Go to top of page


Main governance practices

The PGPA Act and the AMSA Act are the foundation of AMSA’s governance practices.

Accountable Authority

Under the PGPA Act, the AMSA Board is the agency’s Accountable Authority. The Board discharges its governance obligations through its involvement in AMSA’s planning, performance reporting and risk management activities.

The Board provides clear direction on the operational application of relevant legislation by issuing Accountable Authority Instructions which must be followed by all AMSA staff.

More information on the Board, its committees and meetings can be found below and on our website.


Governance arrangements must be fit for purpose. The AMSA Board determines the precise nature of our governance arrangements and structures, including monitoring and reporting compliance.

AMSA has integrated planning, budgeting and performance reporting—informed by risk
(Figure 7: Integrated planning, budgeting and performance reporting).

Figure 7: Integrated planning, budgeting and performance reporting Illustration demonstrates the links between AMSA's key planning, budgeting and reporting arrangements.


There is a four-phase annual planning cycle at AMSA (Figure 8: Planning cycle). During phase one, strategic analysis, the operating environment is assessed using a structured ‘STEEPLED’ approach, which looks at social, technological, economic, environment, political, legal, ethical, and demographic factors.

This helps to identify new, or validate current strategic challenges, strategic risks and goals; and informs phases two to four, in which specific responses, resourcing, and performance measures are determined.

Planning culminates in the annual publication of AMSA’s:

  • Budget/Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS), which set out resourcing arrangements and performance measures over the forward estimates (four years).
  • Corporate plan, inclusive of the ‘plan on a page’ and non-financial performance measures for the same four year period.

The AMSA Board oversees this process, and is directly involved at key junctures.

Figure 8: Planning cycle Illustration shows the AMSA integrated planning cycle which begins in high level planning in January-March, detailed planning taking place in April to June; Strategic analysis being undertaken from July to September, strategic choices being made between October and December.

Board and Committees

As the Accountable Authority, the Board’s duties are to:

  • govern AMSA in a way that:
    • promotes the proper use and management of public resources for which AMSA is responsible
    • promotes the achievement of AMSA’s purpose
    • promotes AMSA’s financial stability
  • establish and maintain systems relating to risk and control including for preventing, detecting and dealing with fraud
  • encourage cooperation with others to achieve common objectives
  • keep the relevant minister informed.

The Board continues to:

  • provide significant strategic oversight of AMSA’s business by determining the overall manner in which various functions should be performed including through:
    • strategy setting and approval
    • embedding effective risk management
    • communication and stakeholder relationships
    • reviewing and evaluating the performance of the Chief Executive Officer and senior management
  • take responsibility for AMSA’s resources with the financial oversight of AMSA’s budget and financial outlook, its financial statements and reporting, compliance, and approving major expenditure
  • execute good governance by ensuring compliance with the PGPA Act, the PGPA Rule, the AMSA Act, and operational legislation with corporate governance implications, while promoting careful, diligent, transparent and ethical conduct throughout the organisation.

The Chair and Board members are appointed by the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. Current Board members have been appointed with experience relevant to the maritime industry, financial management and government institutions. As required by the AMSA Act, at least one member must have knowledge of, or experience relevant to, the construction or operation of domestic commercial vessels.

All members work on a part-time basis, with the exception of the Chief Executive Officer.

In addition to formal Board meetings, Board members participate in presentations, risk workshops and site visits, and this year the Board again highlighted the importance of industry engagement with the opening of a Coffs Harbour office which involved stakeholders from both international shipping and domestic commercial vessel communities. The year has broadened the Board’s knowledge of the maritime industry particularly in relation to domestic commercial vessels and strengthened directors’ roles and Board practices. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Board has postponed their relevant stakeholder engagements scheduled for Port Lincoln, South Australia, Brisbane, Queensland and meeting with the Maritime New Zealand Board to share Trans-Tasman information relevant to the maritime industry. These have been placed on the 2021 Board program.

