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Australian Passport Processing

Rapid stand up of a new passports application processing team to support the Australian Passport Office

As international travel resumed following COVID-19 border closures, the Australian Passport Office experienced significant increases in their workload. Australians who had deferred international travel applied for new passports, or renewals of their current passport in record numbers.

In June 2022, Serco was approached to support the processing of passport applications, utilising people from our existing Services Australia workforce, based at our secure site at Essendon Fields, Melbourne.

Our solution

Serco was able to quickly mobilise a large team to support passport application processing. We utilised our existing partnership arrangement to assign experienced, security-cleared customer service agents to the Australian Passport application processing work quickly and effectively. 

In only nine business days, the Serco team: 

  • Mobilised our leadership team to plan and implement a coordinated communication and change management plan across all functions required to deliver the services required.
  • Supported 100 work-from-home staff to transition to working on our secure site, as required by our customer.
  • Fully trained our team to process two different passport work-type streams.
  • Launched a new recruitment campaign, which included a completely redesigned on-site talent assessment centre, to attract and retain new people for our processing team.

Workforce solution 

Serco was able to immediately deploy 216 experienced, security cleared customer service agents to the passport processing quickly and effectively to deliver two vital work streams:

  • Passport Production - A range of clerical and administrative tasks required to prepare a passport application for assessment or finalise a passport for printing.
  • Passport Case Management - End-to-end assessment of passport applications, ensuring adherence to requirements including verification of identity documentation. 

Because of the highly secure nature of the work, our client specified that all staff must work at our secure site, with no work-from-home options available. By leveraging key leaders from across the Serco team, we implemented a coordinated communication, support and change management program to support team members currently working from home to re-locate to on-site work. 

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Recruitment and onboarding

Recruitment of new staff into the passport processing roles took place at a time of historic low unemployment and significant nation-wide challenges in attracting and retaining talent. To ensure we could meet the challenge, Serco teams redesigned key elements of our recruitment processes, with a significant focus on creating a positive and engaging employee experience. Our tailored talent acquisition program included: 

  • A compelling range of employee benefits and engagement experiences to attract candidates to an in-office role.
  • Creation of a digital assessment screening tool to confirm a candidate’s key computer competencies necessary for these roles.
  • Redesigning our assessment centre program to focus on enhancing the candidate experience.


Initial training for the team was broken into two groups to enable a rapid speed-to-competency for two different work-type activities.

  • Group 1 - Passport Production - Training of 70 staff was conducted over 2.5 days. Staff were based on site, with training conducted virtually using Microsoft Teams and the online learning platform Lumi.
  • Group 2 - Passport Case Management - Training of 150 staff was conducted over five days, with three days of theory and ywo days systems-based training.

Ongoing partnership

Key objectives of our ongoing partnership include rapid upskilling in all functions to enable Serco to be self-sufficient in training within a short timeframe. This was achieved through our strong collaboration with the Australian Passport Office team, underpinned by: 
  • Connecting quality and training teams early during the transition.
  • Daily operational stand-ups to quickly resolve any issues.
  • A small number of APO subject matter experts working from site, welcomed into the operational team and scheduled to spend time with team members sharing their technical knowledge, tips and tricks.

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