OFFICE of the OFFICIAL SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL
ANNUAL REPORT 2006-2007

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Chapter 2 : Report Performance

Outcome Performance

The Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General reports on performance in relation to the following single outcome:

The Governor-General is enabled to perform the constitutional, statutory, ceremonial and public duties associated with the appointment.

Feedback on the quality of, and satisfaction with, activities in the Governor-General's programme is conveyed from the Governor-General to staff, through the Official Secretary and senior staff, as part of the management routine of the Office.

In 2006—07, the Office effectively supported the large number of major official activities conducted while continuing to provide effective support for the ongoing official commitments of the Governor-General and the Administrator. The following section describes the Office's financial performance in achieving this outcome.

Subsequent sections report on the nature of the feedback on the two outputs that support the Office's outcome, and on key results achieved during the year.

Financial Performance

Operating result

As set out in the Office's audited financial statements for 2006—07, the result for departmental outputs was an operating surplus of $283 693 before including expenses of $5 522 884. These expenses are shown in the Income Statement as 'Transfer of expenses to administered', for the transfer of expenditure on administered assets. The net operating result shown in the Income Statement is a deficit of $5 239 191.

The budgeted deficit for the year was estimated at $5 485 000, representing the transfer of estimated expenditure on administered assets from departmental expenses to administered assets. The transfer of the expenditure is processed when all activity on the individual works project is complete, with the expenditure being recorded as work in progress in the departmental financial statements until that time. This accounting treatment is in accordance with the Office's accounting policies and as disclosed in the Portfolio Budget Statements.

The variation between the net operating result and the budget was due primarily to changing patterns of completed building works when compared to the estimated project schedules or changes in the works programme.

The Office's 2006—07 audited financial statements are provided later in this report. The Office received an unqualified audit report for 2006—07.

Report against the 2006-07 Portfolio Budget Statements

The Office received total appropriations of $15.590 million in the 2006—07 Budget: $10.838 million for departmental outputs; $1.561 million for administered expenses; and $3.191 million for capital works activities (see 'Capital works budget').

In addition, the Office estimated that it would collect other departmental revenues of $0.072 million and receive $0.025 million in resources received free of charge.

The total resources for Outcome 1, including departmental expense appropriations, revenue from other sources and administered expense appropriations, are set out in Table 1.

The variations between the budget appropriations and the operating results for the year are explained below.

Table 1 - Total resources for Outcome 1

Budget variations

The actual price of departmental outputs for the outcome was $10.580 million, $0.258 million less than the amount budgeted. The higher than estimated expenditure on Output 1.1, Support of the Governor-General, was mostly due to increased staffing costs arising from certified agreement salary increases. This was offset by a reduction in expenditure in Output 1.2 on employee costs due to lower than estimated staffing levels in the Australian Honours and Awards Secretariat because of a higher than estimated staff turnover rate (see 'Staffing changes and statistics' in Chapter 3).

Actual administered expenses varied from the budget appropriation by $0.015 million as a result of a slightly higher charge for depreciation ($0.018 million).

The variation in revenue from other sources reflects a change in the Office's policy for the recognition of revenue from the sale of assets. This revenue is now netted off against the purchase price rather than shown separately as revenue.

Capital works budget

The Office received an equity injection of $3.191 million in the 2006—07 Budget to fund the capital works projects in the second year of the ten-year property works programme for the heritage vice-regal residences and for a contribution towards the cost of construction of a replacement office building for the Australian Honours and Awards Secretariat. Expenditure in 2006—07 on capital works was $4.531 million, of which $0.601 million remains in the Office's departmental balance sheet as works-in-progress. An amount of $5.523 million expended on completed works projects was transferred from departmental expenditure to administered assets in accordance with the Office's accounting policies.

Significant changes in 2007-08

In the 2007—08 Budget, the Office was appropriated $2.381 million in departmental equity injection funding for the third year of the ten-year property works programme of maintenance and development for both Government House and Admiralty House.

Output 1.1 - Support of the Governor-General

Resources applied to this output are directed to:

assisting the Governor-General and Mrs Jeffery with their representational activities, including planning and organising travel; liaising with representatives of governments, governmental authorities, Buckingham Palace, community groups and individuals; preparing drafts of messages, speeches and correspondence; and providing advice on policy, precedent and practice

managing the households at Government House in Canberra and Admiralty House in Sydney to a high standard, by providing hospitality services for official functions; maintaining the households' assets and equipment; and providing ongoing support for Their Excellencies while in residence

managing and providing the caretaker, building maintenance, security and gardening functions at each of the official residences.

