Better business—our commitment to sustainability

Secretary's foreword

Photo of Dr Jeff HarmerAt the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), we recognise that sustainability goes far beyond the amount of paper we recycle and how many lights we switch off at night.

When we produced our initial triple bottom line report in 2002–03, it was the first report of its kind for any Australian Government department. We are determined to continue treating sustainability as a high priority because we understand the value of this investment.

Sustainability is central to achieving results we can be proud of. It means valuing our people, managing our financial resources effectively, and respecting our environment. It is a mindset we are embedding across our whole organisation and integrating into everything we do.

This is especially important in today’s rapidly changing and high-pressure environment where we must be more productive, more efficient and more accountable than ever before.

At FaHCSIA we are entrusted with an important charter—our purpose is improving the lives of Australian’s by creating opportunities for economic and social participation by individuals, families and communities.

We are responsible for some of the Government’s top priorities and we manage around one fifth of the federal Budget—more than any other department. Our work touches every Australian at some point in their lives and is often in the public spotlight.

How we do things is becoming just as important as what we do. We are constantly striving to improve the way we do business and ensure we are always adding value, not just being good at process.

While we must keep our focus on the big picture, it is also essential to evaluate our efforts at ground level to continue improving our performance.

This is our sixth report assessing our environmental, social and economic performance and achievements. I’m pleased to note that in the past year we have reduced our overall energy use per employee for office light and power, further increased staff diversity, and cemented our reputation for sound financial management. However, our staff travel and paper use increased, in part due to our role in the Northern Territory Emergency Response initiative.

This year, we have decided not to produce a paper-based version of our Sustainability Report. As well as reducing our carbon footprint by saving on paper and energy, this web-based format allows us to provide more context by linking to other relevant information.

We know we face significant challenges in meeting our commitment to sustainability. Nevertheless, I am confident that with the goals we have set and the ongoing enthusiasm and commitment of our staff, we are on the right path to achieving a more sustainable FaHCSIA.


Dr Jeff Harmer

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