Wednesday 23 February 2022

Zali Steggall gets some answers to her Questions in Writing regarding the Governance and Funding of the National Film and Sound Archive..and who knew the NFSA had a new Chair and Board Member

Here the answers folks. It only took three months. ..and that's the first I'd heard of these appointments. I now discover that Paul Fletcher announced them on Christmas Eve when we were all paying attention. 

"Ms Elliott has distinguished leadership experience developed through senior financial and private sector roles. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Propel Group Pty Ltd, a Non-Executive Director of St Johns Ambulance Australia (VIC), and also holds Directorships at dorsaVi Limited and Wiltrust Nominees Pty Ltd. as Trustee for the Edward Wilson Estate.

"Mrs Brogden brings more than 25 years' commercial experience with companies including Macquarie Group and Ernst & Young and more than ten years in organisational psychology. She is currently the Chair and Commissioner of the National Mental Health Commission, and Chair of Mentally Healthy Workplace, Governor and Interim Chair for Queenwood School for Girls, Chair of Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance and Director for Be Kind Sydney."

Full press release here

Question No. 678

Zali Steggall asked the Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, in writing, on 18 October 2021:


1.         In respect of the two vacancies, including the chair, currently on the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) board, will the Minister: (a) ensure that the new appointees satisfy one or more of the following criteria: (i) background in the management of memory institutions, especially audiovisual archives, and their relevant professional disciplines; (ii) academic standing in the history disciplines, especially the history of the screen and sound media; and (iii) active professional connection with the screen and sound industries; and (b) seek an amendment to the National Film and Sound Archive Act 2008 to specify that future appointments to the board should satisfy the above criteria.

2.         Given that, in real terms, the budget allocation for the NFSA from the Government has declined about 20 per cent over the past decade, and that to restore it to the actual level of a decade ago will require a permanent increase of $6 million per annum in base funding; will the Government commit to such a restoration.

3.         As the NFSA is required by its Act to work to the ‘highest curatorial standards’, and given that in 2010-11 the NFSA’s approved staffing level (ASL) was 220, while its current ASL is 164, will the Government commit to restoring its ASL back to 2010-11 levels.

4.         Given that the Government has provided an emergency allocation of $5.5 million over 4 years to enable basic-standard digitisation of at-risk magnetic tape audio and video recordings to be completed before 2025, will the Government apply an additional, ongoing increment of this size to the NFSA’s budget allocation beyond 2025.>


Mr Fletcher – The answer to the honourable Member’s question is as follows:


1.    The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia Act 2008(the Act) does not specify criteria which must be satisfied by persons appointed by the Minister to the Board. The Government has no intention to amend the Act to establish such criteria.Prior to appointing a person, the Minister gives regard to the skills and experience that person can contribute to the NFSA and its Board.


The Act provides that the Board is responsible for ensuring the proper and efficient performance of the NFSA’s functions. The Board has power to do all things necessary or convenient to be done for or in connection with the performance of its duties.


For the purposes of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013(PGPA Act), the Board is the accountable authority for the NFSA. It has responsibility for leading, governing and setting the strategic direction for the NFSA, including:

  • promoting the proper (efficient, effective, economical and ethical) use and management of public resources;
  • promoting the achievement of the purposes of the NFSA;
  • promoting the financial sustainability of the NFSA; and
  • establishing appropriate systems of risk management and internal control, including measures directed at ensuring officials comply with the finance law.


All National Collecting Institution Boards and Councils benefit from having members drawn from various sectors. 


In relation to NFSA Board vacancies, I have recently appointed Ms Caroline Elliott as Chair of the Board and Mrs Lucinda Brogden AM as a Member, each for a term of three years.


Many of the staff engaged by the NFSA would satisfy one or more of the criteria suggested. 


2.    In 2021-22, the National Collecting Institutions within the Arts portfolio are collectively receiving over $300 million in funding from the Australian Government.  This is a strong reflection of the importance this Government gives to the National Collecting Institutions in preserving and making accessible Australia’s culture and history.


Since 2017-18, the Australian Government has announced additional funding to the NFSA of almost $60 million, for digitisation, capital works, financial sustainability and COVID-19 support. This includes $41.9 million over four years from 2021-22 to preserve and store 240,000 at-risk audio-visual items, which was announced by the Government on 3 December 2021.


3.    The NFSA’s average staffing level will increase over the period 2021-22 to 2024-25 by 21.5 to support the digitisation and storage of at-risk audio-visual collection material.


4.    As noted in response to question 2, the Government announced on 3 December 2021 that it would provide the NFSA with an additional $41.9 million over four years from 2021-22 to digitally preserve and store 240,000 at-risk audio-visual items held by the NFSA and seven other National Collecting Institutions. Around 220,000 of the items to be preserved are held by the NFSA. The NFSA will also receive $6.5 million per annum from 2025-26 to meet the ongoing storage costs for the preserved material. 


This funding will protect important elements of Australia’s audio-visual history from being permanently lost due to material deterioration as well as the risks posed by obsolete playback equipment and the loss of skills needed to maintain it. 


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