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Internal and external scrutiny

Internal audit

An external service provider, RSM Bird Cameron, delivers internal audit services to the Museum under a three-year service contract. The major reviews completed by the internal auditors during 2007–08 included:

  • financial compliance
  • retail operations
  • online services
  • catering turnover
  • fraud control reviews.

External audit

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) is responsible for auditing the Museum's annual financial statements. An unqualified audit opinion precedes the annual financial statements in Part 4 of this report ( see Audited financial statements ).

The Museum is continuing to implement recommendations from the Safe and Accessible National Collections performance audit, which was conducted in 2004–05. This performance audit applied to the Museum and other national collecting institutions.

Risk management and fraud control

The Museum has in place formal risk management practices to enable the efficient and effective delivery of its programs, and to promote sound business practices.

The Museum's risk management framework was developed in accordance with the Australian Standard AS4360: Risk Management, and has been in operation for a number of years. This framework aims to assist all managers to incorporate formal risk management processes in their work.

The Museum is committed to fostering a culture of risk management throughout the organisation. Its risk management framework comprises:

  • a risk management policy
  • strategic and corporate risk registers
  • guidance material, including risk management plan templates and a risk ratings matrix.

Risk management training was made available to managers and other staff during the year.

The Council's Audit and Finance Committee reviewed the Museum's Strategic Risk Management Plan during the year. Divisional and business unit risk management plans were also reviewed during 2007–08, as part of the annual review process.

The Museum continued to participate in Comcover's Annual Risk Management and Insurance Benchmarking program (see Indemnities and insurance section below).

The Museum's fraud risk assessment and control plan is endorsed by the Council's Audit and Finance Committee, and the action plan was reviewed during the year. The Museum provides fraud awareness training to staff as part of its induction training program and through staff circulars.

Freedom of information

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 requires each Commonwealth Government agency to publish a statement setting out its role, structure and functions; the documents available for public inspection; and how to access such documents. This statement is available in Appendix 8. There were no formal requests for access to documents under section 15 of the Act during 2007–08.

Privacy legislation

The Museum provides information as required to the Privacy Commissioner for inclusion in the Personal Information Digest. No reports by the Privacy Commissioner under Section 30 of the Privacy Act 1988 concerning actions or practices by the Museum were received during 2007–08.

Formal decisions/notifications/ministerial directions

The Museum received no formal notifications or ministerial directions from the Minister during 2007–08.

Ministerial directions that continue to apply in 2007–08 from previous financial years relate to the:

  • Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines
  • Commonwealth Cost Recovery Guidelines
  • Foreign Exchange Policy
  • Implementation Guidelines for the National Code of Practice for the Construction Industry
  • Compliance Report requirements.

Significant events

The Museum did not advise the Minister of any significant events during 2007–08 in accordance with the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997.

Legal actions

In 2007–08 the Museum settled three claims. One claim related to storm damage to the Museum's premises and there were also two employee-related matters. The claims were met by the Museum's insurer, Comcover.

As at 30 June 2008, there were no outstanding claims lodged against the Museum by a contractor's employee.


No new issues or matters about the Museum were referred to, or raised with, the Commonwealth Ombudsman's Office.

Medium distance images of alder trees, sky with part of the Museum's building arching over the top.
A grove of Italian alders at the National Museum of Australia.

Occupational health and safety

During 2007–08 the Museum continued to manage occupational health and safety (OH&S) for all staff, volunteers and visitors through its well-established framework for OH&S management. This includes:

  • the OH&S Committee, which met four times during the year
  • five designated work groups for OH&S management in different areas of the Museum
  • health and safety representatives and deputies elected by employees in each of the five designated work groups
  • regular training for staff
  • staff health monitoring
  • targeted safety improvements
  • incident reporting and investigation.

The Safety and Risk Manager continues to represent the Museum at various forums, including the Commonwealth Safety Management Forum and the Cultural Institutions OHS Group.

The Museum recognises that training is an integral part of achieving and maintaining a high standard of workplace safety. Training provided during 2007–08 included:

  • OH&S and risk management induction presentations for new employees
  • OH&S induction presentations for Visitor Services teams
  • customised manual handling training for collections management staff
  • manual handling training for staff who work in Facilities, the Museum Shop, Multimedia and Public Programs
  • training for staff members to gain licences for forklift and other plant operation, where required.

Because of its extensive use of contractors, the Museum continues to focus on ensuring that all contractors working on Museum sites receive a site induction prior to commencing work to make them aware of their OH&S obligations.

