2007 Comcover Awards for Excellence

The winners of the 2007 Comcover Awards for Excellence in Risk Management were announced during a presentation ceremony at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra on Thursday 22 November 2007. Dr Eva Bennet-Jenkins, A/g CEO, Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority presented the keynote address.

The Comcover Awards for Excellence recognise exceptional and inspiring examples of risk management and demonstrate how essential risk management is to the success of Australian Government agencies.

The nominations received demonstrated that stronger governance structures are helping to clearly identify the responsibility for managing risk. Furthermore, better reporting frameworks are helping to ensure risks and their treatment strategies are communicated to senior executives, committees and boards on a regular basis and the engagement with key stakeholders is becoming more prevalent. As a result there is evidence of the benefit of promoting a shared understanding of risks and their impacts leading to greater collaboration between agencies and stakeholder groups.

Mr Kevin Knight, Chairman, Risk Management, International Standards Organisation (ISO) Working Group and Ms Stacie Hall, National Manager, Comcover, both members of the Judging Panel, announced the winners of the 2007 Awards for Excellence.

From the 14 nominations received, Awards were made to the following agencies.

Click on the agency name to see what the judges had to say about each of the award winning agencies.



Enterprise-wide (large agency) Category

Australian Fisheries Management Authority

Risk Initiative Category

Highly Commended

National Blood Authority

Risk Initiative Category

IP Australia

Risk Initiative Category

Honourable Mention

Australian Army
(Department of Defence)

Risk Initiative Category


Winner - Centrelink

Centrelink award winners

Centrelink is responsible for the delivery of a range of Commonwealth services to the Australian community. Centrelink works in partnership with purchasing departments, human services providers and community organisations to deliver these key services.

In early 2007, Centrelink recognised that while its risk management framework was developed it lacked alignment to strategic, business and operational objectives. Risk management needed to be better integrated with business planning to create a culture where the leadership and management activities of the agency became more visible and relied more heavily on risk information to inform decision making.

By streamlining processes and including risk management into the agency's planning processes, they have been able to achieve greater staff engagement, better integration of risk management information into business planning processes and better communication of risk issues at the senior management and executive levels.

A key success factor in realigning the agency's risk management framework with its strategic, business and operational objectives is the regular communication between senior executives and risk account managers, which ensures that senior managers and executives are informed of new or emerging risks and that action can be taken when needed.

Rigorous testing and a range of communication and training tools have been implemented to overcome the agency's decentralised structure and to assist staff to adopt a consistent approach to managing risk.

It is now apparent and accepted that there is increased visibility, accountability and demonstrated results associated with risk management across the breadth and depth of Centrelink.

Winner - Australian Fisheries Management Authority

Australian Fisheries Management Authority winners

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) is responsible for the efficient management and sustainable use of Commonwealth fish resources on behalf of the Australian community.

In early 2006, AFMA's domestic compliance section commenced a review of its domestic compliance program. Key findings of this review led AFMA to consider the need to identify improvements that enabled them to be more flexible and efficient in allocating resources when managing non-compliant fishing activities across all Commonwealth fisheries.

In consultation with other government authorities and industry stakeholders AFMA developed a structured framework to identify, analyse, evaluate and treat risk across all Commonwealth fisheries. By adopting a risk based approach to decision making, the agency was able to engage key stakeholders so that together they were able to better manage the risks most likely to impact the industry's long term sustainability.

Evidence of the benefits of this approach include compliance resources being directed to the areas of greatest risk and highest priority; and the compliance process is enabling changing risk profiles to be considered as they are identified. Greater accountability and transparency to government and the Australian community is also provided through the agency's annual compliance report.

AFMA is now better positioned to ensure the long term prevention of non-compliant activities leading to the ecological sustainability of Commonwealth fisheries.

Highly Commended

Highly Commended - National Blood Authority

National Blood Authority winners

The National Blood Authority (NBA) was established in 2003 to improve and enhance the management of the Australian blood banking and plasma product sector at a national level.

National Blood Authority's nomination demonstrated that risk management is fundamental to the agency's governance framework. When hit by a real-life natural disaster, NBA's business continuity plan enabled the agency to recover critical services fast, and to communicate to key stakeholders quickly and efficiently.

The agency's approach to risk management has increased the Authority's credibility amongst key stakeholders, and has strengthened the agency's internal culture which is reflected in the greater levels of trust and respect amongst staff and more willingness to adopt a team approach to resolving key business issues.

Highly Commended - IP Australia

IP Australia winners

IP Australia's role is to provide a strong intellectual property system which promotes innovation, investment and trade.

IP Australia nomination focused on the risk management framework and procedures integral to IP Australia's implementation of its ISO 900-certified Quality Management System. Achieving ISO 9001 certification for key customer transactions has enabled IP Australia to significantly improve its management and mitigation of business risks and deliver improved strategic and operational outcomes.

The agency has integrated risk management into its core business processes and improved the quality of its services and programs, enabling it to be recognised as an Office of Choice'. The process was strongly supported by the executive and CEO, and included an innovative communication and training strategy targeting staff at all levels.

As well as receiving international recognition for its service provision, long-term benefits to the agency included being able to influence global decisions on the efficient management of intellectual property and contributing to the establishment of free trade agreements with the USA, Singapore and Thailand.

IP Australia took a very novel approach to communicating its quality management system throughout the organisation and engaging staff to ensure risk management could be integrated into everyone's day-to-day responsibilities. The long-term benefits achieved by the agency have been as a result of the level of staff engagement and the cultural change achieved during implementation of the project.

Honourable Mention

Honourable Mention - Australian Army (Department of Defence)

Australian Army winners

The Australian Army, insured through the Department of Defence, is responsible for building, maintaining and deploying military resources, developing policy and programs for defence of the nation, region and allies.

As a result of an internal review of its Army Safety Management System, the Army identified a need to better manage risk across the organisation. The review identified that the management of risk needed to be aligned with the organisation's objectives and more effectively managed from an enterprise-wide perspective.

Army established a high-level risk management project team with the organisation's Deputy Chief of Army allocated the oversight and responsibility for delivery of project outcomes. In addition, the team developed a detailed plan over two years to create a greater awareness of the benefit of adopting an enterprise wide approach to managing risk by leveraging off an already existing risk system such, as the agency's Occupational Health and Safety management system.

One of the innovative aspects to Army's approach to risk management was its ability to embed risk thinking across all aspects of the organisation, from the day-to-day operations of administrative and field staff to training of reserve and commissioned officers.

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