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Corporate responsibility

Responsibility to the Australian community

Inherent in its vision and mission, the Bureau has a responsibility to the Australian community to support a safe, prosperous, secure and healthy Australia. The Bureau’s focus is on providing trusted, reliable and responsive weather, water, climate and ocean services that benefit the Australian community and drive competitive advantage for business and industry.

The Bureau is accountable to the Australian Government for fulfilling its legislative mandate with the resources invested in it, but is ultimately answerable to the Australian community. Under the Meteorology Act 1955, the Bureau performs its functions largely in the public interest as well as for sectors such as defence, shipping and aviation, and in support of primary production, industry, trade and commerce.

Throughout 2018–19, the Bureau continued to provide the warnings, forecasts, information and advice on which Australians depend—providing round-the-clock services to support informed decision-making by governments, emergency services, industry and the community. These services are becoming even more important as Australians become increasingly vulnerable to a range of severe weather events, due to changes in population, settlement patterns and the growth of infrastructure.

The Bureau’s services are particularly crucial when conditions are extreme. The organisation has upheld its duty to assist Australians to better manage the impacts of their natural environment, including drought, floods, fires, storms, tsunami and tropical cyclones. The Bureau’s warnings and advice to the emergency services support essential decision-making when people and property are under threat.

In fulfilling its duties, the Bureau remains committed to:

  • providing the best possible information about Australia’s weather, climate, water, oceans and space weather;
  • providing timely information to allow planning and response to impending critical events;
  • presenting information clearly, using plain English and easy-to-understand graphics, and making it accessible to vulnerable communities;
  • meeting increasing user expectations by incorporating relevant advances in science and technology, and enhancing its products and services in line with community needs;
  • identifying any limitations in its products and services, and providing information regarding the source, reliability, completeness and currency of any data supplied; and
  • notifying users of service changes and interruptions at the earliest opportunity.

Bureau outreach is largely undertaken through the seven State and Territory offices (covering the five mainland States, the Northern Territory, and Tasmania and Antarctica). Each office is responsible for the day-to-day delivery of forecast and warning services to their respective communities, working in tandem with State and local governments and emergency service agencies as part of the emergency management and disaster mitigation networks in their respective jurisdiction. In many States, the Bureau has embedded forecasters within emergency management centres to provide personal interaction and quick access to the Bureau’s expertise and specialisation in severe weather, including this year, for the Invictus Games.

State and Territory offices also work closely with the media to ensure that communication with the general public is effective and that warnings are broadcast widely. Staff interact with a broad range of stakeholders and users, and provide a focal point for the delivery of services to local industry and government customers, supporting the Bureau’s sectoral leaders in providing high-quality solutions.

The Bureau’s gold medal performance​

In October, the 2018 Invictus Games were held in Sydney, with the opening ceremony at the Opera House.

Bureau staff embedded in the New South Wales Government Coordination Centre, the State’s multi-agency command centre that runs major events, provided close-decision support services during the event.

Severe thunderstorms over Sydney threatened the high-profile event as organisers were mindful of the safety of the large crowds filling open-air viewing areas and technical personnel atop scaffolding and lighting rigs.

Ultimately, the ceremony went ahead safely after being delayed by an hour on the Bureau’s advice. The storms also meant a change of plans for Royal attendees, who were transported to the Games by motorcade instead of by boat.

His Royal Highness, the Duke of Sussex, opens the Invictus Games at the Sydney Opera House on 20 October 2018. Image courtesy of the Invictus Games Foundation.His Royal Highness, the Duke of Sussex, opens the Invictus Games on 20 October 2018. Image courtesy of the Invictus Games Foundation.

National outreach

Regional outreach and engagement are integral to the delivery of Bureau services. Australia’s climate varies greatly throughout the States and Territories and can differ significantly from one year to the next. While the Bureau has a single consistent integrated national forecast service, the value of weather and climate information is enhanced by local experts who have the knowledge and relationships to help users interpret information effectively.


The meteorology of Queensland extends from the deep tropics through to temperate and arid regimes, and encompasses coastal waters that include the Great Barrier Reef, the Torres Strait Islands and the eastern Gulf of Carpentaria. The large and dispersed population is vulnerable to risks posed by tropical cyclones, flooding, severe thunderstorms and bushfires. The State’s strong agricultural sector grapples with droughts and other broadscale impacts of climate.


