Body text for: About the Department
We advise the Government on issues relating to communications and the arts. We support the Government to promote economic growth and social benefits by helping all Australians realise the opportunities of digital technologies and communications services.
The Department fosters a vibrant and diverse Australian culture. We promote access to, and participation in, a wide range of cultural and artistic endeavours for all Australians.
Our strategic priorities
These are the five strategic priorities for the Department as described in our 2016–17 Corporate Plan.
- Ensure efficient investment in innovation infrastructure—Australia needs efficient investment in infrastructure that supports innovation and productivity. This includes high-quality, reliable and secure communications networks, and artistic and cultural institutions that foster creativity and reflect changing consumer preferences for how services are accessed. Infrastructure investment and availability must occur nationally, with careful consideration of the incentives and models for service delivery in regional and remote Australia.
- Harnessing digital disruption—Digital disruption presents both challenges and opportunities. The communications sector plays an integral role in enabling the digitally driven transition of the Australian economy. Digital technologies are transforming traditional business models and creating new competitive landscapes.
- Ensuring access to diverse Australian content—While digital platforms are providing new ways to consume media, Australians still expect access to the full range of Australian content. The Department advises the Government on appropriate and sustainable funding models and incentives to support the development and distribution of high-quality Australian content.
- Foster Australian arts and culture—Australia’s arts sector is important for all Australians. The Government provides opportunities for Australian communities to learn about, enjoy and participate in a wide range of artistic and cultural endeavours as well as supporting Indigenous arts and culture, Australian literature and the performing arts.
- Strengthening our capability—We are committed to developing the talents and capabilities of our people. Our capabilities contribute directly to achieving our strategic priorities and delivering enhanced outcomes for the Australian community.
Our 2017–18 Corporate Plan has been revised to reflect three strategic priorities: ‘consumer’, ‘advancing the sector’ and ‘content and culture’.
Outcomes and programs
In 2016–17, we administered two outcomes and two programs (Table 1.1).
Table 1.1 Outcome and program structure
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
* The 2017‒18 Portfolio Budget Statements were published on 9 May 2017 and incorporate the 2016‒17 reporting period.
Department structure and functions
Dr Heather Smith PSM was Secretary for the entire reporting period. On 18 September 2017, the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, appointed Mike Mrdak AO to the position of Secretary of the Department of Communications and the Arts.
The Department restructured in April 2017 to align areas responsible for the National Broadband Network (NBN), regional broadband, NBN migration and consumer protection, with a dedicated branch to focus on consumer broadband services—all within the Infrastructure and Consumer Division. Other communications policy areas were brought together within the Market Reforms Division, including a new taskforce that was established to prepare the Government’s response to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the universal service obligation.
Figure 1.1 Department of Communications and the Arts organisation chart as at 30 June 2017
Department of Communications and the Arts as at 30 June 2017
Secretary: Dr Heather Smith PSM
- Corporate: Jo Talbot - First Assistant Secretary
- Communications: Ben Galdys – A/g Assistant Secretary
- Human Resources: Debbie Kerrins - Assistant Secretary
- Finance and Business Services: Sarah Vandenbroek - Assistant Secretary
- Information Technology: Shaun McGuiggan - Assistant Secretary
Content, Arts and Strategy
- Content, Arts and Strategy: Richard Eccles - Deputy Secretary
- Arts: Sally Basser - First Assistant Secretary
- Arts Development and Investment: Rebecca Rush – A/g Assistant Secretary
- Collections and Cultural Heritage: Ann Campton - Assistant Secretary
- Creative Industries: Lyn Allan - Assistant Secretary
- Access and Participation: Rachel Antone - Assistant Secretary
- Content: Carolyn Patteson - First Assistant Secretary
