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Part 3.3: Financial and Property Management

Financial accountability responsibilities

The Department’s financial accountability responsibilities are set out in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and subordinate legislation, collectively known as finance law.

In support of the finance law, the Department’s Accountable Authority Instructions are issued in accordance with section 20A of the PGPA Act. The Department has also issued Finance Business Rules that clearly set out the rules and processes required for the financial administration of the Department.

The finance law, supporting instructions and rules, provide a framework to ensure the efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of public resources. The Executive Board is responsible for monitoring and addressing departmental performance and risks. Advice on financial matters including administered, departmental and capital expenditure is provided through monthly reports from the Chief Financial Officer and supported by the Administered Program Board and the Investment Board. Further, the Department’s Audit and Risk Committee provides independent advice and assurance to the Accountable Authority (the Secretary).

The finance law also mandates the production of audited financial statements prepared in accordance with the Australian Accounting Standards. The complete set of financial statements for the Department is provided in Part 4: Financial Statements.


The Department supports a range of Government policy decisions through provision of grant funding across 18 programs and all six outcomes. In 2017-18, the Department administered 9,889 grant activities involving payments totaling $5.79 billion. The Department’s grants administration practices are based on the mandatory requirements and principles of grants administration in the Commonwealth Grant Rules and Guidelines. The Commonwealth Grant Rules and Guidelines establish the overarching Commonwealth grants policy framework and articulate expectations of non-corporate Commonwealth entities in relation to grants administration.

The Department’s grants administration is also undertaken in partnership with the Community Grants Hub within the Department of Social Services and the Business Grants Hub within the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, and involves five distinct but interrelated stages:

  • design;
  • select;
  • establish;
  • manage; and
  • evaluate.

In line with the requirements of the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines, the Department has adopted a risk-based approach to grants administration. Key to the Department’s risk-based approach is risk assessment and management at the design, select and manage stages of the grants administration lifecycle. This approach helps the Department achieve value for money, meet outcomes, reduce red tape for funded organisations and apply the principle of proportionality. Information on grants awarded by the Department during the period 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018 is available on the Department’s website at: www.health.gov.au for grants awarded up to 31 December 2017 and on the Australian Government’s grant information system, GrantConnect at: www.grants.gov.au for grants awarded from 1 January 2018.

Freedom of information

In 2017-18, the Department received 376 Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.

Entities subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) are required, under Part II of the Act, to publish information as part of the Information Publication Scheme. Information including an Agency Plan showing what information is published, is available on the Department’s website www.health.gov.au/internet/main/ publishing.nsf/Content/foi-about

Work health and safety Statistics of Notifiable incidents
Notifiable incidents

Financial Year




Number of incidents

Number of incidents

Number of incidents

Notifiable Incidents


The Department received 453 accident and incident reports in 2017-18. The Department is working to improve the WHS related reporting culture, with a focus on increasing the reporting of near misses and hazards, and the identification of early intervention opportunities.

Of the 453 hazard and incident reports, there were seven notifiable incidents sent to Comcare. The incidents have been investigated and where action has been required action plans have been developed

Advertising and market research

During 2017-18, the Department of Health conducted the following advertising campaigns:

  • Childhood Immunisation Education campaign
  • Childhood Immunisation Education campaign – Phase Two
  • National Drugs campaign
  • National Tobacco campaign
  • Girls Make Your Move campaign
  • Healthy Ageing campaign

Further information on those advertising campaigns is available at www.health.gov.au and in the reports on Australian Government advertising prepared by the Department of Finance. Those reports are available on the Department of Finance’s website www.finance.gov.au/advertising/

Details of advertising and marketing activity during the period

In 2017-18, the Department is required to report on all payments over $13,200 (GST inclusive) to advertising agencies, market research organisations, polling organisations, direct mail organisations and media advertising organisations.

This section details these payments, along with the names of advertising campaigns conducted by the Department during 2017-18.