Tables 2 and 3 summarise the performance indicators for Output 1.1 identified in the 2006—07 Portfolio Budget Statements, and compare the budget identified in those statements to the output's actual cost during the year.

Table 2 - Performance indicators for Output 1.1

Table 3 - Financial performance for Output 1.1

Report on performance in 2006-07

Official activities

Throughout 2006—07 the Office's staff supported the Governor-General in his duties through planning and delivery of internal events and functions as well as liaison with external organisations for the Governor-General's and Mrs Jeffery's attendance at events hosted by these organisations. The highlights and statistical detail of this activity are addressed in 'Key results' below.

The Office and staff received positive feedback from the Governor-General and Mrs Jeffery on the standard of support that was provided during the year. Positive feedback was also received from guests at official functions, members of the public, and representatives of governments, government bodies and community organisations coordinating or supporting official events.

Property management

To maintain the integrity and standard of the official residences, the Office consults the Official Establishments Trust on all major maintenance, refurbishment and landscaping issues. It engages heritage architects to draw up plans, assist with tender processes and oversee any capital works projects to completion. The Office also consults the National Capital Authority before undertaking refurbishment or landscaping works at Government House that fall within the authority's legislative purview. Where the works have, or are likely to have, an impact on the heritage values of the properties, the Office seeks approval from the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, as required by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

In 2006—07, the Office was represented at four Official Establishments Trust meetings and one sub-committee meeting held to consider aspects of the official properties' development and maintenance. The Official Establishments Trust gave valuable guidance to, and endorsed the actions taken by, the Office and was satisfied with the outcomes of the activities undertaken at the properties.

Key results

Official activities overview

The official activities supported by Output 1.1 include functions, such as investitures, receptions, lunches and dinners, hosted by the Governor-General at Government House or Admiralty House. During 2006—07, in addition to those official activities, 242 events were attended by the Governor-General or the Administrator, following either official invitations or visits initiated by Government House. The Office's website (www.gg.gov.au) and the publication of the vice-regal news in a number of Australian newspapers provide daily information on the broad range of events and activities undertaken by the Governor-General and Mrs Jeffery.

Table 4 - Activities and correspondence in 2006-07

Constitutional activities

The Australian Constitution empowers the Governor-General to perform a number of functions. The Office supports the Governor-General perform these functions by giving advice and undertaking planning and research.

The Office supported the Governor-General in presiding at 26 meetings of the Federal Executive Council, at which 632 agenda items were considered. During the reporting year, 205 pieces of legislation were assented to. The Governor-General received 114 callers from a range of diplomatic, community, business, public service, military and religious groups.

Credentials ceremonies are usually held in groups of three or four towards the end of each month. In 2006—07, they were held over eight days and involved the presentation of credentials by 22 foreign diplomats taking up representational positions in Australia or otherwise having representational relations with Australia. The ceremonies are generally followed by a lunch held in honour of the newly accredited diplomats, to which key business and community representatives of the countries concerned are invited.

Ceremonial activities

During the reporting period, the Office supported the Governor-General in hosting a wide range of functions, including ceremonies to present awards conferred within the Australian Honours and Awards System. The Office also supports Their Excellencies on official visits overseas.

Investitures

Four investitures were held during the year, with morning and afternoon sessions held in September 2006 and April 2007. These general investitures involved the presentation of 149 awards to people for outstanding achievement and significant contributions to the community. The awards included the Order of Australia as well as decorations for bravery and involvement in military action in both operational and peacetime activities. Four special investitures were conducted: on 4 August 2006 Professor David de Kretser AO, Governor of Victoria, was invested as a Companion in the Order of Australia; on 26 November 2006 at Holsworthy Barracks, New South Wales, individual gallantry awards were presented to two members of the Special Operations Task Group; on 26 March 2007 at Campbell Barracks, Swanbourne, Western Australia, six Special Air Services personnel were invested into the Order of Australia; and on 21 March 2007 General John Abizaid of the United States Army was invested as an Honorary Officer in the Military Division of the Order of Australia.

