The Portable Long Service Benefits Authority (the Authority) is an independent statutory body established to administer the Long Service Benefits Portability Act 2018 (the Act). The Act, together with the Long Service Benefits Portability Regulations 2020, provide a scheme for the portability of long service benefits to covered workers in the community services, contract cleaning and security industries.
The Portable Long Service Benefits Scheme (the Scheme) was created in response to the Victorian Parliament's Economic, Education, Jobs and Skills Committee inquiry into portability of long service leave entitlements. It enables covered workers to accrue long service benefits based on length of time employed in their respective industry, as opposed to length of time employed by one employer.
Since the Scheme commenced in 2019, the Authority has grown to become one of the largest portable long service leave schemes in Australia. As well as managing the registration of employers and workers, the Authority oversees investment funds created by a levy on employers for the future portable long service leave entitlements of covered workers.
The Authority continues to engage with key stakeholders, which includes educating employers about their obligations under the Act. That education process is reinforced with investigative and enforcement powers prescribed in the legislation, notably to ensure covered workers are registered with the Authority by their employer. The issue of under registration of workers by employers will continue to be addressed and is a key priority for the Authority.
There is also an undertaking to continue educating workers about their rights under the Scheme. With a greater understanding, workers will be more empowered to question their employers about their eligibility for registration and manage their details with the Authority.
Delivering a quality Portable Long Service Benefits Scheme to protect the benefits of those who are entitled to them.
The Authority administers an effective Portable Long Service Benefits Scheme through prudent sustainable investment and supporting all stakeholders - including employers and workers alike - as well as educating and enforcing every stakeholder's role and interest in the Scheme.
The Authority adheres to the Victorian Public Sector values, which underpin the behaviours that the government and community rightly expect of it. Acting consistently with these values strengthens the Authority's capacity to operate effectively and achieve our objectives. These values are:
- Responsiveness - We are approachable and provide timely, useful and accurate information.
- Integrity - We have unbiased and honest interactions.
- Impartiality - We are firm and consistent in our application of the law.
- Accountability - We fulfil our objectives in a clear, transparent and responsible manner.
- Respect - We respect our stakeholders, each other and ourselves.
- Leadership - We seek to have a positive influence and to empower others.
- Human rights - We administer the law and deliver decisions, advice and policy that respect and support everyone's human rights.
Chair and Chief Executive Officer/ Registrar's Report
On behalf of the Governing Board, we are pleased to present the Annual Report of the Portable Long Service Authority for the financial year ended 30 June 2023.
The Authority, which manages the Portable Long Service Benefits Scheme for the community services, contract cleaning and security sectors, is one of the largest portable long service leave schemes in Australia with over 3,000 registered employers and 290,000 registered workers. Victorian employers have embraced the Scheme as a way of attracting and retaining staff in a competitive labour market.
The Authority is also an investment manager of over $300 million in Scheme assets used to fund the future long service leave entitlements of registered workers. We are pleased to report the Scheme's investment return for the 2022-23 financial year was 9.51%, with an average solvency ratio for the three Schemes being 105.3%.
The 2022-23 financial year was a busy year, and this Annual Report highlights the breadth of the positive achievements that have been delivered by the Authority.
The Authority is an independent statutory authority and public sector body that adheres to the Victorian Public Sector Values.
During the financial year, the Authority continued to focus its work on delivering a quality Scheme whether this was through communicating with employers and workers; or processing quarterly returns or other requests; or safeguarding and managing the Scheme's investments and Treasury operations.
Looking forward, the Authority has recently released its 2023-26 Corporate Plan, which outlines the strategic priorities that have been endorsed by the Governing Board. Central to these priorities will not only be the continued education of employers and workers on how the Scheme operates, but also the commencement of enforcement action against those residual employers that have failed to register with the Authority or are under-registering their workers and therefore depriving them of their legal entitlements.
We are reviewing our processes to ensure they are efficient and fit for purpose in readiness for the expected increase in benefit claims over the next few years.
