Corporate Plan2021-22

AEC 2021–22 Corporate Plan

Updated: 30 August 2021

Welcome

Welcome to our corporate plan

Welcome to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) Corporate Plan 2021‑22: the outline of the four key activities that enable us to fulfil our purpose against a backdrop of an increasingly complex operating environment.

The planning process provides an opportunity to reflect on our agency’s commitment to delivering elections to the highest standard, and to ensure a safe and trusted result for all Australians.

The AEC’s values of electoral integrity through agility, professionalism and quality underpin everything we do and assist us to deliver federal elections that are: accessible to all eligible voters; professionally run; impartial; and transparent. We also continue to evolve and innovate in order to meet the demands of the changing external environment.

Maintaining a positive reputation for the Australian electoral system amongst citizens is critical in ensuring trust in election results, and electoral integrity is central to this. Additionally, proactive strategies to build understanding about electoral processes, and to manage stakeholder and community expectations about electoral services, is becoming even more critical.

The challenge of electoral reputation management has intensified in the era of social media and disinformation: particularly when some citizens and other commentators can be astonishingly swift to reach, and then broadcast, unshakably strong views about electoral events. These views, frequently untethered to the realities of law, process or context, can ooze into the mainstream and can influence broader societal views. Anticipating those issues enables the AEC to deal with matters before they influence the reputation of Australia’s electoral system.

The next federal election will be the largest and most complex in Australia’s history. The sheer size and scale of the event, with the highest level of enrolment since Federation, brings with it the need to provide services to meet the demand, and to recruit and train more staff to help deliver the franchise. The current COVID-19 pandemic continues to add a layer of complexity and we must remain alert, focused and ready to work with our stakeholders to adjust. We also expect the next event will be the most scrutinised election to date, in light of increased citizen engagement through social media observed both here and internationally.

The AEC has measures in place to manage security (both cyber and physical), provide accurate information and ensure operational integrity so citizens have faith in, and can trust, the election result. The AEC’s is steadfastly committed to maintaining high standards, and to applying the requirements of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act) without fear or favour.

Planning the future direction of the AEC and evolving the services we provide to meet future requirements requires us to think beyond the immediate.

To that end, we have been considering what elections might look like in the year 2030 and, more importantly, what electors will expect from the voting experience in the longer-term future. The thinking behind this planning exercise is enabling us to respond to our changing environment, and develop processes to identify appropriate risks, mitigations and controls. In doing so, our key aim is to facilitate, not complicate, the electoral process. Concrete steps towards this Voter 2030 vision are already underway.

We are on a pathway to becoming a leader in learning and development and we have never been more heavily invested in this aspect of our organisation. The AEC identifies learning and development needs to develop programs that are focused on increasing the skills and knowledge of the workforce and building our overall capability.

We are taking great strides in our modernisation journey. The AEC received significant funding in the 2020–21 federal budget to modernise the AEC’s antiquated IT systems architecture. The first stage in planning of this program of work is nearing completion. Ultimately, over many years, the program will enable us to simplify, secure and strengthen how we deliver elections. Fundamentally, the modernisation process will improve the core capabilities underpinning how we deliver elections and assist the AEC to cope with the expected and unexpected challenges of the future.

A further key element of the modernisation strategy is the AEC Command Centre, which will provide a central, overarching view of all aspects of our operations. The command centre will be up and running at the next federal election and will help enhance situational awareness of key operations, and drive nationally consistent, centrally led service delivery.

While we always maintain an appropriate level of preparedness, we now move to the ‘mobilisation’ stage of our electoral readiness framework. This means we are conducting exercises and rehearsals to confirm that changes and lessons from the previous election have been implemented, and we’re ready to conduct the big event – whenever it may be.

Tom Rogers
Electoral Commissioner

Compliance statement

Tom RogersI, as the accountable authority of the Australian Electoral Commission, present the Corporate Plan 2021–22 which covers the period 2021–25 as required under paragraph 35(1) (b) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

Tom Rogers
Electoral Commissioner

Introduction

This is the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) Corporate Plan 2021–22. The document sets our strategic direction for the next four years and outlines the elements in our plan that work together to deliver our purpose.

Purpose

The AEC is a non-corporate Commonwealth entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and an independent statutory authority, established under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act).

Our purpose is to maintain an impartial and independent electoral system for eligible voters through active electoral roll management, efficient delivery of polling services, and targeted education and public awareness programs.

Pursuant to the Electoral Act, we do this by:

  • conducting successful electoral events, including federal elections, by-elections and referendums, and industrial elections and ballots
  • ensuring confidence in the Commonwealth Electoral Roll
  • regulating political party registrations and financial disclosure
  • supporting electoral redistributions
  • undertaking public awareness activities.

We must also provide a range of electoral information and education programs, both in Australia and in support of Australia’s national interests.

We measure our performance against our key activities, distinct or significant work that contributes to achieving our purpose.

