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Internal and external scrutiny (page 3 of 3)

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 2000-2001 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 has continued to commit 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 2003-2004.

Paragraph/Item Requirement Activity/Contribution
How the activities of the organisation
accord with the principles of ESD
Continued promotion of ecologically sustainable development is demonstrated through the content of the Museum's permanent and temporary exhibitions, its programs designed for students, its public programs and its administrative and decision-making processes.

Some examples include the Tangled Destinies gallery, which emphasises the interrelationship between human history and the land, as well as public programs such as various public conferences and specific school programs.

Whenever possible, the Museum also contributes to the protection and improvement of the Canberra environment via its partnerships with the Australian National University, Australian National Botanic Gardens, CSIRO Black Mountain, Environment ACT, Lower Sullivans Creek Catchment Group and the National Capital Authority.

An ongoing project that the Museum contributes both expertise and funding to is the Lower Sullivan's Creek Catchment ecological survey. This is a nationally significant project that aims to develop a biodiversity management plan for the Lower Sullivans Creek Catchment area.

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 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'.

In summary, the Museum's functions are to:

  • develop and maintain a national collection of historical material
  • exhibit historical material from the NHC 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.

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 Performance 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.

Paragraph/Item Requirement Activity/Contribution
Paragraph 516A(6)(d) The effect of the organisation's activities on the environment 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.

See (e) on the following page.

Paragraph 516A(6)(e) The measures (if any) taken by the organisation to minimise this impact

Various strategies have been put in place to reduce environmental impact.

These include the reduction of energy consumption, increase in waste recycling, the use of environmentally friendly chemicals and the provision of alternative homes for local arboreal mammals when disrupted by Museum works to ensure its impact on local wildlife is minimised.

Reduction of energy consumption: An energy monitoring system was installed to allow independent monitoring of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system to enable accurate tracking of energy usage across the Acton site. This will assist in the development of energy management strategies leading to potential cost savings.

Following a review of natural gas usage and requirements, a reduction was made in the annual contracted quantity of gas to be supplied, resulting in an annual reduction of gas energy costs.

Ongoing changes to lighting in the exhibition and administration areas include the replacement of 50 watt dichroic lighting by 35 watt lighting which actually provides a broader light output at a reduced lux level leading to reduced energy consumption. Lighting costs are expected to reduce as the changes are further implemented during in 2004-2005

To further reduce energy consumption, changes were made to the programming of the lighting control systems and the wattage of lighting in the Hall was decreased from 500 watts to 300 watts. These measures have resulted in reduced power consumption, increased lamp life and improved lighting conditions on cloudy days. This methodology will continue to be extended throughout the galleries and operational areas in 2004-2005.

Changes to the temperature and humidification control strategies improved the humidity control in the gallery areas and may 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.

Recycling: An ongoing review of the Museum's recycling program has led to an increase in paper, toner cartridge and glass/plastic bottles recycling in the administration areas. Recycling bins will be progressively installed in the restaurant/ café areas.

All cleaning chemicals used by the Museum's cleaning contractors meet 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'.

The mechanisms (if any) for reviewing and increasing the effectiveness of those measures The Museum's Environmental Management System (EMS) is currently in its final stage of development. It is expected to be implemented early in 2004-2005 and has been developed to meet or exceed the requirements of ISO 14001. The EMS 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 and Mitchell sites, as well as guidelines on community and staff education. A review mechanism will be an integral part of the EMS.

Disability strategies

The National 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 12.

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 2003-2004 was $1,493,720 and comprised:

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

A detailed list is shown in Appendix 13.

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