AusAID-DFAT staff ask to be made redundant after integration

    An AusAid staff member delivers a pre-departure briefing en route to a relief operation in the Philippines. Some members of the former AusAID and the new agency absorbed into DFAT have expressed interest in voluntary redundancy following the integration. Photo by: DFAT / CC BY

    Over 300 employees of the former AusAID and the new agency integrated into Australia’s foreign affairs ministry want to avail of voluntary redundancy packages following the Abbott government’s decision to integrate the country’s aid portfolio into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade last September.

    DFAT confirmed that over half of AusAID staff had expressed such an interest prior to integration — a continuing development in the new trajectory of Australian aid under the new government.

    “The call for expressions of interest in voluntary redundancy resulted in more than 350 EOIs across the integrated department,” a DFAT spokesperson told Devex. “About 60 percent of staff expressing interest in voluntary redundancy were employees of AusAID prior to integration.”

    A voluntary redundancy is basically a monetary incentive — or depending on terms and conditions — by which a firm or an organization can encourage employees to voluntarily submit their resignation, mostly in transition or reorganization periods, to avoid terminating their contracts unilaterally.

    The move from AusAID staff comes on the heels of several previous reports of their growing discontent following the government’s lack of clear plans on how to go about the integration, particularly the security of jobs and salaries.

    In an earlier interview with Devex, Canberra MP Gai Brodtmann said these civil servants were feeling “anxious.”

    Not all will be dismissed

    Most of the AusAID employees who expressed their interest for the voluntary redundancy package, however, may have to wait longer to get approval, and it is feared that all may not be accommodated.

    DFAT said that as of February 6, only 26 formal offers of voluntary redundancy were approved, just 7 percent of those who expressed their interest. Of the applications approved, 54 percent were AusAID staff prior to the integration.

    Whether the number will progressively increase in the coming months to cover everyone, DFAT did not specify, although it said it will “continue to make offers of voluntary redundancy until June 30” of this year — just in time for the department’s July 1 deadline for wrapping up the integration process.

    Asked how much the voluntary redundancy packages will be, DFAT explained it will depend on different factors, including position and tenure.

    “The amount paid for voluntary redundancy varies considerably depending on an individual’s APS level and length of service,” the spokesperson said.

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    About the author

    • Lean Alfred Santos

      Lean Alfred Santos is a former Devex development reporter focusing on the development community in Asia-Pacific, including major players such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He previously covered Philippine and international business and economic news, sports and politics.