AEC’s values of electoral integrity through professionalism, quality and agility

Commission

Section 6 of the Electoral Act establishes a three-person Commission which has exclusive powers, particularly in relation to electoral redistributions, political party registration, and funding and disclosure. Current Commission members are:

  • Hon. Justice Susan Kenny AM, Chairperson
  • Mr Tom Rogers, Electoral Commissioner
  • Dr David Gruen, Australian Statistician and non-judicial member.

Vision

We are a leader in refining and delivering best practice in election management.

Key activities

Our performance is measured against our key activities:

  1. maintain the integrity of electoral and regulatory process
  2. prepare for and deliver electoral events
  3. engage with our stakeholders through education and public awareness activities
  4. maintain a capable and agile organisation and continue to professionalise our workforce.

Operating context

Our operating context discusses the environment we expect to operate in over the next four years. It outlines how we build our capability and manage our risks, and how we cooperate with others to deliver our purpose.

Performance

Our corporate plan fits within the broader APS Performance Management Framework required under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). Our performance aligns with the performance criteria in the Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS)*.

Our Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS)

Performance measures

Key activities

1

2

3

4

Electoral roll management

  • Percentage of eligible voters enrolled (enrolment rate)
  • Redistributions determined when planned in accordance with timeframes identified in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918

Elections, by-elections and referendums

  • The writs for a federal election event are issued and returned in accordance with legislation and timeframes
  • For industrial elections and ballots, results are delivered with integrity and withstand scrutiny

Public awareness

  • Deliver public awareness and education products that target all Australian citizens aged 18 years and over

Party registration and financial disclosure

  • The AEC maintains an up-to-date public register of political parties
  • Disclosure returns are published and regulated in accordance with timeframes in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918

In the PBS, the AEC has one outcome: Program 1.1 — To deliver electoral events.

We report our performance through our key activities. The above table maps the performance measures in the PBS against the AEC’s key activities. Our performance against each measure is detailed below.

* See 2021–22 PBS published in May 2021

Operating context

Our environment

Our environment has never been more complex or unpredictable. We are experiencing unprecedented operational challenges.

The Australian electoral system is distinguished by important features such as compulsory voting, non-fixed dates for elections and a wide range of voting methods. It allows Australians to freely exercise their civic rights and responsibilities.

Much of the AEC’s daily work lies in preparing to conduct the next federal election and the various scenarios in which it can be held. Among the requirements is the recruiting and training required for a workforce that expands from around 800 to over 90,000 during an election period. We purchase, prepare and despatch a myriad of polling equipment and materials to hundreds of early voting centres and thousands of polling places around Australia and internationally.

Arrangements are also made for Australians who live in remote locations, who are interstate or overseas, voters with a disability, and those who temporarily reside in Antarctica. It is this voting access – an entrenched expectation of all Australians – that sets the Australian system apart from so many others.

Delivering this voting process is a great privilege, but also an enormous challenge. A federal election is often described as one of the largest and most complex logistical peacetime events undertaken in Australia. This challenge is perhaps greater than ever before, especially given the global COVID-19 pandemic’s drastic impact on our social landscape. Gatherings of people now require considerable forethought and planning.

In a trend that has been observed since the 2016 federal election, the Australian public increasingly seeks more flexible options at election time, particularly regarding pre-poll voting. Within the current pandemic context, voters will expect greater voting accessibility and choice. Our preparations and planning must respond within the context of the Electoral Act – the legislation that dictates how the AEC delivers the electoral process.

Over and above the logistics of running an election, the potential for malign actors to attempt to interfere in our electoral procedures is a growing concern. We are vigilant about physical and online security, as well as information privacy. Worldwide, we observe increasing attention, conflict and expectations surrounding elections, and we try to educate and reassure voters where necessary. The threat of disinformation is always present and the AEC aims to take the lead in explaining to the public how we conduct elections.

In addition to continual election preparation activities, the AEC maintains the nearly 17 million enrolment records for eligible Australians. We focus on ensuring accuracy and currency of the Commonwealth Electoral Roll. We also redistribute electorate boundaries, assess and complete party registration applications, run thousands of industrial ballots each year, and administer financial disclosure and compliance activities. These tasks—among others—are continual and support not just an Australian federal election, but the broader system of democracy, including other Australian elections.

At the heart of all the AEC’s responsibilities is an absolute focus on electoral integrity. Australians are rightly proud of our electoral system, widely acknowledged as one of the best in the world. We remain agile to meet any challenges that may adversely impact what we value so much – a triennial festival of democracy that is free and fair.

Our role is to maintain this respected system and ensure that it is held to the highest standards. We protect and support democratic processes by building our capability, managing risk and collaborating with others. We are committed to delivering safe and secure electoral events and services to the Australian community.

Our risk oversight and management

With COVID-19 continuing to impact all aspects of our operations, we must adapt and respond to manage our risks effectively.

