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The Queensland Audit Office

The Queensland Audit Office is the independent auditor of the Queensland public sector.

We conduct financial audits and performance audits to give the public confidence in the reliability of public sector financial statements and operating performance.

Through our audit work and resulting reports to parliament, we make recommendations that promote improvements in service delivery, as well as accountability and transparency. Our audits are not just a compliance activity—we include better ways of doing business in our audit findings, conclusions and recommendations. We take a constructive and collaborative approach to how we engage with our clients.

Our unique position provides us with visibility across the entire public sector of matters impacting performance. Our audit mandate and our independence gives us access to the information we need to develop an evidence-based understanding of operating performance.

Our vision is for better public services for Queenslanders. We strive to work with our clients and use our unique position to achieve this vision.

Latest Reports

We produce reports to parliament that contain the results of the financial audits and performance audits we conduct for public sector entities and local governments.

Our reports on the results of our financial audits provide information beyond the individual audit opinions. We include insights on key themes impacting sectors, as well as factors impacting the financial sustainability of the Queensland Government.

Our reports on the results of our performance audits focus on topics of importance to Queensland, examining whether government services have been delivered in a way that is efficient, effective and complies with relevant requirements. We identify and share our insights on best practice.

These reports are tabled in parliament and are accessible to all members of the public.

Audits in progress

This section is about our performance audit program for 2018-21.

We apply a strategic audit planning approach in choosing our audit topics. This involves assessing the challenges, risks, and opportunities facing the public sector, local governments and the community. 

Our legislation—the Auditor-General Act 2009 (our Act)—requires us to prepare a strategic audit plan of the performance audits we propose to conduct over the coming three years.  We update our plan annually, based on our current understanding of the public sector in Queensland.  

2018-19

Delivering coronial services

Under the Coroners Act 2003 (the Act), coroners are responsible for investigating reportable deaths that occur in Queensland. Reportable deaths include those that are unnatural, such as accidents, suicides or homicides, deaths that have occurred in prison or in care or have unknown causes.

The coroner's primary responsibility is to make formal findings in respect of the death, namely who, when, where and how the death occurred and what caused the death. The coroner also has an overarching role to identify whether the death could have been prevented and if so, to examine opportunities for future death prevention. This may include policy or procedural changes to improve public safety or the administration of justice.

In Queensland, the coronial system’s efficiency and effectiveness relies on services from multiple stakeholders. The Queensland Police Service's Coronial Support Unit assists coronial investigations, Queensland Health's Forensic and Scientific Services provide coronial autopsy and clinical advisory services and the Department of Justice and Attorney-General's Court Services provide legal and administrative support.

Since 2007–08, the number of deaths reported to the coroner for investigation have increased by 50 per cent, from 3 514 to 5 287 in 2015–16. Demand for Queensland's coronial services is likely to increase with the states growing and aging population. Delays and inefficiencies to coronial investigations can impact families and loved ones seeking closure and add unnecessary cost to the state. A failure to act on coroner recommendations can potentially put lives at risk.

Audit objective

This audit assesses whether agencies are effective and efficient in supporting coroners to investigate and help prevent deaths. It examines whether agencies support the coroner to conduct efficient and effective coronial investigations and whether agencies plan effectively to deliver sustainable coronial services.

Who we audited

The Department of Justice and Attorney-General, Department of Health, and Queensland Police Service.

Parliamentary committee

Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee

Audit status

Tabled
18 October 2018

Energy: 2017–18 results of financial audits

In Queensland, most electricity is generated, transmitted, and distributed by state government-owned corporations and controlled entities. These include CS Energy, Stanwell, Powerlink, Energy Queensland, Ergon Energy, and 30 subsidiaries.

CS Energy and Stanwell are electricity generators. They produce electricity and sell into the National Electricity Market. Powerlink transmits electricity from generators to Energy Queensland, the distributor. Energy Queensland then distributes electricity from the transmission network to consumers. From there, electricity retailers purchase and sell electricity to households and businesses.

Audit objective

This audit summarises our financial audit results of the Queensland Government’s energy entities for 2017–18.

Who we audited

State government owned corporations and controlled energy entities. These included CS Energy, Stanwell, Powerlink, Energy Queensland, Ergon Energy, and 30 subsidiaries.

Parliamentary committee

State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development Committee

Audit status

Tabled
22 November 2018

Water: 2017–18 results of financial audits

In Queensland, water is primarily used by households, agriculture, mining, electricity generation, tourism, and manufacturing industries. Queensland’s state and local government owned water entities provide water throughout the state, and comprise bulk water suppliers, distributor-retailers, local governments, and smaller water boards.

