Corporate Plan

Our Corporate Plan 2016–20 describes our purpose, role, strategic priorities, culture and values.

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Secretary's statement

Dear Minister

As the accountable authority of the Department of Communications and the Arts, I present the Communications and Arts Corporate Plan 2016–20, as required under section 35(1)(b) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act).

The Communications and Arts portfolio touches every household and business in Australia and is critical to Australia having a knowledge-based, innovative economy.

Digital platforms, whether digital free-to-air television, digital subscription television, radio or the internet provide the mechanism through which nearly all Australians obtain information, connect to each other, increasingly participate in the workforce and the economy, and reinforce national identity.

Telecommunications enables a broad range of economic activity and supports the provision of essential and universal services, to Australians, wherever they are in our nation.

Culture and the arts are important for all our people. The Government provides opportunities for citizens to learn, enjoy and participate in a wide range of artistic and cultural endeavours as well as supporting Australian literature, the performing and visual arts, Australian screen production and creative industries.

The communications and arts sectors are transforming, with industry participants being disrupted by, and responding to, an increasing variety of trends and pressures.

Effectively managing this transformation is crucial to ensuring that the goods, services and jobs created by the communications and the arts sectors support Australia's future economic prosperity.

To provide good public policy advice to the Government, our Department must continue to deliver deep and authoritative understanding of developments and innovations in communications and the arts sectors, both international and domestic.

Our advice to Government must consistently be the best it can be—informed, insightful, invaluable.

We must also ensure efficient and effective administration of grants, programs and the portfolio agencies responsible for delivering vital Australian services.

The Corporate Plan 2016–20 sets our course for the future, identifying our purpose, values, operating environment, strategic priorities, capability and risk oversight and management.

This updates our previous Corporate Plan 2015–19 to take account of new departmental responsibilities, updated environmental factors and activities.

I will report on performance achievements against this plan through the Department of Communications and the Arts Annual Report.

Heather Smith


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Our mission

We create an environment in which all Australians have access to high quality communications services and diverse artistic and cultural experiences.

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Our purpose and role

To be the Government's most trusted advisor on issues relating to communications and the arts.

We promote economic growth and social benefits by helping all Australians realise the opportunities of digital technologies and communications services.

We foster 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 role includes delivering:

  • Strategic advice and policy development — we provide Government with the best policy advice on issues relating to communications and the arts, including the delivery of services to regional Australia. Our advice is evidence-based and is informed by research and critical analysis of sectoral developments and market trends.
  • Effective program and grants management — we deliver efficient and effective programs, grants and services to achieve the Government's policy outcomes. We adhere to the highest standards of public administration.
  • Regulatory management — we administer portfolio legislation efficiently and effectively. We review and shape regulatory frameworks. We assist the Minister for Communications, the Minister for the Arts and the Minister for Regional Communications to fulfil their Parliamentary obligations.
  • Collaborative stakeholder engagement — we work with portfolio agencies, government stakeholders, international organisations, industry, research institutions and the community to generate innovative advice and ensure that the advice and services we deliver are effective and meet the needs of the community.

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Our culture and values

We support the Government by providing the highest standard of public service professionalism in delivering our strategic priorities and fulfilling our mission. Our culture and values underpin our work, and the way we work with each other, with stakeholders and the Australian community. They are demonstrated in our workplace behaviours and client service charter.

Culture and values Chart

We are committed to the Australian Public Service (APS) transformation agenda. Our culture and values contribute to a more agile Department that can quickly respond to the expectations of the Government and the Australian community. We seek to create a work environment that supports curiosity, and are always looking for better approaches to achieve our strategic priorities.

Developing, strengthening and demonstrating our culture and values is an enduring focus of our leadership.

