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Governance is about the exercise of authority to ensure professionalism, accountability and openness in the way an agency conducts itself.

Governance involves establishing strategies to protect and manage organisational resources.

In the Australian Public Service (APS), governance has three basic purposes:

  • Ensure that we are effectively accountable to our stakeholders—the Government, the Parliament and the community—for the decisions we make and the resources we manage on their behalf.
  • Ensure the efficient and effective use of these resources.
  • Ensure APS employees properly understand their responsibilities and the way they contribute to the organisation's goals. (Definition adapted from Safe Work Australia material.)

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has developed a set of generally accepted principles of public sector governance.

  • Accountability. Being answerable for decisions and having meaningful mechanisms in place to ensure adherence to all applicable standards.
  • Transparency. Clear roles and responsibilities as well as procedures for decision making and the exercise of power.
  • Stewardship. Using every opportunity to enhance the value of the entrusted public assets and institutions.
  • Integrity. Acting impartially, ethically and in the interests of the agency, and not misusing information gained through a position of trust.
  • Efficiency. The best use of resources to further the aims of the organisation with a commitment to evidence-based strategies for improvement.
  • Leadership. Leadership from the top is critical to achieving an agency-wide commitment to good governance.

Due diligence is the corporate governance responsibility of officers with respect to work health and safety. The due diligence obligation recognises that the behaviour and decisions of officers of a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU):

  1. determine whether the PCBU complies with its work health and safety duties
  2. strongly influence the health and safety culture of businesses and undertakings.


Information sourceContents
Australian Public Service Commission—Governance Training ModuleTraining module specific to governance in the context of the Australian Public Service.
Safe Work Australia—Frequently Asked Questions: OfficersCommonly asked questions relating to officers and responsibilities with respect to managing responsibilities under the Work Health and Safety Act (2011).
Code of Practice—How to Manage Work Health and Safety RisksThis code provides practical guidance for people who have duties under the WHS Act and Regulations to manage risks to health and safety.
Comcare—Guidance document for officers in exercising due diligenceGuidance documentation for officers responsible for exercising due diligence.
Page last updated: 12 May 2017