Seqwater sells treated bulk water to local council regions within South East Queensland. This water is sold either directly to councils or through Distributor-Retailer Authorities (Unitywater and Queensland Urban Utilities).

Outside of South East Queensland, SunWater operates much of the bulk water infrastructure that supplies irrigators and industrial customers. For retail customers, water is sourced, treated and distributed by local government owned infrastructure (water boards).

Audit objective

This audit summarises our financial audit results of state and local government owned water entities, and two controlled entities for 2017–18.

Who we audited

The six main state and local government owned water entities, and two controlled entities. These included Seqwater, SunWater, Gladstone Area Water Board, Mount Isa Water Board, Queensland Urban Utilities, and Unitywater.

Parliamentary committee

State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development Committee

Audit status

Tabled
15 November 2018

Conserving threatened species

Australia is home to between 600 000 and 700 000 species of wildlife, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. Changes to landscape and habitats from human activity has put some of this unique wildlife at risk. Over the last 200 years, many species of plants and animals have become extinct. A range of management and conservation measures are in place for the wildlife whose survival is under threat.

The Nature Conservation Act 1992 defines threatened wildlife as native wildlife that is extinct in the wild, endangered, or vulnerable. In Queensland, there are currently 955 species listed as threatened. Of these species, around 400 are listed as threatened nationally under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The Department of Environment and Science has responsibility for managing and conserving threatened wildlife in Queensland via the Nature Conservation Act 1992. Other government agencies, the community, and industry sectors also undertake activities relating to threatened wildlife.

Audit objective

This audit assesses whether the Department of Environment and Science is effectively identifying, protecting, and conserving threatened wildlife.

Who we audited

The Department of Environment and Science.

Parliamentary committee

Innovation, Tourism, Development and Environment Committee

Audit status

Tabled
13 November 2018

Transport: 2017–18 results of financial audits

Queensland’s seven transport entities play a critical role in delivering a single integrated transport network that connects Queensland’s people, and facilitates a growing economy.

Direction and oversight of the state’s transport sector is provided by the Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR). The department’s primary role is to plan, manage and deliver Queensland’s integrated transport environment to achieve sustainable transport solutions for road, rail, air and sea. DTMR also provides oversight of Queensland Rail Group and Port entities. Queensland Rail Group is Queensland’s railway manager and operator, servicing the passenger, tourism, resources and freight customer markets. The port entities are part of Queensland’s network of 19 ports, which ranges from small community ports to large coal export terminals and a capital city multi-cargo port.

Audit objective

This audit summarises our financial audit results of seven state-owned transport entities for 2017–18.

Who we audited

Seven state-owned transport entities including the Department of Transport and Main Roads, Queensland Rail Group, and Government Owned Corporations.

Parliamentary committee

Transport and Public Works Committee

Audit status

Tabled
11 December 2018

Digitising public hospitals

The Queensland healthcare system is transforming to meet the pressures of an ageing population, the growing burden of chronic conditions, and changing consumer expectations.
 
In a digital hospital, processes are streamlined to create a ‘paper light’ approach, integrating electronic medical records (ieMR) with clinic devices, workflows, and processes. An electronic medical record is one of many applications that contribute to a digital hospital. The government has set a target for twenty-seven hospitals to fully implement the ieMR solution by June 2020.
 
Electronic medical records provide timely, accessible and legible information about patients at the point of care. It also provides the foundation for future transformations in health care delivery, like the ability to gain greater insights and decision support from the system’s data to improve the quality of patient care and operational efficiencies.

Audit objective

This audit assesses how well Queensland Health has planned, and is delivering, its digital hospitals program and whether it is realising the intended information-sharing and patient benefits.

Who we audited

The Department of Health and a selection of hospital and health services.

Parliamentary committee

Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee

Audit status

Tabled
4 December 2018

Market-led proposals

Queensland Treasury has developed a market-led proposals framework as an initiative of the government’s economic plan to create jobs and stimulate the economy. The state government intended for market-led proposals to harness innovative ideas and funding from the private sector to deliver projects faster. An essential element of this approach involves contracting exclusively with providers, rather than going through a competitive tender process. 