The Museum continued its approach of identifying, assessing and rectifying safety hazards in a functional and practical way, which also takes environmental aspects into consideration. Some key improvements made during 2007–08 include:

  • complete redesign of the Circa operator's console to minimise strain-related injuries
  • non-slip surfacing in the Museum's Garden of Australian Dreams
  • safety film for glass in galleries to reduce the risk of glass fragmenting.

Comcare commended the Museum on its response when asbestos was discovered during fit-out works at Limestone House. Comcare also noted the Museum's effectiveness in terms of its policies and procedures and the manner in which this issue was resolved.

The Safety and Risk Manager continued to provide OH&S input from the design to installation phases of exhibitions, including Papunya Painting: Out of the Desert and League of Legends: 100 Years of Rugby League in Australia.

Ongoing recruitment and training of wardens, first aid officers, and health and safety representatives took place to replace staff members who have vacated those positions.

Flu vaccines were made available to all staff and volunteers. This is seen as a cost-effective measure to assist staff and volunteers in maintaining their health and to provide productivity with a reduced requirement for sick leave.

Staff, visitors or contractors reported a total of 63 injuries during the year. There were five dangerous occurrences, and these were reported to Comcare in accordance with section 68 of the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991.

There were no fatalities or provisional improvement notices recorded during the period.

Cases of injury or dangerous occurrences
Vertical bar graph. Data 07-08/06-07: Falls, slips, trips 26/31; Body stressing 12/11; Hitting objects 8/16; Being hit by objects: 6/6; Heat, radiation, electricity 5/2; Other 11/1.

Category and number of reported incidents

Vertical bar graph. Data 07-08/06-07: Minor injuries 60/63; Serious injuries 3/0; Dangerous occurrences 5/4.

Category of person injured or involved in dangerous occurrences

Doughnut chart. Data: Visitors 37%, Contractors 10%, Staff and volunteers 53%.

Indemnities and insurance

In accordance with section 16 of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies (Report of Operations) Orders 2008, which requires reporting on indemnities and insurance premiums for officers, the Museum confirms that it has:

  • director's and officers' liability insurance cover through Comcover, the Commonwealth self-managed fund
  • not entered into any deeds of indemnity in relation to director's and officers' liability.

The Museum's property insurance claim, which resulted from flooding and a ceiling collapse in December 2006, was finalised during the year. All repairs were completed satisfactorily.

As part of its annual insurance renewal process, the Museum reviewed its insurance coverage to ensure that it remained appropriate for its activities.

The Comcover Risk Management Benchmarking program recognised the ongoing positive impact of the Museum's risk management strategies and activities by awarding the Museum a $23,000 discount on its 2007–08 premium.

A focus on client service

The Museum's Client Service Charter ( see Appendix 9 ) is available to the public in a brochure and on the Museum's website.

During the year the Museum received 374 written comments from visitors regarding services, programs, exhibitions, the building and facilities. The written comments were received both by email and from visitors completing the Client Service Charter feedback form. The majority of the feedback was positive. Some changes to the Museum's services, amenities and exhibitions were made as a result of visitors' comments, including:

  • enhanced visitor comfort through changes to sound and lighting in the Circa theatre
  • continued improvements to the readability of exhibition labels
  • continued improvements to lighting in permanent and temporary exhibition areas
  • continued delivery of new face-to-face interpretative programs
  • increased seating for temporary exhibitions.

Positive references to the service provided by the visitor services hosts were the most common visitor comments recorded through the Charter, accounting for over 25 per cent of all feedback received in 2007–08.

All new employees are made aware of the Client Service Charter in the Museum's Orientation Day New Starters program, and it was included in detail in the induction and training sessions provided to new and existing visitor services staff. 'Focusing on the customer', a training session for administration staff in the skills required to meet client service expectations, was also provided twice in 2007–08.

Environmental performance

The National Museum of Australia remains committed to the conservation of natural resources through improved energy management and the implementation of a number of other initiatives aimed at minimising the impact on the environment from its operations. The promotion of ecologically sustainable development (ESD) principles is woven through the content of the Museum's programs and administrative and decision-making processes.

Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, all Commonwealth agencies are required to report on their environmental performance and contribution to ecologically sustainable development. The Museum's key activities, citing the relevant paragraphs of the Act, are described below.

How the Museum's activities accord with the principles of ESD (Paragraph 516A(6)(a))

The Museum's Environmental Management System incorporates guidelines for all Museum activities to reduce their impact on the environment. It also promotes the management of energy, waste and water on Acton Peninsula and Mitchell sites. The system is designed to be as accessible as possible for all staff and to minimise risks to the environment, and meets the requirements of ISO14001. The Environmental Management Policy highlights the Museum's commitment to operate within the principles of ecologically sustainable development wherever possible.

