Business Unit Reports
The Finance business unit is a pillar of responsible financial management.
Investment funds continue to grow, with the Authority investing employer contributions with the Victorian Funds Management Corporation (VFMC). The Authority and VFMC have worked closely together to ensure that funds are invested into an appropriate portfolio to maximise returns whilst analysing risk. This comes on top of our comprehensive review of the Authority's investment policy.
The actuarial valuation process for the accrued portable long service benefit liabilities has been strengthened through the development of a new quarterly valuation methodology. Further to this, the year-end valuation process is again assisted by an additional year of data used to validate key assumptions underlying the valuation model.
The improvement of reimbursement procedures has been a bonus for employers by providing an easier administrative process.
We have also streamlined our accounts receivable processes and reviewed payroll tax to reflect our regional employer status.
In the next financial year our focus will be on creating a claims team to ensure the Authority is future claims ready. We will also be undertaking a levy review and assisting with the wider Authority strategic priorities.
The Operations business unit contains three teams: Customer Service and Education, Compliance and Enforcement and Research and Engagement.
Customer Service and Education
The team has continued to deliver on its core responsibilities of assessing employer applications for registration, as well as being the key point of contact for employers and workers.
A focus of the 2022-23 financial year was to empower the team to review complex queries involving the community services sector. The internal Refinement and Realignment project enabled the team to progress more complex cases which require a comprehensive understanding of legislative changes.
The appointment of a new Manager of Customer Service and the addition of a second team leader has supported the team to meet growing demand.
Looking ahead, we will focus on enhancing the education component for both employers and workers to ensure we obtain accurate data to safeguard worker entitlements.
Compliance and Enforcement
The Compliance and Enforcement team works with employers to ensure they meet their obligations within the parameters of the Act.
There have been significant changes to the process of assigning work to team members to give greater focus to each major work category. This has enabled prioritisation based on risk and applying compliance or enforcement actions proportionate to suspected or proven non-compliance.
The management of entities in liquidation has been refined to include greater identification at the earliest point.
The team has also redesigned formal correspondence and communications to employers, inserting behavioural insights and emphasising the consequences of non-compliance.
A key challenge in the new financial year will be the mapping of processes, workflows and a review of escalation triggers to improve the early identification of non-compliance.
Research and Engagement
The Research and Engagement team identifies employers in the covered industries who are likely to be covered for the Scheme, developing tests and evaluating the engagement processes required for converting this information into registrations.
We have developed online screening tools for each sector that inform employers if they are likely to be covered by our Scheme. These tools will be available on the Authority website next financial year.
The team continues to progress data-sharing arrangements with various agencies using the Victorian public sector Data Sharing Heads of Agreement. This work is ongoing and involves coordination among various Authority business units.
Legal, Governance and Secretariat
The Legal team provides high-level practical and strategic advice to ensure the Authority fulfills its legislative obligations to effectively administer the Act.
The team provides relevant guidance to all business units within the Authority, aiming to be proactive and strategic to allow the Authority to make informed decisions to achieve the organisation's objectives.
Collaboration with the various business units continues to be key as the Authority matures as a regulator. A highlight of this collaboration in the last 12 months has been leading the Refinement and Realignment key strategic project resulting in the Authority producing community services resources for internal and external stakeholders.
The Governance team reinforces chains of responsibility and communication in support of the Authority's goals and strategies. The team has established policies, standards and control mechanisms to enable the Authority staff to carry out their roles and responsibilities effectively.
The focus continues on our internal audit program, risk management and corporate planning.
The Secretariat has continued to support the Governing Board and its sub-committees by ensuring timely, professional agendas, packs and minutes and the prompt facilitation of actions arising.
Facilities and Information Technology
The Facilities and Information Technology business unit underpins the Authority's core operations and manages key vendors which support the technology infrastructure, registration system and office leases.
The team collaborates with the other business units to implement and enhance technology systems which support their operations while ensuring there are systems in place that enable the Authority to be an efficient and effective organisation.
A major highlight of the year was the relocation to Galkangu Bendigo GovHub following several years of preparations and planning. The move from the former King Street head office was successful and saw over 50 staff transition to Galkangu where they were able to immediately start work in the new building. During the relocation planning period, an internal transition working group was established to support staff and kept them updated on developments.
The business unit has continued to implement enhancements to our Formation Customer Relationship Management (F.CRM) system as well as having a key role in the planning for the introduction of a Business Process Management system establishing LEAN Six Sigma practices.
There was also an ongoing focus on security and compliance activities through a targeted security program to strengthen staff training in identifying cyber threats.