Lastly, in presenting this Annual Report, we want to acknowledge the Authority's staff for their hard work and commitment during what has been another challenging 12 months. The Board is proud to lead the Authority and its cohort of professional and resilient staff, who have adapted to the constant change that is now expected of any mature workforce following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Together with all stakeholders, the Authority remains committed to delivering a quality Portable Long Service Benefits Scheme to protect the benefits of those who are entitled to them.
Chair, Governing Board
Chief Executive Officer / Registrar
Three thousand reasons why many Victorian workers are getting a better deal
In March 2023 the Authority celebrated another significant milestone with 3,000 employers being registered with the Scheme.
To mark the milestone, a special event was held at the historic St KiIda Road property of Deaf Children Australia.
The reason the event was held at the Melbourne headquarters of Deaf Children Australia was in recognition of the organisation's valuable contribution to the community.
Deaf Children Australia has been supporting families with deaf or hard of hearing children since 1862. Helping more than 4,500 families and young people a year, its workers provide vital services through programs which include family camps, parent mentoring, and learn to drive classes.
Deaf Children Australia has also launched Australia's first nationally endorsed swimming program for deaf and hard of hearing children, with more than 800 accredited swimming teachers instructing Puggles Swim in pools across Australia.
Another Deaf Children Australia initiative is their specialist disability employment service, Sign for Work. It delivers a tailored approach to helping people with a disability, health condition, illness and people that are deaf or hard of hearing, find and keep meaningful employment. It is currently helping over 180 Victorians and 50 people in Queensland.
Industrial Relations Minister, Tim Pallas, met with Deaf Children Australia staff at the gathering and congratulated the 3,000 Victorian employers on providing workers with a more secure financial future.
"For many workers, long service leave was something that just wasn't available to them because of the nature of their industries," said Mr Pallas.
"It's fantastic that community services workers, contract cleaners and security guards who move around in their work can qualify for benefits, just as a single-employer worker can. It's a win for the workers and for fairness," he added.
Deaf Children Australia Chief Executive Officer, David Wilson, added that "the Scheme rewards our registered staff for their contribution and dedication in helping the families of deaf and hard of hearing children."
The Authority has several key functions pursuant to the Act:
- Administering the Scheme in the covered industries.
- Making payments of benefits.
- Keeping registers of employers and workers.
- Resolving disputes as to the timing of taking long service leave.
- Consulting other industries that may be affected by decisions made under the Act in relation to covered industries.
The Authority is an independent statutory body with an official seal.
Under the Act, the Authority may sue and be sued and acquire, hold and dispose of property.
The Authority employs staff who are Victorian Public Service (VPS) employees.
Two talented community services workers: Tom and Chris
The journey for Tom Bradford and Chris Lardner to joining Sign for Work - a subsidiary of Deaf Children Australia - followed two very different paths.
Tom had dedicated his time and energy to Melbourne's theatre and music industry. In between performances, Tom taught music and musical programs at various primary schools. Teaching and helping was something he found very rewarding.
The COVID-19 epidemic put an end to performing and teaching assignments but it gave Tom the opportunity to study Auslan full-time during the two years of lockdowns and restrictions. His new skills opened different doors. One of those was the deaf not-for-profit sector and working as a Disability Employment Consultant at Sign for Work. Tom has been at Sign for Work for nearly a year.
Tom says, "every day is different as I help deaf people to find work. I see up to six clients a day helping them upskill, search and apply for jobs or assist a client already in work maintain employment".
"I also promote our clients to employers, along with providing communication support to deaf people during job interviews, work trials and training days," he added.
Tom finds the proudest moment in his working day is when one of his clients secures a job or gains a promotion.
Chris has a more diverse work history. Firstly, in the mining industry, then as a research and development technician in the automotive industry, followed by magazine layout artist. There was another career twist as an engineering factory manager. With such a diverse jobs history, Chris settled on working in the employment services industry.
In between these career moves, Chris studied music and played in various rock bands in Adelaide. One of Chris's great loves is music, but he also takes great joy in helping people find work.
Chris recently took up the role of Disability Employment Services Manager at Sign for Work. He has worked for the organisation for 12 years and as the manager, he leads a team of consultants, such as Tom, in providing essential employment services to deaf or hard of hearing people and people with a disability.
