2013-14 Annual Report - Part 3.5 Stakeholder engagement

Part 3: Report on Performance - 3.5 Stakeholder engagement and enabling services and support programs

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ARPANSA’s stakeholder engagement and enabling services and support programs are essential for the successful delivery of ARPANSA’s radiation protection and nuclear safety outcomes for the Australian Government and to the community. These services and programs ensure that ARPANSA’s business is efficient, effective and forward looking, and capable of meeting future opportunities and challenges. In 2014-15 our efforts focussed on:

  • delivering support to Ministers which is high quality, timely and adaptive
  • maintaining a sustainable organisation and skilled workforce
  • establishing effective partnerships with national, regional and international stakeholders
  • embracing new technology to communicate effectively, and
  • recognising and managing the demands and financial pressures.

Stakeholder engagement

Government and external relations

ARPANSA’s stakeholder engagement activities are varied in nature, ensuring timely, accurate and consistent advice is critical to maintaining ARPANSA’s strong reputation nationally and internationally. Throughout 2014-15, ARPANSA has actively worked to ensure that we provide the required support to our portfolio ministers and members of parliament. This has included support for parliamentary reviews, inquiries and other activities of national importance.

Throughout the preceding sections of this report many examples of stakeholder engagement have been provided as they relate to the delivery of the core components of our work programs (e.g. Licence Holders’ Forums, EME Reference Group meetings and hosting national and international workshops). This section focusses on the work that has been undertaken to ensure that relationships with our national and international stakeholders is focused, strategic and relevant to ARPANSA achieving its mission.

During the reporting period ARPANSA undertook a range of activities to support our national and international work programs. These activities include workshops that have been hosted by ARPANSA, independently or cooperatively with key partners; and Memorandums of Understanding or other agreements that have been implemented. A summary of some of these activities is provided at Appendix 1.

Communications and education

In the community the word ‘radiation’ can often have negative connotations. Information about radiation, how it can be used beneficially and the scientific evidence of risks to health it might pose is important in interacting with the community. Engaging with stakeholders to better communicate the risks and benefits of radiation to the community is one of the Agency’s key priorities.

During 2014-15, ARPANSA has focused on updating and improving the navigability of its website. A new ‘For the Public’ section containing fact sheets on a variety of areas of concern was introduced and new fact sheets on electromagnetic fields and ultraviolet radiation consolidate and update previously available information in a convenient new format. This includes audio visual content and a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section. ARPANSA also introduced a ‘Talk to a Scientist’ program offering members of the community the opportunity to speak with a scientist about issues related to radiation protection topics.

During 2014-15, ARPANSA also commissioned a market research provider to undertake research with the general community and key community stakeholders to inform further development of its communication strategy. ARPANSA sought to find out what the key groups within the community thinks about radiation, about ARPANSA and its performance, and how we can best communicate with our stakeholders. The research found that there was generally low understanding of radiation and its risks and benefits within the community, but that ARPANSA was perceived as an impartial and trustworthy source of such information. The results of the market research will lead to further revision of the information on our website as a primary channel of communication with our stakeholders.

CASE STUDY: UNSCEAR –Using Twitter to reach a new audience

In November 2014, ARPANSA began using Twitter to engage with the community online. Our Twitter account (@ARPANSANews) enables us to communicate with the public on a unique digital platform, allowing for real time responses to inquiries and participate in the radiation protection conversation. We publish new tweets at least weekly, aiming to grow our following which will allow us to quickly communicate with a large section of the community to provide advice in the event of a radiological emergency situation.

Our followership has been steadily growing to include Australian organisations, individuals and government entities. We publish content highlighting information and advice provided on our website, as well as highlighting factual and topical information relating to radiation protection and nuclear safety.

Enabling services and support

Our governance and stewardship programs aim to drive improved accountability while streamlining or automating processes. We prioritise the development of an agile and flexible workforce that meets our current and future needs by supporting our people, and we invest in our infrastructure, technology and processes in order to enhance our efficiency and effectiveness.

ARPANSA Quality System

ISO 9001 implementation project

ARPANSA is committed to developing a quality management system to ensure efficient and effective agency practices necessary to ensure that the products and services we provide are of the highest quality and conform to our customers’ requirements.

During 2014-15, ARPANSA engaged a consultant to conduct a gap analysis of the Agency against – ISO 9001: Quality Management Systems Requirements. The recommendations stemming from this report are in the process of being implemented.

NATA accreditation

Seven of ARPANSA’s laboratories maintain National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accreditation and are regularly assessed by NATA. During the year, NATA conducted technical reassessments of the quality systems in place in each of the Chemical Testing services.

As required by the Quality Standard, AS ISO/IEC 17025, all service activities are internally reviewed annually by qualified auditors selected from the ARPANSA Quality Assurance Team made up of representatives of the services. Operational procedures and aspects of the management requirements of the Standard are audited in accordance with an approved schedule.

Performance monitoring

ARPANSA conducts quarterly reviews of its performance in progressing the activities in its Branch and Office Business Plans. This review includes the status in meeting the performance indicators, and progress in risk management.

In 2014-15, ARPANSA engaged TechnologyOne Limited to configure its enterprise Performance Planning and Publishing Software to assist and improve the effectiveness of its performance measurement and reporting capability within the Agency.

The software has now been tested and it is expected that it will be implemented during 2015-16 to monitor and report on agency performance.