The Board undertook two independent reviews looking at:

  • AMSA’s culture, governance, and accountability with the objective to review the behaviours and frameworks which establish AMSA’s culture, governance and accountability against the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) Prudential Inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the findings of the Royal Commission into the Financial Services Industry. The Review found AMSA has very well established and robust governance and accountability processes and practices in place which should support:
    • alignment with industry and public expectations
    • a culture which promotes positive behaviours across the organisation as it delivers on its mission.
  • AMSA’s Board and Board Audit Committee with the objective to review the collective effectiveness of the Board and Board Audit Committee; and assess whether there is the right mix of skills, capabilities and experience to deliver the right outcomes and effectively discharge responsibilities. The review found AMSA has a competent Board and Board Audit Committee in place to:
    • appropriately discharge their duties as per their respective charters and relevant legislation
    • lead a culture which promotes open and collaborative behaviours as the drivers to successfully deliver on AMSA’s mission
    • in response to the review, and in recognition of the Committee’s broad role, the committee was re-named the Board, Audit, Risk and Finance Committee with effect from August 2020.

Appendix 2: Details of Accountable Authority during the reporting period lists Board members, their qualifications and experience, and attendance at Board meetings.

Board Audit Committee

The Board has established an audit committee in compliance with section 45 of the PGPA Act and section 17 of the PGPA Rule 2014. The Board Audit Committee assists the Board to fulfil its responsibilities under the AMSA Act and the PGPA Act. The functions of the Board Audit Committee include reviewing the appropriateness of AMSA’s financial reporting, performance reporting, system of risk oversight and management, and the system of internal control. A copy of the Board Audit Committee Charter can be found on the AMSA website

The committee provides independent advice to the AMSA Board and is independent from management.

The present committee comprises of three people, the deputy Chair of the AMSA Board and two external members. All members have the appropriate qualifications, knowledge, skills and experience to assist the committee to perform its functions. The Chair and members are appointed by the Board. The Australian National Audit Office and AMSA’s internal auditors have been represented at all committee meetings and other Board members have attended committee meetings during the year as observers.

The Board Audit Committee conducted five meetings and one out-of-session video conference in 2019–20 and reported directly to the Board after each.

Appendix 2: Details of Accountable Authority during the reporting period lists Board Audit Committee members, their qualifications and experience, and attendance at Board Audit Committee meetings.

Remuneration Committee

The Remuneration Committee assists the Board in considering senior executive remuneration matters and issues arising from the Remuneration Tribunal. The committee reports its findings and recommendations to the Board.

The Remuneration Committee conducted two meetings in 2019–20.

Risk management

AMSA has a well-established and mature risk management culture. Risk management is central to our purpose.

Our risk management policy, framework and guidelines are aligned with better practice methodologies and are consistent with the international standard of risk management (ISO 31000: 2018) and the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy 2014. Further, we revalidate our risk management practices yearly to ensure they support our obligations under the PGPA Act.

Our risk management program helps us to proactively manage our risks, reduce our exposure to financial and reputational harm, and optimise resource use.

Enterprise risk is a standing agenda item for our Board and Board Audit Committee. Additionally, during the year management conducted two formal reviews of AMSA’s enterprise risks; maintained the currency of division risk registers; and conducted several operational and project risk assessments in support of AMSA’s business.

AMSA’s enterprise risks can be found in the current corporate plan on our website

Fraud control

In September 2019, following from our Fraud Risk Assessment, AMSA updated our Fraud and Anti-Corruption Control Plan. The Plan satisfies the requirements of section 10 of the PGPA Rule (2014) and the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework (2017).
We participated in the annual fraud survey conducted by the Attorney-General’s Department, which reports fraud data to the Australian Institute of Criminology.

  • There were no cases of fraud detected in AMSA during the reporting period
  • There were no allegations of fraud reported to AMSA independent confidential reporting hotline
  • AMSA has a policy of reporting all attempted bribes of any AMSA official to the Australian Federal Police or state police. During 2019–20 several attempts were made and reported according to our procedures.

All new AMSA employees are provided with fraud awareness training during their induction. Regular staff communications were provide on a range of ethical topics including: disclosing material interest, fraud control reporting processes, gifts and benefits and official hospitality.

