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Chapter 4 – Key enablers

FSANZ's Corporate Plan 2015–19 identifies five key enablers (capabilities) that will operate across the agency to help staff deliver the strategic imperatives

  • Science: sustained, leading edge scientific capability
  • People: dedicated people with a broad spread of specialist disciplines
  • Communication: a broad communication capacity
  • Governance and process: good governance and effective processes
  • Anticipation: an anticipative approach to emerging issues

Science

Strategies and tools

Science Strategy 2015–19

In 2015–16, FSANZ finalised the Science Strategy 2015–2019 (Strategy). This Strategy is more closely aligned to the FSANZ Corporate Plan than in the past, with the overall aim to develop and enhance our scientific capabilities, tools and partnerships to meet our current and future needs.

The new Strategy identifies three key strategic areas: scientific capability, evidence, and collaboration. For each of these strategic areas, two strategic aims were developed. FSANZ commenced work in developing performance measures that relate to each of the strategic areas. This work involves the development of appropriate tools to measure performance and collecting relevant information to report on at baseline, mid-term and final assessments. This work will continue for the duration of the Strategy, and the findings will feed into the development of future strategies.

Data management strategy

FSANZ continued to develop and action the data management strategy to increase the value of scientific data used in evidence-based decision making. To effectively manage our data registry, FSANZ is implementing a framework that is agile enough to meet different requirements and user needs. To achieve this, the framework flexibly manages the flow of data into and out of the organisation. In many cases, data will be simply registered and described using the classification and keywords to make it accessible, useful and well-governed. Where appropriate, FSANZ will extract and transform the data into a structured format so that it can be more easily combined with other structured data, allowing us to carry out more comprehensive and sophisticated analysis and reporting, and share the data more effectively.

Information and communication technology

In 2015–16, FSANZ redeveloped and upgraded the Food Recall application, improving usability, functionality and productivity. New environments for future software development requirements were deployed. Major applications in the agency received upgrades which will allow FSANZ to decommission old environments. Stabilisation of some of these major applications occurred, allowing for greater business continuity.

FSANZ has enhanced its video conferencing capabilities in the Wellington office by adding an additional video conferencing system. This has improved the capacity of staff to share documents and take part in meetings with their colleagues in Australia. Improved collaboration has been a key focus, with Cisco Jabber rolled out to all staff allowing for shared desktops and enhanced communication.

FSANZ is upgrading its off-site disaster recovery storage to meet increased demands for storage space. By leveraging the additional capacity of the disaster recovery site, FSANZ has been able to host some of its primary services at that site, allowing for enhanced disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities.

FSANZ showed significant improvement in the 2015 Check-up Digital Survey, which looked at our digital information management capability. FSANZ was ranked 36 out of 165 agencies (moving from the bottom third to the top third of agencies), and sixth amongst regulatory agencies. The annual Check-up Digital Survey was developed by the National Archives of Australia (the Archives) to help Australian Government agencies gauge their digital information management maturity and set clear direction for improved digital practices. The Archives uses the survey results to monitor progress within Australian Government agencies which, in turn, informs policy development, improves accountability of agencies, and helps to better target agency support services. Targets for 2016–17 include establishing an information governance committee and implementing an information governance framework.

In 2015–16, FSANZ continued to work on data management as part of implementing its data strategy and has identified and catalogued its key scientific data.

FSANZ's old internet security gateway was retired, and we have implemented a next generation gateway with enhanced security and web filtering.

People

Organisational capability

Organisational reforms

As part of organisational reform, FSANZ completed the development of practical guidance and tools to establish risk management as a discipline within FSANZ and to assist staff in their risk management work.

A review of FSANZ's project management was completed in June 2015, which looked at how FSANZ could further improve its performance. A number of recommendations were made in the report, all of which were accepted by the FSANZ Executive.

A project team was established to implement the recommendations and has made considerable progress, including:

  • redefining and clarifying the roles and responsibilities within the FSANZ project management system
  • establishing compulsory process evaluation for all major projects with regular reporting to the Executive
  • developing an extranet 'toolshed' of the existing resources for FSANZ project managers
  • commissioning and receiving a further report specifically on reporting and monitoring.

Work commenced on redeveloping the reporting and monitoring framework for FSANZ projects, amending and updating the FSANZ project management handbook, developing a skills framework for project managers and organising further project management training for FSANZ staff.

