Australian Achievement Medallions awarded to EMS team

The efforts of AAD personnel to protect the Antarctic environment were recently recognised with the award by the Secretary of Environment Australia of a 2003 Australia Day Achievement Medallion. The team responsible for the development of an environmental management system (EMS) were presented with this prestigious award by the Director, Dr Tony Press, at a staff meeting in April.

The EMS was designed to address the need for a systematic approach to the management of the AAD's diverse environmental responsibilities. The EMS team, a combination of coordinators, key section managers and other staff, was responsible for identifying significant environmental aspects, identifying regulatory compliance requirements, developing environmental objectives and targets, and identifying environmental training needs. The team's immense achievement in gaining certification to the Australian/New Zealand Standard 14001 – with no non-conformances – made Australia the first Antarctic Treaty party to implement such a system.

Although the EMS remains relatively simple, given the complex operations the AAD undertakes, it is based on mature environmental management processes. Continual improvement in environmental performance is at the heart of AAD operations, and implementation of the EMS has provided a fresh perspective on how effectively the AAD functions and how innovative technologies, policies and practices can continue to be adopted. More efficient ways of managing the environment are already emerging, such as an improved environmental incident reporting system, a review of the methodology used for ensuring regulatory compliance, and development of an AAD environmental audit program.

As part of the review, the AAD's Environmental Policy – the foundation of the EMS – was recently re-assessed by staff and interested external parties to ensure that it continues to reflect the AAD's visions and responsibilities. The updated policy is now posted throughout the AAD's Tasmanian sites, and will be placed on our ships and in the stations on the first voyage south next season.

To ensure the EMS stays on track a series of external surveillance audits are scheduled over the next three years, prior to recertification. The first audit was undertaken in March this year and NCSI, the auditing body, again noted the AAD's positive commitment to the environment and the EMS.

Further information on the AAD's EMS is available at:http://www.aad.gov.au/default.asp?casid=46

Belinda Harding
Environmental Management & Audit Unit, AAD