Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) today welcomed the release of the 'Independent Review of Australian Wool Innovation' (the Report) that examined the company’s performance and governance for the period 2015-2018.
The 500-page Report is based on a review conducted by Ernst & Young (EY) who were engaged by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, in accordance with the announcement of the Minister, David Littleproud on 27 February 2018.
Over 1300 documents were submitted by AWI as part of the forensic examination, with the views of over 400 woolgrowers recorded together with 56 written submissions and face to face interviews with over 100 stakeholders and public comment.
In summary, 82 recommendations have been suggested, with the areas of monitoring and evaluation, consultation and governance being the focus. The recommendations range in levels of importance from 'mandatory', 'critical' and 'recommended' and provide the company with timing suggestions for completion helping to pave the way for greater consultation, transparency and accountability.
In response to the report AWI CEO Stuart McCullough said the assessment of how AWI was performing against its responsibilities will be of great benefit to AWI in refining our processes and approach going forward.
“AWI acknowledges there are areas where we can enhance the way we operate and we look forward to improving delivery of our services to Australian woolgrowers, and the Report provides a detailed roadmap to assist that process.”
Mr McCullough added AWI was pleased the Report included important context about the scale of the Australian wool industry and the scope of AWI’s research and development role, including:
* The significant contribution of the wool industry to the Australian economy, including a $4.3 billion contribution to exports in 2017/18 (up from $1.9 billion 2009/10) and the employment of 200,000 people. This has seen the gross value of the Australian wool clip double since AWI recommenced a focus on strategic targeted marketing investments to drive demand for wool.
* EY’s finding of a gap between perception of AWI operations, policies and procedures, compared to the evidence they have reviewed. This has highlighted the need for AWI to focus on better explaining our processes and procedures and ensuring targeted open two-way consultation and communications.
* The range of forces impacting on the Australian wool industry and AWI’s role, including changes in processing, consumer behaviour, design trends, digital disruption and emerging markets.
* The current healthy state of the wool market for Australian growers, assisted by the Marketing and R&D activities of AWI.
* The relatively low operational costs associated with the running of AWI.
“From an operational perspective we can advise that we intend to expeditiously adopt key recommendations that will assist to enhance our transparency and accountability and our consultation mechanisms with our shareholders and stakeholders,” Mr McCullough outlined.
With regard to the findings and recommendations contained in the Report pertaining to the Board the following statement was made:
The AWI Board is happy to accept the recommendations and plan the adoption forthwith. There are constitutional matters that will be presented as resolutions for shareholders to vote upon at the November 23rd AGM. The Board believes this report offers a way forward that will take the industry to a new level for the future.
A summary of the Review's findings will be sent to all woolgrowers as part of the WoolPoll process.
To hear more from Stuart McCullough, listen to the latest edition of The Yarn here.
Under its funding model, AWI has a statutory obligation through the Statutory Funding Agreement (SFA) to undergo a triennial independent performance review and is required to report this to levy-payers and the Government prior to each WoolPoll event.
On 27 February 2018, EY was engaged by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to conduct an independent review of AWI, into its performance and governance.
AWI last underwent an independent performance review in 2015, covering performance over the preceding three (3) years 2012-2015.