Annual reports of Commonwealth departments
The committee was referred the 2016–17 annual reports of the following
Commonwealth departments for examination and report:
- Department of Health (DOH);
- Department of Social Services (DSS); and
- Department of Human Services (DHS).
The committee considered that the annual reports of DOH, DSS and DHS were
of an apparently satisfactory standard and were presented to Parliament in a
Department of Health
The 2016–17 annual report for DOH was presented to the President
out-of-session on 30 October 2017, and was tabled in the Senate on 13 November
DOH is broadly responsible for leading and shaping:
Australia's health and aged care system and sporting outcomes
through evidence based policy, well target programs, and best practice
The Secretary's review provided a high-level overview of the major work
undertaken by DOH during 2016–17. The then Secretary, Mr Martin Bowles PSM, emphasised
- initiatives supporting the innovation of Australia's healthcare
system, particularly the Government's first disbursement from the $20 billion Medical
Research Future Fund (MRFF);
- continuation of work to reshape the primary health care system,
particularly through Primary Health Networks to tailor health care services to
the specific needs of local communities;
- contribution to meeting the closing the gap health care outcomes,
including improved health and life expectancy outcomes for Indigenous
- ongoing clinician-led review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS),
to consider how items listed on the MBS support evidence-based medical practices
and improve the health outcomes of patients; and
- support provided for aged care services, including the implementation
of the Increasing Choice in Home Care initiative.
Mr Bowles retired as Secretary on 1 September 2017.
The committee extends its thanks to Mr Bowles for his contribution to the
important work of DOH. On
18 September 2017, Ms Glenys Beauchamp PSM was appointed Secretary of DOH.
Chief Medical Officer's report
The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, reported on clinical
matters pertinent to DOH during 2016–17, including:
- the capacity of the medical workforce and the maldistribution of
- initiatives for improving immunisation rates amongst the
population, including increased rates of childhood immunisation;
- the response to the increased rates of the MenW invasive
- the appointment of the Australian Advisory Council for the
Medicinal Use of Cannabis and assessment of the evidence base for medicinal
- DOH's response to Lyme disease and chronic Lyme-like illnesses;
- strategies employed to respond to antimicrobial resistance,
particularly the use of antibiotics only in circumstances where there is clear
evidence of benefit.
As at 30 June 2017, ministerial responsibilities for the Health
the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and Minister for Sport;
- the Hon. Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Aged Care and Minister for
Indigenous Health; and
- the Hon. Dr David Gillespie MP, Assistant Minister for Health.
In December 2017, Senator the Hon. Bridget McKenzie was appointed
Minister for Rural Health and Minister for Sport. The Hon. Dr David Gillespie
MP ceased ministerial responsibilities for the Health Portfolio.
Reporting against performance
DOH reported on key performance targets across its six portfolio
outcomes: health system policy, design and innovation; health access and
support services; sport and recreation; individual health benefits; regulation,
safety and protection; and ageing and aged care.
The committee is pleased to note that DOH met the majority of its
performance targets. DOH reported several significant community outcomes, including:
- the first disbursement of $64.9 million from the MRFF to fund a 'balance
of long-term research and quick win programs which will improve health system efficiency,
patient care and access, health outcomes and innovation in health';
- establishment of 12 suicide prevention trial sites across 11
Primary Health Networks to deliver community-tailored responses to rising rates
- expansion of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program to screen
additional age cohorts, which is expected to contribute to the prevention of
over 90 000 instances of bowel cancer and 59 000 related deaths between
- continued success of the Play.Sport.Australia initiative in
collaboration with the Australian Sports Commission, with 5800 schools
registering to participate in the initiative which promotes children's
engagement with sport in a fun and supportive environment;
- continuation of the MBS review, with over 440 clinicians, consumers
and healthcare experts, across 65 committees and working groups, examining the
clinical evidence-base for over 5700 MBS listed items;
- subsidisation of glucose monitoring devices for more than 4000
people aged under 21 years with type 1 diabetes through the National Diabetes
The committee notes that in 2016 there were 2625 people newly diagnosed with
type 1 diabetes.