The Museum continues to contribute to the protection and improvement of the Canberra environment through the Lower Sullivan's Creek Catchment Group, in partnership with The Australian National University, Australian National Botanic Gardens, CSIRO Black Mountain, Environment ACT, and the National Capital Authority. This nationally significant ecological survey focuses on the development of a biodiversity management plan for the area.

How the administration of legislation by the Museum accords with the principles of ESD (Paragraph 516A(6)(b))

The Museum's functions, as set out in the National Museum of Australia Act 1980, continue to remain consistent with the spirit of ESD principles. These include programs that 'improve the total quality of life, both now and in the future, in a way that maintains the ecological processes on which life depends'. The Act also specifies that the focus of the Museum's exhibitions, collections, programs and research should be on three interrelated themes: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture; Australia's history and society since 1788; and, most specifically, the interaction of people with the environment. Stories related to Australia's environment appear throughout the Museum's permanent and temporary exhibitions, education programs, public programs, publications and the website. In particular, the Old New Land gallery, one of the Museum's four permanent galleries, is devoted to the interaction of people and the environment, and includes displays on bushfires, farming practices, Indigenous land management practices, endangered and extinct species, drought and water management.

How the outcomes specified for the Museum in an Appropriations Act contribute to ESD (Paragraph 516A(6)(c))

The Government's Portfolio Budget Statement specifies that Australians should 'have access to the Museum's collections and public programs to encourage awareness and understanding of Australia's history and culture'.

Although not directly contributing to ESD, an increased awareness and understanding of Australia's history — including its environmental history — and culture by the public is still relevant to ESD principles.

How the Museum's activities affect the environment (Paragraph 516A(6)(d)) and the steps taken to minimise this (Paragraph 516A(6)(e))

The Museum's activities have the potential to affect the environment through consumption of energy, waste production, and the impact on local waterways, flora and fauna. A number of strategies, with relevant targets and objectives, have been put in place to reduce the Museum's environmental impact. These include:

  • the reduction of energy consumption
  • increase in waste recycling
  • decrease in water use
  • the use of environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals.

The Museum undertook a number of specific steps to reduce the impact of its activities on the environment:

Reduction of energy consumption: The Museum increased its purchase of electricity from renewable energy sources from 8 per cent to 10 per cent and in addition has reduced overall energy consumption through:

  • accurate tracking of energy usage across the Acton site — the Museum's energy monitoring system enables independent monitoring of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system
  • replacement of older lights, such as the outdoor lights on the Museum building, with energy efficient LED lights. These require less maintenance and replacement, further reducing their whole-of-life environmental impact. Existing light fittings were also modified to improve energy efficiency
  • ongoing review of newer technologies to optimise energy usage and whole-of-life environmental impact of Museum plant and equipment
  • changes to the building management system to ensure that the chillers operate at optimum efficiency
  • the installation of additional photoelectric cells on external lights for greater energy efficiency.

Recycling: The Museum continues to recycle paper, cardboard, toner cartridges and glass/plastic bottles in the administration areas. Specific activities included the implementation of a recycling program for fluorescent tubes and bulbs, and installation of recycling bins in the outdoor public areas and in staff amenity rooms.

Water use: The Museum continued to reduce levels of water use through the installation of hybrid semi-waterless urinals in high-use public toilets, dual-flush toilets and water-saving showerheads in leasehold buildings, and water meters in critical areas to help track and monitor water consumption. In line with current water restrictions, watering of the gardens and external facade of the building was reduced.

Environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals: All cleaning chemicals used by the Museum's cleaning contractors meet the specifications set out in Australian Standards AS/ANZ ISO 14001:1996 'Environmental Management Systems — Specification with guidance for use' and AS/ANZ ISO 14004:1996 'Environmental Management Systems — General guidelines of principles, systems, and supporting techniques'.

Greenfleet: The Museum continued its membership of this non-profit organisation that plants trees in nearby forests to offset carbon emissions from its vehicle fleet.

Staff action: A group of Museum staff assisted in raising awareness of environmental issues by promoting activities such as ride-to-work days, and posting environmentally friendly hints on the Museum's website.

Mechanisms (if any) for reviewing and increasing the effectiveness of those steps (Paragraph 516A(6)(f))

Monitoring and reviewing performance are integral to the Museum's Environmental Management System. An extensive review of the targets and objectives was carried out in 2007–08 to ensure that it remains relevant to Museum operations and continues to meet changing government requirements. The ANAO also undertook an audit of the Museum's Green Procurement and Sustainable Office Management practices.

