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Objective 4: Ensure the sustainability of CSIRO

Our fourth objectives is addressed by two functions:

4.1: Ensure a vibrant, safe and positive culture in CSIRO.

4.2: Ensure CSIRO has sustainable operations, sites and infrastructure.

Function 4.1: Ensure a vibrant, safe and positive culture in CSIRO

Our key activities for Function 4.1 contributed to our strategic focus areas via:

  • health and safety
  • people and digital practices
  • workforce planning and talent management
  • CSIRO culture.

We delivered on this function by:

  • supporting our people to thrive and to value their health, safety and wellbeing
  • understanding our future workforce needs and ensuring we have the right capabilities (including leadership) at the right time
  • shifting the needle on all elements of our cultural vision and continuing to invest in our leaders
  • attracting, developing and retaining the nation’s best and brightest to solve complex, emergent challenges for Australia’s prosperity into the future.

Our people thrive and value their health, safety and wellbeing

Health, safety and wellbeing

Our commitment to the safety and wellbeing of our people is driven by our Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) Sustainability Policy. This year, we updated the policy to reflect our commitment to enhancing the safety and wellbeing of our people, and to embed a link to our values to drive a positive and proactive safety culture.

The second annual HS-Me Day was held in September, where we stopped our work activities to focus on health, safety and wellbeing, particularly hazard identification and making time to connect. Feedback from our people indicated they are more confident in identifying, reporting and logging hazards, have a greater awareness of online wellbeing resources, and understand how to fit wellbeing into their day.

Many unprecedented events have occurred over the past 12 months, from bushfires, to smoke blanketing, to hailstorms and the COVID-19 pandemic – all of which required a rapid organisational response. Our teams responded swiftly to these events to navigate the associated risks to keep our people safe.

We activated a Situation Management Team in January to respond to COVID-19 and to focus on safety and business continuity across Australia and globally. We minimised the impact of the pandemic on our people and continued to deliver projects by transitioning the majority of the workforce to remote working. We prioritised our support to the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, as well as our manufacturing, and health and biosecurity researchers undertaking COVID-19-related work. We also worked with state governments to ensure our sites could be accessed.

We focused on the holistic wellbeing of our people by delivering mental health first aid training. Unfortunately, this initiative is currently on hold due to the pandemic and will commence again soon. As part of our Thrive initiative and in partnership with the Black Dog Institute, we implemented webinars and workshops tailored to leaders, human resources, health and safety professionals, and general staff members. We developed and delivered resources to help our people cope with the rapidly changing situation as the pandemic evolved. We launched a campaign to encourage our people to move more and sit less, which raised awareness of the risks of sedentary behaviours and reduced the likelihood of injuries. The Global Challenge, run by Virgin Pulse, was a key component of this campaign and we made it available to all our people.

We invested in a digital HSE solution to streamline and simplify information, processes and systems, and to enable a seamless user experience.

Safety performance

During the year, we carried out a review of the definitions and processes used to calculate our statistics. This review highlighted that the definition and methodology used to determine the Medical Treatment Injuries (MTI) frequency rate was inconsistent with industry practice, which resulted in overstating the performance metric. We became aware that while reporting incidents from employees, affiliates and contractors, only hours from employees were reported. Going forward, contractor incidents will be removed from frequency rates and a conservative estimate of affiliate hours will be used until a more robust system is in place to collect data. A revised definition has been approved to enable benchmarking against industry and other government agencies, in line with industry best practice.

This revision of the MTI definition has resulted in a correction of the MTI frequency rate, from 7.0 in 2018–19 to 3.2 in 2019–20 and a correction of the Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rate from 11.6 to 6.2. Our Serious Lost Time Injuries frequency rate has fallen from 0.83 in 2018–19 to 0.08 under the revised definition in 2019–20, as depicted in Cross-referenceCross-reference. Our people are encouraged to report discomfort early, so that early intervention is effective.

