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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 2006–07 included:

  • financial compliance
  • cost recovery
  • Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 certificate of compliance

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.

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

Risk management and fraud control

To enable efficient and effective program delivery, and to promote sound business practices, the government requires that all Commonwealth agencies have risk management plans in place.

The Museum's formal risk management framework was developed in accordance with the Australian Standard AS4360: Risk Management, and has been in place for a number of years. This framework assists all managers in the efficient and effective delivery of the Museum's programs, and in the promotion of good business practices.

The Museum is committed to fostering a culture of risk management throughout the organisation through its risk management framework which comprises:

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

This framework is made available to all staff via a dedicated section of the intranet and is continuously reviewed and improved by the Risk Management unit. This ensures that risk management continues to meet changing requirements within the Museum, and further simplifies the task for all business units to incorporate formal risk management processes into their work.

The Strategic Risk Management plan was reviewed by the Council's Audit and Finance Committee twice during the year. All divisional and business unit risk management plans were reviewed during 2006 as part of the annual review process.

An introduction to risk management principles was included in the training sessions provided to new employees and visitor services host teams.

The Museum continued to participate in Comcover's Annual Risk Management and Insurance Benchmarking program (see Indemnities and Insurance). The Museum also continued to participate in Comcover's Risk Profiling exercise aimed at assisting Comcover to gain a better understanding of risk exposures of all member agencies.

In recognition of its risk management framework and processes, the Museum's Risk Management unit has been asked by Comcover to undertake a mentoring role for other agencies.

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 2006–07. Fraud awareness training is provided to staff as part of the Museum's induction training program.

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 10. There was one formal request for access to documents under section 15 of the Act during 2006–07.

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 2006–07.

Formal decisions/notifications/ministerial directions

The Museum received no formal notifications or ministerial directions from the Minister apart from Council appointment notifications, and one ministerial direction from the Finance Minister, requiring the Museum to produce a compliance report, during 2006–07.

Ministerial direction from previous financial years that continued to apply in 2006–07 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.

During 2006–07 the National Museum of Australia fully met the requirements of the National Code of Practice for the Construction Industry and the Australian Government Implementation Guidelines for all significant works but did not fully comply for minor works.

The area of non-compliance was that the National Museum of Australia did not advise contractors for minor works of the need to comply with the Code and Guidelines. Changes have been made to ensure compliance for all construction-related expenditure for 2007–08.

The National Museum of Australia fully complied with other general policies of Government that had been notified under Section 28 and 47 of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997.

Significant events

There were no significant events advised to the Minister by the Museum during 2006–07 in accordance with the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997.

Legal actions

In 2006–07 the Museum settled one claim relating to injuries sustained on Museum premises. The claim was met by the Museum's insurer, Comcover.

As at 30 June 2007, there was one outstanding injury-related claim 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.

Occupational health and safety

The Museum continued to manage occupational health and safety (OH&S) for all staff, volunteers and visitors during 2006–07 through its well-established OH&S management framework. This included:

  • an OH&S committee
  • 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 Museum's OH&S Committee met four times during the year. The committee is chaired by the General Manager, Operations division, and comprises the Safety and Risk Manager, health and safety and management representatives from each designated working group, as well as representatives from the Employee Relations and People Development and the Facilities sections of the Museum.

The Museum recognises that training is an integral part of achieving and maintaining a high standard of workplace safety. Training provided during 2006–07 included:

  • OH&S and risk management induction presentations for new employees as part of the Museum's orientation program
  • OH&S induction presentations for visitor services host teams to increase their awareness of their rights and obligations
  • OH&S training for collections management staff
  • where required, training to gain licences for forklift and order picker operation
  • customised manual handling training sessions for Museum staff and PS Enterprise volunteers.

As the Museum makes extensive use of contractors, efforts continue to be made to ensure that all contractors working on Museum sites receive a site induction prior to commencing work.