It is crucial that we meet Australian Government and community expectations to provide a safe environment for the public to enrol and vote, and to stay informed and educated about our electoral system and services.

Our risk management framework

The AEC’s commitment to maturing our risk management framework and strengthening organisational capability continues. We will:

  • legitimise risk-taking within our appetite
  • strengthen strategic alignment and risk communication
  • promote learning opportunities that reinforce positive risk behaviour
  • share good practice and better integrate risks with identified lessons
  • bolster collaboration in managing shared risks
  • embed enterprise risk management with a greater focus on key controls to ensure AEC risks are being well managed.

An important component of the AEC’s risk management framework is the risk management policy, which applies to all aspects of our operations. This policy defines:

  • the AEC’s approach to managing risk and articulates how this approach supports the agency’s objectives and activities
  • the principles of the agency’s risk appetite and risk tolerance
  • key accountabilities and responsibilities for managing and implementing the risk framework.

Our risk appetite statement specifies that the AEC accepts medium and low levels of risk and prefers not to accept high and extreme risks. The following table lists our strategic risks, their impacts and selected mitigation strategies.

Managing our strategic and enterprise risks

Strategic risk

Impact of risk eventuating

Mitigating strategies

1. The Electoral Act and the AEC’s current operating model loses relevance to the modern-day service delivery experience – and expectation of electors and stakeholders – especially in a post COVID-19 pandemic environment.

  • Disengagement from external and internal stakeholders, employees and the temporary election workforce
  • More electors vote informally or not at all
  • Reduced ability to positively influence electoral policy and legislation
  • Health hazards to AEC employees and the public

The AEC regularly scans the environment to assess the risk context and respond collaboratively to changes. This is supported by a robust governance framework that oversees a range of organisational health factors.

The AEC is becoming a learning organisation and is continuing to invest in developing people. We develop strategies to build the critical operational and professional capabilities of APS staff and the temporary election workforce.

We use lessons management to inform and refine behavioural and business process improvements for future electoral events.

The AEC will invest in a future operating model to sustain continual improvement – both for voter experience and in the AEC workforce – through future electoral cycles.

The AEC is implementing the Election Systems Modernisation (Indigo) program. This initiative will govern the replacement and modernisation of core election IT systems. An agile technology platform, Indigo will transform the AEC’s delivery of electoral services and ensure ongoing integrity of the electoral system.

The AEC People Strategy will deliver a range of solutions for our multi-tiered workforce.

2. The AEC is unable to uphold electoral integrity and transparency against a changing environment of domestic and global threats.

  • Electors are disenfranchised
  • Election delivery outcomes are adversely affected
  • Increased external scrutiny
  • Privacy or confidentiality breach

3. The AEC fails to build trusting relationships with electors, political stakeholders, and the government.

  • More electors vote informally or not at all
  • Reduced ability to positively influence electoral policy and legislation

4. The AEC cannot source and maintain a capable and trained Australian Public Service and temporary workforce.

  • Impact on election readiness and change effectiveness
  • Inability to meet community expectations for delivery of polling services

5. The AEC is not properly positioned for the future and is unable to deliver its core business and services, as its systems and processes are not sustainable, relevant and modern.

  • Reduced ability to effectively and efficiently deliver core business and improve service offering

Our capability

In an increasingly complex operating environment, we continue to build our business processes and election delivery model through our lessons management framework.

Our people capability

The AEC’s one workforce is unique and multi-tiered. Our talent includes APS employees engaged under the Public Service Act 1999, statutory appointments, contractors, our election surge workforce, and our very large temporary election workforce.

Collectively, our workforce maintains an impartial and independent electoral system for eligible voters, and delivers various other electoral, education, regulatory and enabling services. Our one workforce – with its unique skills – is critical to delivering quality services.

Our People Strategy supports AEC Key Activity 4. This will be achieved through a range of initiatives. Among these is the delivery of a strategic workforce plan, building organisational capability, and ensuring uptake of early intervention for optimum wellbeing. We will also develop new talent initiatives to attract and nurture high performing talent and workforce diversity over our employee life cycle.

The strategy focuses on four pillars: healthy workplaces, one workforce, our culture, and continuous improvement. These pillars are supported by our Learning and Professional Development Strategy 2020–2025, Diversity Inclusion Strategy 2019–2022, and Reconciliation Action Plan 2020–2021.

Learning and development is critical to professionalising our workforce. The AEC is focusing on five key areas:

  • organisational capability
  • learning culture
  • accountabilities and responsibilities
  • temporary election workforce
  • learning infrastructure.

The AEC’s investment in this domain is building the capability of our people to achieve excellence. As a result, our employees are equipped to adapt to the changing nature of the AEC’s work, as well as evolving community expectations. A highly skilled workforce reinforces our reputation as a professional, responsive electoral management body.

Our IT capability

IT systems

The AEC is undergoing a major information technology and communications transformation following the Australian Government’s announcement of $96.4 million in funding in October 2020.