- Media: Cathy Rainsford - Assistant Secretary
- Content and Copyright: Helen Owens- Assistant Secretary
- Classification: George Sotiropoulos - Assistant Secretary
- Strategy and Projects: Stephen Arnott – Acting First Assistant Secretary
- Project Office: Andrew Maurer - Assistant Secretary
- International Engagement and Strategy: Annaliese Williams- A/g Director
- Chief Risk Officer: John Jones – Assistant Secretary
- Arts: Sally Basser - First Assistant Secretary
Infrastructure and Consumer
- Infrastructure and Consumer: Ian Robinson- Deputy Secretary
- Market Reforms: Pauline Sullivan – First Assistant Secretary
- Post and ACMA: Chris Faris - Assistant Secretary
- Spectrum and Security: Kate Feros - A/g Assistant Secretary
- Competition: Phillip Mason - Assistant Secretary
- USO Taskforce: Jenny Allen - Assistant Secretary
- Infrastructure: Mary Balzary PSM– First Assistant Secretary
- Broadband Implementation: Andrew Madsen - Assistant Secretary
- Regional Deployment: Lachlann Paterson - Assistant Secretary
- Consumer Broadband Services: Sylvia Spaseski- Assistant Secretary
- Consumer Safeguards: Kath Silleri - Assistant Secretary
- Bureau of Communications and Arts Research: Leonie Holloway - Chief Economist
- Office of the General Counsel: Sarah Godden – General Counsel
Secretary and Executive Office
- Secretary of the Department of Communications and the Arts: Dr Heather Smith PSM (as at 30 June 2017)
- Corporate Division
- Deputy Secretary, Content, Arts and Strategy: Richard Eccles
- Content Division, Arts Division, Strategy and Projects Division
- Deputy Secretary, Infrastructure and Consumer: Ian Robinson
- Infrastructure and Consumer Division, Market Reforms Division, Bureau of Communications and Arts Research, Office of the General Counsel.
The Arts Division administers Program 2.1 and implements the strategic priority ‘foster Australian arts and culture’.
First Assistant Secretary: Sally Basser
The Content Division, together with the Infrastructure and Consumer Division and the Market Reforms Division, administers Program 1.1 and implements strategic priorities ‘harnessing digital disruption’ and ‘ensuring access to the diverse Australian content’.
First Assistant Secretary: Carolyn Patteson
Strategy and Projects
The Strategy and Projects Division is responsible for leading risk and audit functions in the Department, and delivering short-to-medium-term policy projects. It also leads our engagement with international telecommunications and internet governance organisations.
Acting First Assistant Secretary: Dr Stephen Arnott PSM
The Market Reforms Division, together with the Content Division, and the Infrastructure and Consumer Division, administers Program 1.1 and implements the strategic priorities ‘ensure efficient investment in innovation infrastructure’ and ‘harnessing digital disruption’.
First Assistant Secretary: Pauline Sullivan
Infrastructure and Consumer
The Infrastructure and Consumer Division, together with Content Division and Market Reforms Division, administers Program 1.1 and implements the strategic priorities ‘ensure efficient investment in innovation infrastructure’ and ‘harnessing digital disruption’.
First Assistant Secretary: Mary Balzary PSM
Bureau of Communications and Arts Research
The Bureau of Communications and Arts Research supports the strategic priority ‘strengthening our capability’ by undertaking research and providing economic and data analysis on communications and arts portfolio issues to support evidence-based policy development and advice.
Chief Economist: Leonie Holloway
Office of the General Counsel
The Office of the General Counsel manages the preparation and delivery of legal services, performs selected professional services and provides strategic advice to the Department.
General Counsel: Sarah Godden
The Corporate Division supports the Department’s strategic priorities and performance. The division delivers the people capability, enterprise resource planning and budget management, and a secure and integrated information environment, and provides a strategic and digital communications function to support the Department in fulfilling its strategic priorities.
First Assistant Secretary: Jo Talbot
Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield was Minister for Communications and Minister for the Arts for the entire reporting period. Senator the Hon Fiona Nash was Minister for Regional Communications for the entire reporting period.
Communications and the Arts portfolio
During 2016–17, we worked with 18 entities in the Communications and the Arts portfolio.