In July 2017, the government released revised specific Market-Led Proposal Guidelines. These guidelines sit within the Project Assessment Framework (PAF). There are four stages to the assessment process. The proposal needs to pass a stage before it can progress to the next one. When assessing market-led proposals, the responsible government agency needs to satisfy itself that the proposed project will deliver value for money and positive outcomes for the state, and that it could not deliver a better outcome under a competitive tender process. The agency also needs to consider alignment with government priority, policy and community needs, whether direct negotiation can be justified, the cost, risk, feasibility, and the proponent’s capacity and capability to deliver the project.

Audit objective

This audit assesses the extent that the Market-led proposal initiative is meeting its objective to create jobs and stimulate the economy.

Who we audited

The Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning.

Parliamentary committee

State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development Committee

Audit status

Tabled
13 December 2018

Planning for sustainable health services in Queensland

Health service planning aims to improve service delivery to better meet the health needs of the population. It is future orientated and usually adopts a medium- to long-term (10–15 years) perspective. Good planning helps to make the best use of current and future health resources including funding, staff and infrastructure.

Delivering health services occurs in an increasingly dynamic environment with ever changing community expectations, government priorities and technological advances. Health budgets are constrained, yet there are ever-increasing pressures and demands on the public health system.

The Department of Health is responsible under the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 for statewide planning for the public health system. Hospital and Health Services must contribute to, and implement, statewide service plans that apply to them. They must also undertake further service planning that aligns with these plans.

Queensland Health’s strategy—Your health, Queensland's future: Advancing health 2026—identifies sustainability as one of five underpinning principles. This includes ensuring available resources are used efficiently and effectively for current and future generations.
 

Audit objective

This audit will assess the effectiveness of the Department of Health and the Hospital and Health Services in planning for sustainable health services. 

Who we might audit

The Department of Health and a selection of Hospital and Health Services to be determined.

Parliamentary committee

Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee

Audit status

Planned
Anticipated tabling: To be advised
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Managing consumer food safety in Queensland

Food safety is an important aspect of public health and wellbeing. Breaches in food safety can result in illness, hospitalisation and in extreme cases, fatalities. Unsafe food practices can also have broader social and economic consequences.

Queensland's food industry is rapidly growing. Since June 2010, the number of licensed food businesses in Queensland has increased by 24 per cent, from 24 029 to 29 825. Growth in the industry, coupled with the introduction of online food delivery, means greater emphasis is needed on the safe preparation and service of food.

The Food Act 2006 is the primary food safety legislation that applies to all food businesses in Queensland. Responsibility for the administration and enforcement of the Food Act 2006 rests with Queensland Health and local governments (councils).

Audit objective

This audit will examine whether food safety is effectively managed for consumers of food in Queensland.

Who we might audit

A sample of councils, to be determined. The audit will also include the Department of Health.

Parliamentary committee

Economics and Governance Committee

Audit status

In progress
Anticipated tabling: Jan–Mar 2019
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Follow-up of Maintenance of public schools (Report 11: 2014-15) and Oversight of recurrent grants to non-state schools (Report 12: 2014-15).

The Department of Education, Training and Employment is responsible for providing a safe working and learning environment for its staff and students in school campuses across Queensland. Well-maintained school buildings and grounds contribute to the safety of staff and students and to educational outcomes. When funding is inadequate, asset maintenance backlogs occur. As a result, school buildings and school ground facilities can deteriorate much faster than intended.

Non-state schools receive grants from the state and Australian governments – administered by the Department of Education, Training and Employment. To qualify, these schools submit to the Non-State Schools Accreditation Board (the Board), which is a statutory body that reports directly to the Minister for Education.

In 2014–15, we tabled performance audit reports Maintenance of public schools (Report 11: 2014-15) and Oversight of recurrent grants to non-state schools (Report 12: 2014-15).

Audit objective

This audit will follow up on whether entities have actioned the recommendations made in our original reports to parliament and if the entities have addressed the underlying issues which led to these recommendations.

Who we might audit

The Department of Education and Training, the Department of Housing and Public Works, and the Non-State Schools Accreditation Board.

Parliamentary committee

Education, Employment and Small Business Committee

Audit status

In progress
Anticipated tabling: Jan–Apr 2019
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Resources

Careers

As an integrity office, we provide independent, professional audit services to public sector entities on behalf of the Parliament and Queenslanders.

Our values are vitally important to how we work – we engage with purpose, we challenge ourselves, we deliver on our commitments, and we care about people; and we are uniquely positioned to operate across the entire Queensland public sector for the public good.

As part of our strategy, we invest in our people to be the best in their field and have a specialist graduate program with opportunities in the areas of financial audit, performance audit and information systems audit. As a QAO team member, you are offered professional training, personalised development and great career opportunities.