It is vitally important that the AEC operate robust and fit-for-purpose IT platforms. A modernised electoral management system will greatly improve our capacity to deal with security risks. Among these challenges, we must enhance our ability to detect, prevent and respond to external interference in Australia’s elections.

The Elections System Modernisation (Indigo) program is a shift in the AEC’s approach which will deliver a citizen-centric, agile technology platform. The seven-year transformation journey will reposition how we provide electoral services and ensure ongoing integrity of the electoral system.

This work has also enabled the AEC to think well beyond the next election and to expand IT to meet the needs of all Australians.

The Indigo program will be managed through a series of tranches, with the first delivering:

  • new baseline IT platforms to ensure readiness for future planning
  • updated supply chain management processes
  • streamlined recruitment and management of the AEC’s temporary election workforce
  • improved election contact centre operations to better facilitate voter self-service
  • agile business processes to drive productivity
  • assurance of security in the AEC’s coordination of federal elections.

All Australians should benefit from greater automation, less manual handling, and swifter election results.

AEC Command Centre

Part of the AEC’s recent government funding will be used to develop a new command centre that will provide a secure, leading-edge, central point of command. This initiative will also allow the AEC to better monitor elections and give the overarching visibility required during electoral events.

Our broader strategic direction is to modernise and use available tools, data and skills to better manage emerging risks and the changing operating environment. Establishing the command centre aligns with this goal and will help deliver safe and secure elections.

Disinformation and cyber security

A breakdown in public trust endangers electoral integrity. Everyone involved in the safe delivery of elections must be committed to reducing the footprint of disinformation.

The risks of inaction are serious. Consequences could be an erosion of public confidence in our governing institutions, and the potential to disenfranchise electors.

In an evolving electoral context, threats range from influencing voters before casting their vote, to interfering with the mechanics of the voting process. The possible outcome could be a compromise in our ability to effectively conduct an election with a trusted result.

We ensure our people are equipped with the tools to share verified election details and to prevent disinformation.

We do this by being a highly credible source for election information and by educating all stakeholders. In particular, we are proactive in countering disinformation across media platforms and other channels.

Our cooperation

External cooperation is critical to ensure the AEC succeeds in an evolving environment, delivering safe and effective elections into the future.

Election events in Australia

We partner with a range of public and private entities to deliver Australian electoral events. We also foster collaborations and help others.

To meet the enormous task of conducting a federal election, in all its scale and complexity, the AEC works with many Australian Government agencies, state, territory, local government jurisdictions and external suppliers. Partners helping us deliver increasingly intricate voting options include:

  • the Australian Taxation Office, which works with state and territory agencies to share data and improve the quality of the electoral roll
  • the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which provides population information that we use to calculate redistributions
  • Services Australia, which helps with remote mobile polling and call centre assistance
  • the Australian Federal Police, which assesses suspected breaches of criminal offences of the Electoral Act
  • Australia Post, which ensures we can provide a choice of postal and enrolment services
  • the Department of Health, and health departments in different jurisdictions, which provide support and advice regarding the AEC’s COVID-safe measures ahead of electoral events.

The Electoral Integrity Assurance Taskforce helps safeguard against interference that may impact on the safe delivery of electoral events. Potential threats include malicious cyber activity, physical attacks, foreign interference or disinformation. Security and integrity of the electoral system are the AEC’s top priorities. We co-lead this taskforce, guided by other key agencies across government, including:

  • Department of Finance
  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications
  • Attorney-General’s Department
  • Department of Home Affairs
  • Australian Federal Police.

When required, the taskforce is also supported by the intelligence community.

The future of the electoral operating environment will be shaped, in part, by the AEC’s close relationship with the Department of Finance. This partnership helps us contribute, when appropriate, to inform electoral policy and legislative reform.

The AEC prioritises support for all Australians’ electoral participation. We seek to engage citizens from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, Indigenous Australians, people with disability, young people and those experiencing homelessness.

Working with state and territory electoral commissions, we collaborate with community organisations and other service providers to share electoral information, educate about election processes and promote recruitment opportunities. The AEC chairs the Trans-Tasman Disability Advisory Committee, which fosters accessibility, inclusion and participation in the electoral process by people with disability.

The AEC delivers a range of electoral information and education programs, including our National Electoral Education Centre in Canberra. To complement our education program, we are working with the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House to establish a dedicated public exhibition. This important interactive display will explain Australia’s federal electoral system and the role of the AEC.

We work with the Electoral Council of Australia and New Zealand to manage electoral rolls for Commonwealth, state, territory and local government elections. In the spirit of mutual cooperation, the council considers contemporary electoral challenges with a view to improving equality for all eligible voters.

The AEC also conducts industrial elections and ballots under the provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 and the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009.

International engagement

The AEC is internationally recognised for its support of emerging democracies and for building the technical capacity of partner electoral agencies. This reputation enables the government to include electoral support as a key element of development assistance.

