a) To maintain a staffing structure and skills base to manage the Gardens, in accordance with this Plan; and
b) To manage staff in a manner which recognises their importance as key assets of Environment Australia and facilitates high levels of job satisfaction and productivity.
All staff of the Gardens are employees of Environment Australia employed under the Commonwealths Public Service Act 1999 and the conditions of service for staff are covered under the Environment Australia Certified Agreement. The general duties of staff are to assist the Director of National Parks in carrying out the Directors functions under the EPBC Act.
Many of the programs of the Gardens are labour intensive, particularly those involved with horticultural activities, professional botanical services and visitor contact. Maintaining high standards of horticultural maintenance and visitor and professional services has presented a number of management challenges in a contracting public sector environment. A number of activities formerly conducted by staff have been contracted to outside service suppliers and a range of procedural changes have been made to improve staff productivity. Engagement of temporary staff to assist with periods of intensive horticultural and visitor activity has also assisted in maintaining high standards. Temporary staff also assist with the preparation and delivery of education programs.
An active volunteer program operates at the Gardens. This program has facilitated significant community involvement in the operation of the Gardens and expansion of a range of services, particularly in education and interpretation programs. For insurance and occupational health and safety purposes, volunteers are deemed to be staff.
Aim: To seek ongoing funding for the Gardens to implement this Plan; and to ensure expenditure of funds and management of the Gardens meets the obligations of the Director of National Parks under the EPBC Act and the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997.
Funds for management of the Gardens come from the Australian National Parks Fund under the EPBC Act. The principal sources of the moneys of the Fund are prescribed by section 514S of the EPBC Act. They are: money appropriated by the Commonwealth Parliament for the purposes of Environment Australia and allocated by the Secretary for the management of Commonwealth reserves; amounts paid to the Director of National Parks in respect of leases, licences and permits granted or issued by the Director; and, charges determined and imposed by the Director under section 356A of the EPBC Act for entering or using a Commonwealth reserve or part of a Commonwealth reserve and using services or facilities provided by the Director.
Gardens staff are responsible for management of the Gardens budget, within the Commonwealth governments purchasing and financial guidelines, the requirements of the EPBC Act, and the Directors obligations under the EPBC Act and the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997. In line with Commonwealth government policy, accounts are maintained on an accrual accounting basis and decisions regarding capital works and infrastructure must consider total life cycle costings.
Section 514T of the EPBC Act prescribes how the Director of National Parks may apply the money of the Australian National Parks Fund. Principally the moneys must be used in payment or discharge of the costs, expenses and other obligations incurred by the Director in the performance of the Directors functions. As an authority for the purposes of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 the Director is also subject to the requirements of that Act.
The Gardens main scientific functions are conducted jointly with CSIRO Plant Industry through the CPBR. CSIRO Plant Industry acts as the agent for the Centre, administering funds for operational purposes. Salaries for Gardens staff at the Centre and maintenance and capital costs of Gardens assets are met from the Gardens budget allocation.
Revenue from Gardens programs is principally used to extend the range and diversity of programs and services available for clients of the Gardens. Sources of revenue include licence charges for the operation of the Gardens cafe and shop; charges for activities such as weddings, commercial photography and the hire of facilities; charges for the use of the Gardens photograph collection; user pays education and recreational programs, and charges for professional services. In late 1998 a modest charge for car parking was also introduced. External funding from a variety of government and industry sources has also been instrumental in ensuring an active program of horticultural research. Charges were reviewed in June 2000 to take into account the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax. A schedule of fees at 1 July 2000 is at Appendix 6. These charges may be reviewed and amended during the life of this Plan.
Allocation of funds for specific programs varies according to functional and program requirements. In the 2000/2001 financial year the operational budget (excluding salaries and capital expenditure) was $1,407,000; which was distributed to the following programs:
Aim: To create a safe and healthy environment for staff, volunteers and visitors.
The Gardens strives to operate in a way which at least meets the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991 and which promotes high levels of health and safety awareness.
