Supervising Scientist Division

7 Administrative arrangements

Supervising Scientist Annual Report 2004–2005

Supervising Scientist, Darwin, 2005
ISBN 0 642 24395 6
ISSN 0 158-4030

7.1 Human resource management

7.1.1 Supervising Scientist

The Supervising Scientist is a statutory position established under the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978 . Section 8 of the Act requires that the Supervising Scientist be engaged under the Public Service Act 1999.

The position has been held by Dr Arthur Johnston PSM since June 1999. In April 2005 Dr Johnston advised the Secretary of the Department of the Environment and Heritage of his intention to retire from the Australian Public Service during October 2005.

7.1.2 Structure

The Supervising Scientist Division consists of two branches, the Office of the Supervising Scientist and the Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist.

The Office of the Supervising Scientist (oss ) is responsible for supervision, audit, policy, information management and corporate support activities. oss is headed by Mr Alan Hughes who commenced in January 2005. The Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (eriss ) is headed by Dr David Jones and undertakes scientific research activities. Dr Jones commenced in June 2005 and replaced Dr Max Finlayson who resigned in March 2005. Staffing numbers as at 30 June 2004 and 30 June 2005 are given in Table 7.1.

Table 7.1 Staffing numbers and locations (at 30 June 2005)
2003–04 2004–05
Darwin 36 38
Jabiru 6 6
Total 42 44

7.1.3 Investor in People

IiP is a framework leading to best practices for the effective development of employees within an organisation. In the past year, SSD has been actively promoting a number of ongoing IiP activities as well as developing new initiatives.

Mechanisms for information exchange include regular staff, program and division meetings and distribution of minutes. The IiP Action Group meets monthly to develop and progress the annual IiP action plan. Meetings are well attended by staff and management representatives from each section within SSD.

An Internal Seminar Series is used to communicate new and ongoing projects, preview conference presentations and provide an opportunity for staff to hone their presentation skills. Including external presenters again this year has furthered informal stakeholder interaction.

Cross-cultural training is provided to new staff and refresher training every three years to assist the ongoing development of cultural awareness and understanding.

In addition to the DEH allocation (average) of $1000 and five days per person to staff development activities in 2004–05, SSD continued to allocate an additional $500 per person in support of staff development activities.

Installation of video-conferencing equipment at the Jabiru Field Station has strengthened communication links between Jabiru and Darwin staff. The Darwin and Jabiru equipment is well used for extended, long-distance meetings where travel is impracticable.

7.1.4 Occupational Health and Safety

The Supervising Scientist Division continued to maintain a strong commitment to occupational health and safety issues during 2004–05. The Occupational Health and Safety Committee is the primary mechanism in place for the discussion of issues. This staff-based Committee meets on a monthly basis to consider health and safety issues that arise from time to time. The Committee makes recommendations to the Division’s senior management team in relation to specific occupational health and safety issues.

Important initiatives during the year included refresher safety inductions for all staff and further work on the major overhaul of the occupational health and safety guidelines for SSD.

7.2 Finance

The Supervising Scientist Division is part of the Department of the Environment and Heritage and full financial statements for the department are contained in the department’s Annual Report. A summary of the costs of the Supervising Scientist’s contributions to the Human Settlements and Inland Waters outputs of the Department are provided in Table 7.2. The increase in the cost of Outputs from the previous year is due mainly to an increase in corporate overheads attributable to the Supervising Scientist Division’s Outputs from the Department of the Environment and Heritage in Canberra.

Table 7.2 Summary of cost of outputs
PBS Output 2003–2004 ($000) 2004–2005 ($000)
1.6 Industry /Human Settlements $7.725 $8.458
1.7 Inland waters $0.672 $1.364
Total $8.397 $9.822

7.3 Facilities

7.3.1 Darwin facility

The majority of the Supervising Scientist Division’s staff are situated at the Department of the Environment and Heritage’s Darwin facility. This facility consists of office accommodation and laboratories. The office space is shared with Parks Australia North – also part of the Department of the Environment and Heritage.

7.3.2 Jabiru Field Station

A Field Station at Jabiru with six staff is maintained to support the activities of the Supervising Scientist Division. The staff consist of the monitoring team (three staff) that carry out the Supervising Scientist’s environmental monitoring programme; one employee who is responsible for delivering the Supervising Scientist’s Aboriginal Communications programme in Jabiru; one employee who undertakes administrative and financial duties; and the Field Station Manager, who has overall responsibility for managing the Field Station as well as supervisory and inspection responsibilities.

