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Part 1: Overview

This part provides highlights of the year's achievements and gives an overview of the department's areas of responsibility and outcomes and programs structure.

Secretary's review

The 2012–13 financial year was one of consolidation and delivery for the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport. Summarised below are some of the department's most significant achievements during 2012–13. Details of these achievements and the department's performance against its deliverables and key performance indicators are provided in the relevant sections of this annual report.

The department continued its work across government and with state, territory, local governments and other key stakeholders in a range of priority areas, including in Tasmania, northern Queensland and the Murray-Darling Basin to assist regions to diversify their economic base.

Delivery of government priorities continued through regional projects and programs, including the Regional Development Australia Fund. Announcements of successful projects under rounds three and four of the fund began in May 2013. Around 120 projects were funded under these rounds, including regional tourism initiatives and upgrades to community sporting facilities. Our role in administering the fund included assessing proposals against the eligibility criteria and supporting the advisory panel and the Minister to identify projects worthy of funding.

The department continued to play a key role in the rebuilding effort following the 2010–11 natural disasters in Queensland and Victoria. An important aspect of this role is ensuring the reconstruction work represents value-for-money for the Commonwealth's investment in the rebuilding costs.

The department supported the Reconstruction Inspectorate and helped to deliver a new national partnership agreement with the Queensland Government. The new agreement supersedes the previous agreement and covers the damage caused by floods and cyclones in Queensland between November 2010 and January 2013.

The department has played an important role in delivering services and infrastructure in Australia's territories. During 2012–13 significant infrastructure projects were delivered on Christmas Island, including phase one of the Christmas Island New Housing Program and the installation of an alternative deep sea mooring facility. Progress was made on reforms on Norfolk Island to help expand and diversify its economy. In the lead-up to Canberra's centenary, the department implemented funding agreements for centenary projects on behalf of the government and facilitated amendments to the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988.

A key focus for the department's Office for the Arts during 2012–13 was the development of a new national cultural policy, culminating in the government's release of the policy on 13 March 2013. The department worked with many stakeholders across the sector in developing the policy.

A National Integrity of Sport Unit was set up in the department in October 2012 to lead national efforts in the fight against doping and match-fixing in sport. One of the unit's primary tasks has been to work collaboratively with sporting organisations and stakeholders to respond to integrity issues in a coordinated way. The unit has been working with state and territory governments and betting regulators to implement commitments made under the National Policy on Match-Fixing in Sport.

The professionalism and resilience of the department's people have positioned us well to respond to a range of emerging government priorities. The successful formation of new business units to deliver these priorities, such as the National Integrity of Sport Unit, reflects well on the diverse skills of our people.

The confidence, conviction and commitment of our staff were noted in the Australian Public Service Commission's capability review of the department. The department received a positive report card, noting the maturity achieved in several areas during our short history. The review identified opportunities for organisational improvements, and a priority will be acting on these over the medium term, including by further embedding our strategic vision and developing and building on our high-performing culture.

The department's first learning and development framework and various human resource initiatives have been progressively implemented in response to the 2012 staff survey, forming a solid foundation on which to build. The learning and development framework was also a key part of the action plan in response to the capability review.

The department has continued to deliver value-for-money outcomes in a constrained fiscal environment. I am pleased with the collective responsibility demonstrated by all staff to reduce expenditure. The department pursued savings in key areas throughout the year, including on travel and consultancy expenditure. In 2012–13, the department recorded an operating deficit of $62,000 on its regular operations. The department's financial statements have been given an unqualified audit opinion by the Australian National Audit Office.

Image of Ms Glenys Beauchamp PSM, who was the Secretary of the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport during the 2012-13 financial year.

The department will enter 2013–14 with a strong record of achievement behind it, which positions it well to meet any changes and the challenges ahead.

Glenys Beauchamp Secretary

About the Department

The Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport delivers positive economic and social outcomes for regions across Australia through programs that give them a stronger voice and that equip them to develop sustainable economies and creative, healthy communities. It is responsible for regional Australia policy and coordination, the delivery of regional and rural specific services, regional development, matters relating to local government, the administration of Australian territories, delivery of arts and sports programs and the financial oversight of post-natural disaster reconstruction of Queensland and Victoria.

The department supports partnerships and policy initiatives that assist regions to plan effectively for their futures, building on their potential and competitive advantage. The department had a particular focus on supporting regions through transition, adapting to changes in demographics, technology and commerce, and adopting new ways of accessing education and health services.

The department develops and administers government initiatives that increase access to the arts and promote engagement with sport from the grassroots to the national and elite levels.

The department's role includes the self-governing territories of Norfolk Island, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, where it manages the Commonwealth's interests and provides policy advice to the Australian Government. It also administers the non-self-governing territories of Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Coral Sea Islands and the Jervis Bay Territory.

The department includes the National Disaster Recovery Taskforce which oversees the spending of the Commonwealth contribution to the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund in Queensland and Victoria.

The department works to achieve its objectives through four outcomes, as shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Outcomes and programs

Table 1: Outcomes and programs
Outcome 1
Strengthening the sustainability, capacity and diversity of regional economies including through facilitating local partnerships between all levels of government and local communities; and providing grants and financial assistance. Program 1.1: Regional development

Program 1.2: Local government
Outcome 2
Good governance in the Australian Territories through the maintenance and improvement of the overarching legislative framework for self-governing territories, and laws and services for non-self-governing territories. Program 2.1: Services to territories
Outcome 3
Participation in, and access to, Australia's arts and culture through developing and supporting cultural expression. Program 3.1: Arts and cultural development
Outcome 4
Improved opportunities for community participation in sport and recreation, and excellence in high-performance athletes, including through investment in sport infrastructure and events, research and international cooperation. Program 4.1: Sport and recreation

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