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CSIRO, CASA and the City of Glen Eira show how annual reporting is done

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The CSIRO has taken out the top prize in the government category of the 2015 Australasian Reporting Awards for its most recent annual report.

The ARA judges praised the “well-presented and easy-to-read” report for making a wide range of sometimes complex topics easy to comprehend, adding:

“The use of relevant pictures and explanatory captions capture attention and encourage the reader to read the whole story.”

The research body has consistently met the standard to receive a non-competitive “gold award” in the ARAs every year since 2012. This year, 33 Australian public sector organisations met the “gold” standard, as did Auckland Transport from across the Tasman.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Glen Eira City Council also did well this year in the competitive special award categories, with the aviation regulator taking out the Work Health and Safety Award and the south-east Melbourne municipality coming up trumps in both public sector sustainability and governance.

Queensland’s Borough of Queenscliffe was recognised for the best first-time entry and Australia Post took out best online reporting among the public sector entrants. The public sector communication award went to Plant and Food Research New Zealand.

Safe Work Australia’s CEO Michelle Baxter congratulated CASA on its excellence in WHS reporting, and encouraged all organisations both private and public to follow its lead.

“Their annual report illustrates a commitment to ensuring their workers, contractors and others stay healthy and safe at work,” said Baxter. “… Work health and safety should be a fundamental part of any organisation’s business decisions, activities and processes, and this should be reflected in your annual report.”

According to Safe Work Australia, good WHS practices have a positive impact on the health of an organisation’s finances, as well as its staff, and are also valued by stakeholders as a form of effective risk management.

“By including high quality work health and safety information in your annual report, you can establish your organisation as a leader in work health and safety, one in which work health and safety is not an ‘add on’, but integrated into business decisions and processes,” Baxter said.

The Governance Institute of Australia — to which the ARA judges belong — applauded Glen Eira City Council for the “detailed overview of its performance and of its excellent approach to stakeholder management” that helped it win the public sector governance award.

“The Council showed that it is willing to discuss setbacks in order to improve overall performance,” said the Governance Institute’s president Trisha Mok.

“Efforts to improve reporting by organisations such as these show a strong commitment to good governance and increased transparency, allowing the market and the community to evaluate their performance and invest with confidence.”

Glen Eira City Council’s chief executive Andrew Newton commented that being clear about the council’s performance allowed the community to judge whether their interests were being advanced and their rates were achieving value for money.

These days, the ARAs are run by an independent not-for-profit group, but were originally established in 1950 by a group of successful business people and at first were simply called the Annual Report Awards.

Governance Institute members and ARA chair Tim Sheehy said he was impressed that the standard of entrants had “never been higher” despite economic challenges faced across the economy meaning there has been less cash to throw at annual report teams.

“This shows senior managers of many private, public and not-for-profit organisations have a very strong commitment to communicating to their stakeholders openly, honestly and effectively,” said Sheehy.

The ARA Awards sets criteria to guide the preparation of reports, holds an annual seminar on preparing effective annual reports, and certifies those that meet its bronze, silver and gold standards. Annual report teams also receive constructive feedback from the experienced judging team.

While the special award categories are effectively competitive, in that there can only be one winner of each, the ARAs are primarily run as a benchmarking activity.

Public sector gold award winners

The Australasian Reporting Awards:

  • Audit Office of New South Wales
  • Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  • Australian Crime Commission
  • Australian Taxation Office
  • Borough of Queenscliffe
  • Bureau of Meteorology
  • City of Boroondara
  • City of Darwin
  • City of Greater Geelong
  • City of Kingston
  • City of Ryde
  • City of Stirling
  • City of Stonnington
  • Civil Aviation Safety Authority
  • CSIRO
  • Department of Social Services
  • Department of Transport & Main Roads (Qld)
  • Glen Eira City Council
  • Grains Research and Development Corporation
  • Indigenous Business Australia
  • Judicial Commission of NSW
  • Ku-ring-gai Council
  • Legal Aid NSW
  • Library Council of NSW
  • Lockyer Valley Regional Council
  • Macedon Ranges Shire Council
  • Main Roads Western Australia
  • Manningham City Council
  • Surf Coast Shire Council
  • Sydney Opera House
  • Victorian Electoral Commission
  • Western District Health Service
  • Yarra Ranges Council

Author Bio

Stephen Easton

Stephen Easton is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's previously reported for Canberra CityNews and worked on industry titles for The Intermedia Group.