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The Department for Innovation and Skills Annual Reports

This annual report will be presented to Parliament to meet the statutory reporting requirements of Public Sector Act 2009 and the requirements of Premier and Cabinet Circular PC013 Annual Reporting.

This report is verified to be accurate for the purposes of annual reporting to the Parliament of South Australia.

Submitted on behalf of the Department for Innovation and Skills by:

Mr Adam Reid

Chief Executive

Overview: About the agency

Our purpose

The Department for Innovation and Skills is a catalyst for innovation, entrepreneurialism, and a highly-skilled workforce that increases South Australia’s prosperity by focusing on the areas where we can provide the most support to our stakeholders.

Our vision

The Department is an innovative and enterprising agency that supports individuals, businesses, and industries in the rapidly changing economic environment.

Our values

We are focused on:

  • Sustainability – taking responsibility for delivering our activities and supporting better ways of doing things.
  • Collaboration & engagement – proactively meeting our clients’ needs and taking their views into account.
  • Courage & tenacity – having the courage to be nimble and take calculated risks as a part of improvement and growth.

Our functions, objectives and deliverables

The Department for Innovation and Skills contributes to the delivery of innovation, skills and migration to the State. The Department has provided support for industries, businesses and individuals to manage the dual impacts of the bushfires and COVID-19.

The Department’s key objectives are to:

  1. Enhance entrepreneurial capability and develop high-quality, contemporary infrastructure that sustains South Australia’s economy.
  2. Support South Australia through a focus on continuity of skills and vocational training and building capability to meet the changing needs in our economy.

The Department is achieving these objectives by:

  • Facilitating access to world-class infrastructure to develop digital technology platforms for modern business.
  • Advancing South Australia’s research capabilities, where science and technology are commercialised.
  • Providing the creative industries with support to develop, create and connect.
  • Supporting South Australian businesses, industries and skills sector in a bushfire and COVID-19 impacted environment.
  • Supporting and promoting apprenticeships and traineeships in South Australia.
  • Contributing to national policy responses and connecting across-government and with industry
  • Providing support for retention, transition and mobilisation of workers across industry sectors.
  • Lead state business and skilled migration in areas of industry need

Changes to the agency

During 2019-20 there were changes to the agency’s structure and objectives in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic. A COVID-19 Coordinator was appointed to manage the Department’s response to the impact of COVID-19 on our stakeholders and clients.

In April 2020, Mark Duffy, Chief Executive, accepted a new role within the Department of the Premier and Cabinet to lead its public sector performance and reform unit.

Adam Reid, Executive Director, Innovation and Science, was selected to be the Acting Chief Executive and has since been confirmed in the role through a formal public recruitment process.

Andy Dunbar was appointed Acting Executive Director, Innovation and Science.

Download the Department for Innovation and Skills Organisational Chart.

The Hon David Pisoni MP is the Minister for Innovation and Skills. He oversees workforce training and skills, apprenticeships and traineeships, innovation and entrepreneurship, science and information economy, creative industries and skilled migration.

Madeline Richardson

Executive Director
Skills & Workforce Capability

Madeline is the Executive Director, Skills and Workforce Capability (SWC) and is leading one of the government’s key strategic projects in Skilling South Australia. Skilled People for the Future is the primary focus for SWC and will be achieved by:

  • being demand driven with industry needs shaping investment
  • changing perceptions to establish VET as a preferred pathway
  • training system quality and market depth
  • skilled careers through apprenticeships and traineeships, and
  • co-design and scale up bespoke training models that meet current and future industry skills and capability needs.

Andy Dunbar

A/Executive Director
Innovation & Science

Andy is the Acting Executive Director, Innovation and Science, responsible for developing and supporting the state’s innovation system in partnership with other parts of government, research organisations, industry and business. This includes responsibility for the Office of the South Australian Chief Entrepreneur and the Office of the South Australian Chief Scientist. The Group is focused on supporting sustainable economic growth by:

  • increasing South Australia’s global standing in science and research
  • encouraging commercialisation of research through industry, research and government collaboration
  • supporting entrepreneurs, start-ups and small business and attracting early stage and venture capital, and
  • developing and supporting our creative industries.

Nari Chandler

Executive Director
Strategy, Policy & Migration

Nari is the Executive Director of the Strategy, Policy and Migration Group, playing a critical role in strengthening the South Australian economy by:

  • coordinating, driving and delivering policy reforms that support economic growth and deliver a skilled workforce for the future
  • leading state migration attraction in areas of industry need, to address skills gaps and encourage business investment
  • ensuring the strategic communication of our agency’s services increase their uptake and inform people’s understanding of how these services will benefit them and the economy
  • harnessing the power of economic data to provide insights that inform evidence-based policy development
  • making connections between our agency’s services to improve outcomes for clients, and
  • leading agency wide strategic planning and connecting this with our activities to drive targeted outcomes that achieve our objectives.