Functions for visiting heads of state

A number of formal dinners and lunches were held at Government House during the year for visiting heads of state:

dinner in honour of Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Orange and Princess MÓxima of the Netherlands, on 23 October 2006

state dinner in honour of the President of the Republic of Korea, HE Mr Roh Moo-hyun, and Mrs Kwon Yang-suk, on 6 December 2006

state dinner in honour of the President of the Republic of Finland, HE Ms Tarja Halonen, and Dr Pentti Arajarvi, on 14 February 2007

state dinner in honour of the President of the Republic of the Philippines, HE Ms Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, on 30 May 2007.

At Government House, Canberra, Their Excellencies attended, and the Governor-General conducted, two Investiture Ceremonies. Pictured is the afternoon ceremony.

Their Excellencies attended a dinner hosted by His Excellency Mr SR Nathan, President of the Republic of Singapore, and Mrs Nathan.

Official overseas visits

During the year, the Governor-General received visits from a number of senior government officials and dignitaries including:

the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the Government of the Republic of Korea, HE Mr Ban Ki-moon, and Ms Yoo Soon-taek, on 15 August 2006

the Governor of Canakkale Province, Turkey, HE Mr Orhan Kirli, and Mrs Inciser Kirli, on 31 January 2007

Minister Mentor in the Government of the Republic of Singapore, HE Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and Mrs Lee, on 28 March 2007.

Official overseas visits

On 19 September 2006, the Governor-General represented Australia at the state funeral of His Majesty King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV at the Mala'e Kula Royal Tombs in the Kingdom of Tonga. Afterwards, the Governor-General attended a state dinner hosted by His Majesty King George Tupou V.

From 20 to 21 September 2006, the Governor-General and Mrs Jeffery visited the Republic of Singapore, where the Governor-General attended meetings with the President, HE Mr SR Nathan and the Australian High Commissioner to Singapore, HE Mr Miles Kupa.

The Governor-General and Mrs Jeffery undertook a state visit to the Kingdom of the Netherlands at the invitation of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix to mark the 400th anniversary of Dutch—Australian contact, from 22 to 28 September 2006. During the visit, the Governor-General and Mrs Jeffery attended a dinner held in their honour hosted by Her Majesty, met the Prime Minister, Dr Jan Peter Balkenende, met the President of the Senate and the President of the House of Representatives of the Netherlands Parliament, and visited Waterland Neeltje Jans as guests of His Royal Highness the Prince of Orange. At Kasteel Duivenvoorde, Voorschoten, the Governor-General and Mrs Jeffery received Her Majesty the Queen and Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Orange, Princess MÓxima, Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien at the Tastes of Australia reception hosted by the Australian Ambassador to the Netherlands, HE Mr Stephen Brady. While in The Hague, Their Excellencies were house guests of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix at Noordeinde Palace.

On 18 May 2007, the Governor-General travelled to the Independent State of Samoa at the request of the Australian Government to represent Australia at the state funeral of His Highness Susuga Malietoa Tanumafili II.

Community activities

The Office supported Their Excellencies in hosting a wide range of functions for community organisations at the vice-regal properties and in their visits to many Australian cities, regional and outback centres. The Office also managed the vice-regal properties for access by community organisations and visiting school groups.

Receptions and community events

More than 9000 people were guests of the Governor-General, attending 160 functions and events held at Government House and Admiralty House during the year as part of the Governor-General's official programme. Included in these official activities were the following major receptions and some of the community events conducted.

In November 2006, two special Christmas functions were held at Admiralty House for children with special needs, their families and carers; two such functions were also held in December 2006 at Government House. More than 1000 people attended these events.

On 8 November 2006, at Government House, Canberra, the Governor-General, as Patron of Canberra Legacy, and Mrs Jeffery hosted a morning tea for Legacy widows.

On 28 February 2007, at Government House a luncheon was hosted for members of the National Indigenous Council.

On 27 March 2007, a function was held at Government House for members of the diplomatic corps. More than 400 guests attended the event.

On 20 April 2007, a reception was hosted by the Governor-General and Mrs Jeffery, to mark the occasion of Her Majesty The Queen's eighty-first birthday, with 342 invited guests.

On 26 May 2007, at Government House, a reception was held for Reconciliation Australia to mark the Fortieth Anniversary of the 1967 referendum, with more than 190 guests attending.

Regional centre visits

Their Excellencies visited a number of regional centres as part of the Governor-General's regional visits programme, including:

Indian Ocean Territories

Darling Downs, Queensland

The Top End, Northern Territory

Communication and information

The website for the Governor-General, www.gg.gov.au, was comprehensively redeveloped during the year to provide improved search and analysis capability while also improving the format and content.

