COMMUNICATION & SERVICES

  During 2004-05 enhanced public access to chemical safety information,
and maintaining a customer and service delivery focus to meet Australian
Government policy, ensured NICNAS had well informed and actively
engaged stakeholders.

Our communication strategies focus on targeted alliances 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 2004-05 NICNAS responded to 2909 (compared to 1510 in 2003-04)
public enquiries, which took 1356 (487 in 2003-04) hours to handle. This
was made up of 2029 telephone enquiries and 880 written enquiries.

In addition, for the first year of NICNAS Tier 1 Registration, there were:
•  7479 telephone enquiries (to the call centre and NICNAS,
    general and technical), and
•  130 written and 1200 email enquiries
all handled within Service Charter timeframes.

The number of telephone enquiries rose significantly from previous years
(1209 in 2003-04, 1446 in 2002-03, 1725 in 2001-02, 1752 in 2000-01,
1598 in 1999-2000) as did written enquiries (301 in 2003-04, 358 in 2002-03,
398 in 2001-02, 205 in 2000-01, 187 in 1999-2000). For full details on public
enquiries to NICNAS see Appendix 14.

NICNAS received 140 media enquiries during 2004-05 (154 in 2003-04,
150 in 2002-03). Key issues included polybrominated flame retardants
(PBFRs), PFOA/Teflon, cosmetics, nanotechnology, household chemicals,
sodium cyanide and NICNAS Tier 1 Registration.

NICNAS received 171 email enquiries to our general email contact
info@nicnas.gov.au.

NICNAS staff were active in awareness raising and information exchange
activities such as presentations (11), conferences (11), meetings for
progressing international harmonisation activities (10), industry consultations
(23) and site visits (11). These are detailed at Appendix 15.

NICNAS publications for 2004-05 are detailed at Appendix 16 and include
13 editions of the Chemical Gazette, the NICNAS Service Charter 2004-05,
four Existing Chemicals Information Sheets and two NICNAS Alerts.
A monthly summary of key issues at NICNAS - NICNAS NEWS - was sent
with the monthly Chemical Gazette alerts. In addition, NICNAS published
a total of 200 new chemical assessments on the web.

NICNAS released three issues (December 2004, March 2005, June 2005)
of its newsletter, NICNAS matters.

NICNAS matters 11 (December 2004) featured articles on the Rotterdam
Convention, NICNAS Registration, methylene chloride, phthalates, AICS
and the third Science Forum.

NICNAS matters 12 (March 2005) featured articles on NICNAS Registration,
Guidelines for 'No Unreasonable Risk' - New Exemption Categories,
the Community Engagement Forum, and PBFRs.

NICNAS matters 13 (June 2005) featured articles on the New Reporting
Requirements: Annual Reporting Requirements for Chemical Introducers,
E-Notification of New Chemicals, the Australian High Volume Industrial
Chemicals List, Changes to NICNAS fees and charges, formaldehyde,
PBFRs, sodium cyanide and cosmetics.

NICNAS advertisement activity is detailed at Appendix 05. In 2004-05
it focused on promoting new NICNAS Registration requirements.

Website statistics for 2004-05 are detailed at Appendix 17. There were
594,614 user sessions on the NICNAS website in 2004-05 compared
to 445,619 in 2003-04, a 34 per cent increase.

Total hits for the year were over 10 million - equivalent to the total of the
two previous years (six million in 2003-04 and four million in 2002-03).

The most requested web Operational_Performance are shown in Table 23 below.

  Table 23 Most requested website Operational_Performance

RANK PAGE HITS  
  1 Home 199,855  
  2 AICS Search 93,017  
  3 Chemicals in Australia

27,145

 
  4 Publications 11,939  
  5 News-Paraben Breast Cancer 10,747  
  6 AICS 10,458  
  7 News 9,950  
  8 Publications-Handbook 9,800  
  9 Obligations 9,495  
  10 Forms 8,589  

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Timeliness

  All NICNAS's timeframe targets for responsiveness to enquiries by
telephone (94 per cent completed within 24 hours, against a target of 85 per
cent, and the remainder within 28 days) and in writing (78 per cent finalised
within 24 hours and 16 per cent in seven days, that is, 94 per cent within
seven days, against a target of 85 per cent) were exceeded in 2004-05
(see Appendix 14).