Staff Forum

FSANZ's Staff Forum is a trans-Tasman consultative and advisory mechanism which facilitates the mutual exchange of information between FSANZ staff and the Executive on workplace issues of relevance to staff. The Staff Forum comprises representatives from each section of the agency and meets monthly. The co-chairs of the Staff Forum attend an Executive meeting each month to provide feedback on current issues.

In 2015–16, the Staff Forum reviewed its Terms of Reference to ensure relevancy. The Staff Forum recommended to the Executive the updating of the Staff Induction Manual, which was undertaken in early 2016. The Staff Forum also coordinated communication between staff and Executive on the audit of payroll and on refurbishment options for the Canberra office.

Sustainable development

The building housing FSANZ's Canberra site is rated 4.5 stars on the National Australian Built Environment Rating System. As part of the operations of our 'Green' lease, FSANZ monitors building temperatures and works closely with the building owners to ensure the efficiency of the Australian and New Zealand office air conditioning. This limits the overuse of energy during working hours and ensures any issues are identified early and addressed quickly. FSANZ has contracted to source 10 per cent of energy to the Canberra office from renewable sources.

As part of FSANZ's commitment to sustainable development, the following activities are undertaken:

  • contracting services to recycle organic waste, paper and cardboard
  • reducing electricity use by encouraging staff to do simple things like turning off lights in unused rooms and turning off computers and monitors at night
  • providing recycling bins in all kitchens
  • recycling de-commissioned computers, tablets and phones.

Training

In 2015–16, FSANZ released a new learning and development framework to guide employees and their managers through the best way to maintain the skills of technical and administrative staff. The framework emphasises the 70:20:10 model, where the majority of learning happens through on-the-job training.

As an agency that depends on the skills and knowledge of its people to achieve its objectives, FSANZ is committed to maintaining or improving its capabilities in all facets of operation. In 2015–16, FSANZ supported staff in a range of professional development activities. A number of staff have been supported to complete tertiary studies through FSANZ's Studybank Program.

All staff were encouraged to participate in online training in mental health first aid. A large number of staff have completed the course, helping staff recognise and assist people with mental health issues.

FSANZ spent almost $200,000 on staff development during 2015–16 — about $2000 for each staff member. However, the 2014 APS employee census indicated only 20 per cent of FSANZ staff thought their training was effective in improving their performance. FSANZ intends to further investigate and address this concern in 2016–17.

FSANZ employment profile

Tables 11–15 below provide a summary of FSANZ's employment profile for the year. Comparisons are made with the previous year's data and to the APS overall. APS statistics were obtained from the APS Statistical Bulletin 2014–15. Data for FSANZ and the APS are at 30 June for the year in question.

After a significant reduction in the number of employees during 2013–14, the numbers of ongoing employees stabilised in 2015–16. The use of non-ongoing employees increased during the year in order to manage workloads and deliver against priority work.

Table 12: Total employees
FSANZ
2014–15
APS
2014–15
FSANZ
2015–16
Total employees 108 152,430 114
Total employees (ongoing) 103 136,498 104
Total employees (non-ongoing) 5 15,932 10
New Zealand-based employees 13 n/a 14

 

Table 13: Stability and mobility

FSANZ
2014–15
APS
2014–15
FSANZ
2015–16
New starters — ongoing (% employees ongoing)
9
(8.7%)
2,349
(1.7%)
4
(3.8%)
New starters — non-ongoing 5 n/a 18
Separations ongoing 6 10,612 6
Retention rate
(% ongoing employees)
90% 93% 94%

Following the process of restructuring at the end of 2013–14, FSANZ recruited a number of staff in 2015–16 to meet key skill needs. Our retention rate increased in 2015–16, with the majority of separations occurring because of employees transferring to other APS agencies.

 

Table 14: Workforce diversity

APS
2014–15
FSANZ
2015–16
Indigenous Australian employees 2.6% 0.0%
Employees with disability 3.5% 2.6% (3 people)
NESB1* (employees in Australia) 5.4% 6.1% (7 people)
Women 57.9% 67.5% (77 people)
Part-time employees (ongoing) 20.3% 21.1% (24 people)

* Non-English speaking background 1

FSANZ has a specialised workforce and does not target specific diversity groups in its recruitment practices. Where employees elect to disclose their diversity status, FSANZ ensures that appropriate support is put in place. We have a slightly higher representation of staff from non-English speaking backgrounds in our workforce than the APS average. We will continue, in 2015–16, to encourage employees to report their diversity status, as a large proportion of employees have not done so.

