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 2020–21, 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. The value of these services is expanding as Australians become increasingly vulnerable to a range of severe weather events due to changes in climate, 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, tsunamis 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
notifying users of service changes and interruptions at the earliest opportunity.
From 1 July 2020, the Bureau commenced its delivery of weather, water, climate and ocean services to the Australian community in new ways. These changes create a more responsive and resilient organisation that can more flexibly mobilise its full capabilities to respond to weather threats and community needs. The Bureau’s presence and capability within Australia’s States and Territories remains vital to how services are delivered, integrating local knowledge into our services and focusing on local and regional needs.
The Bureau’s Decision Support Services Program leads national, regional and local community engagement in hazard preparedness and response, with a focus on the emergency management sector and key Commonwealth stakeholders. The program has staff deployed across three regions: East (New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland), South (Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia) and North and West (Western Australia and the Northern Territory) working alongside State and local governments and emergency service agencies as part of the emergency management and disaster mitigation networks within their respective jurisdictions. This includes outposted decision support staff within several combat agencies and emergency management centres providing direct access to the Bureau’s expertise and specialisation.
The Bureau also works closely with the media to ensure that communication with the Australian community is effective and that warnings are broadcast widely. Staff interact with a broad range of stakeholders 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.
Because Australia’s climate varies greatly throughout the States and Territories and can differ significantly from one year to the next, the value of weather and climate information is enhanced by local experts who have the knowledge and relationships to help users interpret information effectively.
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 give Australians timely weather, water, climate and ocean information, education and updates across a range of channels, particularly when conditions put lives and properties in danger.
During 2020–21 the Bureau responded to approximately 10 000 media enquiries, issued more than 225 media releases, and published over 360 video and audio news releases. Special resources and support was given to Indigenous media outlets to assist them in communicating severe weather events.
The steady growth in community engagement across the Bureau’s social media platforms continued – as at 30 June the Bureau had over 1.8 million followers. Followers increased across all platforms, with YouTube and LinkedIn each up by more than 30 per cent. For Instagram, the strategy of juxtaposing followers’ stunning images with the science behind them saw numbers grow by more than 40 per cent.
Throughout the year, the Bureau’s social media channels proved especially effective for promoting public-safety campaigns on the risks and impact of severe weather and improving access to science through the AskBOM community engagement posts. The opportunity for community members to engage with the Bureau weather narrative on Instagram and Facebook was also well received.
The Bureau also supported the community in understanding and responding to weather and related phenomena, including through its Weather Connect customer service centre and information emails to subscribers.
During 2020–21 the Bureau of Meteorology Training Centre continued its public education program in delivering 26 Introduction to Meteorology courses to members of the public and key stakeholders. The courses provide expert insight into weather fundamentals and weather information, helping to inform decision-making.
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; the National Flood Risk Advisory Group; the Australian Tropical Cyclone Advisory Group; and the National Heatwave Working Group
AFAC (the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council)
the Bureau of Meteorology Hazards Services Forum
the Jurisdictional Reference Group on Water Information
the National Water Reform Committee
science reference groups for the Murray–Darling Basin Authority and the National Water Grid Authority
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
Australia’s agricultural research and development corporations, regional farming groups, natural resource management organisations, major agribusiness, State and Territory governments, and representative bodies such as the National Farmers’ Federation.
The Bureau uses a range of surveys and feedback mechanisms to ensure its products and services meet the growing needs of its customers. In 2020–21, the Bureau monitored and evaluated feedback from general community and emergency management customers and partners, focusing on the four performance areas of preference, experience, impact and reputation.
Four community surveys were undertaken in September, December, March and June, helping to identify areas for improvement and inform service development. Overall, performance was largely consistent across the year and with the previous year’s results.
A survey of emergency management customers and partners was undertaken in May. Performance was consistent with that of the past three years. The survey found that 81 per cent of customers and partners who used the Bureau’s services in the past month said that service helped them do what they needed to do to a ‘great’ or ‘very great’ extent, compared with 80 per cent the previous year.
The Bureau uses 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 2020−21, the Bureau achieved an average net promoter score of +52 from community customers and +68 from emergency management customers and partners. These results indicate a high level of satisfaction and customer loyalty. More survey results are included in Section 2 - Annual Performance Statement in this Annual Report.
