Go to top of page

Our Performance


AIATSIS Portfolio Budget Statement

The AIATSIS Portfolio Budget Statement 2018–19 (the PBS) sets out how we intend to expend our annual appropriation.

Approximately $20 million is appropriated by AIATSIS to support its functions as it pursues the strategic goals set out in the AIATSIS Corporate Plan 2018–19 to 2021–22 and works to deliver the outcome expressed in the PBS.

The PBS sets this single outcome for AIATSIS:

Further understanding of Australian Indigenous cultures, past and present, through undertaking and publishing research, and providing access to print and audiovisual collections.

AIATSIS Corporate Plan

The AIATSIS Corporate Plan 2018–19 to 2021–22 sets out how AIATSIS intends to achieve its vision and fulfil its mission as outlined on page 4.

The plan outlines the operating environment and key challenges and identifies five strategic priorities, with key outcomes; planned actions (strategies); and performance criteria, measures and targets.

These strategic priorities are:

  1. Build and preserve a national collection and make it accessible
  2. Promote better understanding of Indigenous peoples, cultures and heritage
  3. Lead and influence on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research, ethics and protocols, and collections
  4. Partner and collaborate with our communities, partners and governments
  5. Advise on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and heritage.

Summary analysis of 2018–19 performance

In 2018–19, AIATSIS made progress across all of its strategic priorities. Achievement against performance targets for building and preserving the collection was mixed, though gains were often made even where specific targets were not met. Growth of the collection is being managed more strategically and the proportion of the collection that has been digitised continues to grow, as does the proportion of the collection that is discoverable online. Academic, community and general interest in the collection also grew, and all targets for promoting a better understanding of Indigenous peoples and culture were met or exceeded. Effective leverage of the profile and opportunities of the International Year of Indigenous Languages and improvements to management of the website and social media contributed to these outcomes.

AIATSIS has achieved good awareness and uptake of its research and ethics guidelines and protocols over recent years, which is reflected in these results. AIATSIS is now reviewing and updating its central guidance to ensure it remains a leader, driving the development of best practice. Partnerships have seen substantial growth in 2018–19, reflecting AIATSIS’ outward focus, alongside the availability of new resources for a number of significant collaborative projects. AIATSIS has continued to provide advice to governments on policy issues arising, while laying the foundation and establishing the research and reporting infrastructure required to take a more comprehensive role in advising on the state of Indigenous culture and heritage in future years.

In 2018–19 AIATSIS undertook a ground-up review of its key performance indicators and measures, to ensure that they remain relevant and appropriate to its goals and activities. The new indicators and measures will be reflected in the Corporate Plan 2019–20 to 2022–23 and the 2019–20 Annual Report.

Important factors affecting AIATSIS’ performance in 2018–19 include:

  • Substantial new opportunities

Funding agreements were entered into during 2018–19 for several large-scale projects— chiefly the Indigenous Research Exchange ($10 million over three years), Dictionaries Project ($2 million over two years) and Native Title Research Unit ($4,075 million over three years)These projects all progress AIATSIS’ mission and goals, but also require significant planning, preparation and adjustment of the business in a relatively small agency.

  • Increased pressure for preservation and access

While AIATSIS is making good progress in many areas, pressure still grows to achieve preservation of the most fragile and vulnerable materials within the collection. At the same time, there is an increased expectation of digital delivery of, discoverability of and access to the AIATSIS Collection.

  • A changing environment for ethical practice in collections and research

Expectations for the ethical management of cultural material and information are shifting. The ethical implications of the collection, management and use of data are an area of ongoing development, and communities and individuals increasingly demand control and management of their own data and information.

  • Technological change

AIATSIS is responding to opportunities and threats presented by evolving technologies and technical capabilities.

  • Appetite for information on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, traditions, history and cultural heritage

There is an ever-growing demand in Australia and internationally for authoritative content for learning and teaching—both in schools and for the general public—including calls for a national cultural centre.

  • Increased resurgence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and society

There is growing demand from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for control and management of their own materials held within cultural collections. Collection management and research is expected to occur in partnership, with shared priority-setting, design and decision-making.

  • Indigenous affairs arrangements

During 2018–19, arrangements were being made to transition the Indigenous Affairs Group of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet into an executive agency, the National Indigenous Australians Agency, while it remains within the Prime Minister’s portfolio.

  • Demand for efficiency

Resource constraints across government are aimed at focusing agencies on providing outcomes at costs that meet community expectations.

AIATSIS’ primary change initiatives in 2018–19 which influenced organisational direction and capacity were:

  • development and launch of a new Strategic Plan 2018–2023, which sets out afresh the vision, mission and strategies for AIATSIS to shape Australia’s identity and narrative through the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • planning and preparation of the skills, capabilities and resources needed to deliver on the substantial new projects that were funded for, or during, the year
  • progress on changes to AIATSIS’ shared services arrangements (underway)
  • signing of a new Enterprise Agreement, providing clarity and certainty for AIATSIS staff and management.

The following sections set out more detail about the activities and actions undertaken against each strategic priority in 2018–19, and the results achieved relative to AIATSIS’ indicators and targets.