FSANZ continues to employ a higher proportion of women than the broader APS — almost 68 per cent. We continue to support flexible working arrangements for staff, with part-time employment numbers (21.1 per cent) being significantly higher than the rest of the APS.

FSANZ has a workforce with relatively more experience than the average for the APS overall. The high retention rate and our requirement for specialised employees means that employees often spend a large part of their working careers as FSANZ employees.

Table 15: Workforce experience
FSANZ
2014–15
APS
2014–15
FSANZ
2015–16
Average length of service in APS (ongoing) 12.1 years 10.2 years 12.7 years

 

Table 16: Age structure

APS
2014–15
FSANZ
2015–16
Less than 30 13% 9% (10 people)
30 to 39 27% 22% (25 people)
40 to 49 28% 31% (35 people)
50 to 59 25% 25% (29 people)
Over 60 7% 13% (15 people)

 

Table 17: Classification structure

Classification structure
(% employees)
FSANZ
2014–15
APS
2014–15
FSANZ
2015–16
APS levels
34%
(37 people)
73.8%
36%
(44 people)
EL levels
62%
(67 people)
24.6%
57%
(65 people)
SES
4%
(4 people)
1.6%
4%
(5 people)

The proportion of FSANZ employees who are over 50 years has increased from 32 per cent to 38 per cent of employees in 2015–16. Those under 40 years are currently only 31 per cent of employees, indicating a significant aging of the workforce over the year. The mean age of FSANZ employees is 46.7, compared with the APS mean age of 43 years.

Due to the nature of FSANZ's work, involving large numbers of Executive Level employees with specialist scientific and technical skills, the proportion of APS-level employees (36 per cent) is significantly less than the APS average of 74 per cent.

Employment environment

Enterprise Agreement

FSANZ completed the negotiation of its new Enterprise Agreement in 2015–16. The agreement streamlined a number of provisions while maintaining the core terms of conditions important to staff. The agreement came into effect in May 2016 and will remain in place for three years.

Work health and safety

FSANZ's Health and Safety Committee comprises representatives of management, the facilities team, work health and safety monitors, first-aid officers and workplace harassment contact officers. During the year, the committee considered a range of issues impacting on the health and safety of staff; in particular follow-up activities emanating from an audit of work health and safety. For example, issues relating to building maintenance, storage and amenities.

FSANZ supports a range of activities designed to contribute to the wellness of staff, including subsidising lunchtime yoga sessions and providing access to standing workstations, which are now spread throughout the agency. We also continued our practice of providing a free onsite influenza vaccination program and hearing tests for employees.

We facilitated teleworking by a number of our staff and generally supported flexible working arrangements. As a result, a relatively high proportion of staff are part-time and many take advantage of the option to purchase additional leave in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Workplace bullying and harassment

Trained harassment contact officers continued to assist employees who feel they may have been bullied or harassed. In 2015–16, no formal complaints were made under the bullying and harassment guidelines. This is despite about 17 per cent of employees indicating they had been subject to bullying and harassment in the 2016 APS employee census. This percentage is marginally lower than the APS average.

Workplace diversity and disability

In 2015–16, we finalised the Diversity Framework, an important part of the Diversity Plan component of our People Strategy. The framework includes our reconciliation action plan and disability action plan. Awareness raising of the importance of considering diversity issues in recruitment processes has occurred through improved intranet content and via staff meetings. FSANZ currently has only a few employees who identify as being from a diverse background, as defined by the Australian Public Service Commission. Awareness raising is the first step in addressing this under-representation.

The General Manager Food Safety and Regulatory Affairs is FSANZ's Disability Champion, signalling the importance of disability issues to senior management. FSANZ is a Bronze Member of the Australian Network on Disability and has benefited from advice and training from this network.

Rewards and recognition

Recognition of achievement provides an incentive for high performance in FSANZ. During 2015–16, FSANZ honoured three staff members for their contribution to the work of the agency.