We provided a wealth of information and resources to assist people setting up at home to achieve best possible ergonomics with what people had available to them. We are responding further to this new way of working and are putting in place additional resources to ensure that our people are able to work safely, whether at home or onsite.

Regulatory notifiable incidents reported to Comcare and other regulators increased from 10 to 15 this year, including four serious injuries and 11 dangerous incidents. Six of these incidents were electrical. As a result, we developed an Electrical Safety Action Plan and updated our Electrical Safety Procedure to align with workplace health and safety legislation. Two other incidents prompted rapid action to rectify gaps in local processes and these lessons learned were shared with our senior leaders. We continue to have a good relationship with our regulator and take the opportunity to improve from every notifiable incident.

The Safety Contact program was broadened throughout our leadership teams, which resulted in more than 2,000 safety conversations during the year. We observed a marked increase in discussions on hazard topics around psychosocial and work environment occurring from February, showing that leaders responded to the rapidly changing environment.

3.3: Our recordable injury frequency rate Line graph showing our rolling serious lost time injury frequency rate, our rolling medical treatment injury frequency rate, our rolling lost time injury frequency rate and our rolling total reportable injury frequency rate - from July 2015 through to July 2020

Our future workforce and leaders

Succession and talent development

This year we took a more transparent and robust approach to succession planning, including targeted development planning and interventions designed to increase the talent pipeline for leadership roles. We reviewed talent pipelines and identified potential successors for executive leadership roles, and we identified appropriate development activities for successors.

In addition, we introduced a process to identify future organisational leaders to invest in and accelerate their readiness to take on roles of greater scope, complexity, and ambiguity.

Learning and leadership development: people and digital practices

We delivered over 48,000 hours of learning to our people in 2019–20. Some highlights include:

Digital Academy: Learning reached 1,396 people and delivered over 13,000 hours of learning with six core offerings that lifted our data science and digital literacy capabilities.

COVID-19 prompted our virtual learning and leadership development curriculum to expand. The Experienced Leader Program was delivered virtually for the first time, demonstrating agility and building virtual leadership capability in leaders across the organisation.

The COVID-19 Leaders Hub and Leading Remotely program was established, providing resources and capability building to support leaders to lead their teams virtually. This program has three themes: Be Well to Lead Well; Maintaining Team Connections; and Getting Things Done.

Our award-winning, frontline leadership program, Ready to Lead, continued to grow this year – 162 participants completing the program and 85 participants enrolled in the current sessions.

Our culture

Culture strategy and forward planning

We identified several priority areas to improve how we work collectively, manage change and build adaptiveness. These ‘cultural levers’ will help us to empower and build leadership capability, foster agility and create effective networks for our people.

We continued to support initiatives focused on building engagement and mutual trust with our people, including all staff webinars, senior leader‑led round tables and site visits. More than 2,300 people attended our state-wide CSIRO Connect events in 2019, which helped to build a shared sense of purpose around our strategic direction and the work that we do and ensuring that everyone feels included and valued.

Organisational values

Developing our organisational values was a key priority this year. We engaged with our people at our Connect events, which helped us identify the important themes that resonated with our people and that we needed for our strategic success.

We agreed on four key values in March: People first; Further together; Making it real; and Trusted.

Read more at: Values. We’re continuing to work on improving staff awareness and embedding the values across our people lifecycle.

Diversity and inclusion

Truly equitable workplaces offer opportunity, understanding and mutual benefit across any organisation. By creating a genuinely inclusive culture where everyone feels a sense of belonging, our people will be enabled to realise their full potential. To deliver on our purpose and drive innovation, we remain committed to looking at all facets of our pipeline and experience, and taking decisive, positively directed action to ensure our workplace is inclusive and equitable for everyone. Our framework is our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2019–22, which has a deep focus on gender, Indigenous Australians, disability and cultural diversity.

