As the year draws to a close, we’re looking back on our highlights for 2017.

21 December 2017

It’s been a big year for the Communications and Arts portfolios and to celebrate, we’ve picked our top highlights for the last 12 months – which wasn’t easy!

This year the communications portfolio worked hard to deliver:

A suite of comprehensive reforms across the portfolio

  • Landmark reforms to abolish outdated media laws, improve the sustainability of Australia’s free-to-air broadcasting sector, and to protect children from exposure to gambling advertising and introduce a tax for the use of broadcasting spectrum reflecting its use and recognising it as a valuable and finite resource. We also undertook a comprehensive review of government policies to support the creation of high quality Australian and children’s screen content in the increasingly digital media environment.
     
  • We’ve also helped to implement important changes to copyright law to improve access to copyright material for the disability, education, library and archive sectors and modernised the Copyright Regulations. The Government also introduced the extension of safe harbor provisions to protect service providers and prevent copyright infringement.

Improved connectivity across Australia

  • The rollout of the NBN is expected to be complete by 2020. More Australians are now able to access the NBN than ever before with more than 8.5 million homes and businesses either already in ready for service areas or in areas where construction is underway. More than 3.3 million premises already have active services.
     
  • Rounds 1 and 2 of the $220 million Mobile Black Spot Program are well underway. More than 360 base stations have been rolled out nationwide, eliminating thousands of black spots. Applications for  the $60 million Priority Locations Round were received on 20 December 2017. This round is targeting an additional 106 locations.

An expanded scope for the Office of the eSafety Commissioner

  • In June, the Government passed the Enhancing Online Safety for Children Amendment Bill broadening the functions of the office to protect all Australians online.

A diversity, inclusion and flexible work strategy

  • We continued aligning our workforce with our three year Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, to ensure our workplace reflects, respects and benefits from diversity.

Reforms to telecommunications

  • In June, the Government announced reforms to the telecommunications market to promote competition, improve access to broadband services for all people in Australia and ensure there is equitable and transparent broadband funding in regional and remote areas.

Regions benefiting from connectivity

  • The NBN is forging ahead in regional areas with services available or rollout currently underway to over 86 per cent of homes and businesses outside major urban areas. Of the 2.9 million premises where rollout is complete, over 1.2 million have already connected.

A move to Nishi

  • In July, we said goodbye to our long term premises of 19 years in Forrest, and relocated to the Nishi building in New Acton, Canberra.

This year the Arts portfolio worked hard to deliver:

Indigenous repatriation

Ten years of celebrating great Australian literature

  • The 10th Prime Minister’s Literary Awards were held in November at Parliament House. Since the first awards ceremony in 2008, there have been 4,030 entries submitted and 63 winning authors! For more information on the Awards visit the website.

Grants and funding

  • We continued to support Australia’s artistic and cultural endeavours across the country and internationally, administering grants and funding valued at more than $160 million in the 2016-2017 financial year.

Support for training organisations

  • We supported Australia’s seven national elite performing arts training organisations with more than 1,000 places offered to emerging artists.

Promoting Australian arts internationally

  • We helped showcase a range of Australian arts and culture activities overseas over the last 12 months, including ghost net sculptures by Erub Arts Centre in the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore.

Protecting and celebrating Indigenous languages

  • We continued consultations to inform the implementation of the Government’s $10 million commitment to protect, preserve and celebrate Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. As part of this, the first National Indigenous Languages Convention will be held on 23 February 2018.

The National Opera Review response

  • The Government released its full response to 118 recommendations of the National Opera Review Final Report in September 2017.

Preserving Australia’s cultural heritage

  • We helped Australian museums and galleries to purchase a number of rare Australian objects, including: a 15.3 kilogram meteorite, the Fire of Australia opal, a painting by Aboriginal artist Tatuma Tjapangati and a five piece bedroom suite by WH Rocke & Co.