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Enabling a healthy and sustainable organisation

Two female staff members on board InvestigatorStaff morale and culture are a priority, and 92 per cent of our staff are proud to be associated with CSIRO.

We support the growth of an innovative culture and empower our people to make the best decisions for their research and their partners, in line with our organisational priorities. We nurture an environment that supports our people to take risks in the pursuit of excellence, while always prioritising their safety and the trust placed in us by the community. When our people are empowered to do their best work, our partners and Australia thrive.

Table 3.16: Summary of our performance for enabling a healthy and sustainable organisation




Morale: Staff are proud to be associated with CSIRO as measured through the staff survey

84% of CSIRO staff are proud to be associated with the organisation


Staff survey results show that 92% of staff are proud to be associated with CSIRO, an increase from 90% reported last year.

Engagement: Staff engagement score as measured through the staff survey

80% of CSIRO staff are engaged with the organisation


The staff engagement score of 80%, as measured through the staff survey, has achieved the target and is a solid improvement from 78% recorded last year. This represents a continued positive trajectory trending towards longer-term targets.

Diversity in leadership: female proportion of candidates shortlisted for leadership roles

>35% of shortlisted candidates are female


44% of shortlisted applicants for leadership positions were female, based on applications where gender identity was available. The overall proportion of female leaders employed by CSIRO has increased to 35%, up from 32% last year.

Staff safety:

  Regulatory reportable Comcare incidents

  % Health Safety Environment audits and review actions completed on time

No more than 9 Comcare incidents


10 incidents were reportable to Comcare, an increase from 8 last year, while our reportable injury frequency rate increased to 12.1 from 8.1 last year.

80% audits and review actions completed on time


92% audits and review actions completed on time.

Financial Management: operating result bottom line

Meet or exceed budget


Budget achieved for 2018–19.

'G' indicates positive progress for the year and the target has been achieved.

'P' indicates progress through the year was less than anticipated and continues to be closely monitored.

Morale and engagement

csiro staff gather at the connect event in brisbane; staff sitting and standing around chattingCSIRO Connect in Brisbane: people from across the organisation came together to share different perspectives and contribute to achieving our strategic and cultural goals.

Staff engagement is an overall measure of employee connection to their organisation and is closely correlated with productivity and performance. This year, we met our target of 80 per cent, compared to 78 per cent last year and 75 per cent in 2017. Staff continue to report at very high rates that they are proud to be associated with CSIRO, with 92 per cent responding positively this year. The staff survey measures progress against the six elements outlined in our cultural vision: people first, mutual trust, collaborative networks, inclusion and participation, agility and experimentation, and transparency and accountability. This year, we reached 58 per cent of people who experienced the elements of the cultural vision, which is an increase from the 52 per cent recorded in 2018 (the first year this was measured).

Staff morale and culture continue to be a focus at CSIRO and we have seen year-on-year significant improvements since 2015. We continue to support initiatives explicitly focused on building engagement and mutual trust with staff, including staff webinars, senior leader-led round tables and site visits, and state-wide all-employee CSIRO Connect events (2017–19), where staff come together to contribute to achieving our strategic and cultural goals.

In 2018–19, 2,300 staff attended eight CSIRO Connect events across Australia in Perth, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Townsville. These events provide an opportunity for staff to come together to share different perspectives and contribute to achieving our strategic and cultural goals. We introduced a workshop for participants to describe what is unique about CSIRO, for staff to help us in co-creating our values. A new initiative in 2018–19, the Taking Action program, addressed significant enterprise issues. Staff had the opportunity to contribute ideas and solutions, and work directly on these during the Connect events.

These events and initiatives develop a shared sense of purpose around our strategic direction, and ensure that people feel included and valued. As a result, we have reached a historically high level of 92 per cent of our staff being proud to be associated with the organisation.