The diversity of New South Wales’ weather and climate reflects its many landscapes; from the highest alpine areas in Australia to some of the country’s most productive agricultural areas. New South Wales is often affected by heatwaves, drought, bushfires, intense coastal storm systems, severe thunderstorms and hailstorms. Weather on the coastal strip influenced by the steep coastal escarpment and ranges, which accentuate heavy rains and bring major flooding to coastal rivers.


Victoria is renowned for its very changeable and challenging weather events. These include damaging winds, rain, severe thunderstorms, extreme fire weather and floods in all seasons. Victoria is also vulnerable to thunderstorm asthma events.


Tasmania’s location in the path of the ‘roaring forties’ westerly wind belt brings heavy and reliable rain to the western half of the island and much warmer and drier conditions to the sheltered east coast. Snow can fall any time of year in the highlands, but summer heatwaves and windy weather fronts bring dangerous fire conditions to the east and south.


The climatic and hazardous weather conditions of greatest concern to South Australia include bushfires, thunderstorms with local hail and flooding, drought, gales and periods of extreme heat.


Western Australia is susceptible to a wide range of severe weather events all year round. The warmer months are characterised by heavy rain, tropical lows and cyclones in the north, and extreme heat and bushfires in the south. During the cooler months, bushfires occur in the north while cold fronts with destructive winds and heavy rain are common in the south.


The Top End of Australia has a tropical climate characterised by a wet season from October to April and a dry season from May to September. At different times of the year, parts of the Northern Territory experience severe thunderstorms, wildfires and widespread flooding. All coastal areas are subject to tropical cyclone landfall.

Public education and social engagement

Helping Australians understand and use its products and services is one of the Bureau’s core responsibilities under the Meteorology Act. The goal is to ensure that people effectively use and get maximum benefit from the products and services the Bureau provides.

The Bureau’s suite of communication tools and tactics has been evolving to give Australians timely weather, water, climate and ocean information across a range of channels. These include traditional media, such as news broadcasts; and direct communication with the community via social media.

The Bureau has an increasing number of followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and its blog. Instagram, which the Bureau has been active on since February 2017, continued to attract interest, with the audience base doubling during 2018–19 driven by beautiful imagery and explanations of weather science. Social media channels proved especially effective for promoting the Bureau’s campaigns, including the national ‘Know your weather. Know your risk’ campaign focusing on preparation for high-impact weather; the Ask BOM education marketing campaign; the Employer of Choice campaign to promote the Bureau’s graduate recruitment program; and campaigns promoting the Bureau’s Australian Weather Calendar and Introduction to Meteorology training course.​​ ​The Bureau's Facebook and Twitter followersThe Bureau had more than 1.4 million social media followers as at 30 June 2019.​The Bureau also uses a range of other channels to educate and support the community in understanding and responding to weather and related phenomena, including its Weather Connect customer service centre, webinars, blogs, media conferences and information emails to subscribers.

An online Fire Weather Knowledge Centre was developed during the year, providing fire weather information and related blog posts, videos and social media promoting Bureau fire weather services from the one location. The Bureau also created new multilingual resources to support safe rock fishing. Several projects were successfully implemented under the Bureau’s partnership with the ABC.

Providing up-to-date weather through social media

The Bureau strives, both through its own narrative and in collaboration with emergency services partners, to convey the potential impacts of weather to ensure communities receive timely and relevant information.

During 2018–19, the Bureau used its social media channels to reach and engage with customers on the platforms of their choice, keeping the community informed about developing weather, climate, water and oceans conditions, particularly during the high-impact weather period from October to April. Information, education and updates were regularly posted through social media and online channels, and through news media.

Compared to the previous year, the Bureau published significantly more severe weather information on Facebook and Twitter to support impacted communities. This included new video weather model forecasts that visually communicate the likely movement of weather systems, and rapid update video content including short animations and interview-style updates featuring Bureau specialists.

From 10 000 posts in 2018–19, 171 million people received content in their newsfeeds, with 15 million people engaging—sharing, commenting or viewing posts—with the content.

Meteorologist Andrea Peace provides an update on heavy rainfall and flooding in northern Queensland.Meteorologist Andrea Peace provides an update on heavy rainfall and flooding in northern Queensland.

