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Ensuring we are a trusted adviser delivering world-class expertise on the situation and status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and heritage

Performance criteria topics:

Reports and policy briefs

Engagement with government leaders

Performance measures summary:

Deliver 5 reports/policy briefs/ requests for advice and at least 10 engagements with Ministers, decision-makers and policy leaders, advisers and senior public servants.


Corporate Plan 2020–2024, page 18. PBS 2020-21, page 72


1 = fully achieved, very few or no shortcomings.


Reports and policy briefs

This target has been met with an increase of 200% in 12 months from 30 June 2020.

Engagement with government leaders

The target of 10 has been significantly exceeded with 74 substantive engagements with public officials to provide advice. Although in-person meetings, roundtables and other engagements were curtailed this year, AIATSIS continued to engage with key decision-makers in government and the Indigenous community in online forums. AIATSIS appeared as witness in two parliamentary inquiries

Table 5a: AIATSIS reports and policy briefs produced

Performance criterion: AIATSIS reports and policy briefs produced

Performance measure: Number of reports, policy briefs and requests for advice

Target: 5 annually


2019–20 result

2020–21 result

Number of submissions, reports and advice



Outcome: This target has been significantly exceeded. AIATSIS has published 2 national survey reports, made 6 written submissions to government reviews and inquiries and published 4 policy briefs. AIATSIS responds to regular requests for advice from government agencies, including 6 specific roundtables or interdepartmental committee meetings.

Table 5b: Engagement with decision makers and policy leaders


Performance criterion: Engagement with Ministers, decision makers and policy leaders, advisers and senior public servants

Performance measure: Number and type of engagements

Target: 10 engagements annually


2019–20 result

2020-21 result

Engagements with Australian governments, including appearances before parliamentary committees and inquiries


12 REG

62 CEO

Outcome: This target has been significantly exceeded. Although in-person meetings, roundtables and other engagements were curtailed this year, AIATSIS continued to engage with key decision-makers in government and the Indigenous community. AIATSIS appeared as a witness in two parliamentary inquiries.

Case Study 4: Workforce capability during the pandemic

Spotlight on Lara McLellan - Assistant Director, International Engagement Strategy and Operations

Working during the pandemic taught me the importance of teamwork and how collectively we could achieve great things in spite of the new challenges we faced.

I was isolated from my team at the start of the outbreak and as a result was thrown into a new world of Zoom meetings and learning how to adapt home base to work functions. While the Zoom meetings helped to pull the team together officially, it was the behind the scenes banter on Zoom chat that helped us to feel we were in the office again. My team didn’t work well in front of camera (we were all awkward); however, checking in with each other really helped to break down the isolation.

We soon learned how to support each other through trust. When we each needed it, motivation was a big part of this as there were some challenging times for us in isolation. We had good days and we had bad days – but we were always there for each other.

When needed, we also opened up and shared our journey of working from home, which helped to break the isolation down. We learned that we were still supporting each other to achieve what could be achieved working from home. This helped to reinforce the fact we could still achieve outcomes by learning new skills to adapt to the new workflows. In fact, we could streamline processes and give great thought to improvements in workflow. I still remember the day I was given VPN access and could then access the catalogue from home base for the first time. This was a game changer – we were connected and functioning to upgrade records. This helped to create the meaningful activity that was needed.

When I finally returned to work after four months in isolation, I thought about the true benefits of having a great team. I missed them all and was keen to reconnect with them. I understood that team building was about each one of us working together towards the shared goals, remembering that what was most important was each person. I am proud of what they all achieved.

Case Study 5: Growing our ICT capability

Spotlight on Simon Spencer - Chief Information Officer

I joined AIATSIS in August 2020 after the creation of the Chief Information Officer role, and am excited to be a part of our digital transformation journey. The Digital Services team and I have worked hard to deliver the AIATSIS Digital Strategy 2030, which defines the required modernisation of our data and systems to support our staff and stakeholders and preserve the AIATSIS collection.

To build and preserve a national collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage requires a digital ecosystem enabling greater discovery, rapid innovation via online channels and new ways to extend the reach of AIATSIS across Australia.

The Digital Services team are leading and partnering with internal and external stakeholders to deliver greater digitisation and preservation outcomes through sustainable data storage, effective management of digital collection assets and enhanced online experiences to ensure the AIATSIS collection is discoverable, supports cultural resurgence and benefits all Australians.

Digital Services are working hard to deliver on our plan for the future and enable our staff with contemporary digital tools and capabilities. New ways of working are required and expected and our investment in ICT reflects the needs of our modern workforce.