Inquiry report highlights damaging effects of the efficiency dividend on cultural institutions
The Australian Government’s Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories has tabled its report on the Inquiry into Canberra’s national institutions and recommended that the effect of the efficiency dividend for these small agencies be re-examined, “with a view to adopting measures to offset the disproportionate impact.”
The Committee suggested “include setting a threshold amount for institutions’ annual expenditure below which the efficiency dividend would be excluded or reduced.” A further recommendation was to reassess the average staffing level caps which are impeding the work of our cultural institutions and forcing them to hire more expensive temporary staff to avoid adding to their permanent head count.
ALIA CEO Sue McKerracher said, “The findings in the report were very encouraging. If Government heeded the advice of the Committee, it would go some way to addressing the very real challenges facing our national collecting institutions.”
Also welcome was a recommendation asking the Government to acknowledge the need for digitisation of significant AV collections by 2025 – the date when items held on magnetic tape are likely to deteriorate beyond a usable state.
The report provides a comprehensive overview of the contribution of the National Library of Australia and 15 other institutions to the nation, including the National Museum of Australia, National Botanic Gardens, CSIRO Discovery Centre, High Court of Australia and Questacon.
In total, it makes 20 recommendations, several of which are focused on encouraging a more connected approach. Examples include a shared narrative about the institutions’ value; collective branding and marketing, and a permanent shared collection storage facility.
A few left field ideas were the development of a program to encourage new migrants to Australia to visit Canberra’s national institutions; a new shared exhibition space, and a new natural history museum in the capital.
There was also a recommendation that AIATSIS relocate from its position next to the National Museum of Australia to somewhere in the Parliamentary Zone.
The full report can be found here.