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Internal and external scrutiny part 2

Occupational health and safety (OHS)

The establishment of an OHS framework to ensure integration of health and safety management into the Museum's daily operations was a high priority last year. This year the Museum placed considerable focus on the effective integration of OHS and risk management to manage the safety and health of all visitors, staff, volunteers and contractors on Museum sites.

During the year particular emphasis was given to:

  • increasing the awareness of front of house staff and volunteers to the important roles that they play in the management of OHS. These work groups were selected for separate attention because their work environments vary considerably from the office-based employment of other staff

  • OHS training including courses for managers and supervisors to emphasise their specific responsibilities, and for plant operators to ensure that all relevant staff were trained and licensed as required.

The majority of the recommendations arising from the 2001 Comcare investigation were addressed during the year. The Museum intends to address the few outstanding matters by late 2003.

Elections were held during the year to ensure that all Museum sites had their full complement of health and safety representatives (HSRs), deputy HSRs, first aid officers and fire wardens. Relevant training was provided to new HSRs and first aid officers, as well as refresher training for designated first aid officers. Additionally, in recognition of the unique work environment on board the PS Enterprise, the Museum provided first aid training to volunteers.

The Museum's Occupational Health and Safety Committee, comprising the Safety and Risk Manager, HSRs and management representatives, met four times during the year to assist with the implementation of the OHS framework and address operational issues affecting all Museum activities. This committee is responsible for the development, implementation and distribution of safety guidelines for the Museum, and the monitoring of safe work practices and related training for staff.

The site safety teams in each Museum site continued workplace inspections and hazard reporting and worked closely with the Safety and Risk Manager to improve levels of workplace safety.

Some of the key safety improvements made during the year included the:

  • significant redesign of the bus and coach parking area, including the installation of speed bumps and improved signage to reduce the speed of transiting vehicles - undertaken after extensive consultation with the National Capital Authority, ACT Department of Urban Services, Action Buses and the Bus and Coach Association

  • replacement of the gravel surfaces in the Garden of Australian Dreams with black 'soft-fall' recycled rubber to reduce the risk of visitors slipping - selected in consultation with various suppliers, other organisations and the architect responsible for the design of the Garden

  • introduction of control measures, such as padding on posts and impact matting in the cubbyhouse area, a dedicated children's space near the Nation gallery - undertaken to prevent potential injury, especially to children.

In recognition that safety for contractors on site at the Museum is also important, a contractor site book was developed and released during the year. This book is aimed primarily at improving contractor safety awareness and applies to their work practices while on Museum sites.

There was an increase in the total number of injuries reported by staff, visitors and contractors, with 134 injuries compared to 105 the previous year. However, all but four of these injuries were of a minor nature and there was a decrease in the number of serious injuries and dangerous occurrences. The introduction of new streamlined incident reporting procedures at the commencement of the year, together with greater staff awareness of the need to report all incidents, may have contributed to this increase in figures.

Four incidents 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.

Image of graph showing location of injury
Graph displaying causes of injuries.
Graph showing category of incidents
Graph displaying category of person injured

Indemnities and insurance

In accordance with section 16 of Commonwealth Authorities and Companies (Report of Operations) Orders 2002 which requires reporting on indemnities and insurance premiums for officers, the Museum confirms that it has:

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

A review of insurance coverage was undertaken by the Museum to ensure that its insurance cover was appropriate for its activities. The risk management strategies and activities implemented by the Museum resulted in it being qualified to receive the maximum five per cent discount offered by Comcover under its Risk Management Benchmarking program.

Service Charter

The Service Charter was revised during the year to ensure it reflected the new range of facilities and services offered by the Museum, as well as the standards of service which visitors can expect. It is now available via the Museum's website ( and will also be available in pamphlet form in 2003-2004. The new charter is contained in Appendix 13.

The Museum's complaint handling procedure was also reviewed during the year and a dedicated email address,, was put in place. Mechanisms for monitoring, responding and recording complaints were also upgraded.

Visitor feedback is an effective way to identify where operational changes should be made by the Museum. During the year, more than 1488 written comments were received from visitors regarding its services, programs, exhibitions, the building and facilities. Most of the feedback represented questions or suggestions, with 25 per cent of the remaining comments positive and 12 per cent negative. Most of the negative comments related to wayfinding and lighting issues and these were addressed by the Museum during the year through its reviews of wayfinding and lighting.

Environmental performance and ecologically sustainable development

In accordance with section 516A of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, government agencies have been required since 20002001 to include in their annual reports information detailing the environmental performance of the organisation and the organisation's contribution to ecologically sustainable development (ESD).

On a broad ecological scale, the Museum continued its commitment to resource conservation through improved energy management and the implementation of a number of sustainable resource use initiatives. The table below details the Museum's activities during 2002-2003.


