Carer’s survey results - September 2023

ANU is a member of the Champions of Change network. This is a group of organisations that share knowledge and best practice approaches to diversity and inclusion. As a member of the network, ANU made a commitment to better understand the:

  • Diverse caring roles of our staff, and,
  • Factors or conditions that support staff in balancing work and caring responsibilities.

ANU has made significant improvements to systems and working practices for parents and carers in recent years, including:

  • Increasing the number of childcare centres on campus,
  • Improving parental leave entitlements (ANU is now in the top 20 organisations in Australia for parental leave, according to Money Magazine),
  • Maintaining contributions to superannuation during unpaid parental leave,
  • Improving access to flexible working arrangements, including the ability to work from home where feasible; and,
  • Developing electronic forms to streamline change of hours requests and ergonomic checks for remote work.

There is still more that we can do to support staff with caring responsibilities. To hear directly from our staff and understand the nuances that come with caring responsibilities, People and Culture invited individuals to respond to a carers survey in September 2023.



66 staff responded to the survey. We thank all respondents for taking the time to provide detailed comments on their experiences. This insight is incredibly helpful.


Caring responsibilities

ANU recognises that caring responsibilities can be diverse, challenging, and complex. They are often unplanned and can arise at any point in our working lives. Survey respondents highlighted the breadth of caring responsibilities undertaken by staff, including caring for children of different ages, a person who is neurodivergent, an elderly person, a person with disability, or a combination of factors.



Respondents were asked to answer survey questions based on a five point likert scale of strongly disagree to strongly agree. The below section outlines the highlights and areas for improvement, based on the responses.


The three most favourable responses:


% of respondents who agree or strongly agree

I am able to arrange time away from work when I need to for caring responsibilities.


I receive support from people around me at work when I need it.


I can be my authentic self at work.



The three least favourable responses:


% of respondents who agree or strongly agree

I am able to find time for self-care amid work and caring responsibilities.


I have access to helpful resources for coping with stress.


Perspectives like mine are included in decision making at ANU.



Supporting comments

The below section summarises the most frequently raised comments by staff.

The workplace support and systems that survey respondents indicated as enabling work and caring responsibilities to be successful include:

  • Flexibility,
  • Working from home,
  • Management support,
  • Access to carers leave,
  • Ad-hoc adjustments,
  • Career re-entry,
  • On campus childcare.

The workplace factors that respondents indicated as preventing work and caring responsibilities include:

  • Workload, including balancing duties when working reduced hours,
  • Parking,
  • Workplace culture,
  • Management support,
  • Lack of flexibility,
  • Inability to work from home,
  • Unable to attend meetings.

The commentary shows that supervisors play a critical role in providing understanding and access to support services and flexible work arrangements. People and Culture encourages all supervisors to understand the diverse caring needs of our staff and to take the time to understand the flexible work arrangements available (where operationally practical). This includes understanding the proposed variations to the Enterprise Agreement (detailed below).

ANU is committed to maintaining an inclusive and respectful workplace. If you are experiencing negative comments, including passing or passive aggressive comments related to your caring responsibilities, please contact the Staff Respect Consultant. The consultant provides a confidential, judgement free space for you to express your concerns as well as tailored support options.


Committed actions

Respondents provided suggestions for practical changes or actions that could improve the ability to manage caring and work responsibilities. Based on this feedback, People and Culture have committed to the following actions to be developed by mid-2024:

  • Communicate resources to help manage stress and support wellbeing and self-care for all carers.
  • Introduce a carer’s network for staff to share experiences, support and improvement ideas.
  • Develop management training to improve education of caring needs and the support options available.

Suggested longer term improvements will be explored further. 


Supporting our carers

Many carers’ that responded to the survey indicated that they put others first, personally and professionally, often at the expense of self-care. While we develop resources to support the wellbeing of staff with caring responsibilities. Please take a moment to do something for your own wellbeing, and connect with a support network.

Staff can register with Carer’s ACT to access information and resources.


Proposed variations to the ANU Enterprise Agreement

The proposed variations to the ANU Enterprise Agreement will also support staff with caring responsibilities, particularly to improve access to flexible work arrangements and time for self-care. These changes will come into effect if the proposed agreement receives a majority yes vote by staff and approval from the Fair Work Commission.