The Authority also progressed planning the implementation of a modern Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) compliant document management system. This aligned with the Digital Records and Information Management Shared Services (DRIMSS) project where we have collaborated with other Victorian Government departments to further enhance and simplify records management within the Authority.
The Authority also commenced development of our own Records Destruction Authority (RDA) which will be finalised during the 2023-24 financial year.
Communications and Engagement
The Communications and Engagement business unit continued its commitment to providing the Authority with high level internal and external communications.
A major milestone was the Authority's third birthday, with a celebration and successful media event held in the Bendigo head office. The event was hosted by Chairperson Julius Roe with guest speakers including Member for Bendigo West, Maree Edwards and Industrial Relations Victoria Deputy Secretary, Matt O'Connor.
The business unit also co-ordinated the Authority's presence at trade shows including the Community Services Expo in Melbourne along with the Security Exhibition and the Cleaning and Hygiene national conference which were both held in Sydney. It was an important opportunity to raise the Authority's profile after the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns and related travel restrictions. The Authority also took part in Victoria's Law Week by conducting online seminars, which were well received.
It was a busy year for the business unit overhauling internal communications, commencing the brand review and delivering executive media training as part of the Authority's risk preparedness program. Elsewhere, the focus continued on media opportunities, social media and the Authority's website.
The business unit also commenced a project to revise the Authority's writing style guide to support the brand review.
The Communications and Engagement business unit will continue to raise the profile of the Authority to ensure covered employers understand their obligations and seek registration whilst workers are increasingly empowered and aware of their rights under the Scheme.
People and Culture
People and Culture continued to support the Authority's workforce and contribute to a positive employee experience. The key focus for the year was supporting employee health and wellbeing and partnering with managers to build productive and empathetic teams.
The People and Culture business unit remains committed to developing managers and staff at all levels to ensure our people have the skills to achieve their work, feel supported in learning and development, as well as experience high job satisfaction.
The year saw the recruitment of key senior personnel, along with other staff through a merit-based process to ensure the best fit for our culture and organisation. Our staff also had the opportunity to undertake secondments and higher duties for their professional growth and career advancement.
We began the four-part 'Respectful Workplace' training program which all staff are participating in. The program promotes health and wellbeing awareness in the workplace, traits and development of high performing teams, robust and empathetic relationship development, and responses to challenges and embracing constructive criticism.
Authority leaders also completed the 'Thriving Through Change' session to excite and empower teams when dealing with change while driving inclusion, empathy, vulnerability and resilience through change.
People and Culture supported our new way of working with a hybrid model approach of three days in office and two days working from home to promote an improved work/life balance. Staff were encouraged to speak to their business unit leader regarding individual flexibility arrangements to meet staff needs with parenting, caring arrangements, health and wellbeing and other factors where support was needed.
Through this process we learned the importance of change management, how individuals can respond differently, as well as the importance of celebrating success and building a fun and inclusive work culture.
The challenge ahead for People and Culture is supporting the continued growth of the organisation and building a workforce that can adapt to changes and challenges as they arise.
Looking ahead the Authority will focus on:
- Identifying the key sub-sectors where there is under-registration of employers and workers whilst using data and systems to focus on particular employers and workers.
- Implementing an effective enforcement strategy to address under-registration.
- Improving our communication with workers and ensuring that we have the ability to contact those workers when and if they change employer.
The journey to creating Ocean Mind
For many people, standing on a surf beach and watching the waves roll in provides a range of deep and calming emotions. It can be meditative, healing, and equally awe inspiring.
Rachael Parker looked at ways of harnessing nature's holistic qualities to create Ocean Mind, a charity aiming to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people by connecting them with the sea and surfing. Ocean Mind is a registered employer with the Authority.
We spoke to Rachael Parker about her journey.
How did you come upon the idea for Ocean Mind?
"I founded the organisation based on my own personal experiences and after discovering the therapeutic benefits of surfing and being in the ocean. I recognised the potential of surfing as a means of improving mental health and wellbeing and established Ocean Mind with the aim of making surf therapy more accessible to others who may be facing similar challenges."
There is obviously a love for Victoria's Surf Coast and surfing. Was there a desire to share that love with young people?
"Absolutely. At Ocean Mind we believe the Surf Coast region and surfing have so much to offer young people, especially those who may be struggling with mental health challenges. Our goal is to share our love of the ocean and surfing in a way that promotes healing and growth for young people."
What is the most satisfying part of being involved with Ocean Mind for staff and volunteers?
"It is seeing the positive impact that our programs have on young people. Seeing our participants gain confidence, develop new skills and improve their mental health and wellbeing is incredibly rewarding."
