Australian Transport Safety Bureau

Section 1: Entity overview and resources

1.1 Strategic direction statement

Key elements of the ATSB's strategic direction

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (the ATSB) is an independent statutory agency of the Australian Government. It is governed by a Commission and is entirely separate from transport regulators, policy makers and service providers. At the same time, it is required to cooperate with others who have a role to play in maintaining and improving transport safety, in particular its counterpart agencies in Victoria and New South Wales.

The ATSB performs its functions in accordance with the provisions of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 (TSI Act) and, where applicable, relevant international agreements. The TSI Act makes it clear that, in carrying out its purpose, the ATSB cannot apportion blame, assist in determining liability or, as a general rule, assist in court proceedings. Its sole focus remains the prevention of future accidents and the improvement of safety.

The ATSB's purpose is to improve the safety of, and public confidence in, aviation, rail and marine transport through:

  • the independent investigation of transport accidents and other safety occurrences;
  • safety data recording, analysis and research; and
  • fostering safety awareness, knowledge and action.

The ATSB is responsible for investigating accidents and other transport safety matters involving civil aviation, rail and interstate and overseas marine operations, as well as participating in overseas investigations involving Australian-registered aircraft and ships and cooperating more broadly with overseas counterparts. A primary focus of its work is the safety of commercial transport, with particular regard to operations involving the travelling public.

The ATSB maintains a national information set of all safety-related occurrences in aviation and of all accidents and significant safety occurrences in the rail and interstate and overseas marine sectors. The information it holds is essential to its capacity to analyse broad safety trends and inform its investigation and safety education work, as well as constituting an important public information resource. The ATSB is enhancing its capacity for a data driven approach to the performance of its investigation, research, communication and education functions.

The ATSB has a specific mandate to report publicly on its analysis and investigations, and to conduct public education programs so as to improve transport safety.

To achieve its primary outcome, the ATSB will implement the following strategies.

  • Continue to build its capability to source data nationally on aviation, rail and marine transport safety occurrences and events and to use the data to identify and communicate safety risks and emerging trends.
  • Commencing and delivering investigations of accidents, incidents and safety issues that have the greatest potential to influence safety action, with a particular focus on the safety of the travelling public.
  • Deliver a program of safety research and analysis that draws on the results of investigations and safety occurrence datasets.
  • Undergo an organisational change program with the objective of enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the agencies resources.
  • Enhance its resource base through attracting, retaining and developing professional staff as well as developing networks with skilled professionals who the ATSB can work with to fulfil its transport safety functions.
  • Undertake safety communication and education with an emphasis on identified priority areas where safety risk can be reduced.
  • Increase awareness of the ATSB's safety activities by developing a broader range of communication and education products and pursuing their delivery to transport industries and the travelling public through mediums that interact with a variety of stakeholders.
  • Enhance stakeholder relationships, with a particular focus on ensuring a strong culture of reporting safety matters through transparent arrangements for the appropriate reporting, sharing and use of safety information.
  • Engage with and, as appropriate, provide support to regional and international partners, focussing on developing cooperation in our region and on ensuring that safety lessons and operational innovations are shared internationally.
  • Continue the transition to being the national rail safety investigator, as established through the Council of Australian Governments' Intergovernmental Agreement on Rail Safety Regulation and Investigation Reform.

Detailed information about the ATSB's primary outcome, key strategies, deliverables and performance indicators is published in the ATSB Corporate Plan at

1.2 Entity resource statement

Table 1.1 shows the total funding from all sources available to the ATSB for its operations and to deliver programs and services on behalf of the government.

The table summarises how resources will be applied by outcome (government strategic policy objectives) and by departmental (for the ATSB's operations) classification.

Information in this table is presented on a resourcing (i.e. appropriations/cash available) basis, whilst the ‘Budgeted expenses by Outcome 1’ table in Section 2 and the financial statements in Section 3 are presented on an accrual basis.

Table 1.1: Australian Transport Safety Bureau resource statement—Budget estimates for 2017–18 as at Budget May 2017

1.3 Budget measures

Budget measures in Part 1 relating to the ATSB are detailed in Budget Paper No. 2 - Budget Measures and are summarised below.

Table 1.2: Entity 2017–18 Budget measures

Part 2: Other measures not previously reported in a portfolio statement

This table is not provided as there are no other measures not previously reported in a portfolio statement for the ATSB.

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Budget 2017–18