Our two major programs to advance gender equity are Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) and Male Champions of Change (MCC). Our Chief Executive continues to champion gender equity outcomes via the MCC STEM Group, which complements the evidence-based, long-term focus of SAGE. Achieving SAGE Bronze accreditation was a monumental achievement, and we have built on this breakthrough by implementing our five‑year SAGE Bronze Action Plan with an aspiration towards SAGE Silver.

During 2019–20, we made exceptional progress to address cultural, systemic and pipeline barriers to gender equity in STEM. Fifty-one per cent of our SAGE actions are complete, and we reached 62 per cent of the milestones of our five-year plan. Another 41 per cent of actions are in progress. Some of these are long term, extended commitments that are in progress for future impact. We delivered a further 13 actions via MCC Group Action Plans, including addressing everyday sexism in the workplace.

This year, we delivered our workplace response to Domestic Family Violence and Abuse. We developed easily accessible information and trained domestic and family violence and abuse contact officers and human resources staff to support our people when they need it most. The work to embed and extend these programs demonstrates continued and genuine commitment to gender equity.

In June, we were awarded Gold Employer Status in the 2020 Australian Workplace Equality Index, which recognised our commitment to equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/gender diverse, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) inclusiveness.

Prioritising and engaging with the LGBTIQ+ community highlights this commitment and creates a feeling of belonging for all our people. We prioritised activities that raised the visibility of LGBTIQ+ employees, participated in annual celebrations including the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade and Wear it Purple Day, and drove systemic changes in policy and reporting to improve acceptance and comfort within the workplace.

The CSIRO marchers pictured on bark with trees in the background. The group on the left is wearing blue feathers and costumes, the group in the middle is wearing rainbow feathers and costumes and the group on the right is wearing green feathers and costumes. Larry is lying down in front of the group in the middle.
More than 50 of our scientists and employees marched in the 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade to demonstrate our commitment to LGBTIQ+ inclusion.

Using an evidence-based approach with data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, we developed discipline-specific benchmarking across the organisation to better understand our current and projected performance to develop more targeted actions for the future.

To ensure people of all genders feel supported and empowered, we provide mentoring and shadowing opportunities irrespective of gender. We also know that gender roles extend beyond the workplace to family life and societal expectation. With that in mind, we developed online versions of our leadership and development programs to facilitate attendance for our people who are unable to travel for caring or other reasons.

For International Women’s Day, we launched a digital exhibition across our social, digital and internal channels to celebrate our women. To ensure the role models we promote are gender balanced and culturally diverse, our internal and external communication strategies have diversity checkpoints, which are aligned with our diversity aspirations and values where everyone sees themselves, their potential, and their value.

Our Chief Executive and Chief Scientist regularly emphasise the importance of diversity via blogs and speaking platforms, and the initiatives implemented to date reinforce an inclusive workplace culture that fosters a sense of belonging for all our people.

Indigenous engagement

We recognise that sustainable and respectful relationships with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community are integral towards our vision of supporting Indigenous science excellence.

Our second Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) reaffirms our commitment to strengthening genuine relationships with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. This year we continued to progress all 62 actions, including a few first-time achievements across our science, partnerships, capability development, employment, procurement, and education and engagement.

In support of our RAP, we aim to achieve greater Indigenous participation and are actively pursuing further opportunities to incorporate supplier diversity within the organisation through promoting the Australian Government Indigenous Procurement Policy. Over the last year, we have contributed to the Commonwealth Government’s target with a total expenditure of $8.7 million with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander‑owned enterprises.

Our cultural capability framework continues to nurture the internal capabilities of our people. At 30 June, 79 per cent of our people had completed the online Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural awareness learning module. We embedded cultural protocol initiatives at our owned sites and we recognised all significant dates in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander calendar, including operating a CSIRO stall at the largest NAIDOC event in Brisbane in July.