Table 1.2 Communications and the Arts portfolio as at 30 June 2017
Australia Post is a government business enterprise wholly owned by the Australian Government. Consistent with 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 the Government on the postal sector, including the community service obligations for postal services, and the implementation of the postal reforms that came into effect in January 2016. During 2016–17, we led Australia’s delegation to the Universal Postal Congress where we negotiated remuneration rules to increase Australia Post’s revenue from carriage of international mail and won election to its two governing councils. Together with the Department of Finance we also advised the Government in its capacity as the shareholder of Australia Post.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
The 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 its statutory requirements. The ACMA works with 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 finalised the report on the review of the ACMA. The Government indicated its support for the recommendations and it publicly released the final ACMA review report in May 2017. Implementation of the recommendations is underway.
NBN Co Ltd (NBN Co)
NBN Co is a government business enterprise, wholly owned by the Australian Government. Its role is to plan, roll out and operate Australia’s NBN, which will provide all Australians with access to high-speed broadband.
We advised the Government on issues impacting the NBN, including experiences of regional and metropolitan Australia; legislative, regulatory and financial frameworks and requirements; and market trends and sectoral developments. Together with the Department of Finance we also advised the Government in its capacity as the shareholder of NBN Co.
Office of the eSafety Commissioner
The office supports the eSafety Commissioner. It leads online safety advice and education for the Government and operates a complaints system so that Australian children and young people, or their representatives, can report cases of serious cyberbullying. The office also provides advice and resources on online safety specifically for women, and training to frontline workers to assist women and children at risk of family or domestic violence.
We assisted the Government with the recruitment and selection of the new eSafety Commissioner, who commenced on 16 January 2017. We prepared the Enhancing Online Safety for Children Amendment Act 2017, which commenced on 23 June, to expand the general functions of the then Children’s eSafety Commissioner from online safety for children to online safety for all Australians, irrespective of age. The amendments also changed the title of the ‘Children’s eSafety Commissioner’ to the ‘eSafety Commissioner’, to reflect the expanded functions, and changed the title of the Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act 2015 to the Enhancing Online Safety Act 2015.
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 Australian 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 provided support to the Government 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 Government 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 support to the Government on matters relating to the ANMM’s governance, funding and events, and appointments to its governing council.
The Bundanon Trust supports arts practice and engagement with the arts through its residency, education, and exhibition and performance programs. It also holds an extensive art collection of around 4,000 works, including a large collection of artworks gifted to the nation by Arthur and Yvonne Boyd. 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 and a registered charity.
We provided advice to Bundanon Trust’s governing board on matters relating to the organisation’s governance, funding, heritage listing, events and appointments.
Creative Partnerships Australia
The role of Creative Partnerships Australia is to foster a culture of private sector support for the arts in Australia to grow a more sustainable, vibrant and ambitious cultural sector for the benefit of all Australians.
The Government funds Creative Partnerships Australia to deliver coaching, mentoring and training services and matched funding programs that help artists and arts organisations secure private sector support.
We provided support to the Government through oversight of governance and policy matters relating to Creative Partnerships Australia.
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. The museum also plays a significant role in exploring and communicating the intrinsic value of democracy.
We provided support to the Government on matters relating to MOAD’s governance, funding and events, and appointments to its governing board.
National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA)
The NFSA collects and preserves Australian film, recorded sound and broadcast, and their associated documents and artefacts. It shares the collection with audiences across Australia and overseas.
We provided support to the Government on matters relating to the NFSA’s governance, funding and events, and appointments to its governing board.
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 support to the Government on matters relating to the NGA’s governance, funding and events, and appointments to its governing council.
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 support to the Government on matters relating to the NLA’s governance, funding and events, and appointments to its governing council.
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 support to the Government on matters relating to the NMA’s governance, funding and events, and appointments to its governing council.
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 support to the Government on matters relating to the NPGA’s governance, funding and events, and appointments to its governing board.
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 Government and Screen Australia.