Annual Report 2015/16
About the Department
The purpose of the Department of Communications and the Arts is to promote innovative communications and cultural sectors through policy, program and service delivery to the benefit of all Australians.
In providing good public policy advice to the Government, the Department must continue to deliver a deep and authoritative understanding of the developments and innovations in the communications and arts sectors, while continuing to facilitate access to essential communication services and participation in artistic and cultural endeavours for Australians.
We are the Australian Government’s most trusted advisor on communications and the arts.
Our role includes:
- Strategic advice and policy development—we provide Government with policy advice on communications and arts issues.
- Effective program and grants management—we deliver efficient and effective programs and grants management to achieve the Government’s policy outcomes.
- Regional Australia—we provide policy leadership in respect to regional and remote community access to communications services and participation in artistic and cultural endeavours.
- Service delivery—we support the delivery of the National Classification Scheme to assist the public in making choices about films, computer games and classifiable publications.
- Strategic research and critical analysis—we research, identify, analyse and report on digital technologies, communications and arts sectoral developments and market trends, including their effect on the economy and society, to inform policy priorities.
- Regulatory management—we administer portfolio legislation efficiently and effectively. We review and shape the regulatory framework. We assist the Minister for Communications and the Minister for the Arts, and the Minister for Regional Communications to fulfil their Parliamentary obligations.
- Collaborative approaches—we work with portfolio agencies, stakeholders across government, industry, research institutions and the community to generate innovative advice and to provide high quality service.
- Portfolio agency advice—we analyse and provide strategic advice on our portfolio agencies, government business enterprises, the national broadcasters, and other statutory bodies.
Our strategic priorities
Our strategic priorities in 2015–16 were:
- Expanding digital infrastructure. We advised Government about the necessary market settings to deliver competitive and efficient digital infrastructure to drive growth in the broader economy.
- Promoting efficient communications markets. We advised Government about the necessary market, policy and regulatory settings to promote competition, provide for consumer safeguards that support access to basic services, make available socially valuable content, and protect against inappropriate content.
- Arts and cultural development. We promoted participation in, and access to, Australia's arts and culture through developing and supporting cultural expression.
- Strengthening our capabilities. We will continue to build on our strengths and improve our capability in the areas of leadership, strategy and delivery.
Department structure and functions
In September 2015, amendments to the Administrative Arrangements Order resulted in the following changes to our responsibilities:
- The arts, classification and copyright functions came into the Department from the Attorney-General's Department. We became the Department of Communications and the Arts. Twelve arts portfolio bodies were transferred to the portfolio.
- Responsibility for enhancing digital productivity moved to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.
- The data policy function and the Digital Transformation Office moved to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
- The Telecommunications Universal Services Management Agency (TUSMA) functions transferred into the Department with effect from 1 July 2015.
Drew Clarke PSM concluded a two and half year tenure as Secretary of the Department in September 2015. Nerida O’Loughlin was Acting Secretary from September 2015 to January 2016. Dr Heather Smith PSM was appointed Secretary on 25 January 2016.
In April 2016, our organisational structure was updated. The main changes were:
- Grouping our streams of work with clearer reporting lines that better reflect the dynamics of the sectors we advise Government on: content, arts, consumer needs and infrastructure.
- Revising the role of Deputy Secretaries to focus on strategic priorities and provide whole-of-agency leadership on key policy and organisational issues. The First Assistant Secretaries have the primary role in policy development and implementation, program delivery, and service delivery. They work closely with the Assistant Secretaries to develop capabilities in these critical areas.
- Changing reporting lines so each Market Analysis Teams now reports directly to the Deputy Secretaries to support them in developing our broader strategic focus.
As at 30 June 2016, the Arts, Content, and Strategy and Projects divisions reported to one Deputy Secretary, and the Consumer and Infrastructure divisions and the Bureau of Communications Research reported to the other Deputy Secretary. The Corporate Division and the Chief Economist worked directly to the Secretary.
Outcomes and programs
The data policy function and the Digital Transformation Office moved to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. In 2015–16, we administered two outcomes and two programs (Table 1.1).
Table 1.1 Outcome and program structure in 2015–16
Outcome 1: Promote an innovative and competitive communications sector, through policy development, advice and program delivery, so all Australians can realise the full potential of digital technologies and communications services
Program 1.1: Digital Technologies and Communications Services
Outcome 2: Participation in, and access to, Australia’s arts and culture through developing and supporting cultural expression
Program 2.1: Arts and Cultural Development
Figure 1.1 Department of Communications and the Arts organisation chart as at 30 June 2016
Secretary and Executive Office
- Secretary of the Department of Communications and the Arts: Dr Heather Smith PSM
- Deputy Secretary, Content, Arts and Strategy: Nerida O'Loughlin
- Content Division, Arts Division, Strategy and Projects Division
- Content and Arts Market Analysis Team
- Deputy Secretary, Infrastructure and Consumer: Ian Robinson
- Infrastructure Division, Consumer Division, Bureau of Communications Research
- Consumer and Infrastructure Market Analysis Team
The Content Division, together with Consumer Division and Infrastructure Division, administers Program 1.1 and implements the strategic priority promoting efficient communications markets.