Phuong Chau

Executive Director
Performance & Business Operations

Phuong is the Executive Director, Performance and Business Operations and leads delivery of corporate services and solutions to position the Department to achieve its strategic objectives. The Group partners with clients and stakeholders to deliver on the following:

  • People and Workplace: our People Plan recognises the best work is produced in an environment that welcomes new ideas and a diverse mix of people, investing in our people and providing opportunities, and creating a vibrant, connected one team culture
  • Client Focus: designing and implementing client-centric solutions
  • Business Systems: collaborating with other microeconomic agencies and driving business excellence in the frameworks, systems and policies that support efficient and effective operations
  • Resource Management: leading an adaptive and sustainable approach to the management of our resources and assets including financial, physical and human resources.

Construction Industry Training Fund Act 1993

Economic Development Act 1993

South Australian Film Corporation Act 1972

Training and Skills Development Act 2008

Vocational Education and Training (Commonwealth Powers) Act 2012

South Australian Skills Commission

Adelaide Film Festival

Jam Factory

South Australian Film Corporation

The agency's performance

Key objective

Agency's contribution
More jobsThousands more young people in jobs and training

Investing in the entrepreneurial ecosystem

Start-up Hub at Lot Fourteen, including the establishment of the Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre

Research Commercialisation and Startup Fund

VET Market Continuity Package


Agency ObjectivesIndicatorsPerformance
Enhance entrepreneurial capability and develop high-quality, contemporary infrastructure that sustains South Australia’s economyFacilitate access to world-class infrastructure to develop digital technology platforms for modern business

The 2019 SouthStart Conference attracted hundreds of entrepreneurs, technologists, startups, scaleups and ecosystem leaders, which highlighted career opportunities in South Australia across high-growth and high-tech industries.

Positioning South Australia as the nation’s startup capital, through the Startup Hub in Lot Fourteen with Stone & Chalk, a global innovation leader, as the key anchor tenant and hub operator. The Lot Fourteen Startup Hub community comprises 43 startups and 151 residents, which provides support for them to scale up and succeed.

Launched Future Industries Exchange for Entrepreneurship (FIXE) Hub operations at Lot Fourteen.

The GigCity program connects businesses in Adelaide, Whyalla and Mount Gambier to ultra-fast and affordable gigabit internet. 383 businesses now have access to GigCity services across 23 connected and activated innovation precincts, including Lot Fourteen.

Advance South Australia’s research capabilities, where science and technology are commercialisedInvesting $8.96 million over four years to establish the Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre (A3C) at Lot Fourteen, to increase the supply of skilled cyber workers, help enterprises to launch new cyber products and services to global markets, build cyber awareness and resilience in the Australian business community, and solve real world cyber challenges through collaboration.


The Research, Commercialisation and Startup Fund (RCSF) continued to support research initiatives, early-stage business startup and entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem initiatives.

34 early-stage businesses received funding to further their business.
Provide the creative industries with support to develop, create and connect

Completed an extensive industry engagement process for the development of an industry-led Creative Industries Sector Strategy for Growth State.

Successfully delivered programs and initiatives of the:

  • South Australian Film Corporation (including delivery of the Games Innovation Fund pilot program).
  • Adelaide Film Festival.
  • JamFactory.

Music Development Office, including the St Pauls Creative Centre.

Support South Australian businesses, industries and skills sector in a bushfire and COVID-19 impacted environment

Delivered the SA Small Business Bushfire Recovery and Loss of Income Grants, jointly funded with the Commonwealth Government, supporting the immediate needs to bushfire-affected businesses with clean-up, reinstatement and reestablishment of business assets.

  • 477 businesses received funding support to help recover from the bushfires.

SA Business Information Hub established for a small business information, support and connection service as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and look to rebuild from recent bushfires, including:

  • Small Business case management, hotline and enquiries service established.
  • Tailored mentoring service, backed by South Australia’s Chief Entrepreneur, created to support the state’s startups and scale ups.

In response to COVID-19 recovery, the Department has further:

  • Established the critical skills for recovery sub-committee to fast-track development of skill sets required.
  • Actively engaged to develop skill sets required to meet workforce development needs of industry, including through signing up for the National Infection Control Training Fund.
Undertaken detailed economic analysis and corresponding policy development to assist the Department’s stakeholders and contribute to the whole of government response.
Support South Australia through a focus on continuity of skills and vocational training and building capability to meet the changing needs in our economySupport and promote apprenticeships and traineeships in South Australia

Skills investment, continued engagement, and strong partnerships with business, industry, training providers has supported:

  • Co-designing over 130 innovative Skilling South Australia Projects to drive apprenticeships and traineeships that help to meet skills needs.
  • Removing barriers by providing support for employers to take on apprentices and trainees.
  • Changing perceptions around skilled career opportunities.
Access to around 700 subsidised courses now available on-demand to deliver employers and students greater choice.
Contribute to national policy responses and connecting across-government and with industry