The committee observed that a proportion of DOH's performance targets were
not met. Examples of these targets include: reduced rates of chronic disease
related mortality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
reduced rates of illicit drug use in the last 12 months for the population aged
14 years or older;
and the timeliness of Australia's reporting obligations under the International
Narcotic Drugs Convention.
The committee acknowledges the complexity and scale of these targets and would
welcome further reporting from DOH on its strategies for improved performance
outcomes in these areas.
In its 2015–16 annual report, DOH used visual indicators to summarise
the proportion of performance targets met in the performance statement for each
The committee considered that these visual indicators were a useful reporting
technique and noted the absence of this information in DOH's annual report for
2016–17. Whilst not a mandatory reporting requirement under the Public
Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014, the committee
encourages DOH to consider if there is merit in presenting more performance information
in summarised formats, to assist in the communication of DOH's extensive
The committee is pleased to note that, in response to the committee's
comments in its first report on annual reports for 2017 regarding the
unavailability of data, DOH has provided additional information in its 2016–17
annual report indicating when data will be available and where it will be
In 2016–17, DOH administered: expenses totalling $63.4 billion; assets
totalling $2.3 billion (as at 30 June 2017); and liabilities of $2.9 billion.
Compared to 2015–16: administered expenses increased from $55.8 billion;
administered expenses increased from $2.1 billion; and liabilities decreased
from $3.3 billion.
Of the total government expenditure in 2016–17, the health expenditure
accounted for 16 per cent, or $74.5 billion.
The committee noted that DOH ran an operating loss of $55.5 million in
2016–17 (prior to depreciation costs).
This was an increase from the operating loss of $5.5 million of the previous
DOH explained that its operating loss in 2016–17:
...was largely a result of undertaking important additional
activities within existing resources. Included in the operating loss is
the Medicine and Medical Devices Review which was agreed by Government through
the 2016-17 Budget process and was funded by revenue derived from
Consultants and exempt contracts
DOH's 2016–17 consultancy expenditure totalled $99.3 million.
The committee notes that compared to 2015–16, consultancy expenditure increased
over 70 per cent and there was a 33 per cent increase in the total number of consultancy
contracts. DOH reported that the increased use of consultants was associated
with work for the Aged Care Digital Payments Program and the evaluation of
submissions made to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.
Commonwealth entities are required to report on contracts greater than
$10 000 in value, and which were exempt from publication on AusTender as
publication would disclose exempt matters under the Freedom of Information
Act 1982 (FOI Act), to the extent that reporting would not disclose exempt
DOH reported it held 116 exempt contracts in 2016–17, a reduction from 171 exempt
contracts held in 2015–16, however no further information was provided.
To the extent that reporting information regarding exempt contracts does not
adversely impact on DOH's obligations under the FOI Act, the committee encourages
DOH to consider if making further information available would enhance the
probity of DOH's reporting.
Overall, the committee commends DOH for producing a high-quality annual
report, which presents substantive information regarding its operational performance
and highlights its significant achievements across the 2016–17 financial year.
Department of Social Services
The 2016–17 annual report for DSS was tabled in Parliament on
16 October 2017.
The mission of DSS is to improve 'the lifetime wellbeing of people and
The then Secretary, Mr Finn Pratt AO PSM, provided an overview of DSS'
key achievements in 2016–17, including:
- progress made with increasing rates of vaccination through the No
Jab, No Pay initiative, and noted that more than 210 000 families are now
compliant with vaccination requirements, and that immunisation rates for
children aged one to five are now greater than 93 per cent;
- launch of the Third Action Plan 2016–2019 of the National
Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022, which
focusses on 'prevention and early intervention, and keeping perpetrators
accountable across all systems'; and
- launch of the Try Test Learn Fund (TTLF), which will provide $96
million for financing 'new and innovative policy responses for groups of people
identified as being at risk of long-term welfare dependency'. The committee
notes DSS received close to 400 ideas through the TTLF from individuals and
organisations across Australia.