Table 3.3.1: Advertising, market research, direct mail and media advertising payments for 2017-18

Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance

Ecologically sustainable development principles

The principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD) outlined in section 3A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 are that:

  • decision-making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equity considerations;
  • if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation;
  • the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations;
  • the conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental consideration in decision-making; and
  • improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms should be promoted.
Statement of how the activities of the entity were in accord with principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD)

Our contribution

In 2017-18, the Department continued its commitment to ESD through a methodical approach to planning, implementing and monitoring the Department’s environmental performance through programs and policies that are in accordance with current legislation, whole-of-government requirements and environmental best practice. The Department also administers legislation as outlined below, that is relevant to, and meets the principles of, ESD.

  • Gene Technology Act 2000

Through the Gene Technology Regulator, the Department protects the health and safety of people and the environment by identifying risks posed by gene technology and manages those risks through regulating activities with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). These activities range from contained work in certified laboratories to release of GMOs into the environment. The Regulator imposes licence conditions to protect the environment, and uses extensive powers to monitor and enforce those conditions.

  • Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989

The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) aids in the protection of the Australian people and the environment by assessing the risks of industrial chemicals and promoting their safe use. NICNAS operates within an agreed framework for chemical management that is consistent with the National Strategy for ESD and is aligned with the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development Agenda 21 (Rio Declaration) chapter on the environmentally sound management of toxic chemicals.

Statement of how the activities of the entity effect the environment

Environmental impact of our operations

The Energy Efficient in Government Operations (EEGO) Policy contains minimum energy performance standards for Australian Government office buildings as a strategy for achieving energy targets. This ensures that entities progressively improve their performance through the procurement and ongoing management of energy efficient office buildings and environmentally sound equipment and appliances.

The Department, as part of its strategic accommodation planning, undertakes to meet the requirements of the Green Lease Schedule; that is, for tenancies of greater than 2,000m2 with a lease term greater than two years, accommodation will meet the ‘A’ grade standard of the Building Owners and Managers Association International guidelines and meet a minimum National Australian Built Environment Rating System rating of 4.5 stars.

Details of measures taken to minimise environmental impact (inc. mechanism for reviewing and improving)

Energy consumption

The Department is required to meet the target of no more than 7,500 megajoules (MJ) per person, per annum, for office tenant light and power under the EEGO Policy. In 2017-18, the Department met this target, using 4,057MJ per person, per annum.

This achievement reflects the Department’s efforts in its leased property portfolio to reduce energy consumption through technology such as:

  • T5 fluorescent and movement activated sensor lighting;
  • double glazed windows;
  • energy efficient heating;
  • ventilation; and
  • air-conditioning systems.

There is no target for energy consumption for non-office space, which includes sites used for laboratories, workshop and storage facilities. This includes the Symonston facility, housing the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which also accounts for the Department’s use of natural gas.

While there is no energy target for non-office space, the Department monitors the energy consumption in these facilities as part of its commitment to reducing the impact on the environment from its activities.

The Department also participated in Earth Hour 2018 by switching off building lights, terminals, monitors and office equipment at all its properties around Australia.

Waste management

87 2017-18 organic recycling data is not available.

The Department is committed to protecting the environment through the implementation of efficient and effective waste management programs.

In the majority of the Department’s offices, waste management initiatives include segregated waste streams to improve management of general waste, commingled recycling, organic recycling, and paper and cardboard recycling. The Department aims to increase the amount of waste recycled as a proportion of total waste. Further recycling efforts include the recycling of printer and toner cartridges, batteries and mobile phones to ensure these items are diverted from landfill and used in sustainable programs.

Vehicle fleet management

In 2017-18, the Department operated 45 vehicles, which travelled a total of 209,704 km and expended 563,139 MJ.

This resulted in an energy consumption of approximately 2.69MJ/km.

Corrections to previous annual reports

Annual report period

Section reference

Information correcting the record