A workplace Occupational Health and Safety Committee oversees hazard reduction strategies for the Gardens. The committee conducts regular inspections of workplaces and work practices to ensure appropriate standards are met. Training in safe work practices is provided for all staff. Further discussion of risk management practices is provided in Chapter 8.
Visitor safety is a particular priority and potential hazards to visitors are under constant review. A number of staff and contractors have been trained in first aid to assist in the care of visitors. Bushfire and high winds have been identified as risks with particular potential to cause injury, and emergency evacuation and closure procedures have been developed and are regularly tested. Closure of particular sections of the Gardens is also necessary from time to time, particularly during Canberras icy winters, when pedestrian paths become slippery.
Aim: To protect Gardens assets and ensure awareness of, and compliance with, relevant laws associated with the Gardens.
A perimeter fence provides security of Gardens assets with after-hours patrols by a commercial security firm. Buildings are fitted with secure locking and alarm systems. Visitors using non-public buildings are required to wear nametags that indicate they are authorised to use the facilities.
Gardens rangers and a number of other staff are trained to appropriate Commonwealth Law Enforcement Standards and have powers to enforce the EPBC Act and the Regulations. Members of the Australian Federal Police are ex officio wardens under the EPBC Act and the Australian Federal Police are consulted in relevant matters. Counselling and warning of people in breach of the Regulations has generally proved a successful strategy in promoting awareness of Regulations and compliance with them.
Aim: To encourage the development of appropriate commercial operations which enhance the range of services available for Gardens clients, and which promote the aims and values of the Gardens.
The Gardens currently provides a range of visitor services, some of which are provided by third parties under contractual arrangements with the Director of National Parks. The café, Visitor Centre shop and parking operations are currently operated by contractors. These operations contribute a high proportion of revenue generated by the Gardens.
The Gardens works with commercial partners to ensure high service levels are maintained, appropriate visitor management strategies are in place and that opportunities for cross-promotion and involvement in joint activities are available. Commercial partners are also encouraged to make financial contributions to increasing their business through improving infrastructure and in product development such as of souvenirs and publications.
Partnerships with commercial operators offer a way to enhance the range and quality of visitor services and improve visitor infrastructure at the Gardens while generating revenue to support the Gardens core programs. Services which may involve commercial parties include: wedding and special event management, concerts, theatre performances and horticultural advice.
A range of other commercial opportunities which are consistent with the aims of the organisation have been explored. A report titled Revenue Raising Opportunities, commissioned by the Gardens in 1996, identified key areas for development of commercial opportunities within the Gardens. The report also recommended the establishment of a foundation to assist in securing private sector support for the organisation.
Clearly, attracting private sector support for specific attractions or programs has potential to benefit the Gardens. Any such ventures will first need to be assessed as economically viable and consistent with the aims and objectives of the Gardens. Some development proposals, such as one to establish a native plant nursery at the Gardens, have met resistance from the nursery industry. In this case, the Gardens has instead encouraged the Friends of the Gardens to propagate plants as an educational and recreational activity, while generating funds to support the group.
Aim: To increase the financial support for the Gardens through activities and donations sourced from the community.
The Director of National Parks has power under the EPBC Act (s.514C(2)) to accept gifts, devises and bequests made to the Director whether on trust or otherwise, and to act as trustee of moneys or other property vested in the Director upon trust.
The Gardens has received donations, sponsorship and bequests in kind. However, philanthropic financial support for the Gardens has been relatively small.
With the development of the Friends of the Gardens, the Gardens has begun to benefit from an injection of funds from their various initiatives. In recent years the Friends have contributed money to purchase garden furniture, offer staff bursaries, support the cost of musical entertainers and support other projects within the Gardens.
Bequests of funds to the former Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service have, from time to time, enabled the Gardens to establish new facilities. The construction in 1999 of the Ducrou Pavilion on the Eucalypt lawn was made possible through a bequest.