In May, we delivered a national campaign for National Reconciliation Week through a virtual online program of events that enabled all our people to participate during COVID-19. We learnt about our shared histories, cultures and achievements, explored how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia, and improved our understanding of the world’s oldest living and continuing cultures.

We recognise that our journey towards true and genuine reconciliation requires us to rethink how we can support Indigenous-led science and solutions that benefit all Australians. In 2019, we invested in the Indigenous Science Program and identified how we can develop a CSIRO-wide program that embraces the co-development of science excellence, which will make a difference for all Australians.

Our external relationships with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community grew as we strive to build genuine partnerships in the sector. In July, we presented at the National Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Research Conference. In August, we sponsored the 2019 Garma Festival. Led by our Chief Scientist, Dr Cathy Foley AO PSM, we supported the largest CSIRO delegation of people to attend and participate in Australia’s largest Aboriginal-led cultural exchange.

We maintained and fostered our relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and experts that advise us on how best to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The Indigenous Strategic Advisory Council met three times this year to provide strategic advice and guidance to our executive leadership team. Our external Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partners and subject matter experts provided advice through our representative advisory groups: the Indigenous Science Program Independent Reference Group; the Indigenous Innovation Alliance committee; the Indigenous STEM Education Project Steering Committees; and our Business Unit Strategic Advisory Committees.

Our Indigenous-led science highlights included collaborating with the Ngadju people to re‑engage Indigenous cultural burning knowledge as part of the management of Western Australia’s Great Western Woodlands. We also partnered with Northern Australia Indigenous Land Management Alliance, Mimal Land Management Aboriginal Corporation, Aak Puul Ngangtam Ltd and Normanby Land Management to fund a $4 million project that will use the world’s largest satellite herd-tracking program to manage more than 1,000 feral buffalo and cattle roaming northern Australia.

Indigenous employment

We invested more than $1 million in the Indigenous Capability Development Project (ICDP) to provide pathways for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander STEM students. Through this project, we established relationships with universities in six of Australia’s states and territories and created funding support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in STEM to contribute to our future workforce.

We developed a talent management framework to provide greater awareness of career development and growth opportunities. We also created a unique support network of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peers to provide culturally sensitive support to our people.

We retained one-third of our cohort, provided professional development funding, and our representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples peaked at 2.1 per cent during
the ICDP project.

Analysis of performance

Our efforts this year contributed to us delivering towards our outcomes (see 3.14: Summary of our performance for enabling a healthy and sustainable organisation):

  • Our staff are engaged and empowered in their work.
  • Our innovation culture and operations enhance the wellbeing of our staff.
  • Our workforce is inclusive, harnessing the full potential of our people.
3.14: Summary of our performance for enabling a healthy and sustainable organisation

Performance measures
Source: 2019–20 Corporate Plan



Staff safety, health and wellbeing

Staff Survey: staff wellbeing responses

70% positive

Achieved: 70% positive

Hazard reporting (number of hazards recorded by staff in the health, safety and environment system)

720 reports

Not achieved: 576 reports, due to very low reporting March–June

Cultural health

Staff Survey: Sustainable Engagement Score

80% positive

Achieved: 84% positive

Diversity in leadership: proportion of female leaders (as defined by organisation role)

33% female

Achieved: 36% female

Staff health, safety and wellbeing
Staff wellbeing

This year we were unable to conduct our regular, comprehensive staff survey due to disruptions from COVID-19, however we completed short and focused pulse surveys in April and May. More than 3,000 people responded to the latest survey and nearly 70 per cent responded favourably to their wellbeing status. This result is a significant four per cent improvement in comparison to the wellbeing indicator reported in 2018, and a two per cent improvement on the 2019 result. In spite of COVID-19 disruptions, this is considered a significant achievement and a result of our regular programs that focused on improving our people’s wellbeing.