South Australia is working with the Commonwealth to develop the National VET Reform Roadmap to improve VET relevance, quality and accessibility. As part of this work:

  • A project on streamlining training packages has been fast-tracked to deliver more relevant skills for industry and individuals through immediate actions to improve the current system.
  • South Australia is fast-tracking the use of micro-credentials in order to better respond to student and job-needs in South Australia while preserving the importance of nationally recognised full qualifications.
The Training and Skills Development Act has been reviewed to improve the regulation of apprenticeships, traineeships, employers and individuals to meet the needs of modern workplaces and changing nature of work.
Provide support for retention, transition and mobilisation of workers across industry sectors

Focus on enhancing the VET system has resulted in:

  • Expanding Building Capability Projects to make them more flexible to respond to the changing environment, to improve delivery in online learning environments and encourage innovative training projects in partnership with industry.
  • Focused support to build a sustainable and high-quality VET provider market through regular forums, RTO business workshops, masterclasses and innovative training delivery projects.
Rolled out a $16 million VET Market Continuity Package aimed at supporting non-government training providers meet the skills needs of the state and to adapt in the changed environment.
Lead state business and skilled migration in areas of industry need

The Supporting Innovation in South Australia (SISA) pilot visa program continued to attract entrepreneurs from across the world and South Australia exceeded its target with 40 SISA endorsements.

South Australia exceeded its state nomination targets set for skilled migrants and business migrants, with 4,307 skilled migration nominations and 780 business migration nominations.

The new South Australian Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA) were implemented to support local business experiencing skills and labour shortages. An annual review was also undertaken to identify changes to the DAMAs to enable greater uptake by local employers.

To support the State Government’s response to COVID-19, changes were implemented to the General Skilled Migration Program criteria in March 2020 to prioritise the processing and nomination of medical and health professionals.

Financial performance

The following is a brief summary of the overall financial position of the agency. The information is unaudited. Full audited financial statements for 2019-20 are attached to this report.

As announced in the 2019-20 State Budget, the ownership of key TAFE SA properties was transferred from Renewal SA to TAFE SA. The effective date of this transfer was originally set at 1 July 2019 and subsequently updated to 1 November 2019.

The transfer of these key properties provides TAFE SA with greater control over the strategic direction of its educational infrastructure and enabled the cessation of leasing arrangements between the Department for Innovation and Skills and Renewal SA, the termination of sub-lease arrangements with TAFE SA and the transfer of responsibility for VET property management and investment activities to TAFE SA.

In 2019-20 the department received total income of $470 million, a decrease of $51 million from the previous year primarily relating to:

  • Decrease of $19 million associated with National Partnership revenue (Skilling Australians Fund) in line with the agreed funding profile between years, and
  • Decrease of $40 million in TAFE SA infrastructure recharges due to the cessation of sub-lease arrangements following the sale of VET Infrastructure to TAFE SA.

Partially offset by;

  • Additional Appropriation of $7 million.

The department’s total expenditure was $472 million in 2019-20, a decrease of $57 million compared to 2018-19 primarily relating to:

  • Decrease of $41 million in supplies and services expenditure relating primarily to the cessation of lease arrangements with Renewal SA,
  • Decrease of $21 million in grant expenditure relating primarily to reduced payments to TAFE SA and Creative Industries, and
  • Decrease of $13 million in employee benefits expenditure relating primarily to reduced TVSPs, 2018-19 Machinery of Government changes and organisational realignment.

Partially offset by;

  • Payments made to the consolidated account of $20 million relating to proceeds from the sale of property to TAFE SA.

The department has net assets of $40 million, an increase of $5 million since 30 June 2019 predominantly due to:

  • Decrease of $15 million in payables relating primarily to once-off high payables as at 30 June 2019 for VET infrastructure, as well as a reduction in VET subsidy accruals, and
  • Increase of $6 million in cash due to net cash generated from financing activities (capital contributions from government).

Partially offset by;

  • Decrease of $18 million in property, plant and equipment primarily relating to the sale of VET Infrastructure to TAFE SA.

Explanations between 2019-20 original budget and actuals are provided at note 1.5 of the full audited financial statements attached to this report for variances where the variance exceeds the greater of 10% of the original budgeted amount and 5% of original budgeted total expenses.

The following is a summary of external consultants that have been engaged by the agency, the nature of work undertaken, and the actual payments made for the work undertaken during the financial year.

insert table

The following is a summary of external contractors that have been engaged by the agency, the nature of work undertaken, and the actual payments made for work undertaken during the financial year.