  • Chair's Annual Development Award — awarded to Ms Julie Boorman. This award recognised Julie for her innovative approach, for sharing her skills and being a willing teacher of the junior members of the Food Data Analysis team. Her knowledge of Excel is unparalleled in the agency and her ability to use it to interrogate information and produce data has been outstanding. Ms Boorman ran behind-the-scene trials which resulted in data being made available for the Australian Total Data Survey, recipe development work, testing of commercial recipes and training.
  • Australia Day Medallion — awarded to the Food Recall team. This award recognised the sterling effort over the years of the current team and also recognised the input of the many previous team members. In 2014–15, the team dealt with 81 separate recalls. Many received more attention than others, with hepatitis A in berries being the most newsworthy. That small recall was the catalyst for significant change in both the agency response arrangements and the broader set of arrangements within the Australian Government for management of food-related illness events.
  • Pikorua Bone Pendant (symbolising Waitangi Day) — awarded to Ms Amanda Tritt. This award recognised Amanda for her outstanding work in a variety of high profile projects, including labelling of food for special medical purposes; Tutin — managing the final tutin proposal including the cost recovery impact statement and engaging with New Zealand Treasury and Ministry of Primary Industries; alcohol energy labelling involving high level negotiations; and dealing with economic analysis.

Senior management

In 2015–16, FSANZ commenced the year increasing its four-member Executive team to five, comprising the Chief Executive Officer, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientist, General Manager Food Standards, and General Manager Food Safety and Regulatory Affairs, and General Manager Risk and Regulatory Assessment.

FSANZ's risk assessment and risk management functions were conducted in different branches to separate these activities. In addition, a Chief Public Health and Nutrition Advisor provided strategic advice to FSANZ on public health and nutrition matters.

Working under strategic directions set by the Board, the CEO, in close consultation with other members of the Executive, led and effectively managed agency operations. The management group, comprising section managers and the Executive, met weekly. Section managers, and their respective branch managers, were responsible for supervising staff to ensure they met milestones, appropriately used budgets and staffing resources, and contributed effectively to FSANZ's goals and outcomes.

During 2015–16, four Senior Executive Service staff received performance bonuses totalling $63,100, and 17 employees received performance payments totalling $129,094.

In 2015–16 our Executive team comprised:

Steve McCutcheon
Chief Executive Officer

Mr McCutcheon is responsible to the FSANZ Board for the efficient administration of the agency and, in conjunction with the Board, for the corporate and strategic directions of FSANZ. He is also an ex officio member of the Board.

Dr Marion Healy
Deputy CEO and Chief Scientist

Dr Healy departed FSANZ in February 2016. Prior to her departure, Dr Healy had executive responsibility for the agency's innovation and reform function, including strategic human resources matters, food composition and consumption studies, and dietary modelling.

Glen Neal
General Manager Food Standards

Mr Neal replaced Mr Dean Stockwell as the General Manager Food Standards in 2015. Mr Neal is responsible for the risk management functions associated with developing food standards that address labelling and information matters, food contaminants, food composition, food additives, special purpose foods and foods requiring pre-approval, such as novel foods. Mr Neal is the senior FSANZ representative in New Zealand and is responsible for managing relationships with consumers, industry, government and other stakeholders there. He also has executive responsibility for finance.

Peter May
General Manager Food Safety and Regulatory Affairs

Mr May is responsible for corporate governance, oversight of the Office of General Counsel (an independent provider of internal legal advice), maintaining the Food Standards Code, food safety and primary production and processing standards, food recall and response coordination, and Parliamentary and ministerial liaison. He also has executive oversight of communication and stakeholder engagement.

Dr Scott Crerar
General Manager Risk and Regulatory Assessment

Dr Crerar commenced in this role at the beginning of 2015–16. Dr Crerar has executive responsibility for the agency's risk assessment activities involving chemical, microbiological and nutritional analyses. Dr Crerar is also responsible for the agency's behavioural and regulatory analysis work.

Dr Trevor Webb
General Manager Food Information Science and Technology

Dr Webb commenced in this role in February 2016 after the departure of Dr Healy. He has executive responsibility for FSANZ's international relations, food composition and consumption studies, and dietary modelling. Dr Webb also has oversight of the agency's ICT function.

