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Risk management

PM&C manages 3 strategic risks:

  • The risk that the welfare of our people is not managed well.
  • The risk that 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.
  • The risk that our advice to the Prime Minister and the Government is not of high quality or not delivered on time.

Under the Department’s Risk Management and Policy Framework, our number one strategic risk is anything that could affect the welfare of our people. As the COVID-19 pandemic continued throughout 2020, PM&C used a risk management approach to successfully mitigate any severe impacts to our staff operations.

Throughout 2020–21, COVID-19 risk assessments that were developed in response to the pandemic were continually reviewed and improved. As a result of these assessments, PM&C took actions to help prevent or minimise the likelihood of transmission of the virus should it be identified among staff or visitors. A reduction in international visits gave PM&C an opportunity to strengthen risk management practices related to travel. In 2020, PM&C developed a Protocols and International Visits framework for managing risks, including COVID-19 risks, associated with international visits and Guests of Government. This has placed PM&C in a position to successfully navigate risk as international travel resumes.

The Risk Management and Policy Framework, which was endorsed by the Secretary and the Executive Board in May 2020, assisted us to effectively manage and respond to events as they unfolded. The framework sets out our appetite, tolerance and approach for managing risk at both a strategic and operational level. It provides guidance on assessing and managing risk in response to the purpose and priorities set out in the Corporate Plan and operational level risks that may affect the achievement of our objectives.

Our risk framework champions a positive risk culture and fosters a ‘no surprises’ approach to managing risk across PM&C. Our approach to managing risk was reinforced in 2021 by further embedding and thus maturing the framework. 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.

Climate risk

Australian public servants are required to understand and appropriately manage climate risks where they are relevant to Australian Government policies, programs and operations, in accordance with the obligations and frameworks established by the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and Public Service Act 1999. In 2020–21, PM&C contributed to the development of a preliminary Climate Risk Disclosure Framework for the Australian Public Service as part of our ongoing engagement in the Australian Government Disaster and Climate Resilience Reference Group. This initiative, jointly led by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, will provide a reporting platform to support Government agencies to report climate risk information.