PIRSA wins public sector management prize

South Australia’s Riverland

South Australia’s Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) has won the top prize at this year’s Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management.

The Gold award was given for PIRSA’s South Australian River Murray Sustainability (SARMS), a $265 million program funded by the Australian Government under a National Partnership Agreement, which is being delivered by PIRSA over six years to mid-2019.

Most of the funding ($240 million) is for the SARMS Irrigation Industry Improvement Program, to improve irrigation in South Australia’s Riverland as part of the intergovernmental Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

But the prize focussed on the remaining $25 million of funding, for a Regional Economic Development (SARMS-RED) program. This encompasses a Regional Development and Innovation Fund (RDIF), an Industry-led Research Sub-Program (IRSP) and a redevelopment of the Loxton Research Centre, a horticultural research establishment.

The RED program is working to develop more industries in the region that are less dependent on water, so they are ”better placed to respond and be more resilient to the effects of fluctuating water availability and future climate change challenges.”

The prize is awarded annually by the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA). Other awards this year:

  • Silver: IP Australia, for the implementation of trade mark search systems
  • Silver: Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney-General (Magistrates Courts Service), for the trial of a specialist domestic and family violence court in Southport.
  • Commendation: NSW Department of Health (Sydney Local Health District), for the Employ-my-ability project.
  • Commendation: Tasmanian Department of Premier and Cabinet, for Safe Homes, Safe Families, Tasmania’s Violence Action Plan 2015-2020 (Cross-Agency Working Group).
  • Commendation: Commonwealth Department of Employment, for modernising the Fair Entitlements Guarantee.

The awards are now in their 16th year. IPAA says they “provide an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of many areas of public service that make a difference, improve outcomes and services, cut red tape and champion leadership. They are designed to honour the achievements of public sector work groups, units and teams rather than individuals.”

The 2017 awards introduced a two-stage assessment process as well as a dedicated online Awards system for nomination and assessment. This year a record 39 entries were received, with 17 nominations proceeding through to the final round.

Nominations were received from across Australia and covered a wide variety of areas including health, intellectual property, legal services, education, digital services, social services, the environment and employment.

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