Comcover Awards for Excellence in Risk Management

2009 Comcover Awards for Excellence

The winners of the 2009 Comcover Awards for Excellence in Risk Management were announced during a presentation ceremony at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra, on 17 November 2009. Mr David Tune, Secretary of the Department of Finance and Deregulation, presented the keynote address.

The Comcover Awards for Excellence presents an opportunity to profile the top performing public sector agencies in the management of risk, and provides examples for other agencies to consider when improving their risk management practices.

This year's judging panel comprised of:

  • Mr Philip Smith -  Manager, Comcover;
  • Mr Anthony Howatson - Chief Finance Officer, Australian National Audit Office;
  • Mr Kevin Knight AM - Chair of International Standards Organisation Working Group on ISO 31 000; and Director, Risk Management Institution of Australasia; and
  • Mr Stephen Owens -  Strategic Risk Manager, Victorian Managed Insurance Authority.

This year, the judges felt that the standard of nominations were high, with agencies demonstrating an ability to adopt risk management as a strategic tool to inform better decision making, and ensure the achievement of organisational objectives. Strengths of this year's nominations include:

  • That risk management and governance frameworks are better linked, ensuring the consideration of risk in processes such as strategic and financial planning;
  • Agencies are increasingly taking a whole-of-government perspective, reflecting a maturing approach to the consideration of strategic risks. This is contributing to more effective outcomes, including the allocation of resources for treating specific risks; and
  • There is greater evidence of Commonwealth agencies using a risk based methodology to engage stakeholders from other jurisdictions, in order to successfully deliver government outcomes.

Click on the agency name to see their nomination and what the judges had to say about each of the award winners.


National Blood Authority

Risk Initiative Category

Highly Commended

Bureau of Meteorology

Enterprise Wide Risk Management Category

Australian Trade Commission

Enterprise Wide Risk Management Category

Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Risk Initiative Category

Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Risk Initiative Category

Honourable Mention

Royal Australian Navy Relief Trust Fund

Risk Initiative Category

Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Risk Initiative Category

Australian National Maritime Museum

Risk Initiative Category


Winner -  National Blood Authority

National Blood Authority (NBA) 2009 Risk Initiative Winner

National Blood Authority Nomination PDF version [PDF Document 210 KB]

National Blood Authority Nomination RTF version [RTF Document 1.8 MB]

The National Blood Authority (NBA) is responsible for ensuring the supply of blood products and services to the Australian community.

The National Blood Supply Contingency Plan (NBSCP) was developed by adopting a risk based approach to identifying the most appropriate means of achieving the objectives of the NBA, as legislated in the National Blood Authority Act.

The NBSCP provides an overarching framework to ensure a nationally coordinated response to managing the consequences of a higher demand of blood products.

The NBSCP communicates the Government's expectations to stakeholders. The plan ensures an appropriate level of blood supply and blood products are available for use, and outlines the expected level of preparedness of the health sector to assist in activating the plan in a time of crisis.

From August 2008 to October 2009, the plan was activated due to a shortage of supply of red blood cells. Discussions with clinicians ensured the maintenance of normal operating environments; regular reporting on stock levels by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS); and agreement on national campaigns and the timing of key messages.

The development and implementation of the NBSCP has led to a range of benefits for the NBA and its stakeholders, including suppliers and the clinical community. These include:

  • The sector has an agreed framework against which to assess the nature of a crisis and determine appropriate actions in a nationally consistent manner, thereby ensuring a collaborative approach at the State and Commonwealth level;
  • Strategies for addressing stock levels and managing available products are discussed and agreed nationally, including engagement by individual State Ministers; and
  • Due to the greater awareness of the importance of blood product supply in the health sector and the requirement for a coordinated response, this approach ensures the continued delivery of blood products at a national level.

Highly Commended

Highly Commended -  Bureau of Meteorology

Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) 2009 Enterprise Wide Risk Management Highly Commended

Bureau of Meteorology Nomination PDF version [PDF Document 30 KB]

Bureau of Meteorologyy Nomination RTF version [RTF Document 65 KB]

Since 2006, the Bureau has focused on implementing and embedding their enterprise wide risk management framework. The agency's culture indicates that risk management is integrated into the agency's day-to-day operations, at both the operational and executive level.

The Bureau's governance framework and risk management framework are closely aligned and integrated with the agency's planning processes; including its financial operations and budget processes. Senior executives are provided with regular information on the agency's key risks, and are accountable for the management of these risks.

The Bureau's nomination reflected a strong commitment to the sharing of information to inform and educate staff across the agency. This is also reflected in the importance the Bureau has placed on the development of risk management expertise across the agency. As a result, a coordinated training program has been developed by the dedicated Risk Management Coordinator and the Staff Development and Training Team.

The Bureau's improved approach to managing risk has resulted in significant savings, as managers are taking a systematic approach to risk management and making it work for them. It has also provided the opportunity to examine and address the effectiveness of controls.

