Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Statutory & other information

Two Ways Together

The Trust supports Two Ways Together, the NSW Government’s 10-year Aboriginal Affairs Plan (2003-2012), which focuses on overcoming Indigenous disadvantage and enhancing community appreciation of Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Employment of self-identified Aboriginal people by the Trust currently consists of three Aboriginal horticulturalist apprentices employed - one at each of Royal Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan and Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens. There is one full-time permanent Aboriginal education officer and five casual Aboriginal education assistants who deliver school and public programs interpreting the Aboriginal cultural heritage at the Trust’s estates. Over the last year, they conducted 280 lessons/ tours for 7,600 participants as well as themed school holiday activities such as ‘Woccan-ma-gule Weaving’.

Cultural renewal and connection to country for local Aboriginal people has been a strong feature of Trust education programs this year. For example, more than 50 Aboriginal students who are enrolled in Indigenous Land Management and Tourism certificate courses at Sydney TAFEs participated in culturally based lessons and tours at the Royal Botanic Gardens. In collaboration with Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME, a not-for-profit organisation), 30 Aboriginal High School students and their respective University student mentors experienced cultural heritage workshops with Aboriginal staff on Trust estates.

Aboriginal Education Officers lead cultural heritage tours for approximately 150 DECC staff as part of five Cultural Awareness Training workshops which took place on Trust estates over the year. Further training and cultural experience was provided to Aboriginal staff who run public education programs as part of the National Parks and Wildlife Service’s Aboriginal Discovery program. Other Aboriginal specific involvement included visits to the Royal Botanic Gardens by 20 Aboriginal students from Bullman Community School NT, 15 Koori students from Matraville Sports High School and Earthstar productions incorporated a cultural workshop and tour for a group of at-risk Aboriginal teenagers from Western Sydney as part of a documentary. Also, a halfday workshop was held for Aboriginal writers and teachers involved in the Indij Readers program to incorporate Aboriginal People and plants/bush food stories into new material in upcoming publications.

Large scale public events included walks and talks as part of NAIDOC week cultural celebrations; hosting the City of Sydney’s Harmony Day for participants from many cultural backgrounds and the Woggan-ma-gule Morning Ceremony. The latter is performed at Farm Cove on Survival/Australia Day (26 January). Approximately 50 Aboriginal dancers and performers (including many children from different Aboriginal language groups) and over 1,000 members of the public marked the occasion.


Human Resource Information

Staff representation levels for EEO groups

Trends in the representation of EEO groups

                                                                                  % of total staff*


30 June




Aboriginal people and Torres Strait
2 2.1
People whose first language is not English 20 6
People with a disability 12 7
People with a disability requiring a workrelated


* Excludes casual staff

Trends in the distribution of EEO groups

                                                          Distribution index* for total staff**


30 June




Aboriginal people and Torres Strait
100 n/a
People whose first language is not English 100 n/a
People with a disability 100 100
People with a disability requiring a workrelated


* A distribution index of 100 indicates that the centre of the distribution of the EEO group across salary levels is equivalent to that of other staff. Values less than 100 mean that the EEO group tends to be more concentrated at lower salary levels than is the case for other staff. The more pronounced this tendency is, the lower the index will be. In some cases the index may be more than 100, indicating that the EEO group is less concentrated at lower salary levels.
** Excludes casual staff 

Botanic Gardens Officers - Staffing Statistics

30 June

30 June

30 June





Senior Officers 5 4


Senior Executive Service+ 2 2 2
Other* 113 128 130
Total 256



 * Other includes building and mechanical trades staff, clerical staff, casual teachers, education officers, herbarium assistants, librarian, sales and information staff, scientific officers and technical officers
** Additional staff have been employed in revenue generating areas and to deliver services and maintenance in priority areas.

Location of Officers

The numbers reported are equivalent full-time (EFT) employees.


30 June

30 June

30 June

30 June

Sydney Gardens





Mount Tomah Botanic Garden 39 33


Mount Annan Botanic Garden 53 53 54 55
Total 245


266 281


The Botanic Gardens Trust is part of the Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW. Ethnic Affairs Priorities (EAPS) and trends in the representation of EEO groups are reported in the annual report of the Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC). Separate EEO data for the Trust will be provided next year. Number of chief and senior executive officers, staff numbers, and work locations are reported below.

Occupational Health and Safety

The Trust has strengthened its commitment to providing a safe workplace for all staff and visitors. The number of Lost Time Injuries steadily decreased from last year, and the total days lost to injury remains low. Occupational Health and Safety and injury management statistics for the Trust are reported in the annual report of the Department.

The total number of medically treated injuries fluctuated throughout the year, with four months recording no injuries at all, and four months recording a relatively high number of incidents. Next year the Trust’s focus will move to improved reporting and response to near misses, as well as a renewed emphasis on major risks.

Trust figures are well on their way to meeting the NSW Public Sector OHS and Injury Management milestones, of the following targets that were set for 2008-09:

  • Lost time injury frequency rate less than 25
  • Number of days lost to injury less than 75
  • Number of claims less than 5.7
  • Average cost of claims remaining well below the DECC goal of $19,236.