Since producing the Secretary's review, Mr Pratt was appointed Secretary
of the Department of Environment and Energy. The committee thanks Mr Pratt for
his service and welcomes Ms Kathryn Campbell CSC as the new Secretary of DSS.
As at 30 June 2017, ministerial responsibilities for the Social Services
- the Hon. Christian Porter MP, Minister for Social Services;
- the Hon. Jane Prentice, Assistant Minister for Social Services
and Disability Services; and
- Senator the Hon. Zed Seselja, Assistant Minister for Social
Services and Multicultural Affairs.
Following the tabling of DSS' 2016–17 annual report, changes were made
to the ministerial responsibilities for the Social Services Portfolio as
follows: the Hon. Dan Tehan MP was appointed Minister for Social Services; the
Hon. Dr David Gillespie MP was appointed Assistant Minister for Children and
Families and Senator the Hon. Zed Seselja ceased ministerial responsibilities
in the Social Services Portfolio.
DSS reported on its performance across the following four portfolio
outcomes: social security; families and communities; disability and carers; and
DSS presented several key achievements, including:
- the settlement of 24 376 refuges, including 12 000 refugees from
Syria and Iran through the Humanitarian Settlement Services Program;
- expansion of the Data Exchange (DEX) used for measuring the
effectiveness of grants and presenting the outcome achieved for clients and
services. DEX is currently used by six agencies for reporting on 55 programs
and, with over 2300 organisations and 11 000 individuals registered, DEX
supported close to 30 million interactions since July 2016;
- work to support the establishment of the National Disability
Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Quality and Safeguards Commission, including securing
an agreement for a national NDIS quality and safeguards framework and
progression of the bill to establish the commission.
In its first report on annual reports for 2017, the committee commented
on DSS' performance reporting, particularly regarding the desirability of using
descriptors for reporting results, such as 'met' or 'not met'.
The committee acknowledges that there has been some improvement in this
regard. However, the committee suggests that there may be further scope to
improve the transparency of DSS' performance reporting by providing
information, where applicable, on whether an outcome measure result meets DSS'
performance target. For example, in reporting on the following outcome measures,
DSS has provided relevant figures but has not indicated whether those figures
met DSS' performance targets:
- the accuracy of social security payments;
- the percentage of DSS' assisted individuals and families who
experience improved circumstances relevant to individual/family needs;
the percentage of Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) units which
recorded reduced rental stress after receiving CRA.
The committee encourages DSS to review the information provided in its
In 2016–17, DSS administered around one quarter of the Commonwealth
Budget, inclusive of $109.5 billion in payments to individuals and $4.3 billion
for 'programs, subsidies and grants to support the community'.
Comparatively, DSS administered $113.4 billion in payments to individuals and
$6.9 billion for programs, subsidies and grants in the 2015–16 reporting
DSS managed administered appropriations of $116.8 billion, and
departmental appropriations of $0.5 billion.
Compared to 2015–16, DSS' administered appropriations decreased from $120.3
billion and departmental appropriations decreased from $0.6 billion.
In 2016–17, DSS achieved a small surplus of $0.9 million. This surplus improved
on the surplus achieved in the previous financial year of $0.8 million.
The committee commends DSS on the quality of its annual report. The
committee also encourages DSS to consider if reporting more detailed information
regarding the effectiveness of its assets management processes, and its procurement
practices in support of small and medium enterprises, would enhance the
comprehensiveness of DSS' annual report.
Department of Human Services
The 2016–17 annual report for DHS was tabled in the House of Representatives
on 24 October 2017, and in the Senate on 13 November 2017.
The purpose of DHS is as follows:
The department delivers payments and associated services on
behalf of partner agencies, and provides related advice to government on social
welfare, health and child support delivery.
