This report summarises the results of the annual audits of the 4 public universities, their subsidiaries and the 5 TAFEs for the 31 December 2019 reporting year. The report also contains the results of a small number of other annual audits of statutory authorities, local government entities and cemetery boards.
We issued clear (unqualified) opinions for all the universities and TAFEs on their financial statements, controls and key performance indicators.
I commend the universities and TAFEs for their transition to the new or revised accounting standards for recognition of revenue, income and leases for their 2019 financial reporting. For some of the entities these were arguably the most significant changes to Australian Accounting Standards since the adoption of Australian equivalents to International Financial Reporting Standards.
Our audit findings indicate that entities have generally improved financial management controls in recent years. This year there was also a slight improvement in information system and risk management controls. However, 48% of information system controls are unresolved from the prior year which means there is no reason for complacency. I recommend that executive management in each entity gives priority to monitoring information system confidentiality, integrity and availability.
As we moved into 2020, COVID-19 has had an increasing impact on university and TAFE staff, students and operations. At the time of audit finalisation, with international travel bans implemented but other restrictions not yet announced, the uncertainty unfolding for the sector was recognised as a significant event occurring after the end of the financial year, albeit of unquantifiable impact. l advise entities to be cognisant that good business governance and controls can be at risk during times of disruption, crisis and urgent response. I encourage entities to maintain good controls, particularly over cash, expenditure and assets. It is also essential to focus on the security of information systems, which may be the subject of increased cyber-attacks and phishing.
I wish to thank my staff and the staff in the audited entities who contributed to the audit process and outcomes.