The Bureau of Meteorology Hazards Service Forum is co-chaired by the Director-General of Emergency Management Australia and consists of Deputy Commissioner-level representatives from State and Territory emergency management agencies. Following the 2020–21 warm weather season, the Bureau requested formal qualitative and quantitative feedback from the forum members.
All forum members and proxies provided favourable feedback on the support that the Bureau provided throughout the 2020–21 season, including on the value of embedded Bureau support. Several members provided examples of how Bureau support to the emergency services had real-life impacts for local communities.
The feedback received illustrates the close working relationship not only between the Bureau and our emergency management partners at a tactical and operational level, but also in working towards shared strategic outcomes for the jurisdictions and the Commonwealth.
The Bureau is changing its approach to gathering and reporting website feedback as the new Bureau website is developed. The new approach will also be better aligned with that used to gather and report feedback on the BOM Weather app.
The Bureau’s online research community now has 6676 registered testers – up from 6585 in June 2020. BOMIdeas hosts online surveys and activities that allow these registered testers and other customers to provide feedback on potential service enhancements.
International cooperation is an essential and integral part of the Bureau’s operations. Through reciprocal relationships and knowledge sharing with countries and agencies around the globe 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, hydrosphere and solar system.
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 accesses data critical to the creation of accurate and timely forecasts, continues to build its profile and reputation, foster goodwill with key partners, and strengthens its skills, capabilities and knowledge base.
In 2020–21, the Bureau made important contributions to the activities of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and has maintained strong representation in key positions that help ensure Australia’s interests are considered in policy development and decision-making. It also met its obligations under international treaties and agreements including the provision of aeronautical meteorological services on behalf of Australia as the designated authority under the International Civil Aviation Organization. As Australia’s representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the Bureau continued to engage with and represent the interests of Australian marine science stakeholders.
The Bureau has formal bilateral agreements with 10 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.
Australian aid-funded capacity development programs represent a significant component of the Bureau’s international activities and the Bureau has a long history of supporting counterpart meteorological and hydrological services in the Pacific. These engagements strengthen organisational capabilities and skills and contribute to broader whole-of-government objectives.
An important part of this work is the Bureau’s involvement in the Australian Government-funded Climate and Ocean Support Program in the Pacific (COSPPac) – a foundational climate information services subprogram of the Australia Pacific Climate Partnership. Other aid-funded activities have included capacity building work with Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Samoa.
The Bureau initiated and co-chaired a first-of-its-kind national security body, the Meteorology Five Eyes Community of Practice (MET5). The MET5 leverages the special trust that exists amongst the members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance that comprises Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The MET5 provides a forum in which partners broadly and transparently share their space weather, meteorology and oceanographic capabilities and gaps, then focus their efforts on specific objectives that improve our nation’s defence and security.
Continuing our work in the Pacific
Under Phase 2 of the COSPPac initiative, the Bureau is working with 14 Pacific Island countries to support the use of climate, ocean, and sea level information to strengthen climate and disaster resilience.
Annual tidal prediction calendars are a popular COSPPac product and so the 2021 calendars for 23 locations across the Pacific were a welcome delivery for the 14 national meteorological and weather offices. The calendars are designed and produced in the region by the Pacific Community (SPC)’s Geoscience, Energy and Maritime Division with predictions calculated by the Bureau’s Tidal Unit using information from the Pacific Sea Level and Geodetic Monitoring stations and a number of additional tide gauges around the region.
While COVID-19 has greatly reduced travel for the Bureau and our partner SPC technical staff for maintenance of sea level network infrastructure, remote repairs have been provided from Bureau technicians and there has been increased support from in-country technicians with return-to-service assistance and infrastructure maintenance. Despite the challenges to the network maintenance program, travel limitations have provided an opportunity to test the agility of the program, and the Bureau has accelerated a process already underway to build in-country capacity to maintain and troubleshoot sites.
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
supporting the use of flexible work arrangements at all levels to enable staff to balance their personal and professional commitments.
The National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 is Australia’s overarching framework for disability reform. It acts to ensure the principles underpinning the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are incorporated into Australia’s policies and programs that affect people with disability, their families and carers.
