I am pleased to present the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB) Corporate Plan, which covers the period 2020-2021 to 2023-24. This version of the Corporate Plan, issued in March 2021, is a minor variation of the original plan.
I acknowledge this is a time of great uncertainty for the transport industry in general, and aviation in particular. Many ATSB investigators and operational support staff have come from the aviation, rail and marine transport modes and continue to maintain strong industry links. We have great empathy for operators and their respective workforces who are facing an indeterminate and challenging road to recovery.
The ATSB is not a policy agency, and other than secondment of some staff to Services Australia, we have not been directly involved in the pandemic relief and recovery efforts in support of the transport industry. However, as an independent safety agency, the ATSB is continuing to apply our safety knowledge and expertise in carefully monitoring the return to operations of safe and reliable transport. As an operational agency, the ATSB will continue to deploy accident investigation teams where and when required during the course of this pandemic.
Leading into this new performance period, we have worked hard as an organisation to reduce the number of active investigations undertaken over time. We have managed our resources such that we have teams dedicated to commencing new investigations whilst completing some of the complex, resource intensive investigations we have commenced in recent times. Investigations commenced early in 2020 include the loss of the C-130 firefighting aircraft near Cooma (NSW), the derailment of the XPT near Wallan (Vic), the mid-air collision of two aircraft near Mangalore (Vic), and the loss of five lives in an impact with terrain near Lockhart River (Qld). The ATSB has also responded to the Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Arrangements through the provision of a submission containing an analysis of aviation firefighting safety occurrences.
In this Corporate Plan we have established a new set of performance measures. These are designed to demonstrate our effectiveness against our mission to:
Improve transport safety for the greatest public benefit through our independent investigations and influencing safety action.
Through the revised performance criteria, we are focussed on being able to demonstrate the safety action taken in response to our investigations, ensuring that our findings are defendable and timely, and that our resources are being used efficiently.
The transport safety investigation tertiary qualification which the ATSB initiated in partnership with RMIT University in 2019, will proceed in 2020-2021, despite the impact that the pandemic has had on the tertiary sector. The inaugural delivery of the Graduate Certificate in Transport Safety Investigation in 2019 resulted in 25 graduates from both the ATSB and industry. The RMIT partnership, which will expand to include the development of Graduate Diploma and Masters Programs over time, is an integral component of our strategy to create a centre of excellence for transport safety investigation in the Asia Pacific Region. The ATSB will continue to advance its own safety investigation capabilities through the delivery of these courses, in addition to ensuring that the opportunity exists for industry to do the same.
I am proud of the ATSB’s staff who have, time and time again, proven themselves resilient and adaptable during this period of uncertainty. Like all Australians, ATSB staff across the nation, have had to adapt to changing circumstances during this pandemic. At a professional level they have remained committed to their work, whether this be from the office, home or deploying to transport accident sites across state borders.
This Corporate Plan has been prepared consistent with paragraph 35(1)(b) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and the relevant provisions of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 (the TSI Act), which establishes the ATSB. The Corporate Plan is also consistent with the Minister’s revised Statement of Expectations 2019–21 (SOE) for the ATSB, as notified under Section 12AE of the TSI Act. The SOE sets out clear expectations which, in my capacity as Chief Commissioner and the Accountable Authority, I am committed to meeting in 2020-21 and beyond.
Greg HoodChief Commissioner