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Fostering safety awareness, knowledge and action

This section describes the ATSB’s performance against the fostering safety awareness, knowledge and action deliverables set out on page 21 of the ATSB Corporate Plan 2019–20.


To meet its objective of improving transport safety, the ATSB has committed to the following fostering safety awareness, knowledge and action deliverables:

  • The ATSB will proactively influence safety awareness through communication and education activities including:
    - active stakeholder engagement at key industry events across the three modes
    - promoting the ATSB’s SafetyWatch priorities
    - promoting the safety messaging of ATSB investigation reports through the targeted use of its website, email lists, social media channels and supplied content to industry publications and mainstream media
    - facilitating and shaping media coverage of ATSB investigations and safety awareness activities.
  • The ATSB will assist with transport safety in the broader international region, through direct cooperation and the delivery of approved projects and other support activities provided for by program funding agreements, with a publication produced annually detailing the transport safety contribution of these activities.

Industry engagement and events

The ATSB works to build awareness of its functions and enhance its reputation through its communication and stakeholder engagement activities. This is vital to ensuring the industry is receptive to safety messaging and that the ATSB meets its aim of fostering public awareness of transport safety. The ATSB continues its strong record of engagement with industry through:

  • participation in consultative forums with industry and other safety agencies
  • representation at conferences and events
  • bilateral engagement with operators, associations and other stakeholders
  • active involvement in safety education forums.

SeaSafe 2019

Following on from the success of its FlySafe 2019 and RailSafe 2019 safety forums delivered in 2018–19, the ATSB facilitated the delivery of its inaugural maritime safety forum, SeaSafe 2019.

Strategically aligned with another major maritime industry event in order to maximise participation from key stakeholders, the ATSB delivered the SeaSafe 2019 Marine Safety Forum during the Marine Industry Australia Limited’s two-day conference at the Pacific 2019 International Maritime Exposition in Sydney, 9–10 October 2019.

Other industry engagement

The ATSB regularly participates in national and international conferences and industry events where doing so presents an opportunity to share safety messages and engage with relevant stakeholders. In 2019–20, this was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw the majority of planned industry engagements cancelled or postponed until 2020–21.

Due to the pandemic period, the ATSB harnessed video conferencing and other digital technology to continue its engagement with industry at conferences and forums.

In 2019–20, this included participation in the following events:

  • Australian Airports Association National Conference
  • Australia and New Zealand Societies of Air Safety Investigators Conference
  • Australian Aviation Psychology Association Symposium
  • Australian Women Pilots’ Association Annual Conference
  • Civil Security Congress and Exposition
  • International Transportation Safety Association Meeting
  • Regional Aviation Association of Australia National Convention
  • Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board’s Rail Safety Conference
  • Australian Helicopter Industry Association’s RotorTech Conference and Exposition
  • Royal Aeronautical Society’s Lawrence Hargrave Memorial Lecture
  • Safeskies Australia Conference
  • Women in Aviation Career’s Day
  • Women in Aviation/Aerospace Australia Summit.

The ATSB also hosted a number of national and international visitors to its office in Canberra throughout the year, providing an opportunity for representatives from the aviation, marine and rail sectors to meet key staff and tour the technical facilities and media studio.


In 2019–20, the ATSB continued to promote its SafetyWatch initiative. SafetyWatch highlights the broad safety concerns that come from the ATSB’s investigation findings and occurrence data reported by industry.

The ATSB encourages the transport industry to give heightened attention to the following priority areas where more can be done to improve safety:

  • too low on approach
  • fatigue
  • in-flight decision-making
  • safe work on track
  • data input errors
  • non-controlled airspace
  • safety risk of RPAS
  • marine pilotage.

Throughout the year, the ATSB undertook a range of communication activities (website news items, social media and general media) to raise awareness of these issues within the transport industry.

In order to remain contemporary, the ATSB will review its SafetyWatch priority areas and the effectiveness of the initiative during 2020–21.

Social media

The ATSB continued to make effective use of its social media platforms to engage with the transport industry, the media and the travelling public during 2019–20. During the reporting period, the ATSB changed its focus from measuring against the increase of social media followers to measuring the increase in the overall number of engagements with its published content.