First Assistant Secretary: Dr Simon Pelling PSM
The Arts Division administers Program 2.1 and implements the strategic priority participation in, and access to, Australia's arts and culture through developing and supporting cultural expression.
First Assistant Secretary: Sally Basser
Strategy and Projects
The Strategy and Projects Division is responsible for departmental business planning and short-to-medium-term policy projects. It also leads our engagement with international telecommunications and internet governance organisations.
First Assistant Secretary: Richard Windeyer
Infrastructure Division, together with Content Division and Consumer Division, administers Program 1.1 and implements the strategic priority expanding digital infrastructure. This Division also provides advice and program management on regional communications infrastructure issues.
First Assistant Secretary: Mary Balzary PSM
The Consumer Division, together with Content Division and Infrastructure Division, administers Program 1.1 and implements the strategic priority promoting efficient communications markets. This Division also includes the Office of the General Counsel, which manages the preparation and delivery of legal services and strategic advice to the Department.
First Assistant Secretary and General Counsel: Angela Flannery
Bureau of Communications Research
The Bureau of Communications Research supports the strategic priority to strengthen our capabilities by providing research and economic and data analysis on communications and arts portfolio issues.
Assistant Secretary and Deputy Chief Economist: Leonie Holloway
The Corporate Division supports our strategic priority to strengthen our capabilities. It provides support services for staff, and develops and implements strategies to support our continuous improvement.
First Assistant Secretary: Jo Talbot
The Chief Economist works directly to the Secretary on strategic projects and advises on communications issues as required.
Chief Economist: Dr Paul Paterson
The Hon Malcolm Turnbull, MP served as the Minister for Communications and the Hon Paul Fletcher MP served as his Parliamentary Secretary from July to September 2015. Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield was appointed Minister for Communications and Minister for the Arts on 21 September 2015. Senator the Hon Fiona Nash was appointed Minister for Regional Communications on 18 February 2016. After the caretaker period, from 9 May to July 2016, Minister Fifield was reappointed Minister for Communications and Minister for the Arts and Minister Nash was reappointed Minister for Regional Communications.
Communications and the Arts portfolio
During 2015–16, we worked with 18 entities in the Communications and the Arts portfolio. The Telecommunications Universal Services Management Agency (TUSMA) ceased to be a portfolio agency on 30 June 2015 with its functions transferred into the Department with effect from 1 July 2015. Twelve Arts portfolio agencies joined the Communications and the Arts portfolio in September 2015 (Table 1.2).
Table 1.2 Communications and the Arts portfolio as at 30 June 2016
*Parts XIB and XIC of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 deal respectively with anti-competitive conduct and access in telecommunications. Parts XIB and XIC are the responsibility of the Minister for Communications and are administered by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Australia Post is a Government Business Enterprise wholly owned by the Australian Government. In fulfilling its Community Service Obligations, it provides a high-quality mail service to all Australians wherever they live or do business. It also operates parcel,
e-commerce and logistics businesses.
We advised Government on the postal sector, including the Community Service Obligations for postal services. Together with the Department of Finance, we also advised Government in its capacity as the shareholder of Australia Post.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
ABC is a national broadcaster. It contributes to and reflects Australia's national identity, fosters creativity and the arts, and encourages cultural diversity. The ABC is an integral part of the radio, television and online production industries and the news and information media.
We provided advice about ABC policy and triennial funding matters, the availability and rollout of ABC services, and ABC Board appointments.
Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
The ACMA is responsible for regulating broadcasting, radiocommunications, telecommunications and online content in accordance with legislation. The ACMA works with all stakeholders to maximise the public benefit, including the extent to which the regulatory framework addresses the broad concerns of the community, meets the needs of industry, and maintains community and national interest safeguards.
We advised the Government on the policy and legislative framework administered by the ACMA, including appropriate consumer safeguards relating to the provision of content and communications services, spectrum management, media ownership and control, and esafety. We undertook a review of the objectives, functions, structure, governance and resource base of the ACMA to ensure it remains fit-for-purpose for both the contemporary and future communications regulatory environment.
Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner
The Office supports the Children's eSafety Commissioner (the Commissioner). It leads online safety advice and education for the Australian Government and operates a complaints system so Australian children and young people can report serious cyberbullying.