Communication

In 2015–16, FSANZ continued its push to grow its social media audience. By 30 June 2016, FSANZ's Facebook followers had reached 20,000 and Twitter followers had grown to more than 5000. A key part of FSANZ's social media strategy in 2015–16 was to create more engaging content and focus on science-related subjects to educate our consumer audience. Two weeks were dedicated to “ask an expert” topics on microbiology and toxicology, with both of these weeks proving successful.

The audience for our key email publication also continued to grow, with more than 7000 subscribers receiving Food Standards News.

A number of new resources and publications were published during the year including a new Food Recall Plan template, designed with small and medium-sized businesses in mind.

The FSANZ website remains our key communication platform, with more than 1.1 million unique visitors to the site in 2015–16. FSANZ is increasingly using this platform, together with social media, to address issues and misinformation about the Food Standards Code or food issues generally (see Case study: Communicating with consumers through social media). For the year to 30 June 2016, FSANZ saw an increase in visitors to the website compared to the previous year of several hundred thousand, which is in part due to a more engaging and proactive social media presence.

More than 163,000 stakeholders received information via the FSANZ website, publications and social media in 2015–16.

Information hub

In late 2015–16, FSANZ's communication strategy included helping to meet strategic challenges identified by the FSANZ Board. One of the aims of FSANZ for the coming years is to reposition FSANZ as a trusted source of information about food and food regulation by creating an information hub. Measures completed during the year included a new framework for deciding on referrals to other websites and information, and the identification of potential improvements to FSANZ's digital presence. Concepts for future changes are expected to be tested with stakeholders in 2016–17, before being implemented.

Communicating changes to the Food Standards Code

The introduction of a revised Food Standards Code in March 2016 was supported by a number of communication resources, including frequently asked questions and a video explaining the key changes. These resources were promoted through social media, publications and a media release. Similarly, the end of the transition period for one of the Food Standard Code's most significant standards — the Nutrition and Health Claims Standard — was communicated to stakeholders through articles in food business publications, a media release, social media and FSANZ's Food Standards News.

Advertising and market research

FSANZ's limited expenditure on advertising totalled $35,847.74 and no polling, advertising campaigns, or direct mail expenditure was recorded in 2015–16.

The limited market research that was undertaken is outlined in the table below.

Organisation Project Amount
Roy Morgan Research Ltd Consumer Labelling Study $67,619.03
Adelaide Research and Innovation Investment Trust (ARI) Infant Formula (P1028) $41,350.91
Euromonitor International N/A (Subscription for market research data) $24,413.40

Case study: Communicating with consumers through social media

During 2015–16, FSANZ managed responses to a number of issues generated by media reports. Some of these reports were on naturally occurring chemicals in honey, and whether or not eggs needed to be refrigerated. These reports led to confusion and, in the case of the honey story, fear amongst consumers. FSANZ acted immediately to publish material correcting and clarifying misinformation. This material was promoted through our social media channels and by tagging and linking to relevant news websites and social media channels. The material was used by stakeholders in jurisdictions and industry to further promote the facts. FSANZ's proactive approach to tackling these issues was commended by stakeholders.

Governance and process

Role and priorities

FSANZ's main and subsidiary objectives for developing food standards are set out in section 18 of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991. Our functions are outlined in section 13 of the Act. These legislative requirements determine the way we do our core business.

The goal of FSANZ is to achieve a high degree of public confidence in the safety and quality of food. This goal is shared by all elements of the food regulatory system. Our outputs — food standards — provide the food industry with the regulatory framework for conducting business, but the ultimate beneficiaries of our work are the Australian and New Zealand populations.

Regulatory partners

FSANZ is one of three elements of the food regulatory system. The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, supported by the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC), develops and provides policy on food regulation. The states, territories and New Zealand ensure compliance and enforcement of provisions of the Food Standards Code, increasingly through the coordination activities of FRSC's Implementation Subcommittee for Food Regulation, of which FSANZ is a member.

Australian states and territories

Under an inter-governmental agreement, the states and territories agreed to adopt, without variation, food standards recommended by the National Food Authority (now FSANZ). The purpose of the original 1991 agreement was to consolidate responsibility for developing food standards into one specialist agency and to ensure the uniformity of food standards across all states and territories.

New Zealand

On 1 July 1996, a treaty between Australia and New Zealand to establish a single joint food standards system came into force. The joint arrangement (last updated in 2010) aims to harmonise food standards between the two countries, reduce compliance costs for industry and help remove regulatory barriers to trade in food.

