Annual Report 2017–18

Tabled: 20 September 2018

2 Our work: Relevance, influence and impact

We have been performing our key functions for many years—financial audits since 1851 and performance audits since the 1980s. The challenge for us is to remain relevant and current.

One new endeavour is making the most of the broad and deep access we have to public sector information as part of our function and powers. At the same time we've maintained our ongoing focus on building productive relationships with our stakeholders. To have real influence on public sector performance, and ultimately impact the lives of Victorians, we must make sure our work is targeted in the right areas.

2.1 Our 2017–18 work program

This year we tabled 18 performance audits. Twelve of these were listed in our Annual Plan 2017–18, two were follow-up audits, and four were from our Annual Plan 2016–17. We deferred one audit to 2018–19 and cancelled one audit.

Figure 2A
2017–18 performance audit reports tabled by sector

Central Agencies and Whole of Government

Effectively Planning for Population Growth*

Fraud and Corruption Control

ICT Disaster Recovery Planning*

Internal Audit Performance*

The Victorian Government ICT Dashboard

Environment and Primary Industries

Improving Victoria's Air Quality

Follow Up of Selected 2012–13 and 2013–14 Performance Audits:

  • Managing Freshwater Fisheries
  • Managing Victoria's Native Forest Timber Resources

Protecting Victoria's Coastal Assets

Health and Human Services

Community Health Program ($)

Victorian Public Hospital Operating Theatre Efficiency

Infrastructure and Transport

Assessing Benefits from the Regional Rail Link Project

Managing the Level Crossing Removal Program

V/Line Passenger Services*

Justice and Community Safety

Maintaining the Mental Health of Child Protection Practitioners

Safety and Cost Effectiveness of Private Prisons ($)

Local Government

Local Government and Economic Development

Managing Surplus Government Land

Key: * indicates audits from our Annual Plan 2016–17.
($) indicates follow-the-dollar audits.

Of the remaining nine audits that were not tabled during the year as planned, three were delayed due to significant challenges we faced in accessing essential data, three due to the complexity and sensitivity of the subject matter, and three due to internal resourcing challenges. Seven of these nine audits are scheduled to table in the first quarter of 2018–19.

We are actively reviewing our performance audit resourcing strategy and project management approaches, to improve the timeliness of reporting.

In 2017–18, we tabled six reports on the results of our financial audits as detailed in our Annual Plan 2017–18.

Figure 2B
2017–18 reports tabled on the results of financial audits

Auditor-General's Report on the Annual Financial Report of the State of Victoria: 2016–17

Results of 2016–17 Audits: Local Government

Results of 2016–17 Audits: Public Hospitals

Results of 2016–17 Audits: Water Entities

Results of 2017 Audits: Technical and Further Education Institutes

Results of 2017 Audits: Universities

2.2 Our stakeholders

At VAGO, we rely on our reputation to influence the public sector to improve its administration and performance. As we have no executive powers to implement or require action on our recommendations, it is vital that we have relevant, high‑quality, evidence-based products and productive relationships with all our stakeholders. Our primary stakeholders are the Victorian Parliament and the public sector agencies we audit.

This year we reviewed our stakeholder engagement framework and developed a strategy to complement our new strategic plan. Our focus is on improving the consistency of the experience of our stakeholders, and being clear about what we offer them. In the future, we'll be developing new approaches to working with our stakeholders to meet our common goal of continuously improving public services and programs.

We know that our work is valued when we see our reports being used by our Parliamentary stakeholders.

Figure 2C
Parliamentary committees using our reports

In February 2018, the Economy and Infrastructure Committee's Fourth report into infrastructure projects referenced High Value High Risk 2016–17: Delivering HVHR Projects (2016), Managing the Level Crossing Removal Program (2017) and Public Participation in Government Decision-Making (2015).

In March 2018, the Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Committee's report Inquiry into the sustainability and operational challenges of Victoria's rural and regional councils echoed our concerns about many regional councils' financial positions. The report heavily referenced our financial audits in the sector, as well as our 2014 reports Asset Management and Maintenance by Councils and Shared Services in Local Government.

Also in March 2018, the Law Reform, Road and Community Safety Committee's report Inquiry into drug law reform referred to Prevention and Management of Drug Use in Prisons (2013) and a specific recommendation we made to the Department of Justice and Regulation.

In May 2018, the Economy and Infrastructure Committee's Inquiry into electric vehicles referenced a figure from our report Managing the Environmental Impacts of Transport (2014) about passenger vehicles and greenhouse gas emissions.

In June 2018, the Legal and Social Issues Committee released its Inquiry into the Public Housing Renewal Program. The report echoed the findings and concerns of our audits on public housing, particularly 2017's Managing Victoria's Public Housing. The committee noted that 'many of the issues raised in the 2012 and 2017 audits were consistent with the evidence provided to this Inquiry. The Committee reiterates the need for the Victorian Government to implement these recommendations to improve the strategic direction of public housing in Victoria.'

To ensure we are sharing knowledge and can be at the forefront of developments in our profession, we maintain strong working relationships with educational and professional organisations, and with our audit, integrity and public sector peers—both domestic and overseas.

In addition to working directly with our stakeholders on specific audit topics, our staff also take the results of our audits to audiences that have a role in influencing or implementing change.

This year the Auditor-General presented to a range of peer and public sector forums on:

  • the pillars of integrity and our role in Victoria's integrity system
  • how the public service can govern well by implementing key measures to ensure efficient and effective operations, reliable financial reporting and compliance—the so-called 'three lines of defence'
  • the relevance of General Purpose Financial Reporting statements to not‑for‑profit public sector entities—or public-benefit entities
  • specific observations about particular sectors.

