Great Barrier Reef management wins the Prime Minister’s Gold Award for public service work

By Stephen Easton

Wednesday November 13, 2019

Part of the Great Barrier Reef from space. Image: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team

A joint initiative between federal and state public servants to manage threats to the Great Barrier Reef has won the Gold Award in the 2019 Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management, presented on Wednesday evening at Parliament House.

The joint field management program run by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Department of Environment and Science has previously won the Silver Award and the Collaboration Award in 2015.

“The program can now respond and adapt to the compounding pressures on the Reef and direct effort to maintaining connectivity, building reef and island resilience and undertaking pioneering and adaptive management to reverse species decline,” according to a statement from the Canberra chapter of the Institute of Public Administration Australia, which runs the awards program.

“As a previous winner in these awards, the judges were impressed that this initiative had continued to improve and embed sustainable excellence through extensive cross jurisdictional collaboration, integrated stakeholder engagement and planning in a complex and sensitive multi-stakeholder context. As well as the innovative treatment of the Great Barrier Reef as an economic asset to better enable its long-term protection and ecologically sustainable use.”

First awarded in 2002, the Prime Minister’s Awards recognise “sustainable excellence” and collaboration in the public sector, nationwide. This year’s ceremony was hosted by Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ben Morton and Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy.

The Silver Award went to the National Blood Authority’s Immunoglobulin Governance Program. Here’s why:

“The National Blood Authority has ensured uninterrupted supply of immunoglobulin products in Australia since 2004.

“The continuous and increasing demand for immunoglobulin has presented challenges for security of supply and affordability. These challenges have been met through the National Immunoglobulin Governance Program, supported by a national online management reporting system, BloodStar.

“Together, the Program and BloodStar deliver an integrated, dynamic, rules-based system that is based on revised criteria for the clinical use of immunoglobulin in Australia. The initiative was implemented in late 2018.

“The judges were impressed by the strong commitment to working collaboratively with a complex set of stakeholders to take a user-centric development approach to the Program.

“The innovative approach represents a world-first national program providing clinical treatment for patients using precious, high cost immunoglobulin products made from donated blood plasma.”

This year saw the presentation of the first Kennedy Award, in memory of the late Kerry Kennedy, who was the coordinator of the awards since they began in 2002 and always loved hearing about small agencies doing big things. It went to the Tasmanian Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Climate Change Office for its work on supporting the use of electric vehicles.

“Through the Electrical Vehicle Working Group, the Tasmanian Climate Change Office is working in partnership with the community and the Australian Electrical Vehicle Association to support electric vehicle uptake in Tasmania. This project is complex in nature and presents an example of a long-term program with a reasonably large-scale and lengthy duration.

“The achievement of the Tasmanian Climate Change Office in orchestrating the establishment of Australia’s first State-wide charging network demonstrates that this program is being successfully implemented. A number of other related initiatives within the program are still in their formative stages.

“The judges were impressed by the early successes of this initiative and, based on the solid foundation underpinning it, anticipate hearing more about this initiative in the future.”

This year’s Collaboration Award went to the Sydney Local Health District for its leadership of the Healthy Homes and Neighbourhoods initiative.

“The Healthy Homes and Neighbourhoods Integrated Care Initiative is a population-based, family-centred, care-coordination network that functions across agencies to assist vulnerable families to navigate the health and social care system, to keep themselves and their children safe, and promote social cohesiveness.

“The initiative was co-designed and co-produced in partnership with families and service partners and has involved multiple core and non-core agencies working together since 2015.

“The initiative has been fully implemented in the Sydney Local Health District, and is undergoing evaluation and being scaled to other Health Districts across NSW. The judges were impressed by the level of collaboration between Commonwealth, state and local government agencies, non-government agencies and community groups, to produce a multi-agency solution for families in need of support.”

There were also two Commendations awarded. One went to three Northern Territory government agencies: Police, Fire and Emergency Services, the Department of Corporate and Information Services, and the Aboriginal Interpreter Service. They won for a project that allows communication with police stations via recorded voice messages in Aboriginal languages, which also won an IT industry award earlier this year.

“The initiative introduced Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to 64 police stations across the Northern Territory, to enable callers to be greeted by a recorded voice announcement in their local Aboriginal language as well as English, allowing them to be directed to the support they needed.

“The service gap that this initiative fills was identified through extensive community consultations. The judges were impressed by the extent of consultation and collaboration that underpinned this initiative and that it was largely achieved within business as usual resources.”

A second Commendation was awarded to the federal government’s Clean Energy Regulator for a system that makes it quick and easy for consumers to check the bona fides of solar panels.

“The Solar Panel Validation initiative is an innovative, low cost regulatory solution that reduces red tape, allowing the solar panel industry to self-regulate and ensure sustainable business growth and consumer confidence beyond the life of government schemes, protecting the integrity of certificate claims from sub-standard solar panels.

“The solution — a mobile smart phone application that validates that solar panels meet Australian standards — was co-designed with industry and has reduced processing times for Commonwealth incentives.

“The initiative was officially launched in 2018 and the flow-on effect has led to more consumers purchasing and installing solar panels, therefore reducing emissions.

“The judges were impressed by the way in which the innovative solution was supported by a strong focus on the needs of the end consumer, as well as engaging with external stakeholders that were crucial to the overall success of the initiative.”


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