The treaty does not cover maximum residue limits, food hygiene provisions, primary production standards, and export requirements relating to third country trade. It contains provisions that allow New Zealand to opt out of a joint standard for exceptional reasons relating to health, safety, trade, environmental concerns or cultural issues. In such cases, FSANZ may be asked to prepare a variation to a standard to apply only in New Zealand. An amended treaty with New Zealand was signed in July 2010.

FSANZ works collaboratively with the Ministry for Primary Industries, which has carriage of food standards matters in New Zealand. FSANZ is part of a New Zealand inter-governmental group, comprising representatives of agencies involved in the regulation of genetically modified organisms in New Zealand, which is providing advice on the review of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (Organisms Not Genetically Modified) Regulations 1998.

Governance and Parliament

In order to ensure quality practices, efficiently manage workloads, and meet our statutory obligations, FSANZ has a number of policies and practices in place to manage the interaction with ministers and their offices, as well as other government departments. The staff workload relating to this interaction in 2015–16 was similar to that in 2014–15.

The majority of contact with the office of our Minister, Senator the Hon Fiona Nash, related to information, Parliamentary-related functions and the provision of public affairs support. FSANZ also provided the Minister's office with updates on food recalls, as well as weekly 'Hot Issues' reports.

FSANZ uses a number of quality control and evaluation measures to meet our obligations of responsiveness to ministers and departmental requests for assistance or input. Our quality control measures include:

  • a central coordination function for the quality assurance of material to and from the Minister's office and government departments (FSANZ Parliamentary Liaison Officer)
  • policies and protocols on preparation and clearance of documents
  • training of FSANZ staff on Parliamentary procedures as required and provision of training materials.

Performance

Ministerial correspondence

FSANZ also provided input into correspondence on a number of matters relating to FSANZ responsibilities, the overall responses for which were the responsibility of other branches within the Department of Health, or other departments in the Australian Government or state and territory governments.

Issues raised in the correspondence included general food safety issues, novel foods, toxins in honey, irradiated food, contaminants, food additives, raw milk, labelling issues including use-by dates and country of origin, chemical maximum residue limits, and genetically modified foods.

Table 18: Ministerial correspondence
Completed on time 1-2 days late 3-7 days late 8-14 days late >14 days late TOTAL for action For info / no further action
2015–16 28 0 0 0 0 28 27
100% 0% 0% 0% 0% 100%
2014–15 25 0 0 0 0 25 5
100% 0% 0% 0% 0% 100%
2013–14 21 0 0 0 0 21 5
100% 0% 0% 0% 0% 100%

Ministerial submissions

Sent Returned
2015–16 14 14
2014–15 22 17
2013–14 22 19

Issues raised in submissions included FSANZ Board outcomes, BSE risk assessments, nanotechnology, food recall issues, staff and Board travel to New Zealand, and cost recovery.

Briefing note requests

Sent Late
2015–16 16 0
2014–15 5 0
2013–14 3 0

FSANZ responded to or generated briefing note requests on a number of matters relating to our responsibilities, as well as providing input into briefings which were the responsibility of the Department of Health or other departments. Issues included FSANZ Board outcomes, release of surveys, imported food risk advice, GM breeding techniques and maximum residue limits.

Parliamentary questions on notice

Received Sent Late
2015–16 0 0 0
2014–15 2 0 0
2013–14 0 0 0

FSANZ provided input into a very small number of answers to questions on notice (outside of the Estimates process), managed by the Department of Health.

Senate Estimates

Senior staff were required to appear before Senate Estimates on three occasions during 2015−16 (October 2015, March and June 2016). Issues raised during the hearings and in subsequent questions on notice included contaminants, nanotechnology and genetically modified food. FSANZ answered 21 questions on notice specifically addressed to FSANZ.

FSANZ also provided input into five answers to questions on notice being managed by the Department of Health.

Question Time briefings

Questions without notice are asked of ministers in Question Time in the Parliament and must be responded to orally. Confidential briefings are prepared by FSANZ to assist the Minister to respond to any questions which fall within their responsibilities, known as Question Time Briefings (QTBs). These briefings are also kept up-to-date between Parliamentary sittings to provide advance assistance to the Minister in dealing with urgent or controversial issues.