Other initiatives that support progress against our cultural vision include: the ON Innovation and Customer Experience programs which promote a culture of agility and experimentation; actions to increase transparency around our internal and external collaboration metrics and build our collaborative networks; and Switch, our staff mobility program. Now in its second year, Switch increases the exchange of people and know-how between research, industry and government. It helps us improve our connection and engagement with our partner organisations by developing strategic collaborative relationships, creating new business and project leads, and exposing our staff to different business models.

Diverse cultural initiatives focused on the goal of building a people first culture, combined with regular opportunities to provide feedback through staff surveys and other engagement channels. Senior leader actions in response to this feedback, have driven significant improvements in staff morale.

Diversity in leadership

We’re committed to creating an environment where each individual is included and supported, and can realise their full potential. We’re achieving this through a workplace culture that accepts, values and enables difference. During the year, more than 44 per cent of candidates shortlisted for leadership positions, where their gender identity was known, were female. This is an indication of proactive efforts to ensure gender diversity in the attraction and selection in recruitment and promotion. The female proportion of employees in leadership positions increased from 32 per cent to 35 per cent during 2018–19.

The steady increase in the overall proportion of female leaders represents a trajectory towards improved gender balance of our leadership. In addition, we have achieved 48 per cent female representation in our leadership development programs, strengthening the diversity of our future leadership pipeline.

The CSIRO Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2019–22 highlights our long-term focus on diversity and inclusion, with targeted actions focused on gender, Indigenous Australians, disability and cultural diversity.

Actions from our plan are built around three aims:

  • to hold ourselves collectively responsible for delivering outcomes and impacts
  • to equip our people to value, advocate and model inclusion in everything we do
  • to be recognised as an employer of choice where diverse talent thrives, and space is created for individual needs.

Our ongoing participation in the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) program and the Male Champions of Change (MCC) remain key features of the strategy. The SAGE program provides an accreditation framework designed to improve gender equity and diversity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine via the pilot of the Athena Swan Charter in Australia.

In December, we were awarded a Bronze SAGE Award, recognising our capacity to eliminate gender inequity and our commitment to demonstrating improved outcomes in the hiring, promotion and retention of women. We continue to make progress on the 90 targeted actions to address cultural, systemic and pipeline barriers to women’s progression in STEM.

Our Chief Executive continued to drive gender equity outcomes in the MCC STEM Group. In 2018–19, the MCC Implementation Team delivered 13 key actions within the 2018–19 MCC Group Action Plan, including actions to create respectful and inclusive environments, growing the talent pipeline and a report on Gender Equity and the Future of Work.

As part of our strategy, we also introduced new programs to support victims of family and domestic violence and a Disability Action Plan to fast-track outcomes for the recruitment and retention of people with disabilities. As part of International Women’s Day, we implemented a ‘50/50 If not, why not?’ pledge, which asked us to actively seek diverse representation by calling out imbalances in our teams, committees and around decision-making tables.

In the 2018–19 Budget, the Australian Government announced the development of a Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Women in STEM Strategy and a Decadal Plan for Women in STEM, developed by the Australian Academy of Science. Both documents, launched in April, work together to drive a system-level response with long-term strategic action from across the sector – government, industry, academia and education. We provided input into both documents and our SAGE Action Plan is strongly aligned to the principles and objectives articulated in both. We will provide ongoing reporting to both the Department and the Academy on our progress on gender outcomes.

In 2018–19 we revised our SAGE diversity metric to better reflect the aspirations and desired impact of our SAGE program and targeted actions. To ensure consistency and alignment to ongoing gender reporting, leadership roles are now defined by job role.

Staff safety

Our commitment to the health, safety and wellbeing of our people is driven by our Health Safety and Environment Sustainability Policy.

To provide a safer workplace, we changed how we support leaders and our people in meeting their safety responsibilities. We did this by growing our wellbeing and safety team to include more specialists and a team focused on wellbeing and injury prevention and management. We created site-based support with a team of safety experts and a new business partner team working with our senior leaders.

In recognition of the way our science and other work is conducted, we began the transition to a new approach to risk management by adopting an activity-based method. We updated our health and safety management system to align with the national standard and continued to focus our safety programs on preventing musculoskeletal injuries and improving wellbeing.

