I am pleased to present the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB) Corporate Plan, which covers the period 2022-23 to 2025-26.
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 2021–23 (SOE) for the ATSB, as notified under Section 12AE of the TSI Act. The SOE sets out clear expectations that the ATSB’s resources be used in an efficient, effective, economical and ethical way, following best practice principles and guidelines.
I acknowledge this continues to be a time of great uncertainty for the transport industry in general, and aviation in particular. As an independent safety agency, the ATSB is continuing to apply our safety knowledge and expertise and carefully monitoring the return to safe and reliable transport operations. As an operational agency, the ATSB continues to deploy accident investigation teams where and when necessary during this pandemic.
I look forward to working with the newly elected Federal Government, to ensure the Bureau is well positioned to meet the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government’s expectations for the ATSB’s role in improving transport safety. I acknowledge the ongoing uncertainty for Australia’s transport industries operating in an evolving COVID-normal environment and the challenging economic conditions that these sectors face. I am also mindful that such challenges will need to be internally managed to ensure the ATSB maintains its ability to undertake and meet prescribed functions and key deliverables.
I have been the ATSB’s Chief Commissioner for 12 months now. I am aware of the calls stemming from a number of inquiries and associated reports, seeking to extend the ATSB’s services through an expanded remit. The ATSB will provide input into those inquiries as required. However, any decisions to change the ATSB’s remit are a matter for Government. It is my immediate priority to address the ATSB’s existing budgetary challenges – specifically the shortfalls in rail investigation resources resulting from unsustainable funding arrangements outside our core appropriations.
In my time as Chief Commissioner the ATSB has demonstrated itself to me as a highly capable organisation. In the past 12 months we have released a number of complex and industry significant reports that carry wide-ranging safety implications to the relevant transport modes; one such report is the ATSB’s investigation into the mid-air collision near Mangalore Airport in Victoria in 2020. The investigation highlighted the importance of air traffic hazard assessment and the value of aircraft owners installing Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) devices to assist pilots with the identification and avoidance of conflicting traffic. Other significant investigations include an investigation into a level crossing accident north-east of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia in 2021 highlighted the risks of driver distraction and the consequences when heavy vehicles and trains operate in the same geographical space and, an investigation into a collision between a bulk carrier and a fishing vessel off the entrance to Port Adelaide in South Australia in 2020 highlighted the need for crew to keep a lookout by all available means including use of radar, radio and automatic identification systems.
As a relatively small operationally-focused agency, the ATSB will need to anticipate change and adapt to ensure we are meeting the needs of government, industry, and the traveling public. Accordingly, I have been working with staff from across the agency to develop a strategic plan that clearly identifies the key objectives, strategies and actions to be given priority over the short to medium term. The plan, to be released this financial year, will have a focus on:
enhancing our products and stakeholder engagement for improving transport safety
fostering organisational resilience
affirming our role as the national transport safety investigator.
An example of the immediate action we are taking, is the greater utilisation of audio-visual content which will increase consumption of our investigation reports and advance important safety messaging. Stakeholders can also expect the ATSB to produce more statistical and research-based outputs ensuring we are making the best use of available data and the specialist capabilities of our people. We will balance these actions with our core occurrence investigation activities which must continue to be managed within our demand/capacity limitations as this will enable us to expedite production and publishing timeframes.
The strategic plan will position the ATSB to be able to provide greater value for persons and organisations seeking to use our products to take safety action.
Based on my recent interactions with a range of prominent overseas safety investigation bodies, it is evident the ATSB is considered a highly reputable agency and world leading. As Chief Commissioner, I am fully committed to continuing to work innovatively and collaboratively with all relevant stakeholders to enhance and amplify our contribution to improving transport safety both domestically and internationally.
The ATSB continues to work towards achieving its new performance measures established in the 2020-21 Corporate Plan. Through revised performance criteria, we are focused on improving our timeliness, demonstrating safety action taken in response to our investigations, ensuring our findings are defendable, and using our resources efficiently and effectively.
Chief Commissioner and CEO