All media enquires were handled within agreed timelines.

Twelve of the 13 issues of the Chemical Gazette were published within
the statutory deadline, which is on the first Tuesday of each month. The
remaining gazette was published as a special gazette detailing the legislative
changes for LRCC as a reference document for industry.

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Effectiveness
  NICNAS continued to provide clear and accessible information on its
website - www.nicnas.gov.au - during 2004-05 to assist importers and
manufacturers of industrial chemicals in Australia in fulfilling their
obligations, as well as the community to engage with NICNAS.

The newsletter, NICNAS matters, is a central element to enhance access to
chemical safety information by industry clients, the community, government
agencies and the media. Printed copies of the December 2004, March and
June 2005 issues were distributed to 5000 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 enquiries resulting in print and television coverage,
as detailed at Appendix 16.

Customer surveys

  The NICNAS Service Charter defines NICNAS's service standards, outlining
the standards of service that the users of the Scheme and the public can
expect.

In 2004-05, two customer surveys were conducted on NICNAS's
performance against its service standards: the first survey - the annual
Service Charter Survey - targeted Tier 2 & Tier 3 registrants, while the
second survey - the Registration Performance Survey - targeted Tier 1
registrants. Details of the findings from the latter survey are provided
in the Reform section of this report.

Service Charter survey

Two hundred and three randomly selected organisations were canvassed
by mail, most of whom had been in contact with NICNAS prior to 2004-05.
Industry contact with NICNAS for the purposes of this survey is defined as
contact through notification and assessment of new chemicals, review and
treaties concerning existing chemicals and Priority Existing Chemicals (PEC),
company registration with NICNAS, AICS searches, general enquiries and/or
compliance activities for the period 1 April 2004 to March 31 2005.
Ninety-eight organisations (48 per cent) responded to the survey.

Overall, positive feedback was received indicating a good level of service
in a number of key areas:
•  88 per cent of respondents found staff to be helpful and courteous
    always, or most of the time compared to 94 per cent in 2003-04.
    The shortfall is mainly attributable to respondents selecting ‘not
    applicable’ or ‘no response’
•  85 per cent of respondents found their questions and enquiries
    answered within 28 days compared to 86 per cent in 2003-04
•  91 per cent of respondents found written explanations clear always,
    or most of the time, compared to 88 per cent in 2003-04
•  85 per cent found that NICNAS provided accurate and consistent
    information always or most of the time, the same as 2003-04
•  96 per cent of respondents were aware of the NICNAS website, the
    same as 2003-04. Of these, 76 per cent found the web site easy to
    navigate down from 96 per cent in 2003-04. The decrease from 96 per
    cent to 76 per cent is largely attributable to the number of no responses
    jumping from 2 per cent to 18 per cent
•  74 per cent of respondents were satisfied with NICNAS's regulatory
    efficiency strategy.

The NICNAS website has been redesigned in response to comments made
in our customer surveys, and to reflect the latest Internet requirements and
trends. The new website goes live on 1 July 2005.

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Efficiency

 

The NICNAS website received positive feedback in the Customer Survey
with 76 per cent of respondents finding the website easy to navigate.

Over 1500 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. Electronic templates continue to reduce time and costs to small
businesses in making applications for assessments.

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 2004-05 was upgraded to meet NICNAS's
changing needs.

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Price

  One copy of the Handbook for Notifiers and was sold in 2004-05 (three
in 2003-04) reflecting the continued trend by customers of using electronic
publications. All other NICNAS printed materials are available free-of-charge
to industry. A total of 200 new chemicals reports completed by NICNAS in
2004-05 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.

 
 

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