New multilingual content for rock fishing weather safety

In 2018–19, the Bureau published new content about weather safety for rock fishing in five languages: Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Vietnamese, Korean, and Bahasa Malay.

Rock fishing can be a dangerous activity for all participants, and research has shown these language groups are over-represented in injuries and deaths. Between 2004 and 2017, there were an average of 12 fatalities from rock fishing each year, a large proportion of which (about 47 per cent) were born in countries in Asia.

The new content encourages rock fishers to check five aspects of the Bureau’s marine services: wave conditions, tide times, wind conditions, marine warnings and changing weather. Armed with this information, they can make safer choices about where and when to fish. The content for each language includes a comprehensive webpage, a graphic showing the five vital weather safety checks, and a printable information sheet. In 2019–20, the Bureau will be working with marine safety partners, and rock fishing and multicultural organisations to promote these new materials.

Rock fishing weather safety information ​ Rock fishing weather safety information Rock fishing weather safety information showing the five vital weather safety checks graphic in Traditional Chinese. ​Rock fishing weather safety information showing the five vital weather safety checks graphic in Traditional Chinese.

Stakeholder participation and feedback

Third-party participation in the Bureau’s policy formulation and service provision is facilitated through:

  • the Australia–New Zealand Emergency Management Committee and its working subcommittees (Community Outcomes and Recovery; and Mitigation and Risk) and related groups including the Australian Tsunami Advisory Group and the National Flood Risk Advisory Group;
  • AFAC (the National Council for Fire and Emergency services);
  • the Jurisdictional Reference Group on Water Information;
  • State and Territory consultative committees for flood, marine, agriculture and climate;
  • consultative meetings with private meteorological service providers, the aviation industry and Defence;
  • State, Territory and local government emergency management and disaster mitigation committees; and
  • key agricultural research and development corporations, major agricultural commercial enterprises, regional farming groups, natural resource management organisations, and State government bodies, including the interjurisdictional Agricultural Senior Officials Committee Drought Task Group, the National Farmers’ Federation and State and Territory affiliates.

The Bureau uses a range of surveys and feedback mechanisms to ensure its products and services meet the growing needs of its customers. In 2018–19, the Bureau refreshed the way it monitors and evaluates feedback from general community customers and emergency management customers and partners, focusing on the four performance areas of preference, experience, impact and reputation.

Two community surveys were undertaken in April and June, helping the Bureau to identify areas for improvement and inform future service development. The surveys found that for 75 per cent of community customers, the Bureau’s weather forecast services exceeded their needs, but only 63 per cent of customers that were aware of Bureau warnings took precautions or actions as a result. A third survey of emergency management customers and partners commenced in June and is due for completion in July 2019. In 2019–20, community customers will be surveyed four times and emergency management customers and partners twice.

The Bureau used the net promoter score index (ranging from -100 to +100) as a way of gauging the willingness of its customers to recommend products or services to others. In 2018−19, the Bureau achieved a net promoter score of +51.1 from the general public and +70.3 from emergency management customers and partners for its weather services, while climate data services received a net promoter score of +71. These results indicate a high level of satisfaction and customer loyalty. More survey results are included in the performance section of the Annual Report.

The Bureau regularly invites feedback, including suggestions and complaints from its customers. A total of 5950 messages were logged through the Bureau’s website feedback facility, of which 564 were classified as criticism and 70 messages were classified as praise. All feedback was directed to the appropriate area for response and resolution.

The Bureau’s online research community now has 5800 registered testers—up from 3000 in June 2018. Re-branded as BOMIdeas and moved to ideas.bom.gov.au, the Bureau’s research webpage hosts online surveys and activities that allow these registered testers and other customers to provide feedback on potential service enhancements.

Flood warning infrastructure on a sustainable path into the future

The final National Flood Warning Infrastructure Working Group (NFWIWG) meeting was held in Melbourne on 10 and 11 April. The group is part of a three-year project delivering on a key recommendation of the Standardisation of Bureau of Meteorology Hazard Service Taskforce which includes:

  • the first-ever Flood Warning Infrastructure Standards, which will guide development of fit-for-purpose flood warning infrastructure; and
  • a National Framework for Flood Warning Infrastructure to guide future development of flood warning infrastructure using a consistent principle-based approach.

The NFWIWG will provide these outcomes as well as a set of recommendations to the Australia-New Zealand Emergency Management Committee at its next meeting, in August 2019.

