The legislative framework in which DHA operates influences our corporate governance.
The most important pieces of legislation by which DHA is governed are as follows:
Defence Housing Australia Act 1987
Defence Housing Australia (DHA), formerly known as the Defence Housing Authority, was established as a statutory authority1 on 1 January 1988 under the Defence Housing Authority Act 1987 (Cth).
On 23 November 2006, in accordance with the Defence Housing Authority Amendment Act 2006 (Cth), the Authority was renamed Defence Housing Australia and our principal Act was renamed Defence Housing Australia Act 1987 (DHA Act).
The DHA Act sets out our functions, powers, corporate structure and delegations. In accordance with section 5 of the DHA Act, the main function of DHA is to provide adequate and suitable housing for, and housing related services to:
- members of the Defence Force and their families
- officers and employees of the Department of Defence and their families
- persons contracted to provide goods or services to the Defence Force and their families
in order to meet the operational needs of the ADF and the requirements of the Department.
In accordance with section 6 of the DHA Act, DHA may provide housing and housing related services to non-corporate Commonwealth entities other than Defence in order to meet the requirements of that entity. DHA did not provide any such services in 2019–20.
Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013
The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and its associated instruments, policies and guidance set the standards of governance, performance and accountability for Commonwealth entities and companies. The PGPA Act also imposes specific duties on our Board members and officials relating to the use and management of resources.
In accordance with the PGPA Act, DHA is a corporate Commonwealth entity2. As a corporate Commonwealth entity, DHA must comply with the following PGPA Act associated instruments and policies:
- Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 (PGPA Rule)
- Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (Financial Reporting) Rule 2015
- any government policy orders.
Significant issues relating to non-compliance with finance law
In accordance with section 19 of the PGPA Act, the Board (as the accountable authority of DHA) must notify our responsible Minister as soon as practicable after a significant non-compliance with finance law3 issue is identified. We must also include a statement of any significant issues reported to the responsible Minister in our Annual Report for that reporting period.
To assist the Board in fulfilling this requirement, DHA conducts a bi-annual finance law compliance reporting process. Informed by this completed reporting process, the Board did not determine any instances of significant non-compliance with the finance law for the 2019–20 reporting period.
Table 4.1: Significant non-compliance with the finance law
Description of non-compliance
DHA as a Government Business Enterprise
In accordance with section 5 of the PGPA Rule, DHA is one of nine Government Business Enterprises (GBEs)4. As a GBE, DHA is expected to comply with Resource Management Guide No. 126 Government Business Enterprises (GBEs) (RMG 126).
RMG 126 provides guidance in relation to board and corporate governance, planning and reporting, financial governance and other governance matters. A principal objective for each GBE is that it adds to shareholder value.
Other applicable legislation and processes
DHA is the only GBE that employs staff under the Public Service Act 1999. As an Australian Government employer, we must adhere to the provisions and statutes of various Commonwealth employment related legislation including, but not limited to, the Fair Work Act 2009 and the Work, Health and Safety Act 2011.
As a statutory agency, we must also operate in accordance with Commonwealth legislation including, but not limited to, the following Acts:
Freedom of Information Act 1982
Individuals can submit a request to DHA under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) to access documents we hold and seek to obtain copies of those documents.
Our responsibilities and functions under the FOI Act are delegated to a core group of staff. All new staff are required to complete FOI Act training as part of our induction process. In addition, ongoing staff complete mandatory refresher training annually.
In 2019–20, DHA received six requests for access to documents under the FOI Act. Of these, access was granted in full for one request and in part for four requests. One request was withdrawn by the applicant. There were no requests outstanding as at 30 June 2020.
Consistent with the Information Publication Scheme, an agency plan and FOI disclosure log is published on our website (www.dha.gov.au/foi).
Privacy Act 1988
Personal information related to the administration of DHA’s programs and services is protected by the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act). To this end, we have comprehensive policies and processes in place to protect the personal information of our customers and staff.
Our responsibilities and functions under the Privacy Act are delegated to a core group of staff. All new staff are required to complete Privacy Act training as part of our induction process. In addition, ongoing staff complete mandatory refresher training annually.
- how we collect, hold, use and disclose personal information
- how individuals may seek to access or correct personal information
- how individuals can make a complaint if they believe we have breached our obligations under the Privacy Act.
As we develop new projects and programs, we undertake privacy impact assessments to:
- minimise privacy risks and impacts
- ensure compliance with statutory obligations.
In 2019–20, we managed 441 privacy queries and 63 minor privacy breaches or investigations that largely resulted from human error. DHA was not the subject of any Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) reviews and there were no eligible data breaches reported to the OAIC under the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme.
Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013
DHA is committed to the highest standards of ethical and accountable conduct. The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act) allows for investigations of alleged wrongdoing by public officials5 and provides protections for individuals who disclose or report suspected wrongdoing.
Our responsibilities and functions under the PID Act are delegated to a core group of staff. All new staff are required to complete PID Act training as part of our induction process. In addition, ongoing staff complete mandatory refresher training annually.
In 2019–20, we managed six disclosures.
Modern Slavery Act 2018
In 2018–19, the Government introduced the Modern Slavery Act 2018. The Act requires entities based or operating in Australia, with an annual consolidated revenue of more than $100 million, to report annually on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, as well as actions taken to address those risks. As the Act is likely to apply to DHA, we are undertaking the steps necessary to ensure reporting compliance. The first statements required under the Modern Slavery Act are due by 31 December 2020.
- A statutory authority is a generic term for an Australian Government body established through legislation for a public purpose.↩
- A corporate Commonwealth entity is a body corporate, established by a law of the Commonwealth but legally separated from it. Corporate Commonwealth entities can act in their own right and exercise certain legal rights such as entering into contracts and owning property.↩
- Finance law incorporates the PGPA Act, any rules covered by the PGPA Act, any instrument under the PGPA Act and an Appropriation Act.↩
- A Government Business Enterprise (GBE) is a commercially-focused government owned business that is established to fulfil a Commonwealth Government purpose.↩
- A public official includes current and former staff and DHA contracted service providers.↩