We work closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to build international capacity and capability. The AEC delivers projects virtually and sends subject matter experts overseas to advise and help develop quality electoral services.

By building trust, mutual respect and shared vision, the AEC promotes peaceful and inclusive societies through sustainable development. Our partners in these bi-lateral endeavours include electoral management bodies, academic institutions and international development agencies.

AEC activities include:

  • technical assistance
  • strategic planning and advice
  • training courses
  • reviewing and updating policies and manuals
  • knowledge exchange programs
  • workshops
  • designing, printing, and supplying electoral materials.

The Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand Electoral Administrators (PIANZEA) network is an Australian government-funded electoral support program led by the AEC. The network has helped deliver programs and resources for more than 20 years to strengthen the capability of Pacific Island electoral management bodies.

The AEC also continues to play an integral role as a founding partner of the Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) partnership.

This professional development program is focused on electoral processes and is the only initiative of its type delivered to electoral officials around the world. As well as the AEC, BRIDGE partners are the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, International Foundation of Electoral Systems, United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division.

Our performance

This year we continued to build our performance framework against our four agency activities, and to provide more detailed performance measures and targets.

The AEC’s Performance Reporting Framework guides our approach to developing, managing and reporting performance information in line with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). We measure our performance against four key activities and the results we intend to achieve.

The following sections detail our key activities and the targets that measure our success.

Reporting cycles

We report our performance through the annual performance statements in our annual reports.

The AEC operates on two reporting cycles:

  • externally on a four-year cycle through the PGPA Act
  • internally as part of the electoral cycle focusing on the three phases of election readiness
    • lessons
    • implement change
    • mobilisation.

We must always be ready to deliver an electoral event.

Each phase of the election readiness framework directs our workflow and is reflected in the performance measures for the year. Our ‘lessons learned’ approach directs a continual cycle of improvement and learning across all aspects of AEC operations. In 2020–21, we moved into the ‘implement change’ phase. In 2021–22, we will begin ‘mobilisation’ for the next federal event.

Key activity one

Maintain the integrity of the electoral and regulatory processes

An essential feature of Australian democracy is an electoral system that operates with a high level of integrity. The AEC maintains an impartial electoral system and processes for elections, referendums, plebiscites and by-elections in accordance with the Commonwealth Electoral Act 2018 (the Electoral Act) and the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984.

As the Australian Government’s independent electoral body, electoral integrity is central to the AEC’s values of agility, professionalism and quality. To maintain electoral integrity, the AEC regulates important aspects of the electoral system. This includes:

  • maintaining a complete and accurate Commonwealth Electoral Roll
  • driving voter turnout
  • supporting electoral redistributions
  • registering political parties
  • regulating the funding and disclosure scheme for political entities and individuals
  • regulating the authorisation of electoral communications.

This enables all eligible Australians to enrol, nominate as candidates, vote, and have their votes counted accurately and securely. Citizens participate in a free, fair and appropriately regulated electoral system.


Intended results

AEC contributions

Performance measures

Targets

Source

Method and frequency

2021–22

2022–23

2023–24

2024–25

1.1 Deliver the franchise – an Australian citizen’s right to vote

Maintain impartial and independent enrolment and electoral services and processes that enable voters to exercise their franchise.

Percentage of eligible voters enrolled (enrolment rate).

≥95%

≥95%

≥95%

≥95%

Electoral roll and Australian Bureau of Statistics population data.

Roll and population data calculated and reported annually at the end of each financial year and at close of rolls for a federal election or referendum.

Percentage of voters enrolled who turn out to vote at all federal electoral events (turnout rate).

>90% voter turnout rate for elections for the Senate and House of Representatives at the 2021–22 federal election.

Where applicable, turnout rate will be reported for by-elections.

AEC Tally Room.

Number of people enrolled to vote who cast a vote by any voting method at a federal electoral event.

Percentage of votes cast formally for the House of Representatives and Senate at next federal election or at a referendum or for by-elections (if any held).

>90% formality rate for Senate and House of Representatives.

Where applicable, formality rate will be reported for by-elections.

AEC Tally Room.

Percentage of formal votes cast when compared to all votes cast at a federal electoral event (including referendum).

1.2 Maintain a high level of confidence in the electoral roll

Actively manage the electoral roll throughout the electoral cycle.

Process enrolments to agreed timeliness and standards and quality assure a representative sample of enrolments for accuracy.

Support the delivery of state, territory and local electoral events by delivering joint roll services to state and territory electoral commissions.

Percentage accuracy of the Electoral Roll at the electoral division-level and individual address-level.

≥95% and ≥90%

≥95% and ≥90%

≥95% and ≥90%

≥95% and ≥90%

The Annual Roll Integrity Review (ARIR), which measures the accuracy and integrity of electoral roll data.