It is a credit to members and participants across the nation who contributed their time and resources to a significant, national collective effort in the achievement of these outcomes.

 Chair Dasarath Jayasuriya (Bureau), Deputy Chair Rob Cameron (Emergency Management Australia (EMA)), Project Manager Carla Mooney (Bureau), Planning Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Chair Shoni Maguire (Bureau), Standard TAG Chair Alex Cornish (Bureau).From left to right: Chair Dasarath Jayasuriya (Bureau), Deputy Chair Rob Cameron (Emergency Management Australia (EMA)), Project Manager Carla Mooney (Bureau), Planning Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Chair Shoni Maguire (Bureau), Standard TAG Chair Alex Cornish (Bureau).

Feedback provided on the Bureau's public websiteAlmost 6000 web feedback entries were provided as at 30 June 2019.

International engagement

International cooperation is an essential and integral part of the Bureau’s operations, through its reciprocal relationships and knowledge-sharing with countries and agencies around the globe. Through these relationships, the Bureau leverages scientific expertise and technological and operational developments and collects and exchanges information critical for monitoring and predicting the state of the atmosphere and hydrosphere.

The Bureau is deeply engaged in international activities that provide direct and indirect benefits to the organisation and to the broader Australian and international community. Through these activities, the Bureau continues to build its profile and reputation, foster goodwill with key partners and strengthen its skills, capabilities and knowledge base.

In 2018–19, the Bureau made important contributions to the activities of the World Meteorological Organization and has maintained strong representation in key positions that help ensure Australia’s interests are considered in policy development and decision-making. The Bureau has also continued its role as the national representative for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, and continued to fulfil its responsibilities under international obligations, treaties and agreements. These include providing aeronautical meteorological services on behalf of Australia as the designated authority under the International Civil Aviation Organization.

The Bureau has formal bilateral agreements with 11 overseas agencies and actively cooperates across a wide range of subject areas with countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, China, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia. These collaborations focus on mutual and complementary fields of technical and scientific expertise.

In September, the Bureau and the UK Met Office signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to formalise the long-standing cooperation between the two organisations and facilitate deeper engagement well into the future. The MOU establishes a collaborative framework and mechanism that will uplift the Bureau’s capability and enable synchronisation of models and systems.

The Bureau revised its approach to bilateral partnership workshops and meetings—seeking to be more active and future-focused with timeframes and performance measures. The approach was tested with the Korean Meteorological Agency in April and was considered highly successful.

Australian aid-funded capacity development programs represent a significant component of the Bureau’s international activities. These engagements strengthen organisational capabilities and skills and contribute to broader whole-of-government objectives. An important part of this work is been the Bureau’s involvement in the Australian Government–funded Climate and Ocean Support Program in the Pacific.

Supporting our neighbours in the Pacific and beyond

The four-year second phase of Climate and Oceans Support Program for the Pacific (COSPPac2), commenced in July, operating across 14 Pacific Island countries. COSPPac2 is a services sub-program of the Australia Pacific Climate Partnership, designed to support climate-informed planning and decision-making across the Pacific.

Under COSPPac2, sea level monitoring and associated tide predictions were provided at 14 locations across Pacific Island countries as part of the Pacific Sea Level and Geodetic Monitoring Project (PSLGM). A new PSLGM station was commissioned in the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa in October in a project led by the Bureau. The real-time data gathered by the station is used by the Bureau’s tsunami detection and warning network and supports weather warnings and predicting storm surge and climate change. It also assists in infrastructure development and planning, providing accurate information to land survey departments in the Pacific region.

The new Pacific Sea Level and Geodetic Monitoring Station installed at Nuku’alofa.The new Pacific Sea Level and Geodetic Monitoring Station installed at Nuku’alofa.

The Bureau also supported the Papua New Guinea National Weather Service during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) Economic Leaders Meeting held at Port Moresby in November to ensure the high operational demands of providing weather information throughout the event were met.

Diversity and inclusion

The Bureau strives to be the model of an inclusive culture where diversity of thought and background is valued to provide better outcomes for staff, customers and the community. Success is based on creating an inclusive environment where people feel respected and valued, share a sense of fairness and of belonging, and are encouraged to make a unique and meaningful contribution.