The newly designed website was unveiled in December 2006. It continues to be a valuable resource for members of the public seeking to learn about the extent and nature of the role of the Governor-General or to obtain copies of speeches or information about his activities. During the year, there were more than 7.5 million 'hits' on the website, significantly more than in 2005—06.

The Office will continue with the development of the website in 2007—08 by adding additional content on speeches of former Governors-General and on the vice-regal properties. It will also develop a section specifically designed for school students to understand better the role and responsibilities of the Governor-General.

The Governor-General delivered the commemorative address and laid a wreath at the Ipswich Girls' Grammar School Service to mark ANZAC Day.

Their Excellencies, as guests of CFA Chairman, Mr Len Foster AO, attended a briefing on the regional bushfires at the Mansfield, Victoria CFA Station and met local volunteers and support groups.

Official properties and community fundraising

The official properties were again made available to certain community groups in support of their fundraising efforts. The Canberra Symphony Orchestra held a Prom Concert in the grounds of Government House on 10 February 2007; The Smith Family, which has traditionally conducted an open house and garden event each year as its major community fundraising effort, once again held an open day at Government House on 4 March 2007; and the Guides Australia held a fete in the grounds on 5 May 2007. The Australiana Fund continued to conduct regular garden tours of Government House during the warmer months. The Australiana Fund held an open day at both Government House and Admiralty House in October 2006 as their major fundraising programme for the year. More than 19 400 people attended these events, which raised more than $111 000 for the organisations involved.

School visits

School visits continued, with around 9000 students and teachers from 178 schools visiting Government House for tours of the House and grounds. This represents a 49 per cent increase in the number of visitors and a 56 per cent increase in the number of schools over the 2005—06 numbers. The tours included an audiovisual presentation and talk on the role of the Governor-General. When their programme allowed, Their Excellencies met many of the visiting school groups.

Correspondence

In 2006—07, the Office received and actioned 4365 items of correspondence. This correspondence was received from heads of state, foreign and Australian governments, officials, business leaders, community groups and individuals. The correspondence dealt with a broad range of matters, including messages of support, requests for patronage, administrative arrangements and invitations to functions and events.

During the reporting period, the Office also handled 5886 requests for messages of congratulation from Her Majesty The Queen for Australians celebrating their one-hundredth or subsequent birthdays or for couples celebrating sixtieth, sixty-fifth or seventieth wedding anniversaries—an increase of 11.2 per cent over the number sent out last financial year. The Governor-General sent out 10 150 congratulatory messages during the year to Australians celebrating such anniversaries, as well as to couples celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversaries—a 5.5 per cent increase on the number of messages sent last year.

Property management

The official residences are heritage-listed properties and significant national assets belonging to all Australians.

As noted in last year's report, the Office received funding, commencing in the 2005—06 Budget, for the implementation of a ten-year property works programme for both Government House and Admiralty House. This is a major initiative by the Office for the management of these important heritage-listed vice-regal properties, which are being maintained for the benefit of all Australians and as the places for the hosting of many heads of state and royalty who visit Australia and of many community activities.

Amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 require the Office to prepare a heritage strategy covering both Government House and Admiralty House and also management plans for each of the properties. The strategy and plans require endorsement by the Official Establishments Trust and, in accordance with the legislation, need to be reviewed by the Australian Heritage Council and approved by the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.

The Office's heritage strategy was approved in September 2006 and is available on the Office's website. Work on the development of the management plans continued throughout the year with the assistance of the Office's heritage architects, Tanner and Associates Pty Ltd, for the preparation of the management plan for Admiralty House, and Lovell Chen, for Government House. It is proposed that the plans will be completed by the end of 2007 for submission to the Australian Heritage Council and the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.

The Office has continued to look at ways to improve its environmental management of the properties and a number of initiatives have been undertaken. This includes obtaining advice on water conservation and reducing energy consumption. Further information on these initiatives can be found under 'Environmental management system' in Chapter 3.

A computerised maintenance management system was implemented, with all maintenance and building work being recorded. The system will assist the Office with its professional and strategic approach to the maintenance of the properties. It will be an important knowledge management base for recording plant and equipment life cycles, maintenance and asset history, contractor and supplier details, plans and maintenance manuals, and for the direction of maintenance tasks.