We provided analysis and advice to Government about funding the Office to develop resource packages on online safety for women and prevention strategies to counter violent extremism. We prepared a legislative rule to give the Commissioner these new functions. We worked with states and territories to develop a project agreement to be administered by the Commissioner for delivering online safety programs in schools.
NBN Co Ltd (NBN Co)
NBN Co is a Government Business Enterprise that is wholly owned by the Australian Government. Its role is to design, build and operate the National Broadband Network (NBN), providing high-speed broadband access to all Australians.
We were responsible for implementing, monitoring and improving the regulatory framework for the NBN, including regulations applying to NBN Co’s operations and Telstra’s Structural Separation and Migration Plan. Together with the Department of Finance, we also advised Government in its capacity as the shareholder at NBN Co.
Special Broadcasting Service Corporation (SBS)
SBS is a national broadcaster. It provides multicultural and multilingual services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians. Its mission is to contribute to a more cohesive, equitable and harmonious Australia through its television, radio and online services.
We advised on SBS policy and funding matters, the availability and rollout of SBS services, and SBS Board appointments.
The Australia Council's purpose is to champion and invest in Australia arts. It has a national leadership role in supporting and building Australia’s arts ecology by fostering excellence in the arts and increasing national and international engagement with Australian art and artists.
We supported the Minister for the Arts through oversight of governance and policy matters relating to the Australia Council.
Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS)
AFTRS supports the development of a professional screen arts and broadcast culture in Australia, including through the provision of specialist industry-focused education, training and research.
We provided advice on screen policy and governance matters to the Minister for the Arts and AFTRS.
Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM)
The ANMM seeks to increase knowledge, appreciation and enjoyment of Australia’s maritime heritage through managing the National Maritime Collection and staging programs, exhibitions and events.
We provided advice on matters relating to the Australian National Maritime Museum Act 1990, governance, funding, and progressing ANMM Council appointments.
Bundanon Trust supports arts practice and engagement with the arts through its residency, education, and exhibition and performance programs. In preserving the natural and cultural heritage of its site, Bundanon Trust promotes the value of landscape in all our lives. It is a Commonwealth Company limited by guarantee.
We provided advice on matters relating to the Bundanon Trust: its governance, funding, heritage listing, events and board appointments.
Creative Partnerships Australia
The role of Creative Partnerships Australia is to create a culture of private-sector support for the arts by growing the culture of giving, investment, partnership and volunteering.
We fund Creative Partnerships Australia to deliver professional coaching, mentoring and training services and matched funding programs that help artists and arts organisations secure private sector support.
We provided advice about Creative Partnerships Australia, governance and funding matters and board appointments.
Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House (MOAD)
The role of MOAD is to promote the value of Old Parliament House as a significant heritage site while ensuring the building and heritage collections are conserved for future generations. MOAD also plays a significant role in exploring and communicating the intrinsic value of democracy.
We managed the reclassification of MOAD from a principal body non-corporate entity to a corporate Commonwealth entity. The change took effect from 1 July 2016. We also progressed advisory board appointments and provided advice about funding arrangements and governance.
National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA)
The NFSA develops and preserves a collection of significant Australian film, recorded sound, broadcast and new networked media works. It shares the collection with audiences across Australia and overseas.
We provided advice on matters relating to the National Film and Sound Archive Act 2008, agency governance, funding and events, and board appointments.
National Gallery of Australia (NGA)
The NGA aims to increase understanding, knowledge and enjoyment of the visual arts by providing access to, and information about, works of art locally, nationally and internationally.
We provided advice on matters relating to the National Gallery Act 1975, agency governance, funding and events, and council appointments.
National Library of Australia (NLA)
The NLA aims to ensure that all Australians can access, enjoy and learn from a national collection that documents Australia’s life and society.
We provided advice on matters relating to the National Library Act 1960, agency governance, funding and events, and council appointments.
National Museum of Australia (NMA)
The NMA develops and maintains a national collection of historical material and increases awareness and understanding of Australia’s history and culture.
We provided advice on matters relating to the National Museum of Australia Act 1980, governance, funding matters and progressed council appointments.
National Portrait Gallery of Australia (NPGA)
The NPGA aims to increase the understanding and appreciation of the Australian people—their identity, history, creativity and diversity—through portraiture.
We provided advice on matters relating to the National Portrait Gallery Act 2012, agency governance, funding and events, and board appointments.
Screen Australia promotes audience engagement and supports a creative, innovative and commercially sustainable screen industry through the funding and promotion of culturally diverse Australian screen product.
We provided advice on screen policy and governance matters to the Minister for the Arts and Screen Australia.