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The Museum's performance is guided by a set of legislative, public sector and organisational requirements.
The National Museum of Australia Act 1980 charges the Museum with the function of developing, preserving and exhibiting historical material of the Australian nation. It also specifies that the Museum should conduct and disseminate research and information about Australian history (see Functions and powers of the National Museum of Australia in Appendix 2).
These functions determine all aspects of the Museum's performance; the government's performance targets, laid out in the annual Portfolio Budget Statement (PBS), and shape how they are executed. Performance targets are achieved through work defined in two output groups and lead to the outcome that:
Australians have access to the National Museum's collections and public programs to encourage awareness and understanding of Australia's history and cultures.
For the Australian public, the Museum's vision statement captures the essence of the organisation's role:
A recognised world-class museum exploring Australia's past, illuminating the present, imagining the future.
At the operational level, the Museum's Strategic Plan outlines the organisation's strategic priorities and guides the activities of all Museum business units. The priorities for 2004–07 are to:
- enhance exhibitions, programs and services
- care for the National Historical Collection
- sustain research and scholarship activity
- engage national audiences
- strengthen business processes
- enhance staffing and workplace development
- augment asset development and planning
- strengthen resource base.
The reports that follow provide quantitative measurement of the Museum's performance against the PBS, and qualitative discussion of its achievements as a cultural institution and in relation to the Strategic Plan.