1. Kaleidoscope Room
In May 2018, the Audit Office opened a new space called the Kaleidoscope Room. This space aims to ensure our people feel valued and are working in an environment of respect, inclusivity and empowerment. The Kaleidoscope Room can be used by staff for prayer, meditation and relaxation, or parenting activities.
In order to successfully deliver this initiative, a project team consulted widely with staff, including those with specific religious and parenting requirements, to ensure the space and furnishings would meet a broad spectrum of needs.
The introduction of the room supports the Audit Office’s commitment to promoting cultural diversity and is in keeping with our commitment to gender equity and supporting women in the workplace. The room also supports the mental health and wellbeing of our staff by providing a private space for meditation and relaxation.
The Kaleidoscope Room was a key deliverable on our Diversity Inclusion and Accessibility Roadmap, as part of our ‘Working Better, Working Together’ strategic initiative. For further details on our 2017–18 strategic initiatives see here.
2. Leading for the future
To achieve our strategic objectives, our leaders need to be equipped with the required leadership capabilities. As part of our ‘Working Better, Working Together’ strategic initiative, in 2017–18 we developed a Leadership Development Framework based on benchmarking and learnings from other Australasian audit offices, State Government departments and major accounting firms.
The framework covers a leadership journey that begins when staff join at an entry level, right through to our Office Executive level with five distinct leadership levels.
The framework is linked to the NSW Public Sector Commission’s Capability Framework. This allows our leaders to identify and develop the leadership capabilities they need for both current and future roles, and promotes mobility across the public sector.
The framework aims to offer leaders diverse types of learning experiences, including face-to-face training, on the job coaching, mentoring, secondments, eLearning modules, and leadership behaviour tools.
A focus on women’s development has also been taken into account to ensure that the challenges that women face in developing their leadership potential are addressed.
The face-to-face training stream for the middle management leadership level will be piloted in the first half of 2018–19 prior to being rolled out to the remaining four levels.
3. Providing value to local government
In 2017–18, we completed the first audits of local government under our new mandate. This was a significant change for the Audit Office in many different areas. One particular area was the requirement for our financial audit directors to present their audit findings in council forums, where both the public and media are often present. This change required new skills in public speaking, answering questions under pressure, and media awareness.
We sourced a training provider who could help our directors develop their presentation skills in an environment that would simulate a real-life council meeting.
To make the simulation as real as possible, our directors were asked to bring along a real report and present the report to an audience that included the training provider and three ‘councillors’, the latter being a group of people from our audit service providers who had previous experience speaking at council forums, as well as one actual councillor.
The ‘councillors’ asked questions of the directors – often deliberately challenging – that the directors then had to answer as best they could. The trainer took notes of each participant’s performance and then held one-on-one coaching sessions with each person that focused on building on strengths and providing suggestions for change.
Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive, with specific comments including ‘changed the way I present’, ‘enabled me to better understand the challenges of the council’, and ‘gave me the confidence to handle questions’.
This training program was delivered under our ‘Local Government’ strategic initiative. For further details on our 2017–18 strategic initiatives see here.