Indemnities and insurance premiums

Insurance cover is provided to Board members and other officers in line with the PGPA Act. AMSA is required by the Australian Government to use Comcover for insurance coverage. Comcover’s relevant insurance policy covers legal liability (including legal costs) for Board members and employees (directors and officers liability). Staff are indemnified from liability when acting in good faith (without recklessness or gross negligence) while employed by AMSA. AMSA’s premium for Professional Indemnity was $126,377 and for Directors’ and Officer’s Liability was $35,151.

Performance reporting

AMSA’s non-financial performance measures are detailed in both the Portfolio Budget Statements and the corporate plan. They include several measures that meet the agency’s performance reporting obligations under the Regulator Performance Framework (see regulatory performance, page 30).

AMSA produces quarterly internal reports on its non-financial performance. These reports provide the Accountable Authority with assurance of progress towards our targets, and support the development of the annual performance statements. Each quarterly non-financial performance report is presented at the Board Audit Committee meeting following the end of the respective quarter.

Financial performance is reported separately through monthly internal finance reports to management, and to every Board meeting. AMSA’s performance reporting culminates in the publication of the annual report—inclusive of the financial statements and annual performance statements—and the Regulator Performance Framework self-assessment report which is available from amsa.gov.au/about-us/corporate-publications.

Several other mechanisms assist the Board and management to monitor performance in a wider context:

  • the Board Audit Committee annual rolling work program requires management to regularly provide evidence of performance against the mandatory elements of the PGPA Act and other relevant legislation
  • AMSA’s internal audit program, informed by risk and directed by the Board Audit Committee, has audits focused on compliance, and on our performance delivering operational outputs and outcomes
  • AMSA’s management system audit program, a crucial part of maintaining ISO certification, monitors performance against the requirements of the relevant standards captured in the documented management system.

Related entity transactions

During the reporting period there were no reportable related entity transactions.

Public interest disclosure

Under section 76 of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act), the Commonwealth Ombudsman is required to prepare a report to Parliament each year on the operation of the PID Act. AMSA contributes to this report by completing the Ombudsman’s annual PID survey. AMSA received one PID Act disclosure in the reporting period.

Disability report

AMSA is committed to ensuring that policies and procedures comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth). Employees are encouraged to voluntarily disclose information about their disability status. When a disclosure is made, reasonable adjustments are made to the workplace as required. Various initiatives outlined in the AMSA Diversity and Inclusion Plan 2019–2022 are being implemented to reduce barriers to workplace participation. One initiative is ensuring e-learning and web-based employee information is accessible to those with disabilities.

Advertising and market research

Section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 requires certain reporting on advertising and market research by Commonwealth agencies, including those covered by the PGPA Act. In 2019–20, the following advertising or market research payments were made:

Advertising and market research payments made in 2019-20




Media advertising organisations

Universal McCann

Non-campaign advertising — YM Efficiency community consultation


Universal McCann

Non-campaign advertising - Eddystone Point and Cape Leeuwin lighthouse heritage management plans public consultation


Market research

Colmar Brunton

2019 stakeholder survey


Queensland University of Technology

Research to better understand domestic commercial vessel industries


Statement of significant non-compliance issues

AMSA management acknowledges their responsibility for ensuring compliance with the provisions of the PGPA Act and requirements related to finance law.
The Authority has complied with the provisions and requirements of the:

  • Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013
  • Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014
  • Appropriation Acts
  • any other instrument defined as finance law including relevant ministerial directions.

There were no significant non-compliance issues with finance law during the reporting period.
Where immaterial non-compliances were identified they were managed in accordance with AMSA’s policies and procedures, including analysis to detect and rectify any breakdowns of internal controls.

Judicial decisions and reviews by outside bodies

Reports (Auditor-General, Parliament, Ombudsman)

AMSA was not subject to any audits by the Auditor-General in the 2019–20 financial year. A number of recommendations from the 2018–19 performance audit on the Application of Cost Recovery Principles (tabled on 14 May 2019) are being implemented. Details of these recommendations and actions are at Appendix 5: Implementation of findings from the ANAO audit: Application of Cost Recovery Principles.

In 2019–20 the Commonwealth Ombudsman commenced investigation of a complaint relating to the duration of a certificate issued by AMSA, but subsequently notified AMSA that no further investigation was warranted.