Water saving success
Reducing the torrent to a trickle

Close-up looking down at water spilling and bubbling over a circular feature.

The Museum is now saving over three million litres of water per year, following the installation of 15 hybrid semi-waterless urinals in the public toilets. The water-saving urinals were installed as part of the Museum's ongoing commitment to improving its environmental performance, pursuing ecologically sound practices and minimising waste.

Water is a scarce natural resource and the Museum has used significant quantities of water in the past. The Museum's water management plan was developed to address methods for reducing excess water consumption. Along with the new urinals, dual-flush toilets and water-saving showerheads have also been installed in the Museum's buildings. In critical areas, water meters have been installed to monitor water usage.

Prior to conversion, each urinal was flushing over 600 litres of water per day. The new amenities have reduced this to around 2.4 litres daily: a water saving of over 99 per cent.

The Museum's facilities have already been distinguished by their exemplary cleanliness. The Museum's cleaning contractor, Rolfe Property Services, was awarded a Golden Service Award for the cleaning of the Museum in October 2007. The Golden Service Awards, sponsored by Kimberly-Clark, are the building services industries award for recognition of achievement and high standards of excellence.

All cleaning chemicals used in the toilets meet Australian environmental management systems specifications. Visitors and staff in the Museum can now take comfort breaks with facilities that are award-winningly clean, environmentally friendly and use significantly less water.

Disability strategies

The Museum recognises the importance of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. Compliance with the Act helps identify and remove barriers that might prevent people with disabilities from accessing Museum programs, services and employment opportunities. The Museum meets its obligations under the Act by implementing the Commonwealth Disability Strategy and the Museum's Disability Action Plan. Details of the Museum's performance during the year in implementing the Commonwealth Disability Strategy are set out in Appendix 10.

Advertising and market research

In accordance with reporting requirements contained in section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the Museum annually reports its total expenditure on advertising and market research. The total payment by the Museum to advertising and market research organisations in 2007–08 was $972,992 and comprised payments to:

  • advertising agencies
  • market research organisations
  • media advertising organisations
  • recruitment advertising.

Sponsorship and development

The Museum raised $996,056 in cash or kind support, exceeding the target of $736,500. This included sponsorship for two major exhibitions, as follows:

  • League of Legends: 100 Years of Rugby League in Australia: $282,826
  • Utopia: The Genius of Emily Kame Kngwarreye: $320,000.

'Whole of Museum' sponsorship has continued to grow with major media sponsors again renewing their commitment and delivering support valued at over $393,000 to build the Museum's brand.

The Museum regularly reviews and revitalises its sponsorship program, particularly in the context of the evolution of the Museum's credibility and reputation as it matures as an organisation. A major review was undertaken in 2006–07 and implemented in 2007–08 resulting in the Museum:

  • creating a robust and effective sponsorship program
  • delivering a return on sponsorship investment
  • building the Museum's brand through marketing and communication opportunities created by partnerships with sponsors
  • reinforcing the Museum's vision to be a world-class museum through supporting exhibitions, programs and services.

The Museum worked closely with the recently established Friends of the National Museum of Australia Foundation which aims to enhance support for the Museum's acquisitions program.

Inside the gallery. Two large trophies in a glass case in close-up on the left side. Brightly lit photographs stretch along a wall into the distance on the right with several people looking at them. The glass of the case reflects the light bouncing off the photographs and partially obscures the people.
League of Legends: 100 Years of Rugby League was developed with the Centenary of Rugby League Committee and featured many objects from the Museum's collection.

Merchandising and retail

Merchandising and retail operations raise commercial revenues while enhancing visitor experiences by providing merchandise that is largely inspired by the Museum's exhibitions, programs and its unique building.

Key achievements during 2007–08 included:

  • a 2.8 per cent growth in gross revenue
  • a conversion rate (that is, the percentage of Museum visitors who purchase from the Museum Shop during their visit) of 16.16 per cent compared with 15.31 per cent in 2006–07.

Retail staff members are active members of the ACT branch of the Cultural Shops Forum of Australia. This forum includes retail managers from the National Gallery of Australia, Questacon, Parliament House Shop, the National Library of Australia, Old Parliament House and the National Film and Sound Archive.

Venue hire

The Museum is a popular venue for a range of corporate events including conferences, meetings, product launches, gala dinners, awards presentations and cocktail receptions. Key relationships were developed within the industry to help promote the Museum as a venue to local, national and international markets, particularly the convention industry.

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