The Bureau values the diversity of its staff, respecting differences that include—but are not limited to—gender, ethnicity, religion, age, ability or disability, sexual orientation, language, skills, experience, education, industry sector and thinking approaches.

The Bureau brings its commitment to life by:

  • developing and promoting an equitable, respectful and inclusive workplace culture where staff are engaged, are valued for their uniqueness and feel like they belong;
  • bringing together people with different backgrounds and ways of thinking, which helps to drive better decision-making, innovation and overall performance;
  • ensuring recruitment from the broadest talent pool that reflects the Bureau’s customers and communities with which it works; and
  • supporting the use of flexible work arrangements at all levels to enable staff to balance their personal and professional commitments.

Disability reporting

Since 1994, non-corporate Commonwealth entities have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007–08, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service (APS) Commission’s State of the Service reports and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at www.apsc.gov.au. From 2010–11, entities have no longer been required to report on these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by the National Disability Strategy
2010–2020, which sets out a ten-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high-level, two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the strategy and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first of these progress reports was published in 2014 and can be found at www.dss.gov.au.

Ethical standards

The Bureau supports a safe, inclusive and respectful work culture that reflects the diversity of the community it services. It operates within the context of Australia being a signatory to the seven key human rights treaties, with human rights being protected and promoted through domestic legislation, policies, practices and independent bodies. The Bureau undertakes a range of activities to meet this commitment, including:

  • promoting APS Values, Code of Conduct and Employment Principles, and awareness of workplace discrimination and Closing the Gap, through communication with staff, training, and induction packages for new employees;
  • endorsing the Public Interest Disclosure Framework, through communication with staff, training and supporting policy documents;
  • providing an online training course entitled Accountable and Ethical Decision Making;
  • delivering shared culture workshops and information sessions for managers covering the APS employment framework and key messages from the publication Respect: Promoting a culture free from harassment and bullying in the APS;
  • providing employees with access to information on ethical standards via the intranet, and also through the APS Commission’s website;
  • issuing APS Code of Conduct guidelines for Bureau staff, and providing guidance and policies with respect to duty of care, making public comment and the performance of outside work/ employment;
  • initiating disciplinary processes, including counselling and investigations when allegations relating to breaches of the APS Code of Conduct were reported;
  • making available a review-of-action process, as provided for in section 33 of the Public Service Act 1999, to aggrieved employees; and
  • initiating investigation processes into disclosures received under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013.

Supporting sustainable development

The Bureau recognises the opportunity and privilege it has to support sustainable development in Australia and beyond, contributing to prosperous, fair, healthy and sustainable communities. Both in the way it conducts its operations, and in the vast array of products and services it provides for the community, the Bureau’s work supports Australia’s commitment to the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Throughout 2018–19, the work of the Bureau has contributed to many of the 17 goals.


Bureau contribution

2. Zero hunger

  help graziers and horticulturalists determine optimum crops, timing around planting and harvesting, fertilisation and chemical spraying

  help meat and livestock farmers control stocking rates, and pre-empt health issues in livestock

  alert farmers to conditions such as frost, hail, storms and floods

  support irrigation and water restocking strategies

  support government drought assistance programs support fishing and aquaculture businesses

3. Good health and well-being

  help Australians protect themselves from cyclones, floods, severe storms and bushfires

  support authorities in making evacuation decisions to get people at risk to safety

  help Australians avoid dangerous ultraviolet (UV) exposure, to protect against skin cancer

  help protect vulnerable Australians against heat exhaustion and extreme cold

  alert health authorities to periods of heightened demand

  help Australians plan their sporting and outdoor activities

  support management of biohazards, airborne allergens and diseases

4. Quality education

  provide quality education for meteorologists and related professionals

  build capacity in neighbouring countries by training meteorologists

  help the community understand Australia’s weather, ocean and climate-related risks

  contribute to the global knowledge base in the meteorological sciences and contribute to cutting-edge developments

  promote ongoing learning and development for Bureau staff

5. Gender equality

  promote gender equality through implementation of the Gender Equality Action Plan

  provide family-friendly working conditions including flexible working options for all staff

  working towards the target of reaching gender parity by 2022

  provide training and development to managers on inclusive leadership and unconscious bias

