The federal government's largest department is to buck the trend of declining public service numbers and create up to 2000 new permanent jobs, the main public service union said on Wednesday
The roles will mostly be in Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support Agency call centres around Australia, run by the behemoth Department of Human Services, and many of the jobs look set to be snapped up by some of thousands of casual workers already on DHS's books.
But the Community and Public Sector Union says the decision by the department is "enormously significant", a win for customers of the agencies as well as the thousands of "non-ongoing" public servants who, the unions says, have been battling for several years for a workplace better deal.
Details of the jobs, and who can apply for them, are still being worked-out, but Fairfax understands that DHS wants to reduce its roster of casuals from nearly 10 per cent of its 36,000-strong workforce to less than 2 per cent.
The department said it already had 107 jobs open.
"To reduce reliance on this register, the department is looking to adjust its workforce mix, including advertising ongoing positions and offering additional non-ongoing contracts," Human Services said in a statement.
"As part of this, the first steps in recruitment are currently underway, with 107 roles presently advertised.
"Further advertising of positions will be dependent on business needs and staff turnover."
The move to create thousands of new permanent jobs bucks the recent trend of downsizing the "ongoing " Australian Public Service amid widespread moves towards contract, casual and labour-hire staff doing the work traditionally undertaken by full-time permanent public servants.
It also brings to a close a long-running dispute between DHS and the CPSU over the composition of its workforce.
The union says the hiring will help DHS improve its notorious customer service efforts, particularly its telephone systems which have endured a barrage of criticism in recent years.
The announcement comes just a week after Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd warned that traditional forms of employment in the public service were due for a shake-up.
Mr Lloyd warned in a speech that the public service was set to see a big increase in government employees who are temporary, part time, casual, working from home, hot-desking, job sharing, contracting or working under labour hire arrangements.
The latest research shows there are nearly 18,000 "non-ongoing" workers employed in the service, at the last count in June 2016, up 13 per cent from the previous year.
The same report revealed that more than 20 per cent of federal public servants were working part-time.
It is understood Human Services wants to have its new jobs filled in August, a quick process by public service standards.
CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said the new jobs would help take some of the pressure off hard-pushed staff in the service-delivery department.
"This is an enormously significant announcement that will give a much-needed boost to service standards for Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support customers while easing the intense pressure faced by DHS staff," the union leader said.
"We're working closely with DHS to ensure these jobs are created quickly and fairly.
"The CPSU has campaigned tirelessly for more permanent jobs in DHS, recognising the growing frustrations of customers and staff.
"This will provide around 2,000 people in communities around the country with quality, permanent employment and offer some desperately needed support to their colleagues struggling under impossible workloads and also dealing with increased customer agitation and aggression as a result."