The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee published the report: Performance of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority on 17 June 2020. AMSA made submissions to the inquiry and attended public hearings during 2019–20. During the course of the inquiry, AMSA pursued a range of reforms to improve the safety of passengers on vessel charters.

The final report contains four recommendations, at the time of publication AMSA is working with our Department to support the Government’s response to the Committee’s report.

Judicial decisions/decisions of administrative bodies

In 2019–20 AMSA was party to matters before the Federal Court of Australia, the Supreme Court of Western Australia, and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. These matters have not resulted in findings that have had a significant effect on operations.

Coronial inquests

Coroners ensure that all sudden, unexpected or unexplained deaths, and suspected deaths are properly investigated. The cornerstone of coronial inquiry is to provide a thorough and impartial service to the community when investigating the circumstances in which people die. Coroners make recommendations that may prevent deaths and non-fatal injuries.

AMSA may be a party to the coronial hearing in its capacity as the regulator for the domestic commercial vessel sector. The coroner may hand down recommendations which deal with AMSA’s administration of maritime safety regulations, and findings may be attributed directly to AMSA. AMSA participated in one coronial inquest which delivered findings in 2019–20 (see table below).

AMSA is committed to increased transparency in our response to coroner’s findings. We have established a process for tracking the implementation of findings, which is monitored by the Executive. This is the first time that AMSA has reported our response to coronial findings publicly. Appendix 6: Coronial inquiries 2015-16 to 2018-19 shows the numbers of coronial inquiries that involved AMSA in each year from 2014–15 to 2018–19.

AMSA's response to coronial recommendations handed down in 2019-20


Loss of life arising from capsize of two fishing vessels — causes of loss — recommendations as to safety improvements in fishing industry

Joint Inquest into the presumed deaths of David Barry Chivers and Matthew Neil Roberts from the FV Cassandra and Adam Jeffrey Bidner and Zachary John Feeney and Christopher David Sammut and Eli Davey Tonks from the FV Dianne and the deaths of Adam Ross Hoffman and Benjamin Patrick Leahy from FV Dianne.





Date of findings

29 August 2019

Recommendations for AMSA


Status as at 30 June 2020

That the industry be encouraged to place an emergency Grab Bag of necessary basic equipment to assist crew to exist a capsized vessel, and that Grab Bags be located in the sleeping cabin and near the helm.

AMSA will prepare and distribute a DCV Bulletin to make operators aware of the incident and the Coronial recommendations and will, among other things, encourage operators to consider adopting the use of grab-bags on their vessels.

This bulletin will also cover a number of other recommendations. AMSA will also prepare and publish a Working Boats article to raise awareness of the incident, the recommendations, and what operators can do.

In progress

The safety alert promoting the recommendations has been finalised and will be released soon.

A Working Boats article is planned to be published following the safety alert.

That self-illuminating LED strip-lighting and emergency exit signs be encouraged to be installed in existing vessels within two years, and after two years the authorities consider it being mandated in all commercial fishing vessels

AMSA will encourage operators of new and existing vessels to install self-illuminating LED strip-lighting and Emergency Exit signs, through the above Bulletin and Working Boats article (in addition to other information and education channels such as workshops with industry). There are a number of low cost options available to industry.

AMSA will also undertake a review of standards relating to these matters and will seek feedback from industry on the proposal to mandate the installation of self-illuminating LED strip-lighting and emergency exit signs (including on existing vessels). This includes NSCV Part C1.

In progress

The safety alert promoting the recommendations has been finalised and will be released soon.

A Working Boats article is planned to be published following the safety alert.

The review of the relevant standards is underway.

That industry be encouraged to secure, by restraining straps or being bolted down, all bulky items in a wheelhouse to ensure those items cannot move in a capsizing event.

The specific DCV Bulletin (as above) will include recommendation that operators secure, by straps or bolts, all bulky items in the wheelhouse to ensure that they cannot move.

AMSA will also provide communication to accredited marine surveyors to encourage operators to secure bulky items.

AMSA inspectors will also focus on the issue of securing bulky items during compliance inspections.