Hazard reporting

We were well on track to meet our target of 720 hazard reports until March, where, in response to COVID-19, our people worked from home where it was not essential for them to be on site. From March–May, hazard reporting was very low. We reported 576 hazards, which was far in excess of the 2018–19 result of 300.

Cultural health
Sustainable engagement

Our people’s engagement is an overall measure of an employee’s connection to their organisation and is closely correlated with productivity and performance. This year, in our pulse survey, we achieved 84 per cent positive responses to the questions representing engagement, exceeding our target of 80 per cent. This continues our significantly positive trajectory over the past five years, up from past results of 78 per cent in 2018 and 68 per cent in 2016 and 2014.

It indicates progress in our initiatives focused on building engagement and mutual trust with our people. This has been especially important in our responses to the bushfire and COVID-19 crises. We put our people first and actively supported the transition to working safely from home or on our sites where necessary. We held regular forums to keep connected with our people both on operational changes and on our research contributions to the national responses. In our survey, 95 per cent of our people reported that they are proud to be associated with CSIRO.

Prior to these disruptions, our initiatives included all-staff webinars, senior leader-led round table discussions and site visits. We held Connect workshop events to build a shared sense of purpose around our strategic direction and the work that we do, and to ensure that everyone feels included and valued.

Diversity in leadership

Achieving gender equity is critical for us to deliver innovative solutions and achieve impact – leveraging diverse perspectives from a wider talent pool allows us to draw on different experiences and approaches to expand our thinking and creativity. Recently, there has been growing concern about the under-representation of women in leadership across industry. Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that women comprise 47.4 per cent of all employed persons and hold 31.5 per cent of key management personnel roles in Australia (Workplace Gender Equality Agency 2020, Data Explorer). We recognise the importance and need to embed diversity and inclusion at all levels of leadership, and we’re committed to implementing our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and increasing our female leaders.

During 2019–20, our proportion of women in leadership positions increased from 35 per cent to 36 per cent, which exceeds this year’s target of 33 per cent and shows we are on track to reach our strategic goal of 37 per cent by 2023–24. This result demonstrates clear impact from our participation in gender equity initiatives, such as SAGE and MCC, and our commitment to our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. To help with succession planning, we also strengthened the diversity of our future leadership pipeline and achieved gender-balance in our leadership development programs. This is a great result; however, we will continue to monitor and support this trajectory to avoid regressing during potentially uncertain times next year.

Function 4.2: Ensure CSIRO has sustainable operations, sites and infrastructure

Our key activities for Function 4.2 contributed to our strategic focus areas via:

  • property
  • communication
  • security
  • finance
  • platforms and systems.

We delivered on this function by:

  • our finance, governance, information management, property and corporate affairs services supporting the research and innovation activities, protecting our brand, and strengthening our reputation with key stakeholders.


We manage a significant proportion of Australia’s state-of-the-art science infrastructure and biological collections as well as a complex portfolio that includes 55 domestic sites, three international facilities, and more than 950 buildings. These sites and facilities enable our scientists to solve the greatest challenges through innovative science and technology.

Our property strategy has evolved significantly in the past decade. It serves to provide high-quality facilities; develop dynamic work environments and collaboration hubs, to meet legislative and compliance obligations, and to contain repairs and maintenance costs across ageing infrastructure in many locations.

Our 2019–29 Property Strategy provides a framework that articulates investment and divestment principles for decision-making to ensure our property portfolio provides fit-for-purpose infrastructure that is efficient, affordable and sustainable. It is structured to accommodate future changes that will impact our operating environment such as the implementation of the Future Science and Technology plan, emerging priorities and other customer-focused initiatives.

It also incorporates lessons learnt from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) findings on the implementation of 2012 Property Investment Plan, including Board-endorsed performance targets.

The 2012 Property Investment Plan has reduced our footprint by 10 per cent to date. Activities in the current Implementation Plan will see a further 6.7 per cent reduction in footprint.

Unfortunately, the timing of the ANAO audit did not align with the delivery of major consolidation projects, and benefits will be realised in 2021 onwards.

