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Defence PS morale dived on pay concerns

AAP logoAAP 11/10/2016

For public servants, Defence hasn't always been a nice place to work, with widespread dissatisfaction and plummeting morale in the wake of staff reductions and a sub-inflation pay offer.

That's highlighted in Defence's own February 2015 internal survey, which found 44 per cent of non-uniformed personnel reported low or very low morale and just 16 per cent reporting high or very high morale.

Documents released under Freedom of Information show public servant morale steadily declined over the two years to February 2015.

But in the same period morale of those in uniform improved, with 42 per cent reporting high or very high morale, up from 33 per cent two years earlier.

Defence advice to the government in February 2016 noted that in early 2015 the new defence enterprise agreement offer was poorly received by Australian Public Service staff.

"That no doubt influenced the negative shift in perceptions and attitudes of the APS workforce," it said.

Defence said the overall decline in workplace morale appeared to be based on a combination of staff reductions and the less positive attitude to remuneration.

The government offered defence civil servants a pay increase of just over one per cent. It offered uniformed personnel 1.5 per cent but lifted that to two per cent following a political backlash.

Defence admitted it was concerned at this slump in morale, which now seems to have improved.

A survey earlier this year showed 66 per cent of defence public servants reporting moderate, high or very high morale, a 10 per cent improvement.

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