Jennifer Clark portrait

As the turbulence created by the COVID pandemic continues to settle, our focus for 2023–24 and the following three years – the period of this Plan – will be on consolidating the lessons learned from this disruption, responding to emerging challenges in our operating environment, and transforming that experience into new ways of working, consistent with the intent set out in AMSA’s Strategy 2030. 

While organisations, including AMSA, continue to pivot their business models in response to the pandemic and the consequent expectations of staff around flexible work, our operating environment continues to evolve – and we must respond. We must also ensure that, regardless of the changes required, we continue to deliver on our vision of safe and clean seas and saving lives.

Operating environment challenges

Working cooperatively in the Asia-Pacific region to enforce standards and improve ship safety, has never been more critical to ensure we are protecting the maritime trade on which Australia so heavily relies, and in doing so, contributing to Australia’s overall engagement in the area. Collaborating with our international partners at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to advocate for achievable and sustainable environmental goals for the maritime industry is also important for the sustainability of our environment, and our industry.

The increasing intensity and frequency of weather events continues to place additional demands on our resources and challenge our thinking. As an example, AMSA provides critical aids to navigation infrastructure for foreign and domestic vessels operating in Australian waters, and weather events like cyclones can damage, and if severe enough, destroy these critical assets – placing additional demand on our infrastructure repair and maintenance program, and over the longer term, driving the redesign of many of our infrastructure assets so they are more resilient in the future.Many Australian entities have been victims of cyber-attacks. We will ensure we are protecting personal and sensitive data and minimising the risk of data breaches. Last year we invested in establishing a centralised data capability. In 2023–24 this capability will work across the organisation to mitigate data risks at a technological and operational level.

Building our foundation for transformation – people, systems, and processes

We have refined and consolidated our strategic priorities to five – (1) risk-based regulation, (2) incident management, (3) environment protection, (4) engagement and (5) business transformation. Grouped by strategic priority, the initiatives detailed in this Corporate Plan will establish the regulatory and technological foundation to transform AMSA into a more innovative regulatory and response agency. 

2023–24 will be a year of action, focusing on the delivery of business transformation projects. We will embed new ways of working in a post pandemic environment by implementing a new regulatory model and platform. The delivery of our business transformation projects will use the breadth of AMSA’s capability to ensure the solutions delivered are fit-for-purpose for both our regulated community and AMSA.

Critical to the success of our transformation initiatives will be the Government’s response to the Independent Review of Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety Legislation and Cost and Charging Arrangements. We will partner with our portfolio Department1 to implement the recommendations endorsed by the Government. We are keen to resolve funding arrangements for delivery of the National System for Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety (the National System), and to provide certainty for our regulated community.

AMSA will negotiate a new Enterprise Agreement in compliance with the Australian Public Service (APS) wide collective bargaining framework.2 AMSA’s focus will be to ensure our agreement remains fit-for-purpose, provides operational flexibility, and considers the challenges and capabilities identified in AMSA’s Strategic Workforce Plan. Enterprise bargaining can be challenging, however, I am confident that our team will conduct the process with respect and in good faith and will achieve the desired outcomes – an agreement that will attract and retain AMSA’s best and brightest talent; deliver a diverse, inclusive, and capable workforce; and continue to make AMSA an attractive and rewarding place to work. 

This financial year AMSA will move its Canberra head office to a smaller footprint to realise the benefits of flexible work, technology capability and digital service delivery improvements and provide an integrated work environment for our staff to collaborate with greater effect. We will also continue to explore opportunities to expand our regional office presence to support delivery of services to our regulated community.

Our core business

Reflecting on our role as a safety regulator, we still have work to do. Whilst the safety of our industry is improving, too many avoidable incidents are occurring.

Our strong reputation for implementation and monitoring compliance with international standards for shipping continues to drive down the number of deficiencies and detentions of foreign vessels visiting our shores. We will continue to address high risk vessels through international advocacy for improved safety standards for general cargo and container ships. These types of vessels receive the highest rate of deficiencies per vessel type visiting Australia. 

We will continue to work closely with domestic commercial vessel owners and operators. In 2022 AMSA conducted the largest number of inspections since the introduction of the National System in 2018 – and there was a significant jump in the number of domestic commercial vessel detentions from previous years. This is reflective of the maturing of AMSA’s inspection processes; the importance AMSA places on protecting crew, passengers, and the marine environment; and delays to the completion of scheduled maintenance arising from COVID restrictions. Our collaboration with our industry and broader community stakeholders is also maturing and we will invest in enhancing the effectiveness of those partnerships. 

And lastly, our commitment to incident response – including coordinating search and rescue – will not waver. AMSA plays a significant role in saving lives and given Australian’s love of the great outdoors and the sea, we anticipate constant demand on our search and rescue capabilities. We remain vigilant and ready to respond.

Jennifer Clark
Acting Chair



1 Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communication, and the Arts

2 AMSA staff are employed under the AMSA Act 1990. However, the new APS bargaining framework applies – capturing Commonwealth public sector employees employed under legislation other than the Public Service Act 1999 (non-APS employees).