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Risk management

The COVID-19 pandemic and the 2019–2020 bushfire season were unparalleled in terms of their scale and impact on the Department’s operations. They demonstrated the need for a robust risk management framework in this complex, evolving and dynamic environment.

The PM&C Risk Management Policy and Framework sets out the Department’s appetite, tolerance and approach for managing risk at both a strategic and an operational level. It provided guidance on assessing and managing risk in response to the purposes and priorities set out in the Corporate Plan and operational level risks that may affect the achievement of PM&C objectives. The Secretary and Executive Board endorsed the framework in May 2020. The framework assisted the Department to manage and respond to events effectively as they unfolded.

The Department manages three strategic risks:

  • The welfare of our people is not managed well.
  • We fail to deliver on the priorities of the Prime Minister and the Government, or on the critical enablers of government for which we are responsible.
  • Our advice to the Prime Minister and the Government is not of high quality or not delivered on time.

Our framework champions a positive risk culture and fosters a ‘no surprises’ approach to managing risk across PM&C. The Chief Risk Officer (CRO) promoted this culture through regular communications and participation in decision making as a member of the Executive Board. The CRO communicated through a regular column in the staff newsletter promoting and encouraging a healthy approach to managing risk at all levels of the organisation.

The Secretary and the Executive Board provided a strong governance mechanism to ensure risk was effectively incorporated and managed at a strategic level. The Executive Board was supported by the PM&C Audit and Risk Committee, which provided independent advice on the Department’s risks and the effectiveness of our controls. PM&C continued to improve its risk management by strengthening its business continuity framework, and work health and safety management system.

Climate risk

In 2019–20, the Secretaries Board, chaired by PM&C, circulated a direction statement that informed the Australian Public Service (APS) about its responsibilities for managing climate and disaster risk. The statement set out what is expected of the APS in managing climate and disaster risks where relevant in Australian Government operations, policies, programs and assets. It was analogous to the requirements that apply in the private sector. This statement was disseminated within PM&C and guided our approach to addressing climate and disaster risks relevant to our operations.