"The role brings me immense fulfilment as I witness the positive impact we have on the lives of our clients at Sign for Work," says Chris.
"Through our collective efforts, we break down barriers, empower individuals to overcome challenges, while creating a more inclusive and accessible workforce," he added.
Before Tom and Chris joined Deaf Children Australia, they were strangers unaware of their shared love of music, but now they share a passion for helping pave a better road for people in need.
As registered workers with the Portable Long Service Authority, Tom and Chris look forward to the day they receive their financial entitlements. For Tom, the plan is to take a comedy show he has created on tour somewhere in Australia or even overseas. For Chris, it will be a well-earned holiday.
Year in Review
|Registered Workers: 290,577
|Registered Employers: 3,068
Outbound calls: 11,537
Emails received: 18,282
Website visits: 300,000+
Email newsletter subscribers: 3,785
From employers: 3,448
From workers: 1,994
(98% of all calls answered within 3 minutes)
|Submitted Quarterly Returns
Facebook engagement up 9.9%
LinkedIn engagement up 116.7%
Twitter engagement up 4,800%
Variety is the spice of life
When Glenn Plover decided on a career change from a Ballarat bricklayer to pub bouncer many years ago, it was a far less sophisticated industry.
As Glenn explains, "there were no surveillance cameras in pubs, clubs and other business premises. Mobile phones didn't exist, and security staff didn't have to pass an intensive certified training course".
In other words, it was an unregulated industry with none of the modern tools available to prevent anti-social behaviour.
After working for a security company for more than a decade, both as a security guard and co-ordinator, Glenn decided to start his own business.
"Plover Security commenced operations with one pub and three security guards," says Glenn. "Within a few weeks, my company was providing security to virtually every pub and poker machine venue in Ballarat," he added.
Over the years, Plover Security has grown to be one of the largest providers of security services in western Victoria.
Plover Security staff say that besides the variety of work, it's being part of a team or 'one big happy family' that they really enjoy. "Security staff need to have total confidence and trust in each other when dealing with crowd situations," says Glenn.
Rowena Singleton joined Plover Security several years ago and says most of the staff love the work. Rowena says, "every shift at a pub or club involves different scenarios dependent on the varying behaviour of the patrons. You must stay alert throughout your shift".
Besides the pubs and clubs, there are also roles providing security at hospitals, large scale events such as music concerts, festivals, swap meets, protecting building sites and even personal security.
A recent country football promotion saw former AFL stars including Gary Ablett Junior, Dane Swan and David Mundy play for local clubs around Ballarat. Plover Security member Nathan Delmo had the job of minding the players Nathan says, "the main issue was dealing with very excitable and over-exuberant fans rather than troublemakers".
Glenn says some of the more unusual assignments in recent years involved guarding 10,000 head of cattle in an enormous feed lot to deter cattle thieves. On another occasion, staff were employed to keep a 24-hour watch over tens of thousands of chickens housed in giant sheds for several months due to threats.
Glenn believes it's just part of the rich tapestry of security work in country Victoria.
Plover Security has more than 130 security personnel registered with the Authority.
Glenn fully supports the Scheme as he understands the casual and ad hoc nature of the security industry. He respects his staff, treating them as family members and wants every worker who should be covered to enjoy portable long service benefits.
The greatest challenge facing his business is rising costs, but Glenn believes if you offer the best security service available in western Victoria, people will continue to come knocking on his door.
The Finance business unit underpins the Authority's operations whilst the Head of Finance has specific responsibilities under the Financial Management Act 1994. Performance monitoring, responsible budgeting and a robust investment strategy ensures that the entitlements of registered workers are managed prudently and helps to ensure the sustainability of the Scheme.
Customer Service and Education
The Customer Service and Education team delivers the core registry and Scheme administration functions by responding to queries from workers and employers, assisting employers to apply for registration, assessing and determining registration applications along with submission and review of quarterly returns. During the next three years, the team will expand to include the processing of claims from workers who have accrued seven years of service.