Preparation of these briefings is time-critical and with extremely tight deadlines, particularly during sitting weeks.

FSANZ prepared eight QTBs, either new or updates to existing ones. FSANZ also provided input to numerous QTBs prepared by other areas within the portfolio, or other departments, where the issues crossed portfolio or agency responsibilities. Issues included nanotechnology, maximum residue limits, food safety, food recalls, review of novel foods, imported food, energy drinks and the implementation of the revised Food Standards Code.

Parliamentary inquiries

In November 2015, the FSANZ CEO and General Manager Food Safety and Regulatory Affairs gave a private briefing to the Joint Standing Committee on treaties outlining FSANZ's role in the food safety system.

Notice of motion

In response to a motion by Senator Rachel Siewert on 22 October 2015, Minister Nash tabled FSANZ documents relating to nanotechnology issues.

FSANZ Board

FSANZ is governed by a 12-member Board, whose members are drawn from Australia and New Zealand. Members of the Board have a number of areas of expertise, covering public health, food science, medical science, consumer policy, primary industry, the National Health and Medical Research Council, the food industry and government.

The nine Australian members are appointed by the Australian Minister with responsibility for FSANZ following consultation with members of the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation and consideration by the Cabinet. The three New Zealand members are nominated by the New Zealand Government and appointed by the Australian Minister.

All members are part-time, except for the FSANZ Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Details of the qualifications of Board members and their attendance at meetings are summarised in Appendix 1.

The terms of Ms Philippa Smith AM (Board Chair) and Mr Neil Walker ceased on 30 June 2016. Dr Dave Roberts passed away in April 2016.

The CEO, Mr Steve McCutcheon, is an ex-officio member of the Board. Mr McCutcheon's current period of appointment expires on 31 December 2016.

The Board recognises the importance of applying sound governance principles and practices. It has adopted a Board Charter to ensure that both FSANZ and the Board meet its objectives. The Charter sets out the Board's objectives, authority, composition and tenure, reporting and administrative arrangements. The Charter also sets out the Board's roles and responsibilities, including:

  • establishing and disclosing the respective roles and responsibilities of the Board and management
  • exercising key Board functions efficiently and effectively, including ethical and responsible decision making
  • exercising sound Board governance processes to facilitate the achievement of FSANZ's objectives
  • striving to continuously improve Board and FSANZ processes.

The Board meets at least four times per year and also convenes through teleconferences as required. Four Board meetings and four Board teleconferences were held in 2015–16. Outcomes of FSANZ Board meetings are published on its website.

Ethical standards

The Board Charter includes guidelines for dealing with directors' conflicts of interest and material personal interests as required by the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014.

Board development and review

FSANZ provides a formal induction for new Board members, including a meeting with the Board Chair, FSANZ CEO and Executive Team. Newly appointed Board members are provided with an Induction Manual (which includes the Board Charter, Corporate Plan, Business Plan and other relevant information).

FSANZ also conducts an annual training session for its Board members, which generally covers issues such as the duties and responsibilities of directors; the unique perspective of a Board functioning under the PGPA Act; and the need for directors to have an independent view and governance compared with management.

Board performance

The Board Charter includes a requirement that a formal review of the performance of the Board be undertaken biennially. The review is conducted using a mix of external evaluation and facilitated self-assessment with appropriate input sought from all parties including the Board, the CEO, internal and external auditors, management and any other relevant stakeholders, as determined by the Board.

Along with the biennial review of the performance of the Board, an evaluation of meetings is undertaken by two Board members at alternate meetings. The evaluation is undertaken using an evaluation proforma which is provided to the Chair who discusses the evaluation with the CEO and other Board members as appropriate.

Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee (FARMC)

FARMC consists of non-executive Board Directors, and supports the Board's oversight responsibilities relating to the financial and business affairs of FSANZ, the preparation and integrity of FSANZ's financial accounts and statements, internal controls, policies and procedures used to identify and manage business risks, insurance activities, and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, and compliance policies.

During 2015–16, the FARMC continued to monitor the corporate governance and risk management activities of the organisation, advising the Board on FSANZ's appetite for risk in relation to strategic, operational and fraud control matters. The committee monitors the identification and management of risks to FSANZ, providing assurance that reasonable steps have been taken to address the risks by reducing the likelihood they (and their consequences) will occur.