The GardenSafe strategy outlines the Trust’s safety system, and this year risk minimisation continued to focus on:

  • Safe Work Methods Statement: forms which are completed when a risk is identified. 25 prepared and 194 reviewed
  • Toolbox Talks: one-on-one safety discussions based on the risks identified in Safe Work Methods Statements conducted before staff undertake any major task. 3501 completed throughout the year
  • Safety Check Book: over 10,000 individual safety checks carried out on the Sydney site
  • OHS Self Assessment tool: a self-audit mechanism for members of the Executive. Completed for all Executive and again, this year, all above 95 per cent
  • Continued support for preventative measures such as warm-up routines and general fitness training
  • Monthly Safety Advisory Group meetings of senior management and OHS site committee chairs reviewing all aspects of GardenSafe and the Trust’s Safety Improvement Plan. Focus areas this year have included:
    • body stress injuries with many attending Manual Task Training
    • consistent updating of Safe Work Methods Statements and re-education in these
    • safety training in snake handling, advanced resuscitation and chemical training, as appropriate to each site.

In the year ahead, supervisors and managers across the department will participate in OHS Risk Management Training; ‘Worksafe Online’, piloted at Mount Annan Botanic Garden, will be rolled out at all sites. Monthly contributions by OHS site committee to the Trust staff newsletter BGT News helps further promote safety awareness throughout the organisation.

Safety Culture Review

A Safety Culture Review was commissioned to improve our safety performance. While internal audits have found that the systems and procedures are adequate, our lost-time injury rate continues to remain a concern. The number of days lost and the severity of injuries remains low, but it has been difficult to reduce the number of losttime injuries to our target of zero.

Lloyd-Jones Meakin Group visited all estates and used focus groups, site walks and individual interviews to assess the approach staff take to hazards in the workplace, and how they manage risks.

The study found that the Trust was well advanced in achieving a safe working culture. It is strong on systems and skills and improving safety behaviour. There is a general attitude of personal responsibility for safety and staff responded positively to the review and to safety generally. All spoke of big changes in OHS over the last 10 years and it was clear that safety is taken seriously.

Major areas identified for improvement were in the areas of high risk and ‘actively caring’ for colleagues and visitors. The workplace includes a number of high risks, such as working at heights, dangerous plant and machinery, laboratories and motor vehicle use, which are generally well managed, but the focus on reacting to relatively low level lost-time injuries runs the risk of taking attention away from the big impact activities. Actions from the review in this area include reviewing all major risks and preparing a series of ‘life saving rules’ that local areas agree to never allow to be broken. The recent focus on reporting and analysing ‘near misses’ will also be encouraged further, so that major near misses are addressed immediately.

While there is a strong culture of personal care, the consultants felt that this should be extended further to active intervention and interaction to make sure that staff watch out for each other. Actions will include positive safety interactions - meeting and discussing safety aspects of the job - led by senior staff, and more regular reviewing of what is working well and what isn’t at Executive and Board level.

Trustees’ Disclosure

The Chairperson of the Trust, Mr Greg Martin, was Chief Executive Officer of Challenger Infrastructure, part of the Challenger Group which also includes Challenger Diversified Property Group (CDPG), who became lessees of the Domain Car Park in May 2008. Due to this connection, Mr Martin did not participate in any discussion or decision-making within the Trust or the Challenger Group in relation to the leasing process once CDPG submitted their Expression of Interest. This method of addressing Mr Martin’s conflict of interest was agreed to by an independent probity advisor who oversaw the tender and lease negotiation process. Written confirmation has been received from Challenger Group that Mr Martin did not participate in any aspect of the process within their organisation. Mr Martin ceased to have a conflict of interest in relation to this issue in October 2008.

Account Payment Performance

Age analysis at the end of each quarter


Current ($)

Less than 30 days overdue ($)

Between 30 and 60 days overdue ($)

Between 60 and 90 days overdue ($)

More than 90 days overdue ($)







December 412,000 401,000


- -
March 346,000 346,000 - 2,000 -
June 210,000 206,000 4,000 49,000 -

Accounts paid on time within each quarter


Target %

Actual %

$ Paid on Time

$ Total Amount Paid






December 85 95


March 85 94 5,830,000 5,972,000
June 85 95 7,410,000 8,036,000


Consultancies equal to or more than $30,000

There were two consultancies totalling (unaudited) $86,920:

  • Root Projects Pty Ltd, PlantBank project, $47,000
  • International Conservation Services, Section 170 Heritage Register, $39,920.

Consultancies less than $30,000

There were 12 consultancies less than $30,000, totalling (unaudited) $129,866.

Provision of Information Services

Inquiries for Plant Identification

The Plant Disease Diagnostic Unit (PDDU) received close to 300 requests, eight per cent more than last year. Over half of these were for detection of soilborne pathogens, particularly those species causing Phytophthora root rot. The Trust’s online plant information service, PlantNET, recorded almost 600,000 visits. The Botanical Information Service received approximately 3000 inquiries; eightyone per cent of which were answered within seven days.