The then secretary, Ms Kathryn Campbell CSC, provided a substantive
overview of the work undertaken by DHS during 2016–17. Ms Campbell noted:
- the scale of DHS' service delivery arrangements, including the processing
of more than 3.8 million social security and welfare claims, delivery of more
than 700 million self-service transactions, handling 52 million phone calls and
19 million visits to service centres, and 74 000 kilometres covered by mobile
- public controversy associated with the online compliance
initiative, which raised automated debts based on averaged income data, and
DHS' response to improve the initiative's results;
- efforts to improve service delivery, including moving to the
delivery phase of the Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation Program to
improve the delivery of student payments and to upgrade ageing information and
communications technology (ICT) infrastructure;
- collaboration with the Digital Transformation Agency to improve
the myGov service, particularly focusing on achieving a simplified,
user-centric design; and
- the importance of, and approach to, developing workforce capacity
As in DHS' annual report for 2015–16, Ms Campbell noted people's
frustration when their calls to DHS went unanswered, or they had to wait for
calls to be answered.
The committee notes DHS' performance measure for customer satisfaction of 'time
to receive service' was just 46.3 per cent.
As previously noted, Ms Campbell commenced as Secretary of DSS on
18 September 2017. On the same day, Ms Renée Leon PSM commenced as Secretary of
The committee thanks Ms Campbell for her work and welcomes Ms Leon.
During the 2016–17 reporting period, the Hon. Alan Tudge MP was the Minister
for Human Services.
On 20 December 2017, the Hon. Michael Keenan MP was sworn in as Minister
for Human Services.
DHS reported on its performance across three program areas: Program 1.1:
Services to the Community – Social Security and Welfare; Program 1.2: Services
to the Community – Health; and Program 1.3: Child Support.
For Program 1.1, DHS met 13 of its 15 performance measures.
DHS reported that the performance measures it met included positive results for
customers' 24/7 access to DHS' ICT systems and Centrelink's accurate delivery
of Indigenous customer payments.
DHS did not meet its performance targets for achieving customer service satisfaction
standards, or its targets for the delivery of the strengthening the integrity
of welfare payments Budget measure.
For Program 1.2, DHS met 12 of its 14 performance measures.
Some of DHS' positive results included pharmacists' satisfaction with Medicare
providers' service delivery and high rates of claims processed within service
DHS did not meet its targeted results relating to achieving customer
satisfaction standards, or telephony service standards for calls made to the
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Authority line and the My Health Record
For Program 1.3, DHS met five out of its seven performance measures. Performance
measures achieved included the rate of child support liabilities raised, and
child support claims processed within service level standards.
DHS did not meet its targeted results for the achievement of customer
satisfaction standards, although it came very close to its 85 per cent target,
nor did DHS meet its target for the average speed of answer for telephony
The committee recognises that DHS' approach to reporting its performance,
with respect to its annual statements and stated purpose, is transparent and
informative. When DHS reported that it did not meet a targeted result, it provided
clear information regarding the outcome of the result and provided information as
to the work being undertaken to improve on its performance.
Management of human resources
DHS reported on matters regarding the management of human resources and exceeded
the reporting standards required by legislation. DHS highlighted its: provisions
for supporting employees from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD)
plans and processes to support the employment of people with a self-identified disability;
and employment of, and support for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
DHS provided information on the number of employees who had self-identified
as having a CALD background, disability background, or an Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander background. DHS also reported on the substantive Australian
Public Service classification levels for employees with the abovementioned
In 2016–17, DHS administered approximately 40 per cent of the
Government's total outlays, through approximately $174.3 billion in payments.
DHS received $4201.6 million in government appropriations and generated own-source
revenue and gains of $244.8 million.
Compared to the previous reporting period, DHS' government appropriations
decreased from $4223.5 million and own source revenue and gains increased from
DHS achieved an $80.7 million operating surplus (after adjustment for
depreciation, amortisation and asset revaluation).
This improves on DHS' operating deficit of $3.2 million during the previous
At the end of the 2016–17 reporting period, DHS' total equity was $847.3
million, which was an increase from $698 million at the same time in the
As at 30 June 2017, DHS held assets totalling $2227 million, mostly
comprised from retained appropriations and non-financial assets. Asset values
increased 8.1 per cent from the same time during the previous year.
Overall, the committee commends DHS for producing an informative,
clearly presented and PGPA Act compliant annual report.
Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page