The Museum continued its proactive approach of identifying, assessing and rectifying safety hazards in a functional and practical way that also took into consideration environmental aspects. Some of the key improvements made during this year include:

  • floor line marking of emergency exits and passageways in the warehouse at Gladstone Street, Fyshwick
  • installation of perspex shields on some sliding doors to minimise the risk of injury to children from the opening doors
  • modification of steel kick bars in the Hall to reduce potential trip hazards.

Other important achievements in the area of OH&S included:

  • ongoing recruitment and training of wardens, first aid officers, and health and safety representatives to replace staff that have left those positions
  • flu vaccines being made available to all staff and volunteers, to assist staff and volunteers to maintain their health and provide productivity through a reduced requirement for sick leave
  • health awareness promotion through an all staff morning tea during which information was provided on diabetes, heart health and the quit smoking program
  • as required bi-annually, medical screening for staff members who work with potentially hazardous substances.

Staff, visitors or contractors reported a total of 63 injuries during the year. There were four 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.

Causes of injury or dangerous occurrences

Comparative graph indicating causes of injury or dangerous occurences in 2005-06 and 2006-07.
Category and number of reported incidents

Category of person
injured or involved
in dangerous occurrences

Left: Graph indicating category and number of reported incidents. Right: Pie chart indicating category of person injured or involved in dangerous occurrences.

Indemnities and insurance

In accordance with section 16 of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act (Report of Operations) Orders 2005, which requires reporting on indemnities and insurance premium and run on, the Museum confirms that it has directors' and officers' liability insurance cover for Council members, the Director and General Managers. The premium for 2006–07 was $5796.06.

The Museum had a claim on its property insurance because of the extensive building damage resulting from the ceiling collapse and flooding in December 2006. The Museum is currently working with the insurers to complete repairs.

The Museum reviewed its insurance coverage, as part of its annual insurance renewal process, to ensure that it remained appropriate for its activities. The Comcover Risk Management Benchmarking program recognised the positive impact of the Museum's risk management strategies and activities by awarding the Museum a 7 per cent discount on its 2006–07 insurance premium.

A focus on client service

The Museum's Client Service Charter (see Appendix 11) is available to the public as a brochure and on the Museum's website.

During the year, the Museum received more than 427 written comments from visitors regarding services, programs, exhibitions, the building and facilities. The written comments were received via 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 and amenities were made as a result of visitors' comments, including:

  • entry signage referring to cloaking requirements being placed at the entrance to the Hall and the galleries
  • improvements to lift signage
  • an increase in face-to-face interpretive programs
  • installation of appropriate seating at the entrance of the Hall.

Positive references to the service provided by the visitor services hosts were the most common visitor comments recorded through the Charter, accounting for one third of all feedback received in 2006–07.

Awareness of the Client Service Charter was promoted to all new employees through the Orientation Day New Starters program and 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 about the skills required to meet the service-level expectations of clients, was provided twice in 2006–07.

Our friendly front line

Image on left: A group shot of six visitor services hosts standing in the Garden of Australian Dreams. Image on right: Visitor services host with a family in the Garden of Australian Dreams.
Images above: (left) Visitor services hosts (left to right): Mahmood Yazarlou, Sonia Neville, Grace Onang, Kaye Mongan, Lucy Straczek and Harriet Barry; (right) Visitor services host Graeme Beveridge with a family in the Garden of Australian Dreams.

Face-to-face with Museum visitors

For many visitors, the first experience they have of the Museum is a conversation with one of the 45 visitor services hosts. Hosts are the welcoming face of the organisation: greeting visitors, helping them find their way, answering questions about exhibitions and collections, and taking tours.

As a team, the hosts are diversity in action. They range in age from 17 to 70 and their varied cultural backgrounds mean the Museum can offer face-to-face conversations with visitors in Greek, Japanese, Mandarin, Laotian, Thai, Filipino, Spanish, Hindi, Urdu, Dari and Farsi.