Inquiry Statistics




 2006-07  2005-06

Inquiries in person






Inquiries by mail  no.  965


1114 1270
Inquiries by telephone  no. 697 678 870 776
Inquiries by internet  no. 1033 1309 990 761
Requests for e-data  no.


26 11 16
Specimens identified  no. 


4370 4878 4765

Revenue (ex.  GST)





$22,086 (exc. GST) 

$30,674 (exc. GST) 


Gardens Shops and Visitor Centres

The Trust operates four combined visitor centre/shops at Mount Annan and Mount Tomah Gardens, the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Sydney Tropical Centre. These centres provide information about Trust services and facilities, and sell a comprehensive range of botanical and horticultural books, souvenirs and gifts.

Corporate Credit Card Use

Use of corporate credit cards was in accordance with Treasury directions.

Consumer Response

There are 3.6 million visits to the Trust’s three botanic gardens each year and a similar number in the Domain. Excluding New Year’s Eve in the Domain (see below), only 52 visitors raised issues of concern in writing or by phone.

The most frequently raised concern, but with only seven complaints, was the impact of public events in the Domain, specifically the noise or the related closures of public space. Each complaint was passed to the Event Manager to respond to the complainant and, where appropriate, to also communicate with the organisers regarding noise levels at future events.

Right of access and appropriate use of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain was a recurring theme. Joggers, cyclists and Falun Gong loudspeakers were all sources of irritation or anger for their impact on others, as were the large tourist buses double-parking at Mrs Macquaries Point. Homeless people and rubbish on the Sir John Young Crescent side of the Domain Car Park also generated correspondence. In most cases rangers dealt with issues raised. Cyclists proved particularly problematic, with repeated instances of cyclists being unaware that cycling is not permitted in the Gardens.

Concern about the preservation of heritage structures and art generated five letters and required explanations about why it was not appropriate or possible for the Trust to undertake the proposed cleaning or repair.

Bubblers not working and uneven or slippery surfaces, which generated five communications, were repaired. The path on Art Gallery Road, which was one of the sites of a fall, is scheduled for complete resurfacing.

The increase of fees at Mount Annan Botanic Garden generated a single letter to the Trust. There were also a number of letters for and against the fees published in the Sydney Morning Herald and local Macarthur papers which are not included in this feedback tally. A response from the Executive Director was published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Disappointment at events or the Gardens themselves were expressed only four times - two for the ‘Sex and Death’ exhibition at the Tropical Centre, one for the ‘Midnight at the Oasis’ New Year’s Eve event, and one for Mount Annan Botanic Garden.

Cleanliness, service and food quality at the kiosk in the Gardens was the subject of three complaints which were passed on to the lessee.

Two people who requested earlier opening hours for the Royal Botanic Gardens received explanations as to why this was not possible - to protect the Gardens and ensure people’s safety.

Two complaints about parking fines (both of which were refunded) are included in the feedback tally, but this is not representative of communications related to parking fines which are usually handled by the Trust’s Business Services.

New Year’s Eve

The Trust received over 170 calls on New Year’s Eve, including 20 calls from the queue of people trying to access Mrs Macquaries Point. Complaints were about the long wait (up to 4-6 hours) in the heat, lack of information, lack of monitoring of the queue, and insufficient and dirty toilets. These complaints were further to grievances passed to staff at the onsite information stall at the start of the queue. All complaints were discussed in the post-event review to improve visitor services for 2009-10.

Ten enquiries concerned disabled car parking, which was not available on New Year’s Eve as all spaces had been booked in advance. Twenty calls concerned ticketed events which were sold out but which did not have this information on the website. Most other enquiries were about access to views for the fireworks, which were directed to the City of Sydney and Botanic Gardens Trust websites.

Freedom of Information

The Trust is committed to the principle of transparency of decision making and public access to its documents. Key documents are available through the Trust’s website, or through the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water. There were no requests under the Freedom of Information Act 1989 in full or part this year.

Access Directory

Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain, Mrs Macquaries Rd, Sydney 2000
Ph (02) 9231 8111 Fax (02) 9251 4403

  • Gardens offices 8.30 am-5 pm Monday-Friday
  • Botanic Gardens Shop 9.30 am-4.30 pm 9231 8125
  • Community education service (02) 9231 8134
  • Free guided walks 10.30 am every day
  • Botanical information service (02) 9231 8155
  • Plant pathology diagnostic service (02) 9231 8186
  • Botanic Gardens Restaurant & cafe (02) 9241 2419
  • Pavilion on the Park restaurant & cafe (02) 9232 1322

Mount Annan Botanic Garden, Mount Annan Dr, Mount Annan 2567
Ph (02) 4648 2477 Fax (02) 4648 2465

  • Open all year round except Christmas Day
  • shop & visitor centre
  • barbecue & picnic facilities
  • restaurant & cafe
  • education service & tours

Mount Tomah Botanic Garden, Bells Line of Rd, via Bilpin 2758
Ph (02) 4567 2154 Fax (02) 4567 2037 

  • Open all year round except Christmas Day
  • shop & visitor centre
  • restaurant & cafe
  • education service & tours