We continued our programs to improve personal ownership of safety and after the success of our first HS-Me Day in May 2018, we are planning a second HS-Me Day in September 2019 when we will stop work across all our sites globally and at home, in the field, laboratory or office to focus on making safety, health and wellbeing personal, to everyone at CSIRO.

The safety contacts program was extended to senior leaders in all Business Units, ensuring our leaders better understand and respond to the safety and wellbeing issues our people face in their work.

In addition to focusing on our safety, we are growing our work on wellbeing. In November, our staff participated in our first wellbeing survey. Wellbeing overall is slightly below external benchmarks in the Australian National Norm and R&D Norm, and we are working now to improve our performance in this important area.

Our laboratories across Australia use a wide range of reticulated gases in their research. We completed a comprehensive external audit of sites where we use gas and assessed them against the relevant legislation and standards. We are working towards ensuring every laboratory is managed at the same level.

Safety performance

Our safety performance this year was not satisfactory. Increases across our key performance metrics, while not to historical levels, has concerned senior leaders and triggered a new focus on safety leadership and our safety system.

There were 10 regulatory notifiable incidents reported to Comcare this year, two involving contractors and an overall increase with nine reported last year. While we saw a reduction in serious injuries, we did not achieve our target of nine.

bar graph of csiro serious injuries, dangerous incidents and other notifiable incidentsFigure 3.6: Regulatory notifiable incidents, 2013–14 to 2018–19. *2017-18: Biosecurity incident, reportable to the Department of Agriculture

Forty-eight people suffered an injury serious enough to prevent them from coming to work compared to 37 last year. These injuries occurred at a rate of 5.0 per million hours worked, an increase from 3.9 in 2017–18. The majority of injuries related to occupational overuse, manual handling and slips, trips and falls. An increase in injuries requiring medical treatment resulted in the Recordable Injury Frequency Rate increasing from 8.1 to 12.1.

line graph of csiro recordable injury frequency rateFigure 3.7: CSIRO recordable injury frequency rate*, 2014–15 to 2018–19*The Recordable Injury Frequency Rate is calculated as the sum of Lost Time Injuries per million hours worked (LTIFR) plus the Medical Treatment Injuries per million hours worked (MTIFR).

Thirty-three audits and reviews were undertaken this year, including by the Office of Health Protection; Office of the Gene Technology Regulator; Department of Agriculture; Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office. Work undertaken included an audit of the CSIRO Rehabilitation Management System and a gap analysis of CSIRO Firearms. Ninety-two per cent of the review actions arising from these audits and reviews were completed on time.

Managing our environment

We educate, research and innovate to advance scientific knowledge and develop solutions for a sustainable planet. To achieve our research goals, we operate multiple facilities, with significant energy and water consumption and waste output, including laboratories, glasshouses, farm properties, supercomputers and telescope facilities, as well as manage plants and livestock and facilities such as the high-security microbiological facility, Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL).

Our commitment to the principles of Ecological Sustainable Development (ESD) is included in our Corporate Plan and Heath Safety and Environmental Sustainability Policy. Our alignment and contribution to ESD is summarised in the following table.

Environmental awareness is promoted through inductions, the intranet, training, and communication and engagement programs.

Further information on our core business activities can be found in this section.

Table 3.17: Our alignment and contribution to ecological sustainable development



Decision-making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations.

Our Planning and Performance Framework includes impact evaluations and reviews to assess the environmental, economic and social outcomes from our work.

If there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainly should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.

Our operational and scientific procedures ensure that our research and activities have low environmental impact. Environmental protection is mandated when planning and undertaking major capital works. Any proposed activities that may fall under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 are assessed for referral to the Department of the Environment and Energy. Proposals for new or modifications to existing facilities undergo rigorous internal safety, regulatory and environmental processes with independent oversight.

The principle of inter-generational equity – that the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations.