Being based at Torquay, has it been difficult to find the right staff for the job?
"It can be challenging to find staff who are both qualified to teach surfing and equipped to work with young people with special needs. However, we have a dedicated team of staff and volunteers who are trained to work with young people of all abilities. We provide ongoing professional development to ensure that our team is equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge."
Has the NDIS Scheme been helpful in providing young people the chance to take part in your programs?
"Yes, the NDIS Scheme has been beneficial. We work closely with NDIS providers to ensure that our programs are accessible and inclusive for all participants."
Ocean Mind has about 20 workers registered with the Authority. Generally, what roles do they perform?
"Ocean Mind is made up of a diverse group of people who are passionate about surfing, mental health and helping young people. We have a range of roles, including surf instructors, mental health professionals, youth workers, and administrative staff."
Employers pay a levy to provide their registered community service workers the opportunity of a portable long service benefit. What are your views?
"I believe that the Portable Long Service Authority levy is an important investment in the wellbeing of our staff and the long-term sustainability of our programs. While it may be seen as an additional cost by some employers, we see it as an opportunity to attract and retain skilled staff in the community services sector."
What is the greatest challenge for Ocean Mind?
"One of the biggest challenges is securing funding to sustain and expand our programs. As a non profit organisation, we rely heavily on donations and grants to cover operational costs and provide free therapy services to individuals facing mental health and social challenges."
And the future?
"The future for Ocean Mind is to continue growing our programs, reaching more young people who can benefit from our unique blend of surfing and therapy."
Delivering on our objectives
The Authority's Corporate Plan 2020-23 sets out the Authority's short- and medium-term priorities along with its key measures for success.
Fulfil our legislative obligations by effectively administering the Long Service Benefits Portability Act 2018.
Customer Service and Education
- Successful review of the overdue quarterly return process resulting in a reduction in processing time with outstanding quarterly returns actioned immediately and referred directly to the Compliance and Enforcement team.
- Following an internal evaluation of information provided to the Authority by a national employer, the team completed a complex registration process, ensuring the employer understood their obligations to the Scheme. All workers received their entitlements.
- During the year, the team engaged with over 7,500 inbound calls and over 11,500 outbound calls through the call centre.
- The team delivered a community health centre project to ensure worker entitlements were recognised for their full service period.
Compliance and Enforcement
- Conducted an outreach program engaging 286 potential employers to register with the Scheme, of which 89% of employers complied.
- Issued 107 request for information notices to compel documents and information with 45% of employers complying and the remainder being actively pursued.
- Issued 23 letters of demand for overdue levy invoices, of which 43% of employers complied before further action was taken.
- Engaged 343 employers who were not meeting their obligations, resulting in 70% complying with their obligations.
- Investigations launched after workers alerted the Authority that 88 employers may have been failing to register covered staff. Subsequent employers are now declaring all covered workers and paying the correct levies.
- Engaged with 732 employers where obligations were in dispute resulting in 86% of employers complying with the remainder under investigation.
Research and Engagement
- The Research and Engagement team worked across the Authority to identify subsectors of interest and assessed a wide range of sources to develop a 'Review of Segmentation Models' for the community services, contract cleaning and security sectors. This was achieved by identifying gaps in the Authority segmentation models of its covered sectors and comparing Authority and external data in the covered sectors.
- The team commenced a CALD community engagement program, identifying individuals to participate in a series of interviews to gather information and data to support our communication initiatives.
- The team designed and implemented a stakeholder engagement process in support of the Authority's Refinement and Realignment project leading to the development of additional educational materials.
- 290,577 workers registered
- 190,434 in community services
- 72,171 in contract cleaning
- 27,972 in security
- 3,068 employers registered
- 1,980 in community services
- 650 in contract cleaning
- 438 in security
- 15,713 employer quarterly returns submitted (incorporating the retrospective returns outside of this financial year due to late registration with the Scheme)
- 19,096 calls were made and received during the financial year.
Implement effective responsible budget and investment strategies which grow levy funds and deliver long-term sustainability.
- Reviewed the investment strategy to further reflect the maturity of the Authority. This included an analysis of the investment policy.
- Investment frequency moved from quarterly to monthly and distributions reinvested back into funds.
- First year of a three-year rolling internal audit review of compliance with the Standing Directions of the Assistant Treasurer. The audit did not identify any material compliance deficiencies.
- Total Authority expenditure remained prudent for the year.
- Performance reporting enhancements implemented to allow a focus on performance drivers.
- Budgeting enhancements introduced to focus on projecting future worker entitlements and funds under Authority management.
- Business unit budgets refined to ensure Authority strategy requirements can be implemented.
