Department of Communities Director General Michelle Andrews has welcomed the public release of the Public Sector Commission report into the Department’s governance, integrity and financial management, accepting the findings and confirming progress on all 56 recommendations.
In November last year Premier Mark McGowan ordered an investigation into the Housing Authority and - where relevant - the Department of Communities, to examine its governance, legal and administrative systems, determine the circumstances that led to a senior public servant being charged with official corruption and identify practical recommendations for improvement to prevent future failures.
The report makes recommendations across three broad areas and prioritises improvements to the Department’s governance and integrity mechanisms.
The three key concerns identified in the report are:
- Minimum behaviours and standards expected of personnel were not adequately defined
- The Department’s systems and processes were disjointed and complex
- There was a lack of integrated assurance and accountability
The report noted the Department’s significant work to improve its governance, integrity and financial management systems, and acknowledged that it was actively progressing resolution of the recommendations presented.
Communities Director General Michelle Andrews said the Department would continue to work hard to make the necessary improvements to meet the high benchmark set by the report.
She said the Department had implemented 29 of the report’s recommendations and 27 recommendations were currently in progress.
“Unfortunately we can’t change what has already occurred,” she said.
“But we will continue our work to fix our practices and policies. This work has been going on since my arrival at Communities last year and has escalated and increased since the arrest of Mr Whyte.
“Communities accepts the historical failings of its governance and integrity protocols and continues its commitment to meeting the high standards that all citizens should expect of their public service agencies.
“The Department has been working hard to get its house in order. We are determined that criminal behaviour of this nature does not happen again and we are doing everything we can to prevent and stop it.
“The report’s recommendations will continue to be implemented to improve our Department.
“Communities is also committed to supporting and cooperating with the ongoing Corruption and Crime Commission WA and WA Police investigation into the alleged corruption of public money.”
Respected Perth business leader John Langoulant has been appointed independent chair of the Department’s Finance and Investment Committee to ensure robust oversight of its financial framework.
Ms Andrews said independent oversight of the Department’s financial systems would be critical to its future success.
“The adopted recommendations clearly define quality behaviours and standards expected of all Communities staff. They establish processes to monitor performance of behaviours and standards and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our existing processes,” she said.
“While a number of the recommendations require ongoing work, I have also restructured the Department’s leadership team to bring in new skills and capabilities to help with the delivery of organisational change across our governance, integrity and financial management systems.
“I believe this will hold the Department to the highest possible account by directly assisting in strengthening governance over Communities’ finances and funding, and ensuring they are effectively and transparently managed.”
Ms Andrews said while work to implement the report’s recommendations would be ongoing, the Department’s core function of assisting WA’s vulnerable most vulnerable and at-risk community members would continue to be its primary focus.
“Communities is underpinned by a large, passionate and dedicated workforce,” she said.
“Despite the shock of the ongoing WA Police and CCC investigations, and the uncertainty of a global health pandemic, our staff and frontline service providers have continued to serve the needs of WA’s most at-risk community members.”
Media contact: Nick Butterly 0466 633 250