Our Planning and Performance Framework includes impact evaluations and reviews to assess the social outcomes of our work. As a world leader in sustainability research and one of Australia’s top 300 carbon emitters, we actively integrate environmental responsibility and sustainability into our operations, minimising our environmental footprint through building infrastructure and behaviour change, and preventing, minimising and controlling pollution. Reducing our consumption of energy, water and resources not only supports sustainable objectives, it also contributes to our financial sustainability and allows us to redirect more funds into our science.

The conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental consideration in decision-making.

We understand environmental assessments are a part of our decision-making frameworks as they relate to our facilities.

Improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms should be promoted.

We have no activities in this area.

Reducing emissions and consumption

We have an ambitious 20 per cent carbon emission reduction target to be achieved by the end of June 2020, measured against business-as-usual projections. This target is aligned with the Australian Government emissions reduction target against a 2000 baseline and articulated through our Carbon Strategy.

Electricity, gas and liquid fuel-related emissions (Scopes 1 and 2) account for approximately 38 per cent of our total carbon footprint.1 Emissions embedded in our supply chain (Scope 3) make up the other 62 per cent. During 2018–19, key focus areas included:

  • developing sustainable buildings that meet future research and enterprise needs
  • installing photovoltaic (PV) systems and lighting upgrades across multiple sites
  • improving our vehicle fleet as part of measures to progressively phase out our petrol cars with more environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternatives including electric vehicles.

Our Fleet team developed the Environmental Strategy 2024 for CSIRO Fleet to help reduce emissions through electric vehicles pool growth. Where we can’t introduce electric vehicles, we are looking at hybrid alternatives. Energy research teams collaborated to further the development of the charging stations and hydrogen cells technologies.

Energy consumption (electricity and gas) decreased from 6262 terajoules in 2017–18 to 610 terajoules in 2018–19; a reduction of three per cent. This includes our use of electricity generated by on-site solar PV systems. Our energy consumption continues to decrease, falling by six per cent over the last five years (see Figure 3.8). During 2018–19, newly installed PV systems and lighting upgrades reduced our electricity consumption. For example, grid-fed electricity consumption fell by 45 per cent at our Darwin (NT) site and 11 per cent at our Werribee (VIC) site after the PV systems were installed. In addition, grid-fed electricity usage at the Armidale (NSW) and Black Mountain (ACT) sites decreased by 20 per cent and one per cent, respectively.

Our rate of energy-related carbon emissions reduced by four per cent compared to the previous year and 10 per cent compared to the average of the past five years (see Figure 3.7). Electricity-related emissions fell by four per cent in the last 12 months, attributed to both reductions in consumption and changes in emission factors. Gas-related emissions dropped by one per cent.

bar graphs of csiro energy, water and greenhouse gasesFIGURE 3.8: CSIRO energy and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions (electricity and gas onlyOur mains water usage decreased marginally compared to the previous year. Mains water consumption in 2018–19 was eight per cent below the average of the past five years (347 ML).

Our air travel, based on kilometres flown, increased by seven per cent in 2018–19, eight per cent above the average for the past five years. Approximately 54 per cent of our air travel is international, which accounts for approximately 50 per cent of our air-travel-related carbon emissions.

Table 3.18: CSIRO energy, air travel and water intensities










Purchased energy (electricity and gas) consumed per employee (GJ/FTE)1







Air travel

Million air kilometres travelled (km)







Air travel per employee (km/FTE)







Relative mains water use

Amount of total water use per employee (kilolitres/FTE)







1 GJ/FTE is gigajoules per full-time equivalent (staff). FTE refers to CSIRO Officers as at June 2019.

Sustainable facilities

We continued to improve the energy performance of our buildings, realising significant cost and carbon emission savings. More than 5,700 lights have been upgraded to LED at Clayton, Werribee and Hobart. Following this success, further upgrades are underway at Black Mountain, Newcastle, Darwin, Kensington, Adelaide and Waite. The upgrades are expected to achieve savings of approximately $500,000 and 2000 tCO2e per year.