- $127.2 million receipts from employers, $5.9 million outstanding on 30 June 2023 of which $0.9 million is more than 90 days overdue.
- $320.7 million invested with the Victorian Funds Management Corporation in the Balanced Fund.
- $337.7 million in cash and investments.
- $4.0 million reimbursed to employers for workers who have taken long service leave.
Be clear, consistent, transparent and responsive in our stakeholder communications which encourages registration, levy payments and ensures that workers and employers are aware of their rights and obligations.
- Successful stakeholder event attended by the Minister for Industrial Relations celebrating 3,000 registered employers, creating further awareness of the Authority and the Scheme.
- Social media engagement continued to grow following the establishment of our Twitter account to complement existing presence on Facebook and LinkedIn.
- External email newsletter circulation remains strong with the further development of interesting and educational content for our employer and worker audiences.
- Internal communications expanded and refined via Pulse - the Authority's intranet - to provide information and increase staff engagement.
- A comprehensive Authority brand review commenced aiming to refresh the organisation's visual design and colour palette.
- Development of both employer and worker case studies to showcase registration benefits.
- Commenced a major website review to update architecture, content and accessibility.
- Delivered media training and conducted crisis communications review.
- 300,000+ website visits
- 57% female and 43% male
- Of Victorian website visits: 89% metropolitan and 11% regional
- Worker and employer information pages generated the most traffic
- Social media engagement
- Linkedln engagement rose by 116.7%
- Facebook engagement rose by 9.9%
- Twitter engagement rose by 4,800%
- Average open rate for external monthly email newsletter was 48%.
Maintain a healthy and safe workplace with a culture that encourages engaged, resilient and solution-focussed staff.
- The Authority celebrated diversity in our organisation and community by recognising significant diversity and inclusion days including National Reconciliation Week, IDAHOBIT Day, International Women's Day, R U OK Day and NAIDOC Week.
- The Cultural Champions Group - an initiative following staff feedback - has continued to grow and drive a positive and inclusive organisational culture.
- The People Matter survey is the Victorian public sector's independent employee opinion survey enabling staff to share their genuine feedback and experiences of working with the Authority. Key highlights included:
- 83% of staff understand how their role contributes to organisational goals
- 85% of staff feel people in their workgroup are able to bring up problems and tough issues, and that their manager models the organisation values.
- From the feedback received in the 2022-23 People Matter Action Plan, the following three key focus areas were identified:
- Organisational strategy, team cohesion, and strengthening communication
- Enhancing capabilities and leadership support to staff
- Creating a respectful culture, sustaining a psychologically safe workplace, and enhancing staff mental health and wellbeing.
- Two merit-based fixed-term higher duties assignments with eight internal promotions
- 13 staff earmarked for Peer Support Training
- 17 staff recruited
- 53 staff employed as of 30 June 2023; an increase of 6% from last financial year.
Implement an innovative, secure, resilient and integrated information technology environment that supports effective operations now and in the future.
- Implemented the release and update of Formation Customer Relationship Management (F.CRM) and F.CRM V3.2 which provided the following key enhancements and features the Authority will benefit from:
- Bulk reimbursements functionality
- Batch customer flag processing
- Customer audit extracts
- Reimbursement requests via the portal
- Penalty interest capabilities.
- Established a framework to prioritise business requests for our core systems and developed new capabilities to ensure all business units aligned to improve communication and visibility of emerging issues.
- Undertook Information and Communication Technology (ICT) asset renewal with the roll out of 31 replacement laptops as well as mobile phones whilst implementing a new Mobile Device Management platform.
- Tested all recovery procedures ensuring staff and management are well prepared for any Business Continuity events in future. It also provided an opportunity to finesse any elements after applying our plans to a real-life scenario.
- 18 new major features for F.CRM
- 42 requests for data updates or minor system configuration changes
- 118 bug fixes
- 37 incidents lodged and closed with Cenitex
- One major project managed with Cenitex
- 258 internal ICT support interactions.
Protect the long-term interests of the Authority through effective regulation using procedure governance, strategic risk management and clear policies and procedures.
- New Board Secretary and Corporate Governance Manager appointed.
- Provided Secretariat support to the Governing Board, Audit & Risk Committee and Coverage Sub-Committee with prompt facilitation of actions arising.
- Organised and supported Executive Leadership team strategy day.
- Improved consistency of reporting on business unit plan developments.
- Facilitated the progress of the Authority's 2023-24 strategic priorities.
- Developed the Authority's 2023-26 three-year Corporate Plan.
- Reviewed and supported the update of the Authority's risk appetite statements.