All levels of government will continue to be held accountable for the implementation of the strategy through biennial progress reporting to the Council of Australian Governments. Progress reports can be found at www.dss.gov.au. Disability reporting is included in the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service reports and the Australian Public Service Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at www.apsc.gov.au
The Bureau supports a safe, inclusive and respectful work culture that reflects the diversity of the community it services. 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, through communication with staff, training and induction packages for new employees
endorsing the Public Interest Disclosure Framework, through communication with staff and supporting policy documents
providing an online training course entitled APS Values and Code of Conduct at the Bureau, which covers topics such as accountable and ethical decision-making
providing employees with access to information on ethical standards via the intranet, and 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, conflicts of interests and the performance of outside work/employment
developing a new Unacceptable Behaviours and Complaint Handling Procedure to complement the existing procedures that document the ethical standards expected of staff
reviewing and refreshing the established internal Harassment Contact Officer network, ensuring that these Officers are appropriately trained with access to relevant support material
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
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 2020–21, the work of the Bureau has contributed to 15 of the 17 goals (all except SGD 1 and 16).
- 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
- optimise agricultural water use productivity through regional specific information on current and forecast water availability
- support government drought assistance programs
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
- provide quality education in meteorology including capacity building in neighbouring countries
- 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
- promote gender equality through implementation of the Gender Equality Action Plan
- provide family-friendly working conditions including flexible working options for all staff
- provide training and development to managers on inclusive leadership and unconscious bias
Clean water and sanitation
- coordination national water information standards, and collection and dissemination of Australia’s water information, including water quality information
- 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 protection of water and sanitation infrastructure, particularly during severe weather events
- inform the design of new water infrastructure
Affordable and clean energy
- enable the Australian energy market to forecast power demand, particularly during heat and cold extremes
- support renewable 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
- invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects within the Bureau’s property portfolio
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
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
- help businesses manage the impact of weather on their operations and minimise disruption from severe weather events
- 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
- provide consistent, comprehensive services for all Australians, including in rural and remote areas
- promote Australian Indigenous culture through the Indigenous Weather Knowledge website and support reconciliation through the Reconciliation Action Plan
- implement initiatives that promote Diversity and Inclusion
- support capacity building and development of Pacific Island nations to manage severe weather impacts and mitigate climate change
- assist Pacific and Indian Ocean countries prepare for and respond to tsunamis
Sustainable cities and communities
- support the emergency services in carrying out effective emergency and disaster preparation, response and recovery
- warn communities to prepare for hazardous weather events, to protect housing and community infrastructure, and to make timely evacuations
- allow emergency services to pre-position personnel and equipment to minimise infrastructure damage and to restore essential services following an emergency
- help communities to organise their activities and daily commute
- support management of public and private green spaces
Responsible production and consumption
- implement a Bureau environmental framework to minimise the effect of operations on the environment
- support responsible purchasing policies, efficient use of natural resources, and the management of chemicals and wastes through their lifecycle
- 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
Life below water
- support marine management including sustainable fishing and aquaculture
- support safety at sea and inform search and rescue operations
- support response to ocean environmental incidents (such as oil spills)
- implement changes to the Bureau’s balloon program to reduce the likelihood of ingestion by marine birds and turtles
Life on land
- support the management of ecosystems
- support bushfire mitigation including controlled burns
- institute ecological protection measures for Bureau operations at environmentally sensitive sites
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 10 overseas agencies through bilateral agreements
- partner with local, regional, State and Territory and national emergency management authorities
The Bureau is committed to leadership in sustainable practices and managing potentially adverse impact from operations, with the pursuit of a high level of environmental sustainability a success measure of the Bureau’s Strategy. The Bureau’s environmental management system aligns with international standard ISO 14001:2015 and provides the framework for managing environmental risks and optimising opportunities to improve environmental performance.
The Bureau also supports the principles of ecological sustainable development as outlined in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The broad range of Bureau products, services and advice empowers stakeholders to make informed decisions on matters of ecosystem and biodiversity conservation, both now and for the future.