As a result of greater transparency and better reporting and monitoring of risk, the agency's Executive have greater confidence that the agency's key risks are being addressed in a timely, appropriate manner, and are well documented.

The Bureau's approach also ensures that risk management is linked to the agency's objectives and integrated with planning processes, thereby contributing to an enhanced reputation with stakeholders and ensuring confidence in the Bureau's services.

Highly Commended -  Australian Trade Commission (Austrade)

Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) 2009 Enterprise Wide Risk Management Highly Commended

Australian Trade Commission Nomination PDF version [PDF Document 62 KB]

Australian Trade Commission Nomination RTF version [RTF Document 136 KB]

The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) assists Australian companies looking to engage with overseas markets for their products and services; by reducing the time, cost and risk involved in selecting, entering, and developing international markets.

Risk management is an integral element of Austrade's overarching governance framework. The agency's nomination reflects the challenges of developing a holistic approach to managing risk in an organisation that is based in Australia and overseas.

The agency's governance unit reports directly to the CEO, and is responsible for coordinating and overseeing the agency's corporate governance framework. This includes managing and monitoring the agency's risk management framework, and coordinating both the internal and external audit functions.

Austrade's approach to managing risk considers how best to achieve the agency's objectives and priorities as outlined in both the agency's corporate and operational plans. This is achieved by both the development of an annual risk profile and risk management plan (ARMP). As part of the development of the ARMP, the Executive define the key strategic risks and determine the risk appetite of the agency. They then analyse these risks and allocate accountability or ownership for individual risks to members of the Executive team.

Considering the challenges faced by Austrade, their nomination reflects a mature approach to managing risk that is strongly supported by the CEO and senior managers. Austrade is positioned to achieve their corporate priorities by implementing strategies that minimise their risk, and support the continuous improvement in their governance and risk processes.

The agency's approach to managing risk is well documented and clearly linked to the agency's overarching governance framework. As a result, this has improved the risk culture of the agency and the engagement of both management and staff.

A range of training and awareness tools have been developed, and the results of training are monitored on an annual basis.

Regular reporting and monitoring of risks occurs at the appropriate levels of the agency with clear accountability for the management of risk at the senior level.

Highly Commended -  Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) 2009 Risk Initiative Highly Commended

Australian Maritime Safety Authority Nomination PDF version [PDF Document 103 KB]

Australian Maritime Safety Authority Nomination RTF version [RTF Document 685 KB]

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is Australia's national maritime safety agency, with responsibilities for maritime safety, protection of marine environment and aviation, and marine search and rescue.

As a result of the global financial crisis, AMSA identified a threat to its operating budget that could have potentially impacted their ability to provide services, not only to the commercial shipping sector, but also to the Australian public through their search and rescue and pollution response actions.

The choice to adopt a risk based approach to this issue demonstrates the flexibility of AMSA's risk culture. Risk management contributed to the construction of a financial decision making process that allowed, and continues to allow, rational expenditure and revenue decisions to be made on the basis of prior consideration of the associated risks.

The process has strengthened the collegiate approach among AMSA's executive management team, encouraging greater consideration of AMSA's operations overall, while still having regard to the needs of individual divisions.

An important element of adopting this approach was also being able to demonstrate to key stakeholders, such as the shipping industry, that in spite of AMSA being a monopoly provider of regulatory services, it has been able to respond responsibly to the issue, without deferring the problem to industry through an increase in levies.

Highly Commended -  Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) 2009 Risk Initiative Highly Commended

Food Standards Australia New Zealand Nomination PDF version [PDF Document 48 KB]

Food Standards Australia New Zealand Nomination RTF version [RTF Document 37 KB]

One of Food Standards Australia New Zealand's (FSANZ) key objectives is the protection of public health and safety. With the development of new food products, together with changes to consumer lifestyle and eating habits, there is an increase in public health and safety issues in relation to food products. FSANZ recognised the need to revise their approach to how they assess, manage and communicate risk in regard to maintaining a safe food supply. By adopting a risk management approach to undertaking scientific analysis in relation to food products and standards, FSANZ realised this could lead to greater engagement of stakeholders; industry recognition; and an enhanced approach to work that strengthened the management of projects undertaken. The publication, The Analysis of Food Related Health Risks, outlines the risk management approach that FSANZ has adopted when undertaking its research work. It has been used to communicate FSANZ's approach to ensuring the safety of food supply to a range of stakeholders; including industry, consumers, health professionals and the international community.

FSANZ has integrated the technical risk management standard of Codex with their overarching governance framework. This has involved allocating responsibility and accountability for managing the agency's strategic risk, and linking the analysis of food-related health risks to their Corporate Plan, Business Plan and Science Strategy 2006-09.

Through the development of this approach, FSANZ has been able to improve knowledge on the complexity of food risk issues; communicate detailed information on established processes that consider food risks, including different management options; and provide a tool for capacity building in developing countries.

As a result of its risk initiative, FSANZ is acknowledged as a leading authority in this sector, and is marketing Australia as a leader in setting and regulating food standards.

