South Australians take top honours at PM's public sector awards night

By Stephen Easton

November 14, 2017

The South Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regions has earned the highest honour in the 2017 Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management, with its handling of a program to build resilient communities in the downstream end of the Murray-Darling basin.

The three-pronged South Australian River Murray Sustainability Regional Economic Development Program (SARMS-RED) aims to develop industries in the region that reduce its water needs while meeting SA’s obligations to keep water in the river under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The Gold Award went to the department after a two-stage judging process using the “Plan, Implement, Monitor and Measure, Sustain” model of assessment set out by the Institute of Public Administration Australia, which is holding its national conference in Canberra tomorrow.

This year’s judging panel said the SA entry gave them “a clear view of the full lifecycle of the initiative” and the project was “very strong” across all four of the PIMMS assessment dimensions, as well as the four awards criteria:

  1. Commitment to and achievement of exceptional stakeholder service and satisfaction.
  2. High standard of transparent leadership, planning and governance.
  3. High standard of people management and change management.
  4. Innovation in the design and/or delivery of products, services and processes.

Silver Awards went to IP Australia for its trade mark search engine and the Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney-General (Magistrates Court Service) for its trial of a specialist domestic and family violence court.

The Tasmanian Department of Premier and Cabinet earned a commendation for the state’s five-year family violence action plan, Safe Homes, Safe Families.

The New South Wales Department of Health also got a commendation for the Employ-my-ability Project, which was a finalist in the NSW Health Awards earlier this year, alongside the Commonwealth Department of Employment for its work on upcoming reform of the Fair Entitlements Guarantee.

The Tasmanian family violence plan and the Qld family violence court trial both earned the respective departments sub-awards for collaboration as well.

The judges were former Department of Finance secretary David Tune, ex-Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Vivienne Thom, Crawford School for Public Policy director Helen Sullivan and IPAA ACT branch deputy president Carmel McGregor, who also hosted the proceedings.

The 39 entries and 17 finalists were the highest number ever for the awards, which were presented by Senator James McGrath, as Assistant Minister to the PM, over dinner at the National Arboretum with 350 guests. University of Western Sydney chancellor Peter Shergold took over from Penny Armytage as IPAA national president and also announced the latest round of IPAA fellows.

The short-listing part of the assessment process is also an opportunity for professional development and members to contribute to the professional institute as assessors, several of whom were recognised for their long service.

Download this illustrated booklet for more information about all the award-winning projects, the judging process and the Prime Minister’s letter, which was read out last night by McGrath.

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