Management of key impacts
The Bureau’s operations are diverse, encompassing land, water, atmosphere and oceans across Australia and its external territories. In 2020–21, Bureau activities addressed a diverse range of impacts associated with its property and operational footprint, including:
initiation of a weed management approach for Woodstock radar
selection of poison for rodent control at Cape Grim to minimise likelihood of secondary poisoning by raptors
facilitation of surveys of Willis Island for the presence of both invasive ant and plant species
consideration of environmental impacts for site works including equipment upgrades and the relocation of observational infrastructure
the introduction of a fuel storage module into site inspection tools
integration of marine park permits into the operational site database, to increase visibility and ensure access by staff
extensive planning, consultation and training to protect the sensitive environment during building remediation works at Willis Island
hosting an all-staff event for World Environment Day drawing attention to the role of invasive species control in ecosystem protection, with a guest speaker from Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service on pest eradication at Macquarie Island
working with suppliers to develop and test more environmentally friendly equipment and operational consumables
progressing the ongoing audit program for a range of environmental aspects, including onsite waste disposal and tenancy electricity metering.
Organisational demand on natural resource comes in many forms at the Bureau, from general office activities to waste generation, equipment and instrument use through to the transport of goods. The Bureau aims to incorporate sustainability into procurement practices to avoid unnecessary consumption and minimise the environmental impact of goods and services over whole of life.
Energy efficiency and carbon emission reduction was a key focus for the Bureau in 2020–21, with highlights being:
the design of a microgrid template for future solar energy generation and battery storage across the radar network
adoption of an electric vehicle at Cape Grim (Kennaook) Baseline Air Pollution Station, one of the world’s most important atmospheric monitoring sites
upgrades to the air-conditioning system at Willis Island Meteorological Office, which saw a 20-litre a day drop in diesel consumption
formalising a partnership with the Centre for Renewable Energy and Power Systems at the University of Tasmania for collaboration on renewable energy system design
extending the restriction of the purchase of only 100 per cent post-consumer recycled A4 copy paper to include A3.
Environmental performance indicator
Total purchased electricity (kWh)
15 785 000
20 460 000
Purchased electricity consumption offices (kWh)
2 565 800
Purchased electricity consumption data centres (kWh)
8 753 600
2 761 000
Purchased electricity consumption other sites (kWh)
4 465 600
4 530 000
Scope 2 emissions from electricity use (tonnes CO2 equivalent)
Vehicle fleet *
Total number of fleet vehicles
Total distance travelled (km)
Total fuel purchased (kL)
Average consumption of fleet vehicles (L/100km)
Emissions from leased vehicle fleet (tonnes CO2 equivalent)
Total number of flights
Total distance travelled (km)
10 565 813
2 998 914
Emissions from air travel (tonnes CO2 equivalent)
* the vehicle fleet data is for the fringe benefits tax year period, 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021
Note: Some values are estimated due to incomplete billing cycles at time of publication. Some values reported for 2019–20 have been revised to reflect updated information and emission factors.
Willis Island investigations into ants and plants
Located in the Coral Sea Marine Park, Willis Island is a highly sensitive environment and an important breeding and foraging area for marine birds and animals. In 2020, the unique skills of the crew were used to assess the status of a smaller but no less important environmental indicator – the presence of ants.
Having previously worked for the National Electric Ant Eradication Program, crew member Mark Clifford oversaw sampling of over 80 per cent of the island. Ant samples were then returned to the mainland, with two species identified: pheidole megacephala (African big-headed ant) and the cardiocondyla nuda/atalanta. While considered naturalised invasive, both species have been documented in the Willis Islets since the 1960s and 1970s.
The lack of any other recently introduced species indicate that the existing controls the Bureau has in place to protect the previous biosecurity of the island – such as the cleaning of goods and equipment – are working and will inform island management into the future.
The Bureau has a demonstrated commitment to record and preserve significant parts of its own history in delivering meteorological services to Australia. The heritage values associated with sites owned or controlled by the Bureau 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 Bureau’s heritage strategy is based on Commonwealth heritage management principles, and establishes processes for the identification and assessment of heritage values of sites owned or controlled by the Bureau. In keeping with this strategy, heritage considerations are incorporated into the due diligence associated with site works.
As part of efforts to raise the visibility of heritage management amongst staff, an internal communications piece was published in reflection of the theme of 2021’s World Heritage Day (International Monuments and Sites Day), Complex Pasts, Diverse Futures. This piece reflected on the history of Giles Weather Station, its association with post-world war weapons testing and the impact on local Indigenous Australian peoples, and the link between cultural heritage protection and the Bureau’s reconciliation journey.