  • APS values — we are exemplars of the APS values. We are Impartial, Committed to service, Accountable, Respectful and Ethical. We are diligent. Our decisions are timely, accurate, evidence-based and unbiased.
  • High performance — we value and reward excellence and are trusted to deliver on our accountabilities. We strive to be forward looking and to encourage curiosity. We anticipate and understand the opportunities of creativity, dynamic markets and new technologies. We engage actively and intelligently with risk.
  • Collaboration and respect — we value collaboration and respect the perspectives of others.  We look to partner with each other across the Department, the APS, all levels of government, industry and the community. We work in a connected and trusting way to deliver outcomes collegiately and with respect. We engage proactively and creatively with our stakeholders and understand diverse perspectives and issues.
  • Innovation — we constantly seek to improve so that our policy advice is high quality and influential, and the design and delivery of programs, regulations and services support the needs of the Government and Australia's citizens. We encourage our people to seek out new ideas, try new approaches, put forward their own ideas and to respect the ideas of others.
  • Capability and talent development — capability and talent development is a key focus, both at the individual and organisational level. We use digital technologies to support our staff and organisational capability. We engage in continuous learning through experience and opportunities. We seek and respond positively to feedback. 
  • Flexibility — our workplaces are flexible by default and we leverage opportunities, including through the use of new technology. Our work practices and systems demonstrate public sector innovation, reflect trust and confidence in our employees, and support the diversity of our workforce.
  • Diversity and inclusion — we celebrate and value diversity so that all employees can reach their full potential. We are inclusive and our workforce reflects the rich diversity of our community.
  • Engagement — we volunteer our time and energy to networks within the Department. Staff involvement is recognised as positively contributing to the Department's culture.

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Our operating environment

The five trends outlined below are shaping our outlook and strategic priorities for the next four years. 

1. Innovation and productivity — digital technologies play an enabling role across virtually all parts of the Australian economy in fostering innovation and increasing productivity which in turn supports economic growth.

Digital technologies have re-written how the Australian economy operates. Australian businesses generated an estimated $267 billion in revenue from the online sales of goods and services during 2013–14.1 The size of Australia's digital economy has been estimated as $79 billion or 5.1 per cent of the economy in 2015.2 The Department supports the Government in ensuring Australia's communications sector and creative industries drive economic growth and enrich the lives of all Australians.

2. Changing technologies, changing markets — digital and online platforms are essential to how people and businesses work, and how we all communicate and connect with one another. Digital technologies are creating new products and services and transforming traditional supply chains and competitive landscapes across the economy. Within the communications sector, the boundaries between market participants and how they offer services is blurring. In the arts sector, digital technologies offer new ways to view and engage with heritage and cultural collections and provide new avenues for creating and distributing creative work.

Digital disruption describes how new technologies drive substantial change across the economy for many households and businesses. These changes can impose significant adjustments as they make investments obsolete, changing how citizens access services and employment. 3 Importantly, new technologies offer opportunities for the creation of innovative businesses, a greater range of products, and new ways for governments to address policy problems. In this way, they can generate higher productivity growth and improve living standards. The Department advises the Government on the effect of, and the opportunities created by, digital change in relation to communications and the arts.

3. Arts and culture — the arts and culture sector is inherently creative and innovative. National collecting institutions play an important role in promoting Australia's cultural heritage. Indigenous arts and languages enrich Australia and contribute to the sustainability, vitality and strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Indigenous art promotes Australia to international audiences and enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to participate in the nation's economy. Private sector support for the arts is increasingly important. In partnership with the sector, we provide opportunities for all Australians to enjoy and participate in a wide range of artistic and cultural endeavours. Importantly, digital technologies have not only increased the demand for creative workers, they have also enabled the creation of new arts and cultural businesses and new ways of reaching audiences.

The proportion of Australians who agree that the arts make for a more rich and meaningful life has increased from 71 percent in 1999 to 80 percent in 2009, to 85 percent in 2013.4 The Department will continue to work with the full range of stakeholders to find new and innovative ways for all Australians to access the arts and cultural endeavours.

4. Stakeholder expectations — Government, industry and consumer expectations of what we can achieve continues to expand. Behaviours and preferences are changing as digital conduct establishes new ‘norms'. Government is seen as having a critical role in ensuring the investment in infrastructure, availability of content and services, providing protection from harm and closing the divide between cities and regions.

5. Regulatory reform — the Department maintains regulatory frameworks which promote investment, productivity, competition, consumer safeguards and creativity. Challenges remain in balancing innovation and competition against delivering ‘public good' outcomes in the digital world, and the ongoing capacity of regulation to remain relevant and flexible in respect of new services and technologies.

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Strategic priorities and performance

The 2016–20 Corporate Plan outlines how we will deliver the following outcomes:

  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.
  2. Participation in, and access to, Australia's arts and culture through developing and supporting cultural expression.

In delivering these outcomes, we will focus on the strategic priorities described below.

We will assess our performance in delivering these strategic priorities across the timeframe of the Corporate Plan and through annual activity measurements. The Department's planning and performance frameworks will continue to be refined and iteratively updated over the life of the Plan. We also recognise that the achievement of our strategic priorities is not the responsibility of the Department alone. Industry, consumers and other government agencies, including our portfolio agencies each have important contributions to make.

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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.

