Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2012
Corporate outcome: Stakeholder relations
The Public Affairs section support the department to deliver policy and programs by providing strategic communications advice to business teams and the minister and parliamentary secretary's office. The successful delivery of the department's policies and programs are reliant on effective communication.
All communications activities–including media and issues management, advertising, media monitoring, publication development, multi-media, market research, and social media–are managed through the Public Affairs section.
The department is committed to exploring innovative channels to communicate with our stakeholders. The portfolio websites continue to be a primary source of information. Traditional media is complemented with the use of social media such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.
The department continues to consider environmentally sustainable approaches in the development of all communications. Production of all printed products, such as booklets, banners, and fact sheets, are produced using paper that complies with international environmental standards.
The department's websites are the primary communication tool for the department's national and global audiences, providing continuous access to our services and information.
The department has continued its commitment to improving access to our online information. For example, in November 2011 the www.nrm.gov.au website was redeveloped and launched with a more client-centred approach and a greater focus on the projects undertaken under the Caring for our Country program. In February 2012 a new website for Australian Heritage Week at www.heritage-week.govspace.gov.au was launched. This website is designed to make it easier for participants to register or locate events.
During 2011-12 there were over 11 million visits to the department's websites. The most popular website was the environment.gov.au site, with more than 5.2 million visits.
Figure 1: Environment Portfolio Web site traffic 2011-1
Ministerial and parliamentary services
The Parliamentary Services section manages parliamentary business for the portfolio, including the management and coordination of ministerial correspondence, ministerial briefings, questions on notice, question time briefs and senate estimates.
The section records, performs quality assurance checks on, and tracks documents flowing between the minister's and parliamentary secretary's offices and the department. The section also provides advice to portfolio line areas on ministerial and parliamentary matters.
In 2011-12 the department prepared over 1824 briefing submissions for the minister and the parliamentary secretary.
There were 15243 items of correspondence received by the minister and the parliamentary secretary and registered on the department's database. The following table shows statistics in ministerial correspondence over the past two years.
|Number of correspondence items||15243||11459|
The department continued to maintain an in-house Community Information Unit that receives requests for information and feedback on the department's services. The unit also manages the distribution of departmental publications, the publications shopfront and the client service officer function.
In 2011-12 the community information unit responded to 17112 enquiries from the Australian community; 31.1 per cent about grant and funding programs and 68.9 per cent seeking general information about the department and its programs. The unit managed the distribution of 41 402 publications.
The department's service charter for 2011-14 sets out the standards of service clients can expect and how to give feedback on performance. The charter is available at www.environment.gov.au/about/publications/charter.html or in hard copy by contacting the community information unit toll free on 1800 803 772.
The client service officer can be contacted at:
Client Service Officer
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6274 1594
Toll free: 1800 803 772
Fax: 02 6274 1970
Inquiries and complaints
The department's client service officer received 27 enquiries in 2011-12. Of these, 10 were not related to the department, four were general enquiries, one was a compliment and 12 were complaints related to the department's policies and programs. Requests for information and assistance were forwarded to the appropriate work area for action.
Feedback on performance of service delivery
The department received feedback from seven people about service delivery standards through its client service officer in 2011-12. Of these, five people said that the department's service delivery did not meet their expectations. One person indicated that their expectations had been met and one indicated that their expectations had been exceeded. The negative responses generally related to grants program applications.
Support for environment, heritage and sustainability organisations
Grants to Voluntary Environment, Sustainability and Heritage Organisations
The Grants to Voluntary Environment, Sustainability and Heritage Organisations (GVESHO) program assists eligible not-for-profit community-based environment, sustainability and heritage organisations by contributing to their administrative costs. In 2011-12 grants totalling $1.32 million were awarded to 163 organisations. Details of recipients and grant amounts are available at www.environment.gov.au/about/grants/index.html.
Register of environmental organisations
The Register of Environmental Organisations is a list of environmental organisations eligible to receive tax-deductible donations. It was established under item 6.1.1 subsection 30-55(1) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (the Act). Donations of money or property to these organisations, for the conservation of the natural environment, are income tax deductible.
During 2011-12 the department assisted over 130 organisations interested in applying for entry to the register. The minister and the assistant treasurer approved the listing of 39 organisations and their public funds on the register. Three organisations and their public funds were removed from the register. At 30 June 2012 the register listed 582 organisations, compared to 546 at 30 June 2011.
The most recent statistics available are for the year 2010-11, which show that the public donated more than $147 million to tax-deductible environmental organisations to help protect and enhance the natural environment.
Figure 2: Donations to Environmental Organisations
The department also maintains an apportionment register. Under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997, donors that have donated money or property valued at more than $5,000 to a tax-deductible environmental organisation, or who have entered into a perpetual conservation covenant with an accredited conservation program, may elect to apportion their donation over a period of up to five years by sending an election form to the department. The department recorded three apportionment elections and variations during 2011-12.