Property Strategy implementation progress

The 2019–20 annual implementation plan, which complements the 2019–29 Property Strategy was impacted due to unexpected events including bushfires, hail damage and COVID-19, which led to a review of the strategy.

Our progress:

  • We planned and scoped the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness part-life refurbishment program at Geelong. Design is progressing on track and within budget.
  • A new national collections facility to house (in the first phase) the national wildlife collection was delayed due to issues with finalising the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy contract and identifying the facility’s location at our Black Mountain site.
  • The divestment of Ginninderra experienced delays in the sale process due to the withdrawal of an unsolicited bid in November, however preparations for on-market sale in 2020 have progressed well.
  • In June, we finalised the sale of our Highett site.
  • In April, the Board approved a revised Annual Implementation Plan for 2020–21.

Environmental performance

As a world-leader in sustainability research, we have a responsibility to minimise our environmental footprint through efficient operations, reducing our water, energy and resource consumption, and supporting the sustainable behaviour of more than 5,000 people.

Meeting our carbon reduction targets

In June, we concluded our Carbon Strategy 2013–20, successfully reducing our scope 1 and 2 emissions by more than five per cent against our year 2000 baseline.

In 2019–20, we reduced these emissions seven per cent compared to last year, and 14 per cent below the average of the previous five years.

We met our 2020 target to generate five megawatts (MW) of onsite renewable energy by installing solar panels at Black Mountain (1,113kW), Clayton (1,187 kW), Kensington (175kW), Newcastle (216kW), Pullenvale (760kW), Waite (404kW) and Waterford (245kW). This brings our total to 13,000 panels across 10 sites.

Unfortunately, a severe hailstorm in January caused significant damage to most of the panels at Black Mountain, which we are replacing.

Late in the year, we signed a new power purchase agreement to supply the sites we manage in Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory with renewable energy from July 2020 onwards. This will significantly reduce our electricity-based emissions over the next 10 years.

Resource consumption and emissions

Our electricity and gas energy consumption decreased by two per cent1, compared to last year and six per cent below the average of the previous five years. Our reductions during the year can be attributed to our extensive photovoltaic installations, small emissions reduction programs across our facilities, site consolidation processes, and changes to state-level electricity emission factors. Reduced site activity due to COVID-19 also impacted our site-based resource consumption, however, the full net impact is difficult to quantify at this stage.

Over the five-year period, we have continuously looked at ways to reduce our energy consumption through large multi-site programs such as extensive LED lighting upgrades, replacing energy intensive equipment and improving our building analytics. During this time, we also implemented a substantial program of submetering across our sites to provide greater insight into the breakdown of resource use within our facilities. Data from this program continues to inform and support the assessment of potential resource efficiency projects.

We continue to reduce the impact of our fleet vehicles by gradually phasing out petrol vehicles with low emissions vehicles, such as electric and hybrid cars. To date, we have 48 hybrid vehicles and 11 electric vehicles.

3.4: CSIRO energy and water consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions Three bar graphs - dark blue for energy consumption, light blue for water and grey for greenhouse gases

3.15: Our energy, air travel and water intensities

Performance measure








Purchased energy (electricity and gas) consumer 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)






Waste diversion rate

Amount of total waste by weight diverted from landfill (%)






1 GJ/FTE is gigajoules per full-time equivalent (staff). FTE refers to CSIRO Officers at 30 June.

2 Adjusted to account for amended tonnages.

3 This year, we had several one-off waste collections that were diverted from landfill, affecting diversion rates.

Helping algae grow more efficiently

In addition to the extensive LED lighting upgrades across our facilities, our people identified an opportunity to upgrade the fluorescent lighting in an algal growth room at our Hobart site. Approximately 100 light boxes containing 1–10 fluorescent tubes were upgraded to modern LEDs. Revised data indicates we have achieved a reduction of more than 15 per cent in energy and emissions.