Actions to support this strategic priority

  • Broadband network — we provide strategic advice and policy leadership to achieve the Government's plan for a fast and affordable National Broadband Network (NBN). In collaboration across Government and industry, we will help ensure that communications infrastructure is secure and resilient and able to support innovation across the economy.
  • Mobile coverage — we are delivering the Government's Mobile Black Spot Program to expand reliable mobile phone coverage and competition in outer metropolitan, regional and remote communities.
  • National collecting institutions we work with Australia's national collecting institutions to ensure they are accessible, support research communities and leverage digital technologies in delivering services.
  • Spectrum availability — we deliver on the Government's objective of reforming spectrum policy arrangements to reduce regulatory burden and improve access to new technologies.

Performance criteria

  • Delivering the Mobile Black Spot Program to further expand reliable mobile phone coverage and competition in outer metropolitan, regional and remote communities.
  • Overseeing NBN rollout progress towards a goal of completion by 2020.
  • Reforming spectrum policy arrangements to ease the regulatory burden on spectrum users and improve accessibility for new technologies.

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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, including within the communications sector.

Actions to support this strategic priority

  • Regulatory reform — in consultation with our stakeholders, we rigorously assess the extent to which the current regulatory frameworks operating in the communications and media sectors remain appropriate, particularly given technological change. We will implement the outcomes of the Australian Communications and Media Authority Review in line with Government requirements. We advise Government on regulatory reform and deregulation options to:
    • promote competitive markets in an environment of rapid technological change
    • reduce the regulatory burden for individuals, businesses and community organisations
    • provide effective consumer safeguards and protections from harm
    • ensure the copyright regulatory framework is balanced and promotes creative, commercial and social outcomes
    • ensure the efficiency and responsiveness of portfolio agencies.
  • Research and analysis — we conduct strategic research to analyse sectoral developments and market trends in order to persuasively communicate practical strategic policy advice and authoritative information. We explore with artistic and cultural institutions, and the sector more broadly, how the arts and cultural sectors can help to enhance innovation and creativity across the economy.
  • Australia Post — we continue to support the Government and shareholder ministers in achieving reforms to Australia Post's letters business to address significant shifts in consumer and business preferences for mail delivery.
  • Content classification — we provide advice to the Government to ensure content-related consumer safeguards remain effective and support the delivery of the National Classification Scheme.

Performance criteria

  • Ensuring effective policy and regulatory frameworks that promote competition, consumer safeguards, efficient and effective portfolio agencies, and reduce regulatory burden.
  • Undertaking research through the Bureau of Communications Research and advising on sectoral developments to inform strategic policy directions.
  • Ensuring copyright law and regulation provide a framework that is simple, efficient and effective, achieving a balance between the rights of owners and users of copyright and promoting appropriate self-help remedies for the protection of rights.

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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. We advise the Government on appropriate and sustainable funding models and incentives to support the development and distribution of high quality Australian content.

Actions to support this strategic priority

  • Media reform —implementing the Government's objective to create a more competitive broadcast industry capable of responding to new competitive challenges. We will progress reforms in conjunction with broader spectrum reforms.
  • Regulatory reform — on an ongoing basis, we ensure that the Australian television content and classification regulatory and policy frameworks remain fit-for-purpose and support the creation and distribution of Australian content.
  • Creative industries we administer policies and programs to develop creative industries. We encourage the cultural sector's contribution to diverse Australian content through the generation and use of intellectual property.
  • Training institutions and creativity we ensure that training institutions support the development of vibrant creative industries.

Performance criteria

  • Contribution to the broad objective that all Australians have access to a range of free-to-air and subscription television and radio services, through effective policy and effectively administered funding.
  • Progressing the implementation of the Government's media reforms, including broadcast licence fee reductions.
  • Australia's creative industries continue to produce compelling original Australian content that is accessible to audiences.

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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, the performing and visual arts, Australian screen production and creative industries.

Actions to support this strategic priority

  • Strategic policy — we provide policy leadership in developing initiatives and reforms to improve outcomes and enhance the sustainability of Australia's arts sector and artists, and to enhance access to the arts.
  • Best practice administration — we administer programs that support Australia's creative industries and stimulate participation in Australia's cultural life. We help foster employment and growth across the creative industries.
  • Indigenous arts, languages and repatriation we administer Australian Government funding that supports Indigenous languages, visual arts and repatriation through a number of programs and policies.
  • Portfolio agencies — we support our Portfolio agencies in the efficient delivery of services to all Australians.
  • International engagement — we undertake international engagement to build understanding and create opportunities for Australian arts and culture abroad. We work towards engaging new markets and audiences for Australian artistic and creative works.

