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By Alicia Porter

Defence has won silver in the Australasian Reporting Awards (ARA) in recognition of the calibre of last year’s Annual Report.

The ceremony was held on June 7 at Sydney’s Town Hall, with the Silver Award accepted by Ewa Dimond and Michael Robinson from the Ministerial and Parliamentary Reporting team.

The ARAs provide an opportunity for organisations to benchmark their reports against international standards. The awards are open to all organisations that produce an annual report.

This year’s list of contenders was long and varied. It included museums and art galleries, mining companies, big banks, city councils, insurance companies and accounting firms, among many others.

According to Ewa, “Defence should be proud of achieving the Silver status, as our resources are modest in comparison to some others and there are numerous public sector conditions placed upon us by the Government, in particular by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit,” she says.

“In addition, Defence is one of the only two Commonwealth Agencies where the Annual Report is scrutinised by the Sub-Committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade at a separate annual hearing in Parliament.”

Ewa says that last year’s Annual Report was thorough, adhered to all mandatory requirements, was fair and covered success as well as areas for improvement, and achieved its aim of being reader-friendly and directed at the non-Defence audience.

“It is important to acknowledge the hard work that goes into the preparation of such a large and complex publication,” she explains.

“It is not just the Ministerial and Parliamentary Reporting team, but all groups and services and the Defence Materiel Organisation who are the key contributors. For example, the Chief Finance Officer Group and the Defence People Group spent many evenings checking and re-checking the financial figures and personnel data. It is a great achievement for the whole of Defence.

“There is plenty happening behind the scenes after the input is received from groups and services,” Ewa continues. “The Ministerial and Parliamentary Reporting team wears many hats. We are writers, editors, graphic designers, IT specialists, typesetters and accountants, busy streamlining the input, writing articles, checking and linking the financial information, designing cover and master pages, and choosing appropriate photographs.

“The biggest challenge for us every year is last minute changes, which often are unavoidable. During the last year’s Annual Report process there were changes being made when it was already at the printers. We were at the printers, looking over their shoulders, while they were making the changes.”

To assist in the development of the Annual Report, the team have developed a style guide to support staff who prepare input for the reports. The style guide is available on the Ministerial and Parliamentary Reporting intranet page under ‘Annual Report’.