2023 Commonwealth Awards for Excellence in Risk Management

The Commonwealth Awards for Excellence in Risk Management (the Awards) raise awareness of the significance of risk management across the Commonwealth by highlighting best practice risk management and rewarding entities that exhibit excellence in risk management thinking and practice.

The Awards recognise true leadership in the field of risk management, and highlight the substantial, ongoing benefits that managing risk has in achieving both the current and future outcomes of Australian Government entities.

The Hon. Patrick Gorman, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Assistant Minister for the Public Service, delivered the keynote address and presented the awards to the winning entities at the awards ceremony held on Tuesday 21 November 2023 in Canberra.


Photograph of the Hon. Patrick Gorman with the Award recipients.

Photograph of the Hon. Patrick Gorman delivering the keynote address.

Enterprise Wide Category

The Enterprise Wide category recognises entities that demonstrate excellence in embedding a consistent approach to managing risk.

Winner – IP Australia

Effective risk management is essential for supporting IP Australia’s strategic objectives and empowering staff to make informed decisions. This supports their vision and purpose to deliver world leading IP services that are modern, effective and efficient to ensure all Australians benefit from great ideas.

IP Australia have delivered a revised Risk Management Framework focused on embedding risk management across all levels of decision-making. Their unique approach to risk appetite and risk tolerance is tailored to their needs and reflects their corporate approach to innovation. IP Australia have seen demonstratable improvements to their risk culture maturity, particularly the active consideration of strategic risk appetites and tolerances and a focus on the pursuit of opportunities rather than using risk as a brake to innovation.

Photograph of the Hon. Patrick Gorman with representatives from IP Australia.


Photograph of the representatives from IP Australia.

Highly Commended – Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) is a small regulatory agency with a big purpose - protecting and enhancing the integrity, quality and reputation of Australian higher education.

A comprehensive review, improvement and implementation of TEQSA’s revised enterprise wide risk management framework has laid the foundations for their journey to developing and embedding a positive organisational culture.

The leadership team’s commitment to improving risk management practices flowed into heightened participation and accountability in risk review sessions, the consideration of enterprise risks in the identification and mitigation of strategic projects risks, the development of an entity-wide assurance map and a risk awareness strategy to engage all personnel.


Photograph of the representatives from the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency with The Hon. Patrick Gorman.

Honourable Mention – Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation

The Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC) demonstrated achievements across the five areas of focus of the Comcover Risk Management Benchmarking Program, in particular enhancements to its Risk Culture and Risk Management Framework and Practices. There is a significant focus on risk culture initiatives, driven by a dedicated Risk Culture Officer. This includes  targeted communication and engagement efforts on specific areas of focus informed by annual independently conducted risk maturity assessments to deliver maximum results.


Photograph of the representatives from the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation.

Risk in Focus – Insurable Risk Category

Each year the Risk in Focus category focuses on a different area of risk management. The focus for 2023 was ‘Insurable Risk’.

Honourable Mention – Department of Defence

The Defence Insurance Office manages insurance arrangements for the entirety of the Department of Defence and works closely with Comcover to ensure that liabilities and assets across the domestic and international estate are adequately insured to minimise or prevent loss to the Department and the Commonwealth.

The team identified the need to develop and undertake a range of activities and initiatives to drive insurance and economic reform, and control inflating premiums. These have improved timeliness in the processing of claims, improved risk management of estate assets, reduced premium costs and increased visibility of Defence’s assets and risks to ensure they are adequately insured.

These activities and initiatives will also have a positive impact on the 2023 Defence Strategic Review which recommends reform to Defence’s policy, strategy, and capability settings to ensure Defence is well-positioned to meet the nation’s security challenges in a changing global environment.


Photograph of the representatives from the Department of Defence.

Risk Initiative Category

The Risk Initiative category recognises entities that demonstrate excellence in their risk management approach for a specific program, project, or service delivery initiative.

Winner – Attorney-General’s Department

Fraud is a growing societal and economic issue that is increasingly affecting individuals, businesses and governments across Australia and around the world. To effectively meet this challenge now and into the future, we must continue to build and embed counter fraud capability and expertise across the Australian Government.

The Commonwealth Fraud Prevention Centre has worked with experts to develop a wide range of leading practice guides, frameworks and tools to help Australian Government entities improve their counter fraud capability. The Centre has also provided hands-on support to entities in the form of presentations, one-on-one support and facilitating stakeholder relationships and data-sharing arrangements. This practical assistance supports entities to meet their obligations under the Fraud Rule and Policy as set out in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

As part of the Centre’s Learning and Development Strategy 2022-2025, the Centre scaled up its delivery of Centre offerings to develop and launch a comprehensive Counter Fraud Practitioner Training Program for Australian Government officials working in counter fraud, risk management and policy. The program has helped to build important networks across government to share information, emerging risks, and best practice.


Photograph of the representatives from the Attorney-General’s Department.

Highly Commended – Australian Border Force

The Australian Border Force (ABF), an operationally independent body within the Department of Home Affairs, is Australia's frontline border law enforcement agency and Australia's customs service. The ABF delivers critical border protection and national security outcomes while facilitating the movement of people and goods across the border. The ABF's mission is to protect Australia's border and enable legitimate travel and trade.

The ABF Risk and Assurance Section designed and implemented an initiative to apply a structured and proactive approach for effective identification, monitoring, and reporting of organisational risks in alignment with the core functional streams. This approach supports accountability of risks and controls at a strategic level, promotes good governance and enables continuous improvement through robust assurance measures and ongoing risk and assurance maturity assessments.


Photograph of the representatives from the Australian Border Force with The Hon. Patrick Gorman.

Highly Commended – Australian Taxation Office

To keep pace with environmental changes, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) reinvented their emerging risk capability. They aimed to design a tool and framework that provides dynamic assessments of emerging risk across multiple time horizons in next-to-real time. ‘Insightlopedia’ has transformed the way the ATO identify, manage and escalate emerging risk.


Photograph of the representatives from the Australian Taxation Office with The Hon. Patrick Gorman.

Honourable Mention – Department Employment and Workplace Relations

The Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM scheme) is led by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relation's (DEWR) in conjunction with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The success of the PALM scheme requires consultation with a wide range of stakeholders and involves a complex level of governance arrangements to manage the high level of shared risk in its implementation.

A collaborative approach to managing the shared risks of the PALM Scheme was required to identify accountability, nominate responsibilities, define risk boundaries and ensure agreement between stakeholders.

To support this, DEWR created and maintained multiple risk plans at the strategic and operational levels as well as a shared risk plan in collaboration with all partner agencies. These plans outlined multiple cross−agency risks, causes, treatments, owners and agreed risk ratings, as well as a set of distributed risk responsibilities between the four partner agencies.


Photograph of the representatives from the Department Employment and Workplace Relations.

Honourable Mention – Australian Federal Police

The AFP Risk Profile (ARP) was developed with the intention to be a single source of truth when managing risk, to enable informed, accurate and evidence-based decisions to be made, recorded and escalated as required.

The ARP involves consideration of risk at multiple levels across the multi-faceted and complex operational structure of the AFP. The AFP recognised there were barriers to accessing risk insights from other teams, due to the separation of risk management functions and tools. To improve this, the AFP developed the ability to pool and map inputs into the ARP, which in turn provided functional and informative reporting outputs.  The ARP is also linked directly to other reporting and risk tools within the organisation, to ensure cohesion and transparency.

The overall project and outcomes have been briefed to several boards and committees, including the entity’s Audit and Risk Committee, who have provided external oversight and enthusiastically endorsed the project.


Photograph of the representatives from the Australian Federal Police.

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