COMMUNICATION
AND SERVICES

  Information is a key focus of NICNAS in achieving its outcome of safe
chemical use.

Our communication strategies focus on targeted alliances with industry,
Government, the community and media to ensure the efficient distribution
of information to increase knowledge and awareness on:

• the work of NICNAS;
• existing and proposed regulatory requirements; and
• the safe use of chemicals.

Quantity

During 2003-04, NICNAS responded to 1,510 (compared to 1,804 in 2002-03)
inquiries, which took 487 (658 in 2002-03) hours to handle. This was made
up of 1,209 telephone inquiries and 301 written inquiries. The number
of telephone inquiries dropped from previous years (1,446 in 2002-03, 1,725
in 2001-02, 1,752 in 2000-01, 1,598 in 1999-2000), as did written inquiries
(358 in 2002-03, 398 in 2001-02, 205 in 2000-01 and 187 in 1999-2000).
Full details on inquiries to NICNAS are at Appendix 15.
  NICNAS received 154 media inquiries during 2003-04 (150 in 2002-03).
Key issues included chemicals regulation in Australia, the LRCC Bill, AICS,
cosmetics, parabens, phthalates, brominated flame retardants, sodium lauryl
sulfate, triclosan, formaldehyde, benzene, and sodium cyanide.
NICNAS released three issues (September 2003, December 2003 and April
2004) of its newsletter, NICNAS matters. NICNAS matters 8 (September
2003) featured articles on reform activities at NICNAS and NICNAS
compliance. NICNAS matters 9 (December 2003) featured articles on AICS
moving online, NICNAS’s CEF and NICNAS Customer Survey. NICNAS
matters
10 (April 2004) featured articles on the Rotterdam Convention, AICS
and the LRCC reform initiative.

NICNAS advertisement activity is detailed at Appendix 05 and, to promote
regulatory efficiency initiatives, include an advertisement on 20 August 2003
on the LRCC Task Force documents.

NICNAS publications for 2003-04 are detailed at Appendix 17 and include 12
editions of the Chemical Gazette, the NICNAS Service Charter 2004-05 and
two Safety Info Sheets. A monthly summary of key issues at NICNAS -
NICNAS NEWS – was developed and sent with Chemical Gazette alerts.
In addition, NICNAS published a total of 189 new chemical assessment
reports and two existing chemical reports on the web.

The AICS CD-ROM was superseded by AICS moving online in January 2004.

Website statistics for 2003-04 are detailed at Appendix 16. Web usage
increased on the NICNAS website from an average 11,395 hits each day
during 2002-03 to an average of 17,239 hits each day in 2003-04, an increase
of over 50 per cent. Total hits for the year were over six million (four million
in 2002-03), with 445,619 (262,764 in 2002-03) user sessions – an average
of 1,217 (720 in 2002-03) each day, which is an increase of 69.5 per cent
against a target of 5 per cent. AICS moving online contributed to this growth,
as did increased awareness of the website (91 per cent of customers
in the 2004 survey compared to 83 per cent in the 2003 survey).

The most requested web pages are shown in Table 20 below.

 

NICNAS staff were active in awareness raising and information exchange
activities such as presentations (24), conferences (19), meetings for
progressing international harmonisation activities (14), international
assessment meetings (5) and site visits (12). These are detailed at Appendix
14.

Timeliness

All NICNAS’s timeframe targets for responsiveness to inquiries by telephone
(97 per cent completed within 24 hours, against a target of 85 per cent, and
the remainder within 28 days); and in writing (62 per cent finalised within 24
hours and 29 per cent in seven days, that is, 91 per cent within seven days;
against a target of 85 per cent) were exceeded in 2003-04 (see Appendix 15).
 

All media inquires were handled within agreed timelines.

All 12 issues of the Chemical Gazette were published within the statutory
deadline, which is on the first Tuesday of each month, and subscribers
receive an email alert, including NICNAS NEWS, for each new issue.

Effectiveness

  During 2003-04, NICNAS continued to provide clear and accessible
information on its website (www.nicnas.gov.au) to assist importers and
manufacturers of industrial chemicals in Australia in fulfilling their obligations.
The newsletter, NICNAS matters, is an integral element of the NICNAS
Communication Plan to relay important information to industry clients,
the public, government agencies and the media. Printed copies of the
September 2003, December 2003 and April 2004 issues were distributed
to 2,000 clients and stakeholders. NICNAS Matters was also available
on the website.