Honourable Mention

Honourable Mention -  Royal Australian Navy Relief Trust Fund

Royal Australian Navy Relief Trust Fund (RANRTF) 2009 Risk Initiative Honourable Mention

Royal Australian Navy Relief Trust Fund Nomination PDF version [PDF Document 116 KB]

Royal Australian Navy Relief Trust Fund Nomination RTF version [RTF Document 75 KB]

The Royal Australian Navy Relief Trust Fund (RANRTF) was established in 1913, with the objective of providing welfare assistance to serving members of the Navy and their families. Today, the RANRTF provides a range of financial products and services to Navy members and their families in the form of loans and grants.

The RANRTF does not receive funding from the Defence budget. Instead, it is funded by grants from the Royal Australian Navy Central Canteens Fund, and receives accrued interest from money held in their bank accounts. In the light of the global financial crisis, the Board of Trustees was concerned that adequate protective measures were in place to protect the cash equity of the trust, to ensure that sailors and their families continued to have access to financial products and services.

Adopting a risk based approach to implementation has required consultation and careful consideration of the available options. It also allowed the Board of Trustees to make informed decisions on the Fund's management in an uneasy financial climate.

The RANRTF has secured its source of funding by insuring the Fund. This has enabled the Trust to meet its objective of providing financial assistance to Royal Australian Navy personnel and their families in times of hardship.

Honourable Mention - Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) 2009 Risk Initiative Honourable Mention

Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Nomination PDF version [PDF Document 82 KB]

Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Nomination RTF version [RTF Document 2.3 MB]

The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) is administering a broad range of social policies; including families, whole-of-government, indigenous and women's issues.

FaHCSIA experiences a changing environment where programs originate from a variety of sources, including new policy proposals, machinery of government changes and projects put forward by local communities. As a result, there has been an increase in the use of different approaches to identify and manage risks in relation to program management.

Over the past three years, FaHCSIA has undertaken a review of its enterprise wide approach to managing risk. This review has seen the development of a robust risk/governance framework, and a series of guidelines and tools to support staff in gaining an understanding of the agency's risk management processes.

The approach to this initiative was developed by building on the agency's previous work in risk management, and considering how best to hook into the existing risk management framework to ensure a consistent approach to program management.

Implementation required extensive consultation and engagement with key stakeholders, such as the agency's Executive and staff responsible for the delivery of programs. FaHCSIA also capitalised on employees' existing awareness of the agency's overarching risk management framework, when developing a set of risk tools and a Program Management Guide that were better aligned to the operational environment of program management.

Since implementation, FaHCSIA has been able to review a greater number of funding agreements over a given period of time, by effectively streamlining reporting requirements and monitoring the agreements identified as higher risk.

Honourable Mention - Australian National Maritime Museum

Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) 2009 Risk Initiative Honourable Mention

Australian National Maritime Museum Nomination PDF version [PDF Document 2.2 MB]

Australian National Maritime Museum Nomination RTF version [RTF Document 15.7 MB]

The Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) is a risk aware organisation, demonstrated by their management of risks in relation to people (i.e. visitors, staff, volunteers, contractors and other stakeholders); the National Maritime Collection; and other maritime heritage material in its care, including infrastructure assets and intellectual property.

The ANMM recognised that health and safety at sea is more complex than health and safety on land, due to its harsher environment and associated unique challenges. The Aloft on HMB Endeavour Safe Operating System, Procedures and Standing Orders is an example of how the ANMM manages one of its unique risks. Without a safety aloft system in place, the HMB Endeavour would be unsafe for sailing and confined to a dry dock, thus preventing people from experiencing early maritime exploration and navigation.

There was strong senior management support to identify the scope of the safety issue, taking into account the varying conditions the ship would experience, and to identify a solution that could be easily implemented by non-professional crew. The final solution is an adaptation of a pre-existing full body harness; a dual lanyard system that ensures one point of attachment is maintained at all times; and a mobile fall arrestor which allows crew members to work at high levels more easily, but is activated when a substantial weight is felt against it.

The ANMM has developed a comprehensive set of procedures detailing the fitting of the harness, the operations of the mobile fall arrestor, and the fitting of the lanyards. This is complemented by safety instructions on the care and use of the equipment. The agency has also implemented formal training for all crew to undertake on the operating procedures and standing orders of the ship, before being able to work on the HMB Endeavour.

The benefits from the ANMM's risk initiative include:

  • a greater level of confidence and peace of mind for ANMM management (and senior ship crew) that crew safety concerns have been addressed;
  • a reduction - from significant to low - in the assessed risk level for both falling crew and crew suffering injury; and
  • that the HMB Endeavour can continue to provide the opportunity for both professional sailors and amateur voyagers to experience life on board the ship.

The promotion of this initiative has already seen the ANMM receive requests for information from industry players in Australia and overseas.

Further Information

For further information on the Awards for Excellence in Risk Management Program, please contact Comcover Member Services on 1800 651 540 or email

Contact for information on this page: Contact Comcover Member Services