The proposed variations highlight the universities commitment to supporting staff and include:

Clause title

Clause #

Clause # in Current  EA

Summary of Proposed Agreement clause

Change vs Current Agreement clause

Entitlement to breaks



Provides an entitlement to breaks for meals, morning/afternoon tea, safety and changing time.

Acknowledgement of requirement of flexibility around micro breaks and notes staff may request flexible work in accordance flexible work arrangements clause.

Personal and wellbeing leave



Provides for personal and wellbeing leave entitlements, including notice and evidence requirements.

This clause has been substantially revised:

  • Insertion of ANU's acknowledgement of staff commitments not related to work.
  • Expanded definition of sick leave.
  • Expanding leave from "Personal Leave" to "Personal and wellbeing leave", including additional circumstances in which leave can be used:
    • New community volunteering leave entitlement of 2 days per calendar year.
    • New wellbeing leave entitlement of 2 days per calendar year.
  • Expanded definition of immediate family member.
  • New casual staff entitlement to 3 instances of paid sick leave per year.
  • Expanded scope of compassionate leave to include stillborn babies or miscarriages.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural leave is provided separately at clause 38 and deleted from the personal leave clause.

Parental leave



Provides the conditions and entitlements of parental leave.

This clause has been substantially revised:

  • Amendments to include gender neutral language.
  • Removal of previous service and ongoing work conditions for casual staff member's entitlement to 52 weeks' absence where they are primary carer following birth or placement.
  • New partial entitlements to paid parental leave for staff with continuous service of less than 12 months.
  • New paid primary carer partner leave entitlement of 26 weeks for staff with 12 months or more continuous service (which is currently provided in policy).
  • New entitlements to maintain superannuation during paid parental leave, including an entitlement for staff accessing paid parental leave at half pay to receive employer super contributions at the full pay rate up to a maximum of 52 weeks.
  • Updated requirement of 10 weeks' notice prior to commencing primary carer partner leave (previously 6 weeks).
  • New entitlement for staff to apply for up to 10 additional days of personal leave for staff experiencing a termination of pregnancy, miscarriage, still-birth or death of a child after the 20-week gestation period.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural leave



Provides for various commitments regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural identity and integrity, including caring responsibilities, cultural obligations, key dates of significance, participation in Indigenous advisory councils and sorry business.

New clause highlighting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural leave.

Significantly expanded entitlement to paid cultural leave for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff. Paid leave for 10 days per year to meet obligations, in addition to other forms of leave.

Flexible work arrangements



Provides options for flexible working arrangements, the process for requesting for flexible working arrangements and the University's obligation to consider the request.

This clause has been substantially revised:

  • Amended to substantively align with the NES process for flexible working arrangements.
  • Additional options for flexible work arrangements are included, including part-time work, job sharing, leave without pay and working remotely up to two days per week for full time staff (or pro rata for part time staff).
  • Remote working arrangements must be reviewed every 6 months.
  • Flexible work arrangements may only be changed by providing 1 month's notice in writing to staff.




Provides the University's principles governing workload allocation and requirements for supervisors.

This clause has been substantially revised:

All Staff

  • Additional requirement that supervisors ensure planned variations to work in an area and vacancies in an area do not have unreasonable workload implications.
  • Expanded sub-clause recognising additional cultural workloads of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders staff.
  • Replaces the entitlement to raise workload allocation concerns with the process under the dispute avoidance and settlement procedure in clause 77.


Academic Staff

  • New clause acknowledging no standard hours of academic work.
  • Insertion of new list of factors and process for developing and maintaining academic workload models at the relevant academic work area.

Professional Staff

  • New clause providing that supervisors are responsible for ongoing management of workloads in consultation with staff.
  • New clause requiring workloads to be discussed with the staff member and determined on an equitable, reasonable and balanced basis.
  • New clause requiring supervisors to make sufficient workload adjustments to facilitate the taking of time in lieu.

Right to disconnect



Provides for an expectation that staff will not respond to communications outside their normal hours of work.

Addition of a new clause that the University does not expect or require staff to respond to communication outside their normal work hours or while on leave, except in limited circumstances.




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