NICNAS’s communication staff maintained an effective media management
strategy and provided considerable assistance to media in accessing
scientific information on chemical matters. In addition, NICNAS handled
specific media inquiries resulting in substantial print, television and radio
coverage, as detailed in Appendix 17.

Customer Survey

The NICNAS Service Charter defines NICNAS’s service standards. In 2003-
04, a customer survey was conducted on NICNAS’s performance against
its service standards. A mail and telephone survey canvassed 100 randomly
selected organisations in contact with NICNAS during the year. Industry
contact with NICNAS for the purposes of the survey is defined as contact
through the existing and new chemical programs, company registration,
AICS searches and/or compliance activities. Sixty-five organisations
responded to the survey.

Overall, positive feedback was received indicating a good level of service
and improvement in a number of key areas:

• 94 per cent (86 per cent in 2002-03) found staff to be helpful and
   courteous always, or most of the time;

• 86 per cent (83 per cent in 2002-03) found their questions and inquiries
   were answered in 7-28 days always, or most of the time;

• 88 per cent (86 per cent in 2002-03) found written explanations clear
   always, or most of the time;

• 85 per cent (as in 2002-03) found that NICNAS provided accurate and
   consistent information always, or most of the time;

• 97 per cent (82 per cent in 2002-03) of organisations surveyed were aware
   of NICNAS website. Of these, 96 per cent found the website easy to
   navigate.

 

Using feedback from the 2002-03 survey, NICNAS has placed AICS online
and updated the Handbook for Notifiers to address concerns raised by
NICNAS customers.

In 2003-04, NICNAS conducted a survey of CEOs from the 25 leading
companies which have significant involvement in industrial chemicals.
Twelve companies responded to the survey. While the response rate was
lower than the general customer survey, the results indicate a higher level of
satisfaction with NICNAS’s service. The issues CEOs identified as requiring
attention by NICNAS were similar to those of the general customer survey.

 

Efficiency

  The NICNAS website received positive feedback in the Customer Survey
with 96 per cent of respondents finding the website easy to navigate
(compared to 79 per cent in 2003).

Some 1,500 chemical assessment reports on individual industrial chemicals
are featured on the website. Users can conduct searches on assessment
reports by:

• chemical name;
• trade name;
• Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number;
• hazardous status; and
• OECD industry use category

All material on the NICNAS website is freely available allowing greater
access to chemical safety information by the public, government agencies
and industry, which fulfils a key requirement of the Act. In line with
Australian Government publishing guidelines, NICNAS maintains copies
of printed information material and provides a print-on-demand service from
its website.

PEC reports are available to download from the website both during the
public comment period and on completion as a final assessment report.
All NICNAS forms are in an electronic format to allow online completion
and lodgement. NICNAS continues to have very high compliance with the
Government’s requirement for mandated time boxes on all forms. Electronic
templates have been introduced to reduce time and costs to small
businesses in making applications for assessments.

Web-based Safety Info Sheets for each PEC and the Chemical Info Sheets
have helped increase public awareness of NICNAS and the safe use
of chemicals by providing user-friendly, plain language information on the
scientific risk assessment of chemicals used in Australia.

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Database at NICNAS

The integrated information system, Database at NICNAS (D@N), continues
to ensure efficiencies within the organisation. The database was built using
web-based technology and during 2003-04 was upgraded to meet NICNAS’s
changing needs.

Price

Three copies of the Handbook for Notifiers and 37 AICS CD-ROMs were
sold in 2003-04 (13 and 79 respectively in 2002-03) reflecting both the use
by customers of electronic publications and AICS moving online in January
2004. All other NICNAS printed materials are available free-of-charge
to industry. A total of 189 new chemicals reports completed by NICNAS
in 2003-04 were made available to the public free-of-charge. Ongoing
savings to industry are achieved by a focus on electronic publications.
  The move to place the Handbook for Notifiers and AICS online has led
to savings to industry in the order of $20,000 over the past three years.

 

Consolidated Summary Outputs/Resources Table

An overview summary of key outputs against resources for each main
output category is shown below.

A summary of key outputs and resources for each output category
is also shown below.

 

 
 

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