6. Clean water and sanitation

  help governments and water authorities in planning and water management

  aid decision-making in water supply and the management of water allocations and rights

  support dam management and the management and protection of other water and sanitation infrastructure

  inform the design of new water infrastructure

7. Affordable and clean energy

  allow the Australian energy market to forecast power demand, particularly during heat and cold extremes

  support sustainable energy generation by informing production potential and energy output estimates

  support operations and efficiency in Australia’s offshore oil and gas industry

  support improved planning and mitigation of disrupted electricity supply due to severe weather events

8. Decent work and economic growth

  provide economic benefits in the order of 11.6:1 (for every dollar spent by the Bureau on delivering services, there is a return of $11.60 to the Australian economy)

  support economic growth in key sectors (see Goal 9)

  provide good employment opportunities for Bureau staff

9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure

  support safe and efficient air travel in Australian airspace, inform routing and fuel load decisions and help protect aircraft from volcanic ash that may harm engines

  help businesses manage the impact of weather on their operations and minimise disruption from severe weather events—in industries such as mining, construction, transport, tourism and retail

  provide valuable information to the financial and insurance services sector

  support the construction of climate-appropriate infrastructure and help protect infrastructure from weather and climate-related events

  provide information products as a basis for innovation and value-adding by industry

10. Reduced inequalities

  provide consistent, comprehensive services for all Australians, including in rural and remote areas

  promote Indigenous reconciliation through the Reconciliation Action Plan

  promote Indigenous culture through the Indigenous Weather Knowledge website

  show commitment through the Diversity and Inclusion Commitment Statement

  assist Pacific and Indian Ocean countries prepare for and respond to tsunamis

  support capacity building and development of Pacific Island nations and helps these nations respond to climate change

11. Sustainable cities and communities

  support the emergency services in carrying out effective emergency and disaster preparation, response and recovery

  warn communities to prepare for flood and bushfire conditions and to make timely evacuations

  alert Australians to protect themselves and their property from tropical cyclones, thunderstorms and damaging winds, to protect housing and community infrastructure

  allow emergency services to pre-position personnel and equipment to minimise infrastructure damage and to restore essential services following an emergency

  help individuals and families to organise their activities and daily commute

  support management of public and private green spaces

  help event managers to make appropriate plans and prepare contingencies

12. Responsible consumption and production

  implement a Bureau environmental framework to minimise the effect of operations on the environment

  support responsible purchasing policies

  help industry measure and reduce its impact on the environment

13. Climate action

  help Australians understand the nation’s climate patterns, trends and variations in climate, and climate-related risks

  provide climate research, modelling and forecasting to support policy decisions and mitigation strategies

  help Pacific Island nations measure and respond to climate change impacts

14. Life below water

  support marine park management, particularly the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

  support safety at sea and inform search and rescue operations

  support sustainable fishing and aquaculture

  support response to ocean environmental incidents (such as oil spills)

15. Life on land

  support the management of ecosystems

  support bushfire mitigation including controlled burns

17. Partnerships for the goals

  contribute to the activities of the World Meteorological Organization, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, and the International Civil Aviation Organization

  collaborate with 11 overseas agencies through bilateral agreements

  partner with local, regional, State and Territory and national emergency management authorities

The Bureau also supports the principles of ecological sustainable development as outlined in the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The broad range of Bureau products, services and advice empower stakeholders to make informed decisions on matters of ecosystem and biodiversity conservation, both now and for the future.

Environment and heritage

The Bureau is committed to environmentally sustainable practices and the management of impacts from its activities, with the pursuit of a high level of environmental sustainability an aspect of the Bureau’s Strategy. The Bureau’s approach to environmental management includes reducing carbon emissions, minimising demand on natural resources and addressing potential impacts associated with operations.

Reducing carbon emissions

While a large percentage of the Bureau’s network of automatic weather stations are fully or partially run on solar energy, major infrastructure such as radars remain fully powered by purchased electricity. As part of the Bureau’s commitment to preventing or minimising greenhouse gas emissions, the Bureau undertook a renewable energy feasibility study across approximately 90 sites in 2017–18.

Following on from the feasibility study, a solar array was installed at the Bureau’s radar at Laverton in Victoria as an initial pilot program (see p. 54). This pilot 30 kW solar panel system is the first renewable installation at a larger-scale Bureau site and will be used in further evaluation of the potential broader applicability across the Bureau.