Other initiatives included building air leakage trials, expanded deployment of building fault detection and diagnostic tools at Black Mountain and upgrades to fume cupboard controls and sashes. Completed initiatives are expected to reduce emissions by over 300 tCO2e per annum. Our Hobart property team is taking advantage of the natural building hot house effect to heat linkways between buildings. The system optimises cooling by venting hot air directly outside. The team also upgraded data centre cooling systems and now it uses rejected heat to warm the buildings, and the free cooling when external temperatures permit.

We continued our focus on access to credible building data by improving the submetering system and use of data to analyse building performance, and automating energy and water data monitoring.

Business and Infrastructure Services and the Grids and Energy Efficiency research team within the Energy Business Unit collaborated to develop the Data Clearing House (DCH) trial. DCH is a horizontally integrated open data platform that supports the collection, processing and sharing of building data in a secure way. By making building data accessible, DCH will drive innovation across a broad spectrum of built environment stakeholders, resulting in increased value out of available data.

Solar-powered science

We are progressing towards our onsite renewable energy target of 5 megawatts (MW), with solar PV installations in progress at Black Mountain (950kW), Clayton (1,186kW), Pullenvale (760kW) and Waite (404kW). PV installations at Newcastle (195kW), Waterford (245kW) and Kensington (174kW) will begin shortly.

Resource recovery and diversion from landfill

We actively manage more than 30 waste and recycling categories through our national waste and recycling contract. Total waste generation was stable compared to the previous 12 months and diversion from landfill increased. From May 2018 to April 2019, we diverted more than 13,000 cubic metres (weighing 1,500 tonnes) of waste from landfill, equating to a 40 per cent diversion rate by volume or 51 per cent by weight, which is slightly ahead of our 50 per cent diversion target.

CSIRO’s War on Waste was a new initiative, which encouraged staff to proactively reduce single-use plastics. Waste audits were conducted in CSIRO cafeterias at Hobart, Clayton and Black Mountain. Building on the audits’ data, we introduced a crowdsourcing task to staff across all sites to identify where single-use plastic waste is generated and to source ideas about how to avoid this waste. The audits triggered changes in cafeterias to reduce plastic use and initiated discussions about embedding circular economy principles in the new tender processes.

Managing our heritage

We recognise our responsibility to conserve the Commonwealth and national heritage values of the places we own or control, and we manage these values under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Our Heritage Strategy for CSIRO Land and Buildings 2016–26 outlines our objectives and responsibilities and has been endorsed by the Australian Heritage Commission.

As part of the CSIRO Heritage Program for 2018–19, our Business and Infrastructure Services approached the market and procured a Heritage Assessment Report for one CSIRO site. We are reviewing proposals for a further two sites to be completed in 2019. We will provide a three-year update to the Department of Environment and Energy in July 2019.

All Heritage Management Plans and information on other Commonwealth heritage-listed sites are available at www.csiro.au/Heritage.

Budget operating result

Through careful management of expenditure and projects generating revenue, the operating deficit of $33 million this year was within tolerance of the operating deficit approved by the Australian Government. This was the result of total expenses of $1,396 million, externally generated revenue of $529 million and government appropriations of $835 million, all being materially consistent with approved budgets (see Table 3.19).

Table 3.19: Our financial performance by source of revenue, $M







Australian private sector






Australian governments






Rural industry research and development (R&D) corporations






Cooperative Research Centres






Overseas entities and international






Work in progress/deferred revenue






Total co-investment, consulting and services






Intellectual property (IP)—royalty and licence revenues






Total research and services revenue






Other external revenue






Gain/(loss) on sale of assets






Other fair value gains and reversals



Total external revenue






Revenue from government






Total revenue






Less expenses






Operating result







  1. Baynes, T., Saldanha, T., Malik, A., Haque, N., Schandl, H., Lenzen, M., Carbon Footprint Report, 2015–16.
  2. 2017–18 energy consumption was revised down from 630 TJ to 626 TJ following receipt of new data.