- Conducted an analysis of enterprise risk register and created relevant new enterprise risk projections.
- Governance, risk and project management support to key internal projects.
- Chaired Quarterly Risk management meetings.
- Held risk review meetings with business unit leaders.
- Facilitated the Authority's strategic internal audit program.
- Focussed on completing internal audit actions items.
- Organised Authority-wide training on integrity, fraud and corruption and gift, benefits and hospitality.
- Implemented technological solutions to track workflow and improve efficiencies within the team.
- Review of corporate policies.
- Support and advice to staff on conflict-of-interest matters.
- Refinements and new content for the Authority's internal SharePoint Governance page.
- Seven Governing Board meetings, including one Governing Board Annual Planning Day
- Five Audit and Risk Committee meetings
- Three Board Coverage Sub-committee meetings
- One Executive Leadership team strategic planning day
- Eight internal audits completed
- 24 internal audit actions concluded
- 91% overall score on the risk maturity self-assessment.
Five-year financial summary
The Authority commenced operations on 18 March 2019, therefore only four full years of comparative information is available.
Table 1: Authority five-year financial summary
|Total income from transactions
|Total expenses from transactions
|Net result for the period
|Net cash flow from operating activities
Current-year financial performance
The 2022-23 financial year is the Authority's fourth full year having only commenced on 18 March 2019.
The Authority administers three schemes which provide portability of long service leave benefits for registered workers in the community services, contract cleaning and security industries in Victoria.
The Authority levies registered employers for workers in the covered industries in accordance with the Long Service Benefits Portability Act 2018 and the Portable Long Service Regulations 2020 and makes payments for benefits taken compared to a loss of $22.6 million in the previous financial year.
In the 2022-23 financial year, the Authority reported a net gain for the year of $17.5 million compared to $2.8 million net loss in 2021-22. The major driver of performance in the current year result was a gain of $14.2 million on the fair value of investments compared to a loss of $22.6 million in the previous financial year.
Levy contributions from employers and contractors based on levy rates set by the Governing Board was the largest source of income from transactions. Levy contributions increased by $13.3 million in the current year because of the increase in registered workers. There are 290,577 (228,767 2021-22) registered workers with 3,068 (2,875 2021-22) registered employers.
The Authority transferred $136.9 million to the VFMC Balanced Fund, increasing total investments to $320.7 million.
The portable long service benefit expense for 2022-23, which represents the increase in the benefits liability for workers, was $120.8 million ($93.1 million 2021-22).
Administration costs totalled $8.6 million with $6.1 million relating to employee benefits expense and $2.5 million for information technology costs, office expenses, professional services, promotion costs along with internal and external audit fees.
Financial position balance sheet
The Authority ended the financial year with net assets of $31.1 million and a Scheme solvency ratio of 105.3%.
Cash at bank totalled $17.0 million, which included Scheme funds collected and not transferred to VFMC investments.
The Authority increased the investment funds with VFMC to $320.7 million and accrued $4.1million of investment income due in July 2023.
The Authority's actuary valued the long service leave benefits for the Scheme's 290,577 registered workers as of 30 June 2023. This amounted to $350.2 million and is supported by $369.6 million in Scheme assets.
Operating cash flows
Net cash flow from operating activities was positive for the year totalling $115.4 million, which included $127.2 million of receipts from employers for their worker levy contributions.
The Authority transferred $136.9 million to VFMC Balanced Fund and received $11.3 million of investment distributions during the year.
The Governing Board has approved an investment strategy based on an analysis of desired investment returns against investment risk appetite.
The investment objectives of the Authority at 30 June 2023 are:
- Return: To achieve an average return objective of at least CPI + 3.0% p.a. with greater than 60% probability over a rolling 10-year period; and
- Risk: To limit the likelihood of a negative annual return to no more than one year in every five years, and when negative returns occur not to exceed a 10% loss of capital.
The Authority exceeded its investment return objective of CPI + 3.0% p.a. with a return of 9.51% for the 2022-23 financial year.
Current-year investment performance
Under the Act, the Authority is permitted to invest Scheme assets for the benefit of the schemes.
The Authority has appointed VFMC as its investment manager and VFMC has determined the following balanced asset allocation of investments for the Authority's portfolio:
For the 12 months from 1 July 2022 - 30 June 2023, the Authority recorded a gain on fair value of investments of $14.2 million against total scheme funds of $320.7 million at 30 June 2023. The Authority received $6.8 million of investment distribution during the year.
The Authority is continually working with its investment manager to adjust portfolio positioning in response to market movements and changes to economic conditions and policy outlook of governments, which may affect key investment asset classes.