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Risk management

The Department’s Risk & Performance Committee (joint with the Department for Energy and Mining, the Department for Trade and Investment and TechInSA) has oversight of strategic risks. Strategic risks are those where the effect of an event or change in circumstances impacts the Department’s ability to achieve its strategic direction. Internal audit reviews focus on these strategic risks.

Category/nature of fraudNumber of instances
NilNil

NB: Fraud reported includes actual and reasonably suspected incidents of fraud.

The Department employs a range of risk-based strategies to control and prevent fraud. These strategies form the Department’s Fraud Control Plan and include, but are not limited to, a related Policy and Procedure, segregation of duties, pre-employment screening, declarations of interest, and a financial management compliance program. The Plan and related activities are overseen by the Risk & Performance Committee.

Data for previous years is available at: data.sa.gov.au/data/dataset/dis-annual-report-statistics

Number of occasions on which public interest information has been disclosed to a responsible officer of the agency under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2018:

DIS has appointed three responsible officers for the purposes of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2018. There was one instance of disclosure of public interest information for DIS during 2019‐20, which was addressed in accordance with legislative requirements.

Data for previous years is available at: data.sa.gov.au/data/dataset/dis-annual-report-statistics

Note: Disclosure of public interest information was previously reported under the Whistleblowers Protection Act 1993 and repealed by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2018 on 1/7/2019.

Reporting required under other acts or regulations

The Carers’ Recognition Act 2005 is deemed applicable for the following: Department of Human Services, Department for Education, Department for Health, Department for Innovation and Skills, Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, South Australia Police and TAFE SA.

Section 7: Compliance or non-compliance with section 6 of the Carers Recognition Act 2005 and (b) if a person or body provides relevant services under a contract with the organisation (other than a contract of employment), that person's or body's compliance or noncompliance with section 6.

DIS provides online training to staff regarding disability and inclusion which includes the Carer’s Recognition Act 2005, as well as flexible working and special leave options to assist employees in meeting caring responsibilities.

Public complaints

Complaint categories Sub-categoriesExampleNumber of Complaints 2019-20
Professional behaviourStaff attitudeFailure to demonstrate values such as empathy, respect, fairness, courtesy, extra mile; cultural competency0
Professional behaviourStaff competencyFailure to action service request; poorly informed decisions; incorrect or incomplete service provided0
Professional behaviourStaff knowledgeLack of service specific knowledge; incomplete or out-of-date knowledge0
CommunicationCommunication qualityInadequate, delayed or absent communication with customer0
CommunicationConfidentialityCustomer’s confidentiality or privacy not respected; information shared incorrectly0
Service deliverySystems/technologySystem offline; inaccessible to customer; incorrect result/information provided; poor system design2
Service deliveryAccess to servicesService difficult to find; location poor; facilities/ environment poor standard; not accessible to customers with disabilities0
Service deliveryProcessProcessing error; incorrect process used; delay in processing application; process not customer responsive3
PolicyPolicy applicationIncorrect policy interpretation; incorrect policy applied; conflicting policy advice given2
PolicyPolicy contentPolicy content difficult to understand; policy unreasonable or disadvantages customer2
Service qualityInformationIncorrect, incomplete, outdated or inadequate information; not fit for purpose0
Service qualityAccess to informationInformation difficult to understand, hard to find or difficult to use; not plain English0
Service qualityTimelinessLack of staff punctuality; excessive waiting times (outside of service standard); timelines not met0
Service qualitySafetyMaintenance; personal or family safety; duty of care not shown; poor security service/ premises; poor cleanliness0
Service qualityService responsivenessService design doesn’t meet customer needs; poor service fit with customer expectations0
No case to answer

No case to answer

Third party; customer misunderstanding; redirected to another agency; insufficient information to investigate1
Total10
Additional MetricsTotal
Number of positive feedback comments12
Number of negative feedback comments10
Total number of feedback comments27
12 compliments, 5 suggestions and 10 complaints
% complaints resolved within policy timeframes100%

Data for previous years is available at: data.sa.gov.au/data/dataset/dis-annual-report-statistics

Website design improvement

  • It was identified that the end user experience for an RTO Assessor using the Client Eligibility form was not efficient due to the size of the printable form on our website. This was rectified by modifying the size of the form on our website and RTOs now have an improved records management process and decreased paper usage.
  • The ATO links on the Immigration SA website were updated in conjunction with the ATO information and advice.

Improved communication between apprentices and providers

  • For future transfers of training contracts to new providers, DIS will be part of the communication process with the apprentice/employer.

Amendment to an invoicing procedure with training providers

  • Changes to invoicing processes between DIS and providers were implemented to prevent customers, both past and present, being inconvenienced financially when a provider is at fault in not invoicing DIS for approved training in DIS funded programs.

Archived Annual Reports can be requested by contacting

Freedom of Information Unit
Department for Innovation and Skills
Phone (08) 8226 3821
Email dis.foi@sa.gov.au