Program Management, Leadership and Responsiveness
FY21 was characterised by a focus on implementing the Australian Government’s Partnerships for Recovery response across the Indo-Pacific, and supporting national commitments to Peace and Stability. In doing so, the program:
- continued to adapt to COVID-19 while delivering a significantly greater volume of deployments, both in-country and working remotely
- continued to embed Australia Assists, implemented by RedR Australia, as the partner of choice for the Unitied Nations (UN) in the Indo-Pacific and beyond
- kept an eye to the future by moving forward with recommendations from the Australia Assists 2019 Mid-Term Review, including Project PIVOT, a major IT transformation that positively impacts program delivery
- continued to further localise and internationalise the roster to ensure the program remains relevant in the absence of global travel and more effective in delivering deployment outcomes.
Throughout FY21, engagement between RedR Australia and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Canberra, remained effective in managing both the day-to-day and longer-term interests of the Australia Assists program. A staffing restructure in Canberra led to a change of Assistant Director, (Australia Assists Program Manager), in October 2020. The program managed this transition well with minimal disruption to everyday engagement and program delivery.
The program benefited from DFAT's regular engagement, including participation in fortnightly meetings with program managers to progress the implementation of the Australia Assists Year Four Annual Plan. In addition, DFAT's early engagement in the annual planning process for Year Five resulted in the timely approval of the Annual Plan on 1 July 2021. This gave program stakeholders the certainty they needed to facilitate a smooth transition of deployments and other program priorities from Year Four to Year Five.
The rising profile of the program among DFAT’s internal stakeholders increased the volume and quality of engagement with desks and posts, particularly during the annual planning process. In Year Four the program engaged with 24 posts and multiple desks and branches within DFAT to respond to new and emerging deployment priorities, including requests from posts that previously had no or limited engagement with the program. The increasing visibility of, and demand for, Australia Assists reflects the quality of deployees and outcomes achieved, as well as enhanced internal communication within DFAT.
There were two changes to specified personnel during FY21. The Middle East and Africa Regional Office saw the resignation of the Regional Manager after two-and-a-half years in the role. In the Pacific, the Regional Manager’s tenure concluded at the end of the financial year, ending three years managing the program across the Pacific. These positions have since been filled. Both offices spearheaded the localisation of Australia Assists deployments, paving the way for the substantive programmatic response in the form of the Australia Assists Localisation Strategy and Action Plan, as well as the inaugural Pacific Essentials of Humanitarian Practice (EHP) course.
Throughout FY21, RedR Australia continued its ambitious IT transformation to gain efficiencies and address operational gaps in the administration of Australia Assists deployments and outcomes. The resulting platform, the RedR Hub, is expected to enable greater speed and volume of roster recruitment to respond to new, emerging and existing deployment requests and profiles; streamlined pre, during, and post deployment administration; a more professional and user-friendly online experience for deployees; and more effective delivery of critical policy and program monitoring documents.
Deployee Remuneration review
In 2019, RedR Australia and DFAT commissioned a Mid-Term Review of the Australia Assists program. One of the nine review recommendations related to Australia Assists deployee remuneration, specifically: To ensure the attractiveness of the roster within a crowded market, RedR in consultation with DFAT, should consider restructuring the deployee remuneration package to deliver equity in remuneration. In response, RedR engaged Ernst and Young (EY) in late 2020 to undertake a review of the deployee remuneration structure in an actionable, evidence-based, and pragmatic manner. Undertaken in consultation with DFAT, deployees and RedR, the review was delivered in early 2021. Work has been undertaken in step with DFAT to develop a framework for implementation in Year Five that is simple, transparent, flexible, fair and equitable.