Managing our waste

Our waste diversion rate decreased during the year by 12 per cent due to a reduction in overall waste generated. We continue to look at ways to improve our waste management processes.

During the year, we worked with onsite cafe operators at Lindfield, Kensington, Clayton, Black Mountain and Hobart to achieve a higher standard of waste minimisation. This includes gradually phasing out single-use plastic packaging in favour of reusable cups and bowls.

Many of our people participated in Plastic Free July events across 23 of our sites, which resulted in multiple staff-led initiatives to reduce single-use plastics in their workplaces.

Sustainable facilities

We continue to implement building improvements across our facilities through our long-term property maintenance program, including proactively seeking ways to reduce resource consumption within our science infrastructure. This has included large chiller upgrades to the largest building at our Clayton facility and several air handling system improvements at our Kensington and Lindfield facilities.

During the year, we also conducted a detailed energy audit at our Waite site in South Australia, where we identified the potential to save 130 MW of energy and $166,000 in costs. Additionally, we investigated our top 10 energy consuming sites and identified the potential to reduce our emissions by a further 9.3 per cent through building tuning, heat recovery and better demand control.

We look for collaborative opportunities between our research and facilities teams that enable us to deploy research concepts in our buildings. Our Data Clearing House research project currently monitors 17,000 data points at specific buildings at our Newcastle, Black Mountain and Clayton sites through two tailored dashboards. Additionally, our building fault diagnostic and detection tool at Black Mountain helped us optimise our energy consumption, which saved 228 tonnes of emissions this year.

Ecologically sustainable development

We integrate environmental responsibility into our operations, and minimise our environmental footprint through building infrastructure, behaviour change, and preventing, minimising and controlling pollution.

Our Planning and Performance Framework includes impact evaluations and reviews to assess the environmental, economic and social outcomes from our work. Our operational and scientific procedures ensure that our research and site activities help to minimise our environmental impact. For example, through our Property Strategy, new building proposals or modifications to existing facilities undergo internal reviews to ensure safety, regulatory and environmental issues are addressed. This includes considering activities that fall under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, including protecting cultural and heritage‑listed properties and buildings.

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 2019–20, we procured a Heritage Assessment Report for two CSIRO sites. These reports will be finalised in 2020.

We will provide an update to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment prior to December. The update will include Heritage Assessment Reports and finalised Heritage Management Plans, expenditure spent on heritage‑listed facilities and a revised timeframe for other sites to be reviewed.

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


We are well-known and trusted by the Australian community. We measure our reputation through an external community survey; these insights guide our communication and engagement activities to better communicate the impact of Australia’s national science agency.

This year public awareness of CSIRO remained high at 88 per cent and positive sentiment is at an all-time high at 69 per cent.

Our Corporate Affairs Strategy continues to strengthen our reputation by creating relevant and accessible opportunities to engage our community and customers, and to encourage industry to work with us.

Business and community engagement activities across the year included our second appearance at the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade, the first ever virtual ON Accelerator Demo Night, the first Young Indigenous Women’s STEM Academy camps and D61+Live.

We also delivered our first Virtual Work Experience program, where Northern Territory high school students remotely operated telescopes at Parkes and worked on real datasets with researchers. We launched citizen science activities for bushfire recovery and supported storytelling from teachers on RV Investigator for the Educator on Board program.

A major celebration of scientific endeavour and Australia’s role was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, which garnered national interest and profile.

We were an important and trusted source of information for many Australians with evidence-based content on bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.


The safety and security of our people, property and systems is of paramount importance. Over the last 12 months, we have updated and developed a number of new and improved procedures and principles as part of the implementation of the Enterprise Security Framework. Specific procedures related to overseas travel, personnel security pre‑employment checks and strengthened principles and procedures related to access control and security incidents will enable us to continually develop a robust security regime.