AEC roll data and other agency data, calculated and publicly published quarterly and annually at the end of each financial year.

Support the timely conduct of electoral redistributions, ensuring, as near as practicable, that each state and territory gains representation in the House of Representatives in proportion to their population.

Redistributions determined in accordance with the Electoral Act.

All redistributions are determined in accordance with the planned determination date and impacted electors are notified prior to the relevant federal election.

Government Gazette and newspaper notices, and the date of letters to electors lodged with Australia Post.

For each redistribution, publication of notices and letters to electors comply with requirements in the Electoral Act.

1.3 Exercise our regulatory functions

Process political party registrations in accordance with the Electoral Act.

Regulate the funding and financial disclosure scheme for political parties, entities and individuals with disclosure obligations.

Develop education and awareness resources and products to assist political entities in Part XX of the Electoral Act and those impacted by electoral authorisations to understand and comply with their regulatory responsibilities.

The AEC maintains an up-to-date public register of political parties.

Compliance with Part XI of the Electoral Act.

Electoral Act (Part XI), AEC funding and disclosure, Client and Return Management system and the AEC website.

No identified breaches of Part XI of the Electoral Act for the year, as at reporting date.

In relation to political parties and entities with disclosure obligations, the AEC publishes the returns in accordance with timeframes in the Electoral Act, and conducts compliance reviews in line with the approved program.

Annual returns published on the first working day in February.

Election returns published 24 weeks after polling day for each electoral event.

Compliance reviews completed annually compared to the approved program.

For annual returns and election returns, the source is the Transparency Register on the AEC website.

For compliance reviews, please refer to the AEC website.

Annual returns: measured annually.

Election returns: measured for each electoral event.

Compliance reviews: measured annually as at reporting date.

Key activity two

Prepare for and deliver electoral events

The AEC delivers federal electoral events, industrial elections, protected action ballots, and Torres Strait Regional Authority elections in accordance with the relevant legislation and rules.

The AEC provides the best possible electoral services and events to stakeholders and the public within a complex environment and in response to increasing community expectations. The AEC must deliver these services and events with the highest degree of integrity, impartiality, and in accordance with legislation. We deliver to all stakeholders and diverse customer service expectations. Electoral services and events need to be accessible to all eligible Australians.

The AEC prepares for and delivers electoral events through the Election Readiness Framework. While the AEC works to a three-year electoral cycle, the timing of electoral events is unknown. The AEC must strike a careful balance between the likelihood of an event occurring with the cost and complexity associated with maintaining a readiness posture. Election readiness is also balanced against other agency priorities.

The AEC uses a lessons management approach during and following an electoral event to ensure Australians are provided with successful electoral events. Within the bounds of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 2018 (the Electoral Act), we continue to enhance and modernise our model for delivering electoral events and services.

Under the Electoral Act, the AEC also supports international electoral management bodies, in close cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


Intended results

AEC contributions

Performance measures

Targets

Source

Method and frequency

2021–22

2022–23

2023–24

2024–25

2.1 The AEC maintains an appropriate level of election readiness

Using the Election Readiness Framework, the AEC comprehensively prepares for the federal election and other electoral events.

AEC-wide readiness achieved by the Directed Level of Electoral Readiness date (federal elections only).

Agency wide readiness meets the Directed Level of Electoral Readiness date (federal elections only).

AEC Election Readiness Framework.

Undertaken as required at key times prior to each electoral event.

2.2 The public and stakeholders have confidence the electoral process is well managed in accordance with legislation

Successfully deliver federal electoral events in accordance with legislation.

The election result – for each event – is delivered in accordance with the Electoral Act.

The writs for a federal election event are issued and returned in accordance with legislative requirements and timeframes.

The AEC will report on the number of Court of Disputed Returns matters which challenge AEC conduct, and whether these challenges are dismissed or upheld in favour of the AEC.

Electoral Act.

Electoral Commissioner’s advice published on AEC website.

Outcomes of the Court of Disputed Returns.

For each electoral event:

  • Writs returned to the Governor-General or State Governors or the Speaker of the House of Representatives
  • Electoral Commissioner’s advice published on the AEC website
  • Court of Disputed Returns advice.

2.3 Accessible and high quality enrolment and polling services

Deliver enrolment services to electors in a timely and efficient manner.

Identify opportunities to modernise delivery of enrolment services and increase digital offerings to our stakeholders.

Percentage of new enrolments and enrolment updates lodged through the Online Enrolment Service.

≥80%

≥80%

≥80%

≥80%

Roll data from AEC enrolment systems and extracts.

Rates calculated monthly and reported annually at the end of each financial year. Also calculated at close of rolls for full federal elections.

Deliver polling services to the public (including priority groups – see below in Key Activity 3) within the parameters and timeframes set in the Electoral Act and the AEC’s Event Service Plan.

Mature and embed the AEC’s lessons management approach and capability.

Undertake an AEC voter survey following each federal election to inform future planning and delivery of electoral events.