Performance criteria

  • Development of, and access to, high quality cultural experiences and skills development opportunities in regional and remote areas by, and, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is maintained or increased.
  • The portfolio of seven national elite performing arts training organisations provide access to training for young and emerging Australian performing artists and arts workers, including in dance, theatre, music, circus, stage design and production and cultural leadership in numerous forms.
  • The best of Australia's arts and culture is showcased on the world stage.

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Strengthening our capability

We are committed to developing the talents and capabilities of our people. To be the Government's most trusted advisor on issues relating to communications and the arts we must possess strong capabilities in leadership, strategy and delivery. Our capabilities contribute directly to achieving our strategic priorities and delivering enhanced outcomes for the Australian community.   

Actions to support this strategic priority

  • Leadership and culture — we demonstrate high level, strategic leadership and corporate citizenship across government, the portfolio and within the Department. We create opportunities for our people to demonstrate outstanding public sector leadership skills at all levels.  We work to embed a culture of collaboration, innovation, high performance and respect.
  • Organisational capability — we continue to be an early adopter and user of effective and innovative technologies. We will continue to recruit, develop and retain skilled and motivated staff. We ensure our corporate functions provide systems and processes which support the delivery of our strategic priorities and will strengthen our business planning, prioritisation, resourcing and performance management processes. Our organisation supports continuous learning.
  • Strategic policy and effective program management — we continue to build a strong and integrated evidence-based research capability. We focus on economic analysis of communication technologies and the role of arts in supporting cultural and broader outcomes. We will continue to enhance our understanding of markets, competition and commercial performance ensuring we provide authoritative policy advice. We ensure our people are leaders in best practice public administration, delivering efficient and effective programs that achieve the Government's policy outcomes.
  • Critical analysis — we will continue to strengthen our ability to identify, analyse and report on the arts, digital technologies, communications services and market trends to inform policy priorities.
  • Collaborative stakeholder engagement — we maintain and enhance our productive alliances and professional relationships within the communications and arts portfolio, across Government and with industry, the research sector and representative community groups. We work with stakeholders to ensure policy advice is strategic, innovative and achievable.
  • Better regulation — we will continue to improve our capability in designing rules-based regulation and other market interventions to deliver effective policy outcomes. Focusing on this capability enhances the quality of our advice to the Government on ‘best fit' regulatory solutions to policy issues.

Performance criteria

  • The Executive Leadership Team is focused on developing the leadership capabilities of our staff and the culture of the Department.
  • Designing and delivering capability development programs that increase individual and organisational leadership, management, and public policy and program management skills.
  • The Department leads the way across the APS in effective and innovative use of leading-edge information and communication technologies, and flexible work practices.

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Risk oversight and management

We are committed to engaging with risk in a positive and transparent way to promote a culture that encourages risk assessment, informed risk taking and anticipation of risk in the pursuit of our objectives. We establish and maintain systems of risk oversight, management and internal controls in accordance with section 16 of the PGPA Act and the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy. This will include regular monitoring and reporting on the risk environment to both the Audit Committee and the Executive Leadership Team.

Strategic risks

Our Executive Leadership Team is active in identifying emerging risks and managing identified strategic risks. Our strategic risks are matters that are fundamental to the function of the communications and arts sectors, material in delivering Government agendas, and important in supporting the well-being of the Australian community.

Engagement on risk

We identify, engage with and manage risk, and actively seek innovative ways of improving processes and achieving outcomes. Our corporate governance framework strategically links our systems, structures and processes to ensure we deliver our outcomes and meet our challenges.

Business planning framework

The Department's business planning framework includes the identification, documentation and regular monitoring of risk and mitigation strategies.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee is chaired by the Secretary and comprises Deputy Secretaries and First Assistant Secretaries. The Committee provides advice to the Secretary on the operations of the Department, including:

  • strategic direction
  • organisational priorities
  • capability and talent management
  • governance
  • risk management
  • budget and performance monitoring.

Audit Committee

The Audit Committee provides independent advice and assurance to the Secretary on the appropriateness of financial and performance reporting, the system of risk oversight and management, and internal controls. Membership of the Audit Committee comprises both external and internal members with an independent Chair.

Business continuity planning

The Department has a Business Continuity Plan which outlines policies, procedures and responsibilities to ensure key business activities continue in the event business is interrupted. The Plan is reviewed and updated, especially to incorporate any lessons learnt following a disaster recovery exercise.

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