Compliance and Enforcement
The Compliance and Enforcement team is responsible for ensuring compliance across the Authority's key compliance and enforcement areas, including pursuing employers who have failed to register, submit quarterly returns and/or pay levies.
The team applies strategic risk-based, intelligence-led principles to implement an effective and proportionate compliance and enforcement program to ensure all employers comply with the Scheme.
Research and Engagement
The Research and Engagement team undertakes research and provides data analysis support to inform the Authority's activities and implement a range of education and engagement initiatives to grow employer and worker registration.
Legal, Governance and Secretariat
Supports the Authority by providing practical legal advice that advances the Authority's objectives whilst being consistent with the law and regulatory environment. The unit provides both in-house commercial legal advice in conjunction with advice on the Authority's regulatory obligations.
Responsible for establishing good governance, including an integrity framework, ensuring comprehensive risk management practices, corporate planning and project management.
Supports and facilitates the efficient and effective running of the Governing Board, Audit and Risk Committee and relevant sub-committees established from time to time.
Facilities and Information Technology
Manages the Authority's accommodation and other fixed asset leases, as well as supporting infrastructure, including telephony systems and the Authority facilities.
Ensures the Authority operates to its full potential by providing quality IT support, including IT security and records management to business units and staff, as well as providing management of the Authority's external portal for employers and workers.
Communications and Engagement
Leads communications and engagement with internal and external stakeholders to ensure that employers understand and are meeting their obligations. The Communications and Engagement business unit also leads the communications strategy to workers so they are aware of their rights, and engage with the Authority through communication channels such as the website and portal.
People and Culture
Supports the growth and development of the Authority's staff by helping create a safe and welcoming work environment. The business unit empowers staff to thrive and drive a positive culture but is also responsible for ensuring that the Authority has a robust performance development and performance management framework.
Empowering Indigenous consumers
ICAN Learn is a registered employer with the Authority accomplishing great deeds for First Nations people. As a social enterprise with an office in Bendigo, ICAN Learn is a division of the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network (ICAN).
ICAN is Australia's only First Nations consumer targeted organisation that provides both financial counselling and consumer advocacy assistance. ICAN Learn was established in 2017 to support the development of First Nations people in the sector.
ICAN Learn runs training courses for both First Nations and non-First Nations people that concentrate on community services and financial counselling. The aim for ICAN Learn students after graduation is to provide support and counselling to communities struggling with financial vulnerability and other related community service issues.
Bendigo ICAN Learn Executive Officer, Tracey McCurdy, says, "First Nations people are over-represented amongst financially vulnerable Australians."
A 2019 study1 identified that half of the First Nations population is experiencing financial stress compared to one in ten in the broader Australian population "This is often caused by challenges in accessing financial services due to distance, language barriers and the cost of access to services," Tracey added.
Since its inception just six years ago, ICAN Learn has supported more than 200 First Nations people to undertake financial wellbeing and community service sector training.
ICAN Learn is based in Bendigo as the organisation has strong industry connections with the region and across Victoria. Courses are conducted in Bendigo, with training delivered nationally online, along with face-to-face sessions.
ICAN Learn has about 20 workers registered with the Authority and uses the Scheme as an added incentive to attract and retain staff. "We include our registration with the Authority in our job advertisements," says Tracey.
The future for ICAN Learn is to train and educate more First Nations people who can then go out and support their communities.
1Weier, M et al, Money Stories: Financial Resilience Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (2019)
The Authority's primary objectives are to:
- Fulfil our legislative obligations by effectively administering the Long Service Benefits Portability Act 2018.
- Implement effective, responsible budget and investment strategies which grow levy funds and deliver long-term sustainability.
- Be clear, consistent, transparent and responsive in our stakeholder communications to encourage registration and levy payments and ensure that covered workers and employers are aware of their rights and obligations.
- Maintain a healthy and safe workplace with a culture that encourages engaged, resilient and solution-focussed staff.
- Maintain an innovative secure, resilient and integrated information technology environment that supports effective operations now and into the future.
- Protect the long-term interests of the Authority through effective regulation using governance, strategic risk management and clear policies and procedures.