Annual Report 2003-2004

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The department's innovative and flexible work structures, supported by centralised staffing, enabled the department to respond to new and emerging priorities in a demanding international environment. We identified and deployed staff at short notice for the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) and the Australian Representative Office in Baghdad. We met an increased demand for resources to pursue the Government's ambitious trade policy agenda, in particular for negotiating the Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement while maintaining a strong level of engagement in other international trade negotiations.

The safety and welfare of staff and their families was an ongoing concern for the department. Contributing factors included: terrorism or the threat of terrorism, especially for staff serving at our posts in the Middle East and South-East Asia; the breakdown of law and order in the Pacific region, particularly Papua New Guinea; and the impact of a challenging workload on individual wellbeing. Our provision of accessible, high-quality clinical and other support services underpinned strong organisational morale—demonstrated in high staff retention rates and low levels of absenteeism.

As part of our continuing efforts to improve conditions of service for staff, we reviewed overseas conditions of service. The outcome of the review is expected to be announced in the second half of 2004. We improved conditions applying to service in Baghdad in recognition of the difficult security environment.

We made substantial progress towards the completion of a new Service Level Agreement (SLA) for the provision of management services to attached agencies at overseas posts.

Unqualified financial statements for 2003–04 were presented on time with no audit observations.

We awarded a new contract for provision of travel management services to the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio to Carlson Wagonlit Travel. We implemented a new removals and storage contract, which is expected to improve service levels to staff moving to and from posts.

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Annual Report 2003–2004
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