The visitor services team also has a broad mix of educational qualifications. Among them are students studying at the undergraduate level, postgraduate level, undertaking Masters degrees and a PhD, as well as former school teachers and current university lecturers.

The professional expertise in the team includes artists and craftspeople from a range of disciplines, as well as people with retail experience, an archaeologist, foreign language translator, a retired army major and a Gallipoli battlefield guide.

Hosts deliver two paid guided tours daily: the Museum Highlights tour and the First Australians tour. They also develop and deliver tours for special exhibitions and events and important visitors. Tours are available in a variety of languages, and are also available for the vision and hearing impaired (through Auslan interpretation). On average, 230 visitors take a guided tour each month.

In 2006–07 a new face-to-face interpretive program began, with hosts conducting free 15-minute discussions on collection highlights and special interests such as the Museum's architecture and landscape, Captain James Cook, the Holden car and Indigenous stone tools. About 2000 visitors participated in a visitor services host talk each month.

Environmental performance

The Museum actively undertook activities aimed at minimising its impact on the environment during 2006–07. While improved energy management continued to be a key focus, other significant activities were designed to minimise the consumption of natural resources. Key activities during 2006–07 included:

  • installation of photoelectric sensors on outdoor lights, an increase in waste recycling, and the use of more organic-based cleaning chemicals
  • an extensive review of the Museum's Environmental Management System, with particular focus on the targets and objectives set out in the Management Plans for water, energy, waste and paper
  • a decision to purchase 8 per cent of the Museum's electricity needs from renewable energy sources
  • design, fabrication and installation of recycling bins in the Hall
  • joining Greenfleet, a non-profit organisation that plants trees in ACT and New South Wales forests to offset the carbon emissions from our fleet vehicles. As part of the Museum's annual fee, Greenfleet will undertake the planting of 17 mixed-species trees per vehicle. These trees will be planted either in the ACT or nearby New South Wales forests. As these trees grow, they will absorb the greenhouse gas emissions that each car produces in one year, storing the carbon in the wood and releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere.

See Appendix 9 for a more detailed list of activities.

The Museum continues to contribute funding and expertise to the Lower Sullivans Creek ecological survey, a nationally significant project aimed at developing a biodiversity management plan for the Lower Sullivans Creek catchment area.

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 12.

Advertising and market research

In accordance with section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the Museum each year reports its expenditure on advertising and market research. The total payment by the Museum to advertising and market research organisations in 2006–07 was $1,627,486 and comprised:

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

A detailed list is shown in Appendix 13.

Joint initiatives

ICOM Australia Museum Partnerships Program

Cultural identity across the Pacific Island nations and less developed parts of Asia is slowly eroding in the face of ongoing migration, urbanisation and the influx of popular western culture. Cultural institutions in the Asia–Pacific are keepers of national stories and custodians of the region's tangible and intangible cultural heritage. As such they play a key role in the maintenance and strengthening of cultural identity in their communities.

Support for these institutions is being provided through a joint initiative of the National Museum of Australia and the International Council of Museums (ICOM) Australian National Committee, known as the ICOM Australia Museum Partnerships Program (IAMPP). The program assists Australian not-for-profit and incorporated cultural organisations to provide skills and resources for formally partnered governance and heritage projects in the Asia–Pacific region.

The IAMPP is supported currently by the National Museum of Australia through two funding streams. The first is by a direct grant and the second through grants attracted by the Museum from AusAID.

In total, $176,000 is funding projects with the Solomon Islands National Museum, Fiji Museum, Vanuatu Cultural Centre and the Pacific Islands Museums Association (although civil unrest in the Solomon Islands and Fiji has delayed some projects).

IAMPP funding source summary table

FY National Museum
of Australia
AusAID Total
2005–06 $50,000 $40,000 $90,000
2006–07 $50,000 $36,000 $86,000
TOTAL $100,000 $76,000 $176,000
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