Since launching in 2015, the ATSB Facebook page has attracted more than 19,000 followers. This channel has been particularly effective in referring followers to view content published on the ATSB website. In 2019–20, engagement with the ATSB Facebook page increased by 23 per cent, compared to 2018–19.

The ATSB’s Twitter account continues to be a key channel for highlighting the release of reports and investigation updates, particularly to the media. Through this social media platform, the ATSB can provide a short safety message along with a link to more information on its website.

By the end of June 2020, the ATSB’s Twitter followers had increased to around 9,000, including journalists, transport industry specialists and members of the general public. Engagement with this channel increased by nine per cent compared to 2018–19.

The ATSB also utilises the LinkedIn professional networking social media platform, with more than 10,000 followers – a 100 per cent increase in subscribers across the year. Engagement with this channel decreased 17 per cent when compared against 2018–19.

In May 2019, the ATSB launched its Instagram account, which has since attracted more than 1,500 followers. Engagement with this channel cannot be measured due to no previous analytics, however, engagement during 2019–20 has increased, on average, by 23 per cent, quarter on quarter.

In 2019–20, the ATSB increased its engagement with audiences through videos, which were distributed to media and published across all of its social media channels.

The ATSB’s YouTube channel saw a 27 per cent increase in subscribers across the year – the highest percentage increase in six years – and now has almost 1,100. During the reporting period, the ATSB published six videos to support the release of preliminary and final reports across all modes of transport, including:

  • In November 2019, the ATSB published a video to promote the safety messaging of the final investigation report into the loss of containers overboard involving YM Efficiency (MO-2018-008). This video included aerial vision of the vessel provided by the AMSA, a professional voiceover, still images from the accident report and video commentary from the Investigator In Charge.
  • In February 2020, the ATSB published a video to promote the release of the preliminary report into the collision with terrain of a Lockheed C-130 large air tanker during aerial firefighting operations north-east of Cooma, NSW on 23 January 2020, in which three aircrew were fatally injured. The video included drone footage of the accident site, provided by the NSW Police Force, still images from the accident report and video commentary from the ATSB’s Chief Commissioner. The video was distributed through the ATSB’s social media channels and has been viewed more than 6,800 times on YouTube and more than 15,000 times on Facebook.
  • In April 2019, the ATSB published a video to promote the release of the preliminary report into the derailment of XPT ST23, which occurred near Wallan Station, north of Melbourne, Victoria on 20 February 2020. The video, which includes ATSB drone footage, commentary from the Chief Commissioner, and a Google Earth animation of the route taken by the train, has been viewed more than 1,600 times on YouTube and 4,300 times on Facebook.


The ATSB undertakes proactive and responsive media activities in conjunction with media outlets to inform the transport industry and travelling public of its investigations and safety messaging. During the year, the ATSB worked closely with local, state, national and international media to promote community and industry awareness of its transport safety messages.

The ATSB’s proactive media management activities include media conferences, interviews, media statements, pitches to journalists, opinion pieces and the distribution of pre-recorded content.

Throughout the year, the ATSB utilised its in-house media studio facility to produce and distribute 34 pieces of pre-recorded audio and video content for distribution to national radio and TV outlets.

The ATSB also managed responses to 540 media enquiries during 2019–20.

Communication and education

As Australia’s national transport safety investigator, the ATSB is committed to communicating the safety lessons from its investigation findings, research activities and occurrence reports. This information has valuable safety messages which can help improve transport safety and, ultimately, save lives.

In 2019–20, the ATSB continued to highlight emerging safety issues and trends, using a range of communication channels and activities, for the benefit of industry and the travelling public.


The atsb.gov.au website continues to be the ATSB’s principal communication channel. In 2019–20, the ATSB website supported 2,269,177 page views and 852,537 user sessions.

The ATSB continually evolves its website to meet audience needs and allow for new and emerging technologies, and is a central element of the ATSB’s response to the Australian Government’s ‘digital first’ agenda. During 2020–2021, the ATSB will progress towards the introduction of a new website platform.

