Commonwealth Governance Structures Policy (Governance Policy)

The Australian Government uses different types of governance structures to implement policies, deliver services and achieve its purposes.

The Governance Policy supports choosing and maintaining the right governance structure to undertake a government activity and aims to improve consistency in governance structures across Australian Government bodies.

There are different types of governance structures used by Australian Government bodies.

  • Primary bodies that are part of the Commonwealth or have a separate legal status
  • Secondary statutory structures that are established within a primary body by legislation
  • Secondary non-statutory structures that are established administratively within a primary body
  • Other governance relationships where the Commonwealth has an involvement or relationship, generally arising from membership or investment.

More information about governance structures for Australian Government bodies can be found at Types of Australian Government bodies.


The Governance Policy supports:

  • creating fit-for-purpose governance structures for new government activities
  • reviewing governance structures for existing government activities to ensure they remain appropriate.

Governance Policy at a Glance

Key requirements of the Governance Policy

  • Guiding principles – when considering new or reviewing existing government activities.
  • Preliminary three-stage test (part of the governance assessment) – to decide whether the government can or should undertake an activity.
  • Governance factors (part of the governance assessment) – to consider the appropriate governance structure for undertaking a government activity.
  • Governance structure options analysis (part of the governance assessment) – risks, costs and benefits of at least 3 alternative governance structure options for new (or changes to existing) primary bodies and secondary statutory bodies.
  • Government approvals – by Cabinet or the Prime Minister for new (or changes to existing) primary bodies and secondary statutory bodies and prior to public announcements.
  • Reporting – new bodies or changes to existing bodies to the Department of Finance for inclusion on the Australian Government Organisations Register (AGOR)
  • Periodic review – to ensure governance structures remain fit-for-purpose.


Did you find this content useful?