Minimising demand on natural resources

Organisational demand on natural resources comes in many forms, such as general office activities, equipment manufacture and the transport of goods. The Bureau’s key focus areas for minimising demand are using infrastructure and equipment that are resource-efficient over whole of life, improving measurement and benchmark reporting, and influencing consumption through structured business processes and individual awareness.

Environmental performance indicator




Energy use

Total purchased electricity (kWh)

14 075 400

14 246 700


Purchased electricity consumption offices (kWh)

3 472 000

2 933 350


Purchased electricity consumption data centres (kWh)

6 031 300

6 917 100


Purchased electricity consumption other sites (kWh)

4 745 500

4 396 300


Green energy purchased (kWh)

7 400



Vehicle fleet

Total number of fleet vehicles




Total distance travelled (km)

884 687

954 686


Total fuel purchased (kL)




Average consumption of fleet vehicles (L/100km)




Air travel

Total number of flights

10 024

10 197


Total distance travelled (km)

15 558 104

15 559 219


Greenhouse gas emissions

Emissions from electricity use (tonnes CO2 equivalent)

12 610

12 410


Emissions from leased vehicle fleet (tonnes CO2 equivalent)




Emissions from air travel (tonnes CO2 equivalent)

3 443



Resource efficiency

Planet-friendly stationery purchased (%)




Note: Some values are estimated due to incomplete billing cycles at time of publication. Slight variation to 2017–18 values previously reported reflect updated information. During 2017–18 four sites previously reported as other sites with respect to electricity consumption were reclassified as offices to reflect the Bureau’s new hub functionality and structure.

Addressing potential impacts associated with operations

The Bureau’s operations are diverse, and present environmental challenges that are unique in their nature and scale. A key focus for the Bureau in 2018–19 was ensuring appropriate controls and permissions for operations at sites with specific environmental considerations. Many marine sites were affected by the new management plans for Australian Marine Parks coming into effect in July 2018, which necessitated permit renewal or in some cases, new applications.

Environmental management was an intrinsic part of Willis Island building remediation works, with
controls in place for all aspects ranging from works timing, waste management and interaction with wildlife. On the mainland, the Bureau engaged an ecologist to ensure equipment works at Canberra Airport minimised disruption to the protected natural temperate grassland, the Golden Sun Moth and the Perunga Grasshopper.

Willis Island weather monitoring station.Willis Island weather monitoring station.

Balloon-based weather observations remain an ongoing environmental challenge for the Bureau. In 2018, the Bureau published a balloon fact sheet on its external website, outlining the importance of balloon observations, as well as information relating to safe disposal and environmental impacts. The Bureau is also working with suppliers and manufacturers to develop, test and improve balloon prototypes with improved safety, environmental and efficiency outcomes.

Sourcing blue for a greener future​

One aspect of the Bureau’s ongoing operations is the release of weather balloons into the atmosphere, a process which is fundamental to the capturing of critical weather data. The problem is, like regular balloons, weather balloons can create an environmental impact including their digestion by marine animals.

During 2018–19, the Bureau successfully trialled new balloon consumables which have the potential to significantly reduce the impacts of our current balloon program. The guidance of leading researchers on the impacts to marine life was sought when developing the trial.

The trial focused on:

  • testing prototypes of biodegradable parachutes and cotton string;
  • the development of a blue balloon and parachute, to reduce appeal to marine life; and
  • assessment of lighter components, with the view to reducing the size of balloons, thereby reducing the total volume of waste.

These initiatives have real potential to deliver real sustainable improvements without impacting the Bureau’s ability to provide timely and accurate forecasting. Further evaluation of the trials is currently underway for potential application across the Bureau.

A prototype blue weather balloon is launched from the Broadmeadows Automated Balloon.A prototype blue weather balloon is launched from the Broadmeadows Automated Balloon.


The Bureau estate is a unique collection of site types throughout Australia and its external territories. The heritage values associated with Bureau sites is quite broad. Some sites have long-term associations with weather and meteorology, some sites are places of first use of significant technology such as radar, while others were key to major meteorological events. The Giles Meteorological Station has assessed Commonwealth Heritage values associated with the development of meteorology in Australia, while the continued operation of the Bureau at the Sydney Observatory contributes to the site’s National Estate values. The Bureau’s heritage register records details of sites owned or controlled by the Bureau located at places of significant natural or cultural value, and these heritage values are considered during ongoing conservation and maintenance of Bureau properties.