In partnership with the BHP Billiton Foundation, CSIRO is implementing a five-year, $28.8 million education project aimed at increasing the participation and achievement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in STEM. For further information on this program please see page 42.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are contributing to research affecting the productivity and sustainability of Australian industry.

Staff Demographics

Our people are employed under section 32 of the SIR Act. At 30 June 2017, CSIRO had a total of 5,565 staff (FTE of 4,990). Table 3.5 shows the number of staff employed in different functional areas.

On 1 July 2014, CSIRO implemented a new operating model. Under this model, a broader range of leadership appointments were classified as Research Managers (RM). This led to an increase in the level of staff reported in the RM classification from this date. In 2016–17, the integration of Data61 led to the classification of a number of staff in General Management and a resulting increase in staff reported in that functional area.

Overall, the number of staff increased by 3.7 per cent (198) over the last year. Research science staff increased by 0.5 per cent (seven). Voluntary staff turnover remained low at 4.8 per cent. The proportion of female staff remained constant at 40 per cent and the proportion of female research science staff increased by one per cent to 27 per cent.

Table 3.5: Staff numbers (headcount)
FUNCTIONAL AREA 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 2015–16 2016–17 % Female in 2016–17

Research scientists







Research project staff







Senior specialists







Research management







Research consulting







Technical services







Communication and Information Services







General services







Administrative support2







General management







Total headcount















  1. These figures exclude all ON program development days, including Accelerate, Lean Launch Pad and ONPrime.
  2. Administrative Support: staff who provide science-based administrative and management services and systems.

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