In progress

The safety alert promoting the recommendations has been finalised and will be released soon.

A Working Boats article is planned to be published following the safety alert.

That fishermen be encouraged to wear an inflatable style personal flotation device vest whilst working on the decks of a vessel or whilst at the helm and that those personal flotation devices have a personal locator beacon.

AMSA will encourage the wearing of suitable personal flotation devices. This will be through industry forums, workshops and also the DCV Bulletin and Working Boats.

AMSA will also give consideration to, and will consult with industry and other key stakeholders, on operations or circumstances were wearing of a lifejacket should be mandated (noting that the design and technical features of personal flotation devices have become less bulky and smaller, which address some barriers).

The draft new regulatory plan for domestic commercial vessels includes consideration of mandating the wearing of personal flotation devices for high risk activities.

Operations has run a trial on wearing various types of personal flotation devices and will draft a paper for Executive consideration.

AMSA has already made changes to the standards which will enhance communication in emergency situations through mandating float-free EPIRBs on most fishing vessels.

In progress

The safety alert promoting the recommendations has been finalised and will be released soon.

A Working Boats article is planned to be published following the safety alert.

Previous Working Boats articles have encouraged the wearing of life jackets.

AMSA is considering, based on risk, how best to mandate the wearing of lifejackets on domestic commercial vessels for certain operations.

That regulatory authorities and industry investigate appropriate, workable, solutions to ensure doors on vessels are able to be opened against water pressure, whilst ensuring doors still retain their designed purposes

AMSA will shortly be reviewing standards with respect to weather tight and watertight integrity (NSCV Part C2) and will consider this issue as a part of this review.

AMSA is not aware of any technical solution which would give effect to this recommendation without jeopardising the integrity of the vessel. This issue will be further examined during the review of NSCV Part C2, and AMSA will determine if there is a safe technical solution available.

That regulatory authorities and industry review the use of quad gear in the Sandy Straits area for trawling

AMSA supports such a review being undertaken by Queensland Fisheries.

AMSA is ready and willing to assist QLD Fisheries to advance this work.

In progress

AMSA met with Queensland Fisheries in April 2020 to discuss this issue. They advised that a review into quad gear is outside the scope of fisheries legislation.

Queensland Fisheries are providing a list of fishers who use quad gear in the Sandy Straits and AMSA will engage with those operators.

That regulatory authorities and industry investigate and proceed towards ensuring all vessels have in their safety management system (SMS) a copy of the original plans of the vessel, details of all modifications which had been carried out, and any stability test documentation, and that a duplicate copy of these documents be kept by the vessel owner in a secure place on land, and a copy also retained by regulatory authorities. Regulatory Authorities may also consider making mandatory at the time of sale, a report on the stability test report for vessels then without a current stability test report (if the vessel was changed from its original configuration when launched)

AMSA will encourage operators to have a copy of their safety management system on shore (via publications and workshops).

AMSA is considering whether a regulatory amendment to Marine Order 504 is necessary.

On the recommendation relating to original plans, details of modifications and stability test documentation being kept with the safety management system, AMSA will investigate the feasibility of implementing this recommendation. A significant challenge will exist for older vessels where original documentation may no longer be available.

AMSA agrees that stability documentation needs to be addressed. This also includes consideration of various ‘triggers’ that would require an owner to undertake a stability assessment.

In progress

These actions are being considered in the context of AMSA’s regulatory plan.

The SMS should also include safe methods for retrieving a snagged net from a hook-up by use of a snatch block or leaving the net for later retrieval

AMSA agrees with the recommendation and AMSA has taken steps to action this recommendation.

AMSA is of the view that an SMS for a class 3 operation should identify the risk of a hook-up and include procedures and training for this type of event. To promote this AMSA has:

  highlighted the risks and the need to address through guidance in various publications

  run SMS workshops where hook-ups have been specifically emphasised to fishing vessel operators

  provided information on our website

  developed a short video aimed at the fishing sector to highlight the risk of hook-ups and action that can be taken.