Online aviation database

The ATSB National Aviation Occurrence Database contains de-identified information on aviation accidents and incidents in a searchable format. The database has been designed to fulfil searches for information involving the most common requests received by the ATSB, including date range, aircraft and operation type, injury level, occurrence category and type, location, and airspace type and class. Users are able to search aviation occurrence statistics from the ATSB website at www.atsb.gov.au.

In 2019–20, the National Aviation Occurrence Database had 6,234 page views.

Stakeholder survey

Safety education is a critical component of the work of the ATSB, as it fosters safety awareness, knowledge and action. To measure the effectiveness of its engagement and communication with stakeholders, the ATSB distributed its annual stakeholder survey via its website and social media channels. The ATSB also asked several aviation, rail and marine transport associations to help broaden the scope of respondents by disseminating a link to the survey to their members.

Over 740 respondents – a 22 per cent increase in respondents on last year – completed the 2020 online survey, which asked stakeholders 10 questions. The questions focused on the respondent’s recollection of ATSB safety products and issues relevant to their industry. The results of this survey continue to help guide the ATSB’s future communications and education activities.

Partnership with the RMIT University

Following an announcement in February 2019, the ATSB’s strategic partnership with RMIT University saw one of Australia’s leading tertiary institutions offer transport safety investigator qualifications. In July 2019, the first cohort of students began their studies for the Graduate Certificate in Transport Safety Investigation, with the course completed in January 2020. Twenty-two ATSB investigators, one OSTI and one CITS investigator also competed the qualification. A broad range of industry‑based personnel also attended.

The partnership provides industry in Australia and throughout the Asia Pacific region with access to high-quality training in transport accident investigation as well as providing a framework to facilitate important transport safety-related research through a credible university-based methodology. The ATSB continues to work with RMIT University on further refinement and collaborative development of the four units for this qualification; the units in the Graduate Diploma are also being designed.

Regional cooperation

The ATSB has a significant program of regional engagement, underpinned by the ATSB’s reputation as a world-leading transport safety investigation agency. This content addresses the deliverable to produce a report on the transport safety contribution of this engagement.

In support of the Australian Government’s transport safety agenda in the Asia Pacific region, the ATSB takes a leading role in the ICAO Asia Pacific Accident Investigation Group and the Marine Accident Investigators Forum in Asia.

The ATSB places a specific emphasis on engagement with Indonesia, through the ongoing involvement in the Australian Government Indonesia Transport Safety Assistance Package (ITSAP), and Papua New Guinea (PNG), consistent with the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Transport Sector.


Under the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade funded ITSAP program, the ATSB continues to help develop capability within the National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC), the Indonesian agency responsible for the investigation of aviation, rail, marine and land transport accidents and incidents.

The three main strands of the ATSB–NTSC program of activities include:

  • provision of NTSC investigator training and professional development
  • guiding and mentoring of NTSC investigators by ATSB investigators
  • development of the NTSC transport recorder capability.

Significant ATSB–NTSC achievements under the ITSAP program include:

  • a significant number of professional development and training opportunities for NTSC investigators undertaken in Australia across all modes
  • increased capability in transport safety fire investigation, with a specific training course delivered to the NTSC and other Indonesian transport safety participants in Jakarta, Indonesia
  • well-developed NTSC capability for the download and analysis of aircraft flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR) ‘black boxes’.

Notably, there is also the ongoing cooperation in the context of the Lion Air B373 MAX investigation, which at the time included the ATSB deploying transport safety investigators to assist with the download of data from the FDR and CVRs. This cooperation continued throughout 2019–20 with the ATSB providing investigation analysis and report writing guidance and mentoring to NTSC investigators.

Papua New Guinea

Under the PNG Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Transport Sector, the ATSB has an ongoing program of cooperation and capability-building with the PNG Accident Investigation Commission (AIC), PNG’s aviation safety investigation agency.

Key elements of the ATSB–AIC program include:

  • mentoring and coaching of AIC investigators
  • training and professional development for AIC investigators
  • technical support for AIC investigations.