I Support Australian STEM
Great societies have well run, smart public services. STEM expertise in the Australian Public Service is vital so that our country can deliver the infrastructure, technical outcomes and public policy that Australians expect and deserve.
Right now government policy is out of step and is resulting in the active dismantling of the STEM capacity of APS agencies.
STEM professionals are under increased pressure to deliver, while across the country staffing numbers are cut, funding is slashed and your voice is ignored.
We see the results all around us – project overruns, waste, cost blow outs. At the same time APS wages are stagnating, conditions are reduced, and job security is diminishing.
We need to restore STEM capacity in the APS and create a public service where professional expertise is respected as the key enabler it is, not an overhead to be cut.
The rules are broken, but we have a plan to address STEM capacity
1) Change the rules so we can negotiate with the real decision makers
2) Achieve a real pay rise
3) Address staffing, outsourcing and contracting to rebuild STEM capacity
Together we will pursue this agenda in enterprise bargaining, local negotiations, in the public arena and with political decision makers
1. Change the rules so we can negotiate with the real decision makers
STEM professionals need a genuine voice in our agencies. We need to be able to provide frank and fearless advice, for the good of all Australians. The government must stop politicising science, engineering and technical advice.
The government is standing between departments and the STEM workforce. Their bargaining policy forces departments to strip away working conditions and prevents us from negotiating solutions which address the problems with STEM capacity. The government needs to enable such negotiations, not stifle them. Their bargaining policy needs to change.
2. Achieve a real pay rise
Wages are stagnating for working people across society. In real terms, wages in the APS have been going backwards following lengthy bargaining disputes, sometimes resulting in years without any wage increases. At the same time the cost of living continues to rise.
Our STEM jobs in the APS need to offer conditions which attract and retain the best and brightest, so that agencies and departments can maintain the core skills needed to fulfil their purpose.
3. Address staffing, outsourcing and contracting to rebuild STEM capacity
The Federal Government’s Average Staffing Level (ASL) Cap restricts the number of APS jobs in an agency. But agencies remain under pressure to deliver projects, maintain service provision and meet operational requirements.
STEM work is either intensified among a shrinking pool of professionals, or agencies are driven to the use of contractors and external consultants just to get the job done.
Under the ASL cap there has been an explosion in the use of contractors, while APS employed staff are reduced. Our agencies are losing skills, capacity and technical integrity. Without enough APS employed STEM professionals to provide adequate oversight of projects, Government has no way to be sure that they’re getting value for money from contractors and ends up wasting billions of dollars.
To rebuild STEM capacity the Government must remove its staffing cap and enable departments to build the STEM workforce they need, to do the job they have to do. Core STEM work and technical oversight needs to be done by in house, APS professionals to ensure that Australia owns our own technical skills without having to blindly rely on for-profit contractors.
For over a hundred years Professionals Australia has been the union for scientists, engineers and technical experts in Australian Government employment.
Our members provide vital expertise across engineering, science, information technology and project management in portfolios as diverse as transport, defence, environment, health, innovation and communications.
Each day, in their capacity as professionals, our members contribute to policy development and implementation, research and analysis, project and service delivery, regulation and investigation, and management, providing vital services and programs that serve the Australian economy and community.
If you’re a STEM professional in the APS, we’re the union for you.
Join today: www.professionalsaustralia.org.au/join-now