Current initiatives include development of a comprehensive strategic framework including mechanisms to protect against foreign interference and development of strategic partnerships with government clients to protect sensitive projects. The improved security regime within the organisation will ensure our sustainability by improving the protection of our people, assets and information.

Read more at CSIRO Executive Management.


In June, the Board approved an asset management review as part of the Four-Year Capital Action Plan. We reviewed our organisation’s assets, including management practices, to improve the sustainable management of our scientific equipment, system and infrastructure assets. The review set out an information base, amended decision frameworks, and a strategic approach to risk management through our investment, maintenance and asset management. In response to the review findings, we developed an action plan with immediate, medium and long-term horizons.

Platforms and systems

Enhancing the science agenda

A multi-year program to deliver multi-cloud service, for use in our research, is underway. Technical implementation of assured public cloud services is progressing well, alongside continued investment in our private high-performance cloud and data infrastructure. We are exploring strategic partnering opportunities with a number of hyperscale cloud and technology partners to support delivery of this program.

Supporting business process

We continue to support the digitisation of corporate processes across several initiatives and Enterprise Support Service functions. One of this year’s key activities was the cross-functional, ‘Build’ project, which includes the systematisation and digitisation of financial management processes to make our processes sound, efficient and transparent. It will also increase our overall financial maturity and sustainability. We delivered a roadmap for systematising and digitising several processes and activities, digitising our budgeting processes. We also made significant progress towards digitising organisational forecasting and cross-functional management reporting.

Through this program of work, we introduced a new Procure-to-Pay system to streamline and enhance security for our credit card transactions. We invested in our business development tools and extended our customer relationship management capability. We are establishing a digital HSE Management System that facilitates safe work practices for individuals. It integrates with existing systems and databases, provides easy access to key HSE information, enables key processes to be managed and monitored, and provides standardised reporting across the organisation. Once this activity is complete, further corporate business process will be reviewed for digitisation, including redeveloping our website.

Transforming service delivery

As part of our information and management technology service strategic program, we are rolling out new office software that enables our people to access files, share documents and collaborate with colleagues in a secure online environment from anywhere at any time and on any device. Office 365 is the first step towards in-place records management and improving the security of our collaborations with external partners.

Office 365 provides up-to-date, industry recognised social collaboration and office productivity tools. The project integrates Microsoft’s cloud‑based services with our operating environment, supporting our vision of collaboration and increased productivity. As at 30 June, we have delivered phases one to three of the project: we migrated to Exchange Online; delivered Office productivity tools including OneDrive and OneNote; and implemented collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams and Yammer. Phase four is planned for next year and will include further cyber security enhancements and mobile device management.

Embedding security into all information management technology services

Due to our ever-increasing cyber security risks, we prioritised and fast-tracked the Essential Eight mitigation strategies developed by the Australian Signals Directorate’s Australian Cyber Security Centre. This will allow us to promptly action urgent or emerging unacceptable cyber risks, while addressing the longer-term goal of embedding operational best practice and compliance against the Essential Eight.

Our efforts this year contributed to us delivering towards our outcome (see 3.16: Summary of our performance for conducting and facilitating the uptake of excellent scientific and technology solutions):

  • We have efficient and sustainable operations and are able to move quickly to address opportunities, thus maintaining our capacity to innovate for Australia.
3.16: Summary of our performance for conducting and facilitating the uptake of excellent scientific and technology solutions

Performance measures
Source: 2019–20 Corporate Plan



Efficient and sustainable operations

Customer Net Promoter Score (NPS) maintained with increased sample

NPS +40

The survey was not conducted due to COVID-19 disruptions to many of our customers.

Business Sentiment Survey: awareness of potential to work directly with CSIRO and knowledge of CSIRO

Increase year on year

The survey was not conducted due to COVID-19 disruptions to the business community.


  1. 2019–20 also includes energy use associated with our information technology servers at an offsite facility that has not been previously included.