Comcover Awards for Excellence in Risk Management

2010 Comcover Awards for Excellence

The winners of the 2010 Comcover Awards for Excellence in Risk Management received their Awards during an Executive breakfast presentation ceremony at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra on Thursday 3 March 2011.

The Special Minister of State, the Hon Gary Gray AO, MP presented the keynote address.

In his speech to the Executive, the Minister noted that because of the complex and consistently changing environment in which agencies operate, there is increasing accountability and responsibility for managing risk at both an operational and strategic level. 

Minister Gray further stated that:

“Our actions, successes and failures are now more open to public scrutiny…as evidenced by the extent of media attention to issues; the response by communities to decisions made; and the numerous internal and external review processes undertaken as part of holding Government accountable.” 

As a result of this increased scrutiny, managing risk has become essential.

The Comcover Awards for Excellence in Risk Management are based on the demonstration of true leadership in the field of risk management and highlight the substantial and ongoing benefits of risk management in achieving the current and future outcomes of Australian Government agencies.

The nominations received in this year’s program demonstrated that agencies have developed a heightened awareness about the benefits of managing risk at the Executive level. Nominees demonstrated a greater level of commitment to the allocation of resources.  Agencies are also identifying specific areas within their organisational structure in which targeted risk strategies can gain traction by investing in staff training, greater engagement of stakeholders, as well as implementing procedures for escalating notification of risk, facilitating an effective and systematic response to risk.

One of Comcover’s key objectives, supported by the Awards, is to achieve significant and sustainable cultural change in risk management and insurance practices within Australian Government agencies.  The recognition of agencies that excel in risk management is an integral part of promoting cultural change.

This year, to support agencies efforts in managing their risks and to highlight the 2010 Award winners, Comcover has published a booklet of case studies.  This Case Study Booklet [PDF icon1.8MB] showcases the risk management practices of the winning agencies and can be downloaded or ordered by contacting Comcover on: 1800 651 540 or Email:

Mr David Tune, Secretary for the Department of Finance and Administration, announced the winners of the 2010 Awards for Excellence.

From the 14 nominations received, the following agencies received Awards.

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

  Agency Category
Winner Australian Broadcasting Corporation Enterprise-wide Category

Biosecurity Services Group – Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF Biosecurity Services Group)

Risk Initiative Category

Highly Commended


Department of Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) Enterprise-wide Risk Management Category
Department of Immigration and Citizenship Enterprise-wide Risk Management Category
Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) Enterprise-wide Risk Management Category
Private Health Insurance Administration Council (PHIAC) Enterprise-wide Risk Management Category
Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Risk Initiative Category

Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO)

Risk Initiative Category

Honourable Mention

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Enterprise-wide Risk Management Category


Enterprise-wide Risk Management Category

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

The engagement and commitment of senior executives has ensured that the ABC’s planning at both the strategic and operational level is more accurate and that it has become possible for the agency to explore new opportunities by more effective resource management.

The approach takenby ABC highlights the importance of identifying risk champions and how these people can support and guide the development of a positive risk culture. 

The ABC’s approach to the implementation of their risk management framework ensures transparency of process, effective decision making, and the encouragement of staff to be proactive when managing or implementing new programs and initiatives.

A significant amount of time and resources have been invested over the past four years in building and embedding the ABC’s approach to managing risk.

In return the ABC now has in place a positive risk culture, enabling it to be flexible  and responsive to change

Risk Initiative Category

Biosecurity Services Group – Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

In 2008, an independent review of Australia’s quarantine and biosecurity arrangements recommended a move away from mandatory inspections policy to a risk based approach for the import of goods via sea cargo containers to Australia.

This change meant Australia can now identify containers arriving via higher and emerging risk pathways through targeted intervention measures that have been identified by a series of modelling or risk profiling techniques.  
Implementation of this project included setting clear objectives, identifying and documenting governance arrangements at the onset, identifying and evaluating risks, and preparing an implementation plan and communication strategy. 

To be successful the Biosecurity Services Group’s approach to the implementation of this project meant that it needed to change a long and established risk adverse culture into a culture willing to manage its risks. 
In developing a new risk-based approach to its activities, the agency: 

  • undertook a whole-of-government approach by working with other government organisations both nationally and internationally to adopt a collaborative approach to risk identification; and
  • developed a comprehensive communication strategy that targeted both its staff and its stakeholders.
Risk Initiative Category

Highly Commended

Enterprise-wide Risk Management Category

Department of Immigration and Citizenship

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s (DIAC) emphasis on managing risk has shifted from being reactive, to one where it can now take advantage of the opportunities identified through operational risk assessment processes that have been integrated as part of business planning and project management. 

This approach has created a link between the agency’s risk management processes and its strategic objectives, has been created which has resulted in the management of risk being embedded into the operations of the agency.