AMSA developed a suite of specific guidance material including a short guidance booklet and stickers outlining the basic principles and steps needed to get out of a hook-up situation which have been distributed through regional offices and through meetings held with trawl specific industry bodies. Risks associated with snagged trawl nets were highlighted and discussed at relevant 2019 SMS workshops along with distribution of the guidance material.

Ministerial decisions, and government policy orders

Under section 8 of the AMSA Act, the Minister may give AMSA written direction with respect to the performance of our functions. The Minister did not issue any directions during 2019–20.

The Minister did not issue any notices about AMSA’s strategic direction under section 9A of the AMSA Act, or any directions to give documents and information under section 9B.

The Finance Minister did not issue any government policy orders under section 22 of the PGPA Act during 2019–20.

Work health safety and environment

Work health, safety and environment management is an important component of compliance and workplace health, and is central to AMSA’s commitment to the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. These principles are maintained through the national and international accreditations AMSA holds, which represent its commitment to a healthy, safe and environmentally-responsible approach in all of actions, policies and procedures.

Day-to-day health and safety issues are addressed by managers with assistance and advice (if required) from AMSA’s Health Safety and Environmental Committee, which comprises 18 health and safety representatives, four management representatives and four technical advisers. The committee met three times in 2019–20.

Figure 11: Time lost to injury






Size of workforce






Total incidents






Total incident (AMSA employees)






Total days lost to injury






Number of lost time incidents






Number of workers compensation claims






Number of notified Comcare incidents






Figure 12: Number of lost time injuries The graph illustrates the number of lost time injuries over the reporting period. There were three injuries in the period - one in August 2019, one in November 2019 and one in May 2020.

AMSA is also focused on preventing work health and safety incidents occurring, understanding the importance of preventative measures and applying timely and appropriate corrective actions when incidents or hazards do arise. During 2019–20, 40 incidents were reported—21 of which did not require any medical or first aid treatment. A total of 14 incidents related to contractors engaged by AMSA.

Workers compensation premium

AMSA’s workers’ compensation premium has decreased from $184,987 in 2018–19 to $182,798 in 2019–20. The premium rate of 0.34 per cent was lower than the overall scheme premium rate of 0.85 per cent. This is evidence of AMSA’s strong performance in comparison to other agencies with respect to workers compensation.

The overall payment for 2019–20 of $222,902 includes the annual premium plus a penalty payment of $40,104 being an adjustment of the 2018–2019 premium estimate. The main driver for this adjustment relates to a revised assessment of costs against a psychological injury claim from 2015–2016.

Health and wellbeing initiatives

In 2019–20, staff were encouraged to develop and maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle through AMSA’s Healthy Choices Program 2019–22. This program includes:

  • $300 financial reimbursement that can be put towards the cost of a fitness program or facility
  • Free access to the Smiling Mind Mindfulness and Meditation app
  • Discounted memberships at F45 Training studios
  • Virgin Pulse Global Step Challenge which had 196 employees participating over 100 days
  • Flu Vaccination program: which provided free H1N1 influenza and seasonal influenza vaccinations. This program was taken up by 176 employees in 2019–20
  • National skin cancer checks for staff provided on-site or through reimbursement/referral.

Environmental performance

AMSA actively promotes the requirements of an internationally-recognised Environmental Management System (ISO 14001). Part of this process involves reviewing activities annually to identify any potential risks those activities may pose to the environment. In order to identify and evaluate environmental impacts of AMSA’s activities, we also evaluate the requirements of relevant environmental legislation, including the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

AMSA’s head office was reaccredited with a 4.5 NABERS rating. NABERS is a national rating system that measures the environmental performance of Australian buildings. More information on the NABERS rating system can be found here. AMSA’s head office is also fitted with a range of environmentally sound equipment and systems, including:

  • live energy reporting through the building management system
  • sensor lighting controls which detect levels of natural light and automatically adjust electric lighting
  • coffee cup, can and battery disposal cans and separation stations
  • multifunction devices which replace the need for separate printers and photocopiers
  • water-saving bathroom devices; and
  • energy-efficient appliances.

Data continues to be collected from a range of sources to help monitor the impact our activities may be having on the environment. This includes our consumption of electricity, and carbon emissions from flying and our fleet vehicles.