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Part 3: Delivery of high-quality advice to Council, and achievement of its endorsed priorities, through strengthened capacity of the Commission and the Commission Office

Strategy 3.2
Strengthen corporate, technical and policy capacity of the Commission and the Commission Office to deliver on its obligations to partners, staff and the general public

Work on this strategy covers MDBC participation in the National Water Initiative and relevant institutional relationships. The strategy also involves a comprehensive approach to building the human resource capacity of the MDBC Office.

National Water Initiative implementation

All six of the jurisdictions within the Murray-Darling Basin are signatories to the National Water Initiative (NWI), which remains Australia’s blueprint for national water reform.

The MDBC’s participation in the National Water Initiative aims to:

  • maximise the potential for synergies between policy, research and development undertaken at the Basin and national levels
  • ensure that any policy development within the Basin is aligned with the NWI
  • share lessons learnt at the Basin level, to inform processes and decisions at a national level, and
  • provide information and data to the National Water Initiative as requested.

During the year, MDBC Office representatives helped the National Water Commission with strategic planning through its membership of the NWI Committee. MDBC Office staff worked with a range of partners on the following initiatives: the Baseline Assessment of Australian Water Resources; Water Accounting; Compatible Registers; Water Trade; Water Smart Australia; and Raising National Water Standards.

Review of Murray-Darling Basin Agreement

The MDBC completed a review of the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement to ensure consistency with both the National Water Initiative and The Living Murray Intergovernmental Agreement. The review found that the positions within the jurisdictions varied considerably. It concluded that, although there is no inconsistency between the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement and the other two agreements on a narrow interpretation of the issues, there are some significant inconsistencies on a broader interpretation.

The broad inconsistencies noted relate to the overall outdated nature of the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement. They encompass water sharing, environmental water rights management including Cap implications, and financial arrangements, and may hinder the delivery of TLM and other environmental water objectives. The review highlighted possible forums for resolution of these matters – including the Murray River systems review, the TLM Inter Governmental Agreement three-year review or business plan reviews – but also stated that an alternative forum may be needed to promptly resolve any TLM delivery issues.

Human resource management

The HR Committee, chaired by the General Manager Corporate Services, met regularly in 2006–07 to consider policy development and review, in consultation with HR specialists and Workplace Consultative Committee (WCC) members.

In response to a review of workforce planning undertaken in late 2006, an MDBC capability framework and new work value standards were developed to provide a strategic basis for future workforce planning, learning and development requirements. A workforce planning model is under development and will be informed by an audit of skills and capabilities within the Commission.

Occupational health and safety

The OH&S Committee, chaired by a member of the Executive team, now includes the newly appointed health and safety representatives for the two designated workgroups, WCC representation and HR expertise. In response to an OH&S audit, a safety risk management consultancy has been engaged to assist in the development and implementation of a suite of appropriate policies and practices to ensure the Commission Office remains a safe and healthy workplace.

Improved technology

The HR management system has been updated to include an online facility for staff to manage pay arrangements, apply for leave and change personal details. In addition, an online application system has been implemented for both internal and external recruitment.

Other developments

  • A pilot coaching and mentoring program has been implemented as part of the MDBC learning and development framework.
  • The performance management and development scheme procedures have been refined for implementation from 1 July 2007.
  • The workplace giving program was established early in 2007 and supports Médecins Sans Frontières, Amnesty International and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

A summary of the profile of MDBC staff is at Figure 9.

Figure 9 Staff breakdowns
MDBC staffing breakdown     Actual full-time equivalent     Classifications  
President 1   Executives 8   Casual 4
Contract employees 30   Contract employees 23.8   PO1 4
Continuing employees 104   Continuing employees 109.6   PO2 13
Long service leave 0   Other 8.1   PO3 50
Maternity leave 4   Casuals 2   PO4 42
Part-time 9   SM1-5 28
Casuals 4   Other 7
Seconded (in) 1   Executives 8
Seconded (out) 2   President 1
Other 2
Total 157   Total 151.5   Total 157

Gender breakdown     Division breakdown  
Females 69   Chief Executive & Communications 11
Males 88   Corporate Services 33
  Natural Resources Management 77
  River Murray Water 36
Total 157   Total 157

Age profile 20 years
and under
61 years
and above
Female 1 18 28 15 6 1 69
Male 1 11 22 28 19 7 88
Total 2 29 50 43 25 8 157

The main areas of focus for human resource (HR) management in 2006–07 follow.

Collective Agreement

The MDBC Collective Agreement 2006–09 (CA) was agreed between staff and the Chief Executive in October 2006. A review of all HR policies that underpin the CA is under way. The policies will provide the capacity for managers to manage within their sphere of influence, in partnership with the HR subject matter experts.

The Chief Executive’s awards are presented annually; they acknowledge sustained excellence, achievements and efforts by individuals and teams that demonstrate the Commission’s values and core behaviours.

Chief Executive's awards. Photo: Jess Dawson

Chief Executive’s awards
Back row, left to right : Neville Garland, Emma Sadler, Bruce Campbell, Katiuscia Mojsovski, Sanjay Maharaj, Diana Fels, Helen Templeton, Chief Executive Wendy Craik.
Front row, left to right : Sarah Commens, Laura Lallenec, Heather Peachey, Alison Reid, Charlotte Keller, Damian Green.

(Photo: Jess Dawson)