Section 4.2 details the stakeholder feedback we seek to improve our work.

2.3 Our influence and impact

The work we do at VAGO has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of Victorians. Each of our reports to Parliament, and particularly our recommendations, influence the public sector to improve the way it delivers services and programs. We strive for this influence to lead to a lasting positive impact on the Victorian community.

Some audits have an immediate effect, but sometimes it takes longer for our recommendations to result in meaningful improvement. Some of the ways in which our audits have influenced change this year are listed here.

 

Occupational Violence Against Healthcare Workers

May 2015

Occupational Violence Against Healthcare Workers tables in Parliament.

September 2017

Making emergency departments safer

The government announced the roll out of behavioural assessment rooms in emergency departments in 16 Victorian hospitals. This is a better practice example of an environmental design control, highlighted in our report.

 

Community Health Program

June 2018

Community Health Program tables in Parliament.

June 2018

Community health taskforce announced

Two days before our report Community Health Program tabled in Parliament, the government announced a new expert taskforce aimed at identifying ways to strengthen Victoria's community health sector. There was also $292 million allocated to community health care in the 2018–19 Budget.

Our audit found that the Department of Health and Human Services was missing an important opportunity to take a more strategic approach to providing primary care services to disadvantaged Victorians through the Community Health Program. We made seven recommendations to the department, focused on reviewing the funding amount and allocation, and improving the program's performance framework.

The taskforce will include members from community health services, as well as representatives from the Victorian Healthcare Association, other key organisations and service users.

 

Management and Oversight of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve

September 2014

Management and Oversight of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve tables, recommending that alternative management arrangements are explored for the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve so that it can better meet the racing and community purposes of the Crown grant.

November 2017

Better management of Caulfield Racecourse

Parliament passed the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Act 2017 that established a new governing body to manage the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve.

 

Prison Capacity Planning

November 2012

Prison Capacity Planning tables and identifies that a lack of accommodation and increasing number of prisoners contributed to the very high number of prisoners in police cells.

March 2018

Increased capacity at police stations

Victoria Police conducted a statewide audit to ensure police gaol and court cells were operating at the correct capacity. This resulted in Bendigo Police Station increasing its capacity by more than 30 per cent, and other stations in Geelong, Heidelberg, Mill Park, Moorabbin, Broadmeadows and Sunshine also increasing their capacity.

 

Emergency Response ICT Systems

October 2014

Emergency Response ICT Systems tables in Parliament.

August 2017

Improving emergency response ICT systems

It is announced that police and emergency services in regional Victoria will have access to the state's digital radio network from 2018, eliminating key black spots and increasing security and audio clarity.

 

Early Childhood Development Services: Access and Quality

May 2011

Early Childhood Development Services: Access and Quality tables in Parliament.

April 2018

A new framework for protecting vulnerable children

Parliament passed the Children Legislation Amendment (Information Sharing) Act 2018 which aims to protect vulnerable children by simplifying and improving information sharing arrangements between trusted professional entities, such as maternal and child health, hospitals and schools. The Child Link register will enable services to identify and respond to any risk factors early and collaborate to provide integrated services to a child. The Minister for Families and Children said Child Link responded directly to our 2011 report as well as findings from three other VAGO reports from the past decade.

 

Maintaining State-Controlled Roadways

June 2017

Maintaining State-Controlled Roadways tables in Parliament.

October 2017

Funding for regional roads

The 2017–18 Budget contained $305.5 million for regional road upgrades in 2017–18, and a further $147.9 million in following years. The Public Accounts and Estimates Committee's Report on the 2017–18 Budget Estimates has a direct reference to the funding allocation being linked to our report. The committee also recommended to the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, and VicRoads that they develop road maintenance performance measures that fully respond to the recommendations made in our report.

December 2017

VicRoads' digital dashboard

VicRoads unveiled a new safety tool for the state's 20 most dangerous country roads, with a digital dashboard tracking progress on road upgrades, pothole repairs and reporting on local accidents. It also announced a pilot program on high-speed intersections in the north-east, where new electronic speed signs will reduce the speed limit by 30 km/hr when a car is approaching on the side road.

May 2018

Regional Roads Victoria

The 2018–19 Budget allocated $941 million to fix hundreds of regional roads. Regional Roads Victoria, a new division of VicRoads, will oversee a $333 million boost to road maintenance. A $100 million Fixing Country Roads fund will pay councils to fix their roads. Our report found that years of declining spending had let country roads become a growing risk to public safety.

 

Managing Victoria's Planning System for Land Use and Development

March 2017

Managing Victoria's Planning System for Land Use and Development tables in Parliament.

October 2017

Discussion paper released

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning's discussion paper on reforming the Victoria Planning Provisions proposed changes that would address recommendations and issues identified in our report, including:

  • simplifying the planning policy framework and making planning schemes more user friendly
  • better supporting local government planners to draft planning scheme amendments
  • introducing simpler, risk-based assessment pathways that are proportionate to the planning issue being assessed.

January 2018

Reforms implemented

The first tranche of these reforms aim to simplify, clarify and update the planning provisions and definitions, and introduce ongoing monitoring of the provisions.

 

Regulating Gambling and Liquor

February 2017

Regulating Gambling and Liquor tables. It highlights that decisions on inspections in regional areas are not based on evidence and are influenced by budget concerns. It also mentions that the Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation was seeking funding to fulfil the expectation to develop regional hubs.

September 2017

Bigger Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation presence in regional Victoria

The government announced additional funding of $11.3 million over four years for the Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation in the 2017–18 State Budget to increase its presence in regional Victoria.

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