Government House

The major works project completed in 2006—07 was the construction of an office building to accommodate the Australian Honours and Awards Secretariat. The building replaced the Secretariat's previous unsuitable office accommodation, which had consisted of a mix of buildings that were originally built as residences, some dating back to the 1920s. Although the buildings had been converted for office use, they remained unsuitable for work requirements, were affected by a range of occupational health and safety issues, and were inconsistent with accommodation provided elsewhere for other public servants. The Official Establishments Trust and the National Capital Authority agreed the new building's design. The then Department of the Environment and Heritage approved the demolition of two former buildings—Black Mountain Cottage and the Footman's Cottage—to make way for the replacement building and a multipurpose meeting room.

To achieve cost and programme efficiencies, the Office amalgamated a number of projects on the works schedule into the Honours Precinct Project. The project included the new building for the Secretariat, the multipurpose meeting room and additional car parking. The work was completed by Project Coordination (Australia) Pty Ltd, with Lovell Chen Pty Ltd providing architectural and works superintendent services.

During the construction programme, the Secretariat staff worked in temporary portable office accommodation that was set up within the Government House grounds. This approach was successful, as it was cost effective, enabled the staff to continue to interact with other staff on business matters, and caused less disruption to the Office's work programme than if the staff had been relocated off-site.

The Secretariat staff moved into the new building in December 2006, with the Governor-General officially opening the building at a ceremony conducted on 7 March 2007. Those attending the event included the Chairman and members of the Council for the Order of Australia, the Chair and members of the Australian Bravery Decorations Council, and the Chairman and members of the Official Establishments Trust.

In 2006—07, a number of other works projects were completed. These works included:

replacement of failing voice cabling and the installation of data cabling from the front gate security office to the Chancery building to ensure appropriate communications infrastructure

underpinning of the 1991 lounge and dining room extension to the House Manager's Cottage, which was starting to collapse because of failing foundations

upgrade of electric distribution switchboards to improve safety and equipment protection

replacement of the hot water systems, one of which was unserviceable and the other expensive to operate, and installation of improved safety and operational controls in the boiler room

upgrade of air-conditioning in the Chancery building to overcome inadequate airflows and issues with heating and cooling capacity

replacement of the external staircase to the Stables building (used for transport staff accommodation and the garaging of official vehicles), which was failing due to normal wear and tear and presenting a safety issue.

A number of projects were undertaken to improve the environmental performance of the property, such as the replacement of light fittings and globes in the kitchen service wing to reduce energy consumption, and replacement of incandescent light globes with compact fluorescent light globes wherever possible. Grounds maintenance activity included the removal of dangerous or dead trees, which were recycled into woodchip and used as garden mulch.

The Office began the planning, documentation and procurement for further works, including:

extension of the existing hydraulic heating and cooling system into a number of the staterooms in the House to replace inefficient and outdated air-conditioning systems

upgrade of external lighting throughout the property to improve security and safety while installing more energy-efficient fittings and globes

upgrade of Lord De L'Isle Lookout (to overcome structural, safety and access faults)

installation of replacement fuel storage following the removal of a ruptured fuel tank in 2005—06.

With the assistance of a heritage landscape architect, the Office will prepare a landscape management plan for Government House to provide a guide for the development and maintenance of the soft and hard landscape areas. This will be a practical document that will be used by the Office to prioritise funding investments while being available to gardening managers to plan their work programme.

The Office worked within the guidelines issued by the National Capital Authority for the extraction of water from Lake Burley Griffin for the watering of the gardens and lawns at Government House. Some 95 per cent of the managed landscape (which is 40 per cent of the total property area) at Government House is serviced by drawing non-potable water from the lake. The heritage gardens and trees and the main representational landscape—covering the main drive, vista lawn and immediate surrounds of the House—were given priority for watering during the long period of drought in Canberra. During 2006—07, the Office continued to reduce its water consumption and introduced further water-saving measures, achieving a saving of 20 per cent on the level allocated by the National Capital Authority.

Admiralty House

In 2006—07, the Office completed a number of projects on the works schedule, including:

replacement of rusted safety rails on the property's Sydney Harbour boundary to improve safety

replacement of a structurally unsafe wall to improve safety

removal of lead paint and the installation of automatic doors to the garage for occupational health and safety purposes

refurbishment of inadequate kitchen and toilet facilities and repainting of the interior of the Gatehouse (used by security personnel)

replacement of a collapsing pergola and replacement of underlying pathway to remove trip hazards and generally improve safety in the area.