FARMC also oversees FSANZ's corporate risk assessment processes, and these risk assessments inform both FARMC's risk monitoring activities and the Strategic Internal Audit Plan. Internal audits considered by FARMC in 2015–16 related to the management of the transition to the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, review of workplace diversity and disability, and review of ICT procurement.

FARMC continued to provide independent assurance and advice to the Board on FSANZ's risk, control, compliance, governance framework, and its financial statement responsibilities.

FARMC observers included representatives from the Australian National Audit Office, an internal auditor, the FSANZ Board Chair, the FSANZ CEO and Finance Manager.

Procurement

As a Commonwealth corporate entity, FSANZ's purchasing and procurement policies and practices are consistent with:

  • all relevant Commonwealth legislation
  • the Australian Government financial framework
  • the Chief Executive Instructions and relevant FSANZ policies.

Remuneration and Senior Staff Committee

The Remuneration and Senior Staff Committee of the Board meets infrequently to consider issues such as remuneration and performance standards for the CEO, as well as Board remuneration issues (which are determined by the Remuneration Tribunal).

The committee comprises four members (a chair, plus three). The General Manager Food Safety and Regulatory Affairs provides secretariat support to the committee.

Directors' insurance

Under the Comcover Statement of Cover, FSANZ maintained professional indemnity insurance coverage for our directors (Board members) and officers of $100 million.

Business planning and management

Consultants, competitive tendering and contractors

We spent $1.184 million on consultants and contractors during the year on services and products costing more than $10,000 (see Appendix 7 for details).

Corporate planning

The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 requires all agencies to prepare a corporate plan.

In 2014–15, the FSANZ Board conducted a review of the strategic environment and identified strategic themes for future FSANZ operations. This work led to the development of the Corporate Plan 2015–19, which was published on the FSANZ website within the statutory time frames. The Plan has since been updated and the Corporate Plan 2016–20 has been published.

FSANZ's Risk Management Framework and Governance Framework were revised to form a suite of documents aligned with the Corporate Plan and the Portfolio Budget Statement.

Fraud control plan

The FSANZ fraud control plan was revised in 2015–16. The plan outlines the process and procedures FSANZ undertakes to limit fraud risk in the agency. Reports on fraud risk mitigation are regularly provided to the Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee to ensure that the current risk management activities, such as separation of duties and the credit card purchasing guidelines, are effective in addressing fraud risk. There were no cases of fraud reported in FSANZ in 2015–16.

Proposed amendments to the FSANZ Regulations, including cost recovery arrangements

Fees are payable for the assessment of applications where the development or variation of a standard would confer an exclusive capturable commercial benefit on an applicant. An applicant may also elect to pay a fee to expedite the commencement of the consideration of an application.

FSANZ has been working on updated hourly charges applied for cost recovery and public consultation in a draft Cost Recovery Implementation Statement. This work was put on hold until after the 2016 Federal Election.

Information on previous reviews, including submissions, is available on the FSANZ website at www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/changes/applying/pages/fsanzscostrecoveryar5707.

Anticipation

Nanotechnology

In 2015–16, FSANZ refocussed its nanotechnology strategy with a view to completing outstanding risk assessment and risk management work. Two expert scientific opinions on the use and safety of nanotechnologies in relatively insoluble food additives and in food packaging reports were commissioned and, having undergone peer review, were published on the FSANZ website.

FSANZ also formed a Scientific Nanotechnology Advisory Group (SNAG) which will assist with the development of technical guidance material and advise on future uses of nanotechnology in food and food packaging. SNAG will also advise on national and international legislation and policy.

Chemical migration from packaging into food

FSANZ completed its assessment of food safety risks arising from chemical migration from packaging into food in Australia and New Zealand. The risk profile indicated that the majority of chemicals used to produce food packaging would not be expected to pose a public health and safety concern, predominantly because of their low levels of migration into food. This conclusion is consistent with the findings of analytical surveys investigating the presence of specific packaging chemicals in Australian foods. However, additional food concentration data is being sought on two phthalates, to determine if dietary exposure to these chemicals poses a health risk.

A call for submissions on the assessment and a range of risk management options was released in June 2016. The responses to the call for submissions and outcomes of the phthalate survey will inform the decision in relation to a preferred option and any preparation of a draft variation.

 

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