Voting locations (including early voting centres and polling places) published on the AEC website before polling commences.

100% of polling locations are published.

AEC Election Management System data.

AEC website.

Publication on the AEC website for each electoral event.

After election night, count information is progressively updated on the AEC website.

Preliminary election results available on election night and progressive count information updated on the AEC website.

AEC Election Management System data.

Publication on the AEC website for each electoral event.

Undertake a lessons management approach to delivering electoral events.

Lessons from the previous electoral event implemented at the next electoral event.

AEC Lessons Management Framework.

AEC Election Readiness Framework.

Agency-wide qualitative analysis undertaken for each federal election.

2.4 Industrial elections and ballots are designed for the future and delivered with integrity

The AEC meets legislative requirements to conduct electoral events for organisations registered with the Fair Work Commission; and protected action ballots when assigned as the Ballot Agency by the Fair Work Commission.

Engage with stakeholders to modernise industrial election processes and systems, mature planning and assurance, and detail lessons learned.

Election and ballot results are delivered with integrity and withstand scrutiny.

The AEC will report on the outcomes and number of events in which the AEC’s conduct is challenged before a court.

High Court outcomes.

High Court outcomes for the year, as at reporting date.


Key activity three

Engage with our stakeholders through education and public awareness activities

To maintain awareness of electoral matters, the AEC engages with the public and a range of different communities and stakeholders throughout the electoral cycle. At a federal election, the AEC conducts a national advertising campaign across a range of communication channels and in many Indigenous and major community languages to maximise successful election participation.

Our education and public awareness activities target all eligible voters and consider Australia’s diverse population. Targeted information, services, tools and strategic partnerships are developed for priority groups, including those who may experience some barriers to electoral participation.

The AEC also continues to deliver education programs for tens of thousands of school children through our National Election Education Centre (NEEC) in Canberra.


Intended results

AEC contributions

Performance measures

Targets

Source

Method and frequency

2021–22

2022–23

2023–24

2024–25

3.1 Enable Australians to participate in electoral events and understand electoral matters

Provide timely and accurate electoral information and public awareness products and campaigns to a range of target audiences to support enrolment and participation in electoral events.

Deliver public awareness and education products that target all Australian citizens aged 18 years and over.

The AEC’s public awareness campaign is delivered in accordance with key objectives outlined in the campaign strategy and meets identified benchmarks for electoral events.

Campaign evaluation report.

Specific communication activities delivered for mainstream and identified special audience groups measured for each federal election.

Work with key stakeholders such as state and territory electoral commissions, further enhance partnership arrangements and extend our digital reach to provide awareness and education products to the priority groups.

The priority groups include: youth (18–24 years old); Indigenous Australians; people with disability; people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; people experiencing homelessness; and people who are incarcerated.

Percentage of 18 to 24 year old Australians enrolled (youth enrolment rate).

≥85%

≥87%

≥87%

≥87%

Roll data from AEC enrolment systems.

ABS population data.

Rates calculated monthly and published quarterly. Also measured and reported for each federal election.

Deliver electoral participation activities to support AEC priority groups.

Assessment of activities delivered in accordance with the AEC Targeted Engagement Framework 2020-2023 and the AEC Indigenous Electoral Participation Program National Action Plan 2021–2022.

Assessment against Targeted Engagement Framework 2020–23.

Assessment of activities for the year as at each reporting date.

3.2 Enhance understanding of Australia’s electoral system

Deliver a high quality and accessible electoral education experience to school children through the NEEC.

Provide a program of targeted professional learning opportunities and resources to teachers that support their teaching of the Australian electoral system consistent with the Australian Curriculum.

Annual visitors to the NEEC.

New baseline determined in 2022–23*.

AEC visitor data captured via the NEEC online booking system.

Visitor attendance reported annually.

Visitor satisfaction rates at the NEEC.

≥90%

≥90%

≥90%

≥90%

AEC NEEC visitor data.

Visitor satisfaction surveys captured for each education program reported annually.

Maintain the number of unique views of AEC for Schools website.

≥200,000

≥200,000

≥200,000

≥200,000

AEC for Schools website.

AEC website analytics of unique visits to AEC for Schools website reported annually.

Teacher professional learning participant numbers.

350 teacher professional learning participants (with an intention to review in 2022–23)*.

AEC Learning Management System data and attendance at in-person sessions.

Professional learning participation rates reported annually.

* COVID-19 affected visits and face-to-face education programs through 2020. The NEEC will be refurbished in 2021–2022, affecting visits. A new baseline visitor target will be established in 2022–23.

Key activity four

Maintain a capable and agile organisation and continue to professionalise our workforce

Building and maintaining a capable and agile organisation and professional workforce is critical to delivering electoral events. To ensure we can respond to changing legislation, policy, community expectations and our environment, we must continue to develop our agility and capability. We do this by refining our organisational structure and focusing on key aspects of governance and assurance. We are also investing in and modernising our enrolment and election systems and processes.