The Office also continued its work to improve the gardens and landscape at Admiralty House in accordance with the works schedule and landscape plan overseen by our heritage landscape architect, Taylor Brammer Landscape Architects Pty Ltd. Further soft and hard landscape work will continue into the future for the implementation of this plan.

Minor works projects undertaken during the year included the painting of the first floor veranda railings and ceiling and the upgrade of the ground floor and first floor veranda shutters to preserve their condition.

The Office continued with the planning, documentation and procurement for many works, including:

refurbishment of the main bathroom for safety reasons and of a bedroom that is due for cyclical refurbishment

cyclical refurbishment of the state dining room, which has not been renovated for over fifteen years

replacement of the stairs to the pergola to remove a safety hazard because of wear and tear on the stairs

upgrade of the flagstone paved area and improvements to the natural water system feeding the underground water tank used to water the grounds

refurbishment of the gazebo, which is collapsing because of rotting timber frames

upgrading of the fire panel and emergency warning system to improve safety.

Security

The Office is continuing to work closely with the Protective Security Coordination Centre, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Federal Police Protective Service to manage better the physical security environments at Government House and Admiralty House. Regular meetings are held with these organisations to identify issues and to receive advice on security.

Works of art and other items

The Australiana Fund and the National Gallery of Australia lend furniture and art works for the residences and are consulted on interior furnishing and art matters. The Department of Parliamentary Services has also lent some works of art for display at both Houses. During the year, the Office returned one item to the National Gallery and received twelve new items from the Australiana Fund for placement at Government House and Admiralty House as part of an ongoing programme to display a variety of items of Australian artworks and furniture.

The Office is grateful for the support of the National Gallery of Australia, the Australiana Fund and the Department of Parliamentary Services for the loan of paintings, sculptures, furniture and other items for public display at Government House and Admiralty House. At 30 June 2007, 386 paintings, pieces of furniture and art objects, with a combined value of over $14 million, were on loan to the Office. These are viewed by the visitors to the houses, this year numbering over 14,500 people. During the financial year, each of the organisations undertook a revaluation of their items on loan to the Office; the combined value reflects that advised by those organisations.

Output 1.2 - Administration of the Australian Honours and Awards System

Resources applied to this output are directed to:

conducting comprehensive and independent research and analysis of nominations for awards

providing high-level secretariat support to honours advisory bodies

interpreting and applying gazettal regulations for Defence, meritorious and long service awards to ensure that applicants meet eligibility criteria

making cost-effective resource decisions for acquisition of timely and high-quality insignia, warrants and honours publications

maintaining registers of all award recipients.

Tables 5 and 6 summarise the performance indicators for Output 1.2 identified in the 2006-07 Portfolio Budget Statements, and compare the budget identified in those statements to the output's actual cost during the year.

Table 5 - Performance indicators for Output 1.2

Table 6 - Financial performance for Output 1.2

Report on performance in 2006-07

The Australian Honours and Awards Secretariat was established as part of the Governor-General's Office in 1975, following the introduction of a distinctly Australian system of honours and awards. The Secretariat is responsible for administering, on behalf of the Governor-General, as Chancellor of the Order of Australia, Australia's extensive national honours system, including all civilian honours as well as awards for meritorious action by members of the Australian Defence Force both in peacetime and war-like operations.

Under the honours system, the Order of Australia is the principal means by which members of the community are recognised nationally for outstanding achievements and meritorious contributions benefiting fellow citizens.

As nominations are received the Secretariat undertakes research, corresponds with nominators and referees, and develops documentation for the Council for the Order of Australia to facilitate its assessment of the relative merit of award nominees' community contributions. Following consideration and approval by the Governor-General the Secretariat then notifies the recipient and arranges for the gazettal of the awards and informs the media. A number of investiture ceremonies are subsequently conducted at Government House in Canberra or at other Government Houses throughout Australia for the bestowing of the awards. Administration of this award constitutes the largest component of the Secretariat's workload.

The Secretariat also supports the work of the Australian Bravery Decorations Council and is responsible for ensuring that all other awards—including decorations for gallantry, meritorious service, conspicuous service, distinguished service, skill at arms, exceptional service in Antarctica and long service—are well documented and processed for approval in accordance with gazetted regulations.

The membership of the advisory committees for the Council for the Order of Australia and the Australian Bravery Decorations Council is provided at Appendix A.