7.3.3 Library

The Supervising Scientist Division’s library continues to support the work of the Division, through the provision of information to SSD staff located in Darwin and Jabiru. The services provided include on-line searches, library inductions and document delivery services.

During 2004–05 the collection continued to grow, with 1230 items being added.

7.4 New business planning processes

As a result of a departmental audit11 of the Supervising Scientist Division conducted during 2003–04, new business planning and management processes have been put in place to enable the Supervising Scientist to better meet his statutory responsibilities in relation to the uranium mining program.

As part of the new process, SSD is committed to reviewing performance against the Business Plan on a regular basis to ensure that Plan remains relevant and performance measures are being achieved. Progress in implementing the Business Plan is reviewed in accordance with the following framework.

Framework for implementing the Business Plan
Date Task By whom
June Finalise development of following year Business Plan and budgets SS reviews and approves
Monthly Track actual financial results against approved budgets oss prepares and analyses data

SSD Executive reviews

  Review Performance measure for key actions oss and eriss
Quarterly Review progress in delivering strategic priorities and actions oss and eriss report and SS reviews
  Report budget performance year to date
Mid-year Review progress in delivering strategic priorities and actions oss and eriss report
  Revise and update strategic priorities as appropriate SS reviews and approves
Formally revise budget forecasts for the current year where necessary
June Review performance against budget and achievement of strategic priorities and actions. oss and eriss report


7.5 Interpretation of Ranger Environmental Requirements

Section 19.2 of the Environmental Requirements of the Commonwealth of Australia for the Operation of the Ranger Uranium Mine provides for the publication of explanatory material agreed to by the major stakeholders to assist in the interpretation of provisions of the Environmental Requirements.

Explanatory material addressing Ranger Environmental Requirement 3.3 which relates to background values for key variables in water quality is published in this report as Appendix 2. This replaces the Explanatory Material relating to section 3.3 previously published in Klessa 2001 and Supervising Scientist 2002.12

7.6 Ministerial Directions

There were no Ministerial Directions issued to the Supervising Scientist under Section 7 of the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978 during 2004–05.

7.7 Triple Bottom Line reporting

The period 2004–05 is the first time the Supervising Scientist Division has participated in the Department of the Environment and Heritage’s Triple Bottom Line (TBL) reporting program. TBL reporting provides a transparent and accountable reporting system in line with international Global Reporting Initiatives (GRI) on the Department’s impact on the community and the environment, including details of performance against social, economic and environmental indicators.

During this first year of participation, SSD has introduced some monitoring systems to enable reporting against indicators such as waste management, fuel, water and electricity consumption, and the environmental impact of our greenhouse emissions. SSD has reported on many indicators but it has not been possible for us to provide data for every TBL indicator.

For 2005–06, SSD has set goals to both reduce our impact on the environment and to introduce additional monitoring systems to gather information on relevant indicators.

The SSD TBL report is presented in this annual report at Appendix 5.

7.8 Animal experimentation ethics approvals

eriss seeks the approval of the Charles Darwin University’s Animal Experimentation Ethics Committee for approval to undertake scientific experiments involving animals.

Table 7.3 provides information on new applications, renewals of approvals and approval expiries for projects during 2004–05.

Table 7.3 Animal Experimentation Ethics Approvals
Project Title Ref No Initial Submission Approval/Latest Renewal Expiry
Larval fish toxicity testing at eriss 97016 26 May 1997 29 Oct 2003 29 Oct 2005
Natural fish kills in the Alligator Rivers Region A00027 25 Sep 2000 27 Feb 2003 27 Feb 2005
Monitoring mining impact using
the structure of fish
communities in shallow
A00028 25 Sep 2000 4 Feb 2005 4 Feb 2007
Survival of larval fishes in
creekside monitoring tests,
Magela Creek
A00034 1 Nov 2000 10 Dec 2004 10 Dec 2006
Metal and radionuclide
concentrations of fish and
mussels associated with the
Ranger mine
A02026 31 Oct 2002 28 July 2005 28 July 2007


11Undertaken by consultants on behalf of the DEH Audit Committee.

12 Klessa D 2001. Water quality in Magela Creek upstream and downstream of Ranger: A summary of performance for 2000–2001 and derived triggers and limits for 2001–2002. Internal Report 380, Supervising Scientist, Darwin. Unpublished paper.

Supervising Scientist 2002. Annual Report 2001–2001. Supervising Scientist Darwin