Requirement Activity/Contribution
Section 516A(6)(a) How the activities of the organisation accord with the principles of ESD

The Museum's commitment to the promotion of ecologically sustainable development is demonstrated through its exhibition content, its schools programs, its public programs and its administrative and decision-making processes. For example, the Tangled Destinies gallery emphasises the interrelationship between human history and the land, and public programs such as the 23° South conference and specific schools programs also play their part in promoting ESD.

The Museum promotes, whenever possible, a sustainable environment by contributing to the protection and improvement of the Canberra environment through its partnership with the Australian National University, Australian National Botanic Gardens, CSIRO Black Mountain, Environment ACT, Lower Sullivans Creek Catchment Group and the National Capital Authority. The Museum contributes both expertise and funding to the Lower Sullivan's Creek Catchment ecological survey which is a nationally significant project, aiming to develop a bio-diversity management plan for the Lower Sullivans Creek Catchment area

Section 516A(6)(b) How the administration of legislation by the organisation accorded with the principles of ESD

The Museum's functions, as set out in the National Museum of Australia Act 1980, are consistent with the goal of ESD, that is programs which 'improve the total quality of life, both now and in the future, in a way that maintains the ecological processes on which life depends'. In summary, the Museum's functions are to:

  • develop and maintain a national collection of historical material
  • exhibit historical material from the National Historical Collection or historical material that is otherwise in the possession of the Museum
  • exhibit material that relates to Australia's past, present and future
  • conduct research relating to Australian history
  • disseminate information relating to Australian history

Also see (a) above

Section as516A(6)(b) How the outcomes specified for the organisation in an Appropriations Act contribute to ESD

The Government's outcome for the National Museum as specified in the 2002-2003 Portfolio Budget Statement is that:

'Australians have access to the National Museum's collections and public programs to encourage awareness and understanding of Australia's history and culture.' An increased awareness and understanding of Australia's history and culture by the public is relevant to ESD principles although not directly contributing to ESD

Section as516A(6)(c) The effect of the organisation's activities on the environment

The following activities have the potential to affect the environment:

  • the delivery of programs at Museum sites on Acton Peninsula and Mitchell, Canberra
  • the carrying out of administrative operations of the organisation

See (d) below

Section as516A(6)(d) The measures (if any) taken by the organisation to minimise this impact

Energy savings were achieved through the implementation of lighting strategies and a new building management system, the provision of a power factor correction which is aimed at reducing the overall operating cost by $8000 per annum, and the revision of the existing gas contract

Review of the Museum's recycling program led to an increase in paper, toner cartridge and glass/plastic bottles recycling in the administration areas as well as day-to-day waste in the café areas

Ensuring all cleaning chemicals used by the Museum's cleaning contractors met the specifications set out in 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'

Installation of a new energy monitoring system together with independent monitoring of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system to enable tracking of energy usage at Acton

Following a review of gas usage, the annual contracted quantity of gas was reduced, resulting in a 28% saving in gas energy costs in 2002-2003. See table below

Changes to exhibition lighting with the replacement of 50 watt dichroic lighting by 35 watt lighting thereby creating a higher light output but reduced colour fade. The lighting will also reduce energy lighting costs by approximately 10-15 per cent in 2003-2004

Changes to the programming of the lighting control systems and reduction of the wattage of lighting in the Hall from 500 watts to 300 watts resulting in reduced power consumption, increased lamp life and improved lighting conditions on cloudy days. This methodology will be extended throughout the galleries and operational areas in 2003-2004

Changes to the temperature and humidification control strategies improved the humidity control in the gallery areas and it is hoped will also lead to reduced energy consumption. The new energy monitoring system will also allow tracking of changes in energy usage when operational and control strategies are revised

Ongoing protection of culturally significant sites on the Acton Peninsula, in conjunction with the National Capital Authority

Provision of alternative homes for local arboreal mammals when disrupted by Museum works to ensure its impact on local wildlife is minimised

Section as516A(6)(e) The mechanisms (if any) for reviewing and increasing the effectiveness of those measures The commitment made in last year's annual report to develop an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) has been progressed although the plan has not yet been finalised. It is expected that it will be implemented across the Museum by the end of 2003. The plan will incorporate guidelines for all Museum activities to reduce its environmental impact and promote efficient use of resources management of air quality, biodiversity, energy, waste and water on Acton Peninsula, as well as community and staff education. A review mechanism will be an integral part of the plan
graph displaying contact gas supply

Disability strategies

The National Museum recognises the importance of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 in ensuring the identification and removal of barriers preventing people with disabilities from access to its programs and services, and the elimination by employers of discriminatory practices. It endeavours to meet its obligations under the Act through implementation of 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 is set out in Appendix 14.

Advertising and market research

In accordance with reporting requirements contained in section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the total payment by the Museum to advertising and market research organisations in 2002-2003 was $1,156,449 and comprised:

  • advertising agencies $453,553

  • market research organisations $118,307

  • media advertising organisations $584,589

A detailed list is shown in Appendix 15.