The Office liaises closely with the Awards and Culture Branch of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and contributes to Australian Government promotional campaigns to increase general awareness of the Australian honours system within the community.

The functional relationships between the main components of the Australian Honours and Awards System are set out in Appendix B. Further information on the criteria and nomination processes for specific awards may be found on the website maintained by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet at www.itsanhonour.gov.au or on the Office's website at www.gg.gov.au.

The work of the two honours advisory councils involves close liaison between the Australian Honours and Awards Secretariat and the respective chairmen and members of the Council for the Order of Australia and the Australian Bravery Decorations Council. The Secretariat's performance in meeting the needs of the councils is evaluated through feedback sessions at council meetings and through regular contact with council members. Informal feedback from the community and from nominators and those receiving awards is also part of the evaluation process.

Evaluation of the Office's performance in 2006—07 reflected very high levels of satisfaction with the quality and level of support provided to the councils and the public. Council members stated that they were pleased with the quantity and quality of work administered by the Secretariat, with comprehensive qualitative research being provided as a basis for sound decision making on award recommendations. The Secretariat received positive feedback from nominees and recipients for the manner in which the awards process is managed. This indicates that the Secretariat is continuing to achieve high-level performance outputs.

Key results

Honours and awards overview

In 2006—07, the Secretariat experienced a number of major changes including:

moving into new office accommodation within the grounds of Government House

continued development of a new information technology system to facilitate the Office's business processes for the receipt and processing of nominations and delivery of papers to the councils

recruitment and establishment of a new executive team.

In December 2006, the Secretariat moved from temporary accommodation into new modern premises purpose built within the grounds of Government House. The new building embraces sustainable design and accommodates up to 45 staff. Although clearly contemporary, it responds to the character of the overall Government House site and was designed to take advantage of environmental efficiencies (see Chapter 3).

Several Secretariat staff are members of the project team that has been established to assist with the develop of the new Honours Business Support System to review current operating workflows and provide a modern system more able to support the high demand for the processing of nominations and interactions with council members, media and the community. This new system is expected to be operational in early 2008.

Despite a tight employment market, the Office successfully recruited and established a new executive team following the departure of long term senior staff who accepted placement in other organisations for career progression. Three new case officers were also recruited to replace staff that had left the Office.

Nominations

The total number of nominations researched and prepared by the Secretariat in 2006—07 was 10,982. This included the Secretariat's researching, preparing and submitting a total of 2317 nominations to the Council for the Order of Australia and the Australian Bravery Decorations Council. This exceeds the performance target by some 117 nominations. Four council meetings were held in 2006—07.

In 2006—07, the Secretariat received approximately the same number of nominations as it received in 2005—06. With the number of nominations received stabilising, the Secretariat was able to work on reducing the backlog of nominations that had built up over several years.

Over the coming twelve months the Secretariat will work with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet on raising public awareness of the Order of Australia and Bravery awards through the development of a revised promotions and communication strategy.

In 2006—07, fewer nominations for a bravery award were received than in the previous three years. This can be attributed to the unusually high number of nominations for bravery previously received to recognise people for their efforts in major incidents such as the Bali bombings and the 2003 Canberra bushfires. The Secretariat also experienced some delays in receiving supporting documentation from other agencies.

The new Honours Secretariat building.

Inside the new Honours Secretariat building.

Recognition of excellence in occupation-based fields of endeavour, including Defence personnel on operations around the world to protect Australia and its national interests, resulted in 1576 awards, an increase of almost 15 per cent over the previous year.

Recommendations approved by the Governor-General for the National Medal, which recognises fifteen years or more of diligent and efficient service in occupations involving elements of personal risk in order to protect the community, resulted in 7089 awards being granted, which is a 4 per cent increase over last year. In accordance with Regulation 10 of the National Medal Regulations 1999, one new organisation has been recognised as an approved voluntary organisation. As a result, members of the Volunteer Rescue Association of New South Wales are now eligible to receive the National Medal.

Tables showing the number of nominations considered and awards conferred for the Order of Australia and the Australian Bravery Decorations in 2006—07, and the total number of nominations and awards since 1975, are in Appendices C and D. Separately, Appendix E shows the number of all other award types made during the year for outstanding achievement in specific fields of activity and the total since 1975.

Acquisition of medals and other investiture items

A total of 18 000 medals and insignia were purchased during the financial year. This number allowed for the replenishment of the stock of medals for the number of awards made as well as providing for a small increase in numbers to meet expected ongoing requirements.