Our people and learning and development strategies are designed to ensure the AEC can attract, develop and retain a talented, agile and professional workforce. This includes both our regular APS and temporary election workforce, which surges to more than 90,000 employees during a federal election.


Intended results

AEC contributions

Performance measures

Targets

Source

Method and frequency

2021–22

2022–23

2023–24

2024–25

4.1 Develop and maintain a professional, talented and agile workforce

Continue to develop our workforce by implementing the AEC People Strategy and Learning and Development Strategy.

Further expand our capability to support and train the AEC’s temporary election workforce.

Percentage of identified APS employees undertaking specific training relevant to their role.

≥95%

≥95%

≥95%

≥95%

AEC Learning Management System.

Training completion data measured annually.

Percentage of TEW employees completing election training relevant to their role.

≥95%

≥95%

≥95%

≥95%

AEC Learning Management System.

Training completion data measured for each federal electoral event.

4.2 Invest in organisational capability and governance

Continue to mature and streamline our agency’s organisational structure and governance arrangements.

Improve our maturity across management of finance and workforce, risk, security (under Protective Security Policy Framework), information management and privacy.

Increase agency-level governance maturity in the areas of risk management, protective security, privacy and information management.

Increase or maintain maturity against identified Commonwealth surveys or plans.

Comcover Risk Culture survey, AEC Information Management Strategy and National Archives of Australia’s Check-up PLUS survey and reports, Protective Security Policy Framework, AEC Privacy Management Plan.

Survey benchmarking using Commonwealth frameworks and agency maturity assessments for protective security and information management measured annually.

Comcover Risk Culture survey is measured biennially.

Qualitative assessment on privacy management, performed annually as at reporting date.

4.3 Implement systems and processes that are sustainable, relevant and modern to support election planning and delivery

Continue investment in the AEC’s modernisation agenda.

Progress the modernisation of the AEC’s core election and roll management systems.

Meet the key program milestones associated with the procurement, delivery, execution and de-commissioning of these systems.

Program documentation and reporting.

Governance reporting mechanisms (including internal and external assurance) as guided by program structure and documentation; as at reporting date.

Regulator performance

The AEC regulates the Commonwealth funding and disclosure scheme detailed under Part XX of the Electoral Act. This requires candidates, Senate groups, political parties, political campaigners, associated entities, third parties and donors to lodge election or annual financial disclosure returns with the AEC.

The AEC administers the registration of political parties under Part XI of the Electoral Act and maintains a Register of Political Parties. This lists those parties which are eligible to have the party affiliation of their endorsed candidates printed on ballot papers at a federal election.

The AEC administers the authorisation of electoral communications in accordance with Part XXA of the Electoral Act.

In line with the Australian Government’s commitment to reducing the cost of unnecessary and inefficient regulation imposed on individuals, business and community organisations, we apply the principles of regulator best practice in assessing our regulatory performance.

The principles of regulator best practice are:

  • continuous improvement and building trust – regulators adopt a whole-of-system perspective, continuously improving their performance, capability and culture to build trust and confidence in Australia’s regulatory settings
  • risk-based and data-driven – regulators manage risks proportionately and maintain essential safeguards while minimising regulatory burden, and leveraging data and digital technology to support those they regulate to comply and grow
  • collaboration and engagement – regulators are transparent and responsive communicators, implementing regulations in a modern and collaborative way.

The following table outlines our performance against our measures of success.

What we do to meet the best practice principles

Measures

Key activity reference

We understand the operating environment and circumstances of stakeholders, and take actions to minimise the potential for unintended negative impacts on them.

We provide guidance and information that is up to date, clear, accessible and concise, and that is delivered through appropriate channels to the target audience.

We apply a risk-based, proportionate approach to compliance obligations, engagement and regulatory enforcement actions.

We ensure information requests to the public and stakeholders are tailored and only made when necessary to secure regulatory objectives, and only then in a way that minimises impact.

  • The AEC maintains an up-to-date public register of political parties.
  • We regulate the funding and disclosure scheme, ensuring that disclosure returns are published and regulated in accordance with timeframes.
  • We undertake regular compliance reviews that examine a sample of disclosure returns, and use a risk-based approach to compliance. The outcomes of compliance activity are published on the AEC’s website.
  • We administer the funding and disclosure scheme, political party registrations and electoral authorisations. We provide guidance and information to ensure stakeholders are aware of the need to comply with electoral legislation as well as the ‘how-to’.
  • We apply a risk-based proportionate response in addressing multiple voting and non-voter prosecutions, and in administering electoral communications requirements.
  • We continue to improve our risk management maturity to build organisational capability. We are also maturing and embedding our lessons management approach and capability.
  • We manage feedback and complaints in line with the AEC complaints management policy, and seek improvements in administration when relevant.

1, 2, 3 and 4.

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