Like many agencies, a key risk driver for DIAC is the protection of its and the Government’s reputation. 

Accountability of key strategic risks sits with the Secretary and his Deputies and the current state and progress of these risks are discussed routinely.

Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

The Department of Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) has undertaken a systematic and coordinated approach to the development and implementation of its risk management framework. 

FaHCSIA has sought to learn from the experience of other government agencies and has addressed areas of weakness identified through staff surveys and audit evaluations.

This resulted in opportunities being identified that facilitated improvements to business processes, more informed decision making, and the reallocation of resources to high risk areas. 

The outcome from this change in emphasis has enabled the process of risk management to become transparent to everyone. 

The strategy of embedding risk into the culture of the agency ensures the continual management of risk when there is a change in the leadership team.

Murray-Darling Basin Authority

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) is responsible for the sustainable management of a key environmental resource.  

The MDBA’s executive is very aware that its reputation was at significant risk and that it needed to manage all its activities carefully.

A key action to address this risk was having the executive determine the risk appetite of the agency, and then allocate responsibility for oversight of specific strategic risks to individual executive committees. 

The identification of risk as part of the MDBA’s approach to strategic and operational planning provided a strong base for developing the agency’s corporate plan.

The MDBA’s approach has resulted in a commitment to the ownership of risk within the agency and has assisted staff to understand how to better manage risk at both the operational and strategic level.

Private Health Insurance Administration Council

The Private Health Insurance Administration Council (PHIAC) is a small agency that has the big challenge of regulating a large and complex industry.

PHIAC has adopted an approach that links the management of risk with its strategic objectives.  

This has been achieved by allocating responsibility to individuals, and giving accountability for senior managers to ensure the agency’s approach to managing risk became part of its corporate culture.

Continual oversight of the agency’s progress in managing risk is the responsibility of the agency’s Audit and Compliance Committee. 

This committee is responsible for ensuring that existing risks are managed in accordance with agreed mitigating strategies, and new or emerging risks are identified and addressed.

Honourable Mention

Enterprise-wide Risk Management Category

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s (DAFF) nomination is an example of how risk management has become effectively integrated with the agency’s overarching governance framework.

DAFF’s approach to managing risk has been strongly supported by its Secretary, and is championed by senior executives at all levels. 

Through regular reviews undertaken by the executive management team, it has been possible to identify DAFF’s appetite for risk and its risk priorities. 

Importantly, to support the implementation of a positive risk culture, DAFF has ensured the appropriate resources, tools and training are made available to staff, so there is a consistent and pro-active approach to managing risk at all levels.

Highly Commended

Risk Initiative Category

Australian Taxation Office

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) researched best practice world-wide and developed a risk management model that used qualitative and quantitative data to classify stakeholders as high, medium and low risk. 

This model allowed the ATO to be more open and transparent in its operations. 

As a result the ATO has improved its communication with stakeholders, which has led to a better understanding of the risk profile certain stakeholders pose to the agency.

This work has meant a change to the way staff approached stakeholders and as a consequence, the agency’s culture has shifted from one of enforcement to one of client focus.

This change was championed within the agency and with external stakeholders by the senior executive.

The result of this initiative is improved communication between the agency and its stakeholders, reduced processing timeframes and improved compliance by stakeholders.

Defence Materiel Organisation

In August 2006, the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) undertook to replace its existing supply management system with a more efficient and updated process. 

DMO describes its supply system as the integral ‘backbone’ of its ability to function.  

Replacing the system was high risk, and one of the largest enterprise- wide resource planning and implementation projects undertaken by the agency in recent times. 

The project team developed a comprehensive risk management plan to define how risks to the project would be managed, and undertook three separate data conversion exercises during the implementation phase. 

The risk management plan was reviewed fortnightly and altered to reflect changes to the structure and the requirements of the project. 

Implementation procedures were also identified in the risk management plan.  These procedures were then used by the project team to identify, prioritise, and reviewing the projects risks. 

By defining the roles and responsibilities for project staff, and outlining the escalation and reporting processes, issues were raised for resolution in a timely manner.

The Department of Finance (Finance) is committed to the accessibility publishing guidelines of WCAG2.0. Due to time constraints the content on this page, originally published on 3 March 2011, does not conform to the minimum WCAG2.0 Level A requirement. Finance is progressing toward full WCAG 2.0 conformance in line with the Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy. Current issues on the site include: .pdf files without alternative formats and images of documents with no alternative text description.

Finance will endeavour to have accessible alternatives of this content published by 15 April 2011. If you require assistance with this content before a compliant version is provided, or you would like to be notified of when the compliant content is published, please contact Tracie-Ann Maher on (02) 6215 2386.

Contact for information on this page: Contact Comcover Member Services