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Internal Sustainable Development Commitment of Public Agencies in Three Australian States: Evidence through Sustainability Reporting Practices

  • Australian Centre for Sustainable Development Research & Innovation (ACSDRI)


This research article aims to examine the extent of holistic sustainability (economic, environmental, and social) disclosure practices of public agencies in Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia under the influence of over-arching state-based public policies. The article also investigates other factors that have influenced these disclosure practices. To accomplish these objectives, the study analyzed ten to twelve years of annual reports from twelve key public agencies. The analyses of these annual reports were based on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)’s Sector Supplementary for Public Agencies (SASP) framework. We have analyzed each state’s policy documents, disclosure instruction manuals to agencies, and selected agencies’ annual reports. The study found that holistic sustainability disclosure practices (economic, social, and environmental) were embraced by agencies in all jurisdictions and manifested through several initiatives. However, our analysis revealed that among the three selected states, South Australian agencies’ commitment toward holistic sustainability practices were the most robust, consistent, and comprehensive. The Tasmanian public agencies also reflected a similar degree of commitment. In comparison, the Western Australian agencies’ disclosure practices were weak, superficial, and inconsistent, primarily due to lack of institutional pressure. Finally, our analysis found that, in general, the level of holistic sustainability disclosure practices and other policy measures improves if political support and institutional regulatory pressure prevail, in addition to overall change in global normative values. Keywords: Australian Public Agencies, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Procurement, Sustainability Reporting Practices, Global Reporting Initiatives (GRI)
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