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Aerial image of ANSTO's Lucas Heights facility

Statement of Intent

Dear Minister,

Thank you for your letter of 9 December 2022 setting out your expectations for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

The ANSTO Board is pleased to respond with this Statement of Intent, which takes into account your priorities, the Board’s priorities, and our legislated responsibilities under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Act 1987.

Given the importance of the work we do, I would like to meet with you to discuss, inter alia, ANSTO’s Statement of Intent. We will work with your Office to arrange a time suitable to you.

I would also like to thank you for your ongoing support of ANSTO and its operations. The ANSTO Board and Executive team look forward to working closely with you as we deliver world-class nuclear science and technology for the benefit of all Australians.

Yours sincerely,

The Honourable Dr Annabelle Bennett AC SC FAA



Statement of Intent

This Statement of Intent outlines the response of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to the Statement of Expectations of 9 December 2022 from the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources.

2023 marks 70 years since Australia began developing our nation’s nuclear capabilities through ANSTO's predecessor, the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. During this time, Australia's capabilities have evolved. Today we are seen as a highly sophisticated nuclear nation and that confidence in Australia's nuclear stewardship has largely come about through the work of ANSTO. ANSTO sits at the heart of our nation's nuclear capabilities and is the knowledge centre for nuclear science and technology in Australia.

ANSTO’s strategic objectives align very closely with the matters covered in the Statement of Expectations.  Where relevant, we have aligned our response in this Statement of Intent with ANSTO’s strategic objectives, which are:

  • deliver on Australia’s priorities for the benefit of people, industry and the environment;
  • improve the health of Australians by supporting access to current and future nuclear technologies;
  • continue to be Australia’s source of nuclear expertise, advice and services; and
  • lead the development of a nuclear capable workforce.

ANSTO Strategic Objective One - Deliver on Australia’s Priorities for the benefit of people, industry and the environment

Applying science to advance our national interests

Harnessing our national nuclear capabilities

ANSTO continues to advance Australia’s capabilities in nuclear science and technology, concentrating our research and development efforts around areas that deliver against national priorities against which ANSTO is uniquely positioned to deliver. Our work supports national priorities in the fields of:

  • the environment;
  • health and nuclear medicine production;
  • advanced manufacturing, including through materials research with applications for extreme operating conditions such as space, oceans, and industrial applications along with research into energy generation and storage; and
  • defence and national security.

We deliver nuclear science and technology research and development directly through our internal research and indirectly by making our research infrastructure accessible to external users from universities, research institutions, and industry from around Australia and internationally. While these two functions are perennial, the way that they are supported through our internal structures will continue to evolve.

ANSTO will also continue to leverage the investment made by the Government in ANSTO’s science infrastructure, by exploiting the application of infrastructure and expanding its capabilities, to address emerging challenges and to create new products and services with our partners and collaborators.

Translating our research into scientific and industrial impacts is a priority for ANSTO. A recent example of this took place in February 2023, when a dedicated team of ANSTO radiation specialists, using ANSTO’s own invention, CORIS360 radiation detection equipment, successfully detected and retrieved a radioactive source that went missing in outback Western Australia. ANSTO successfully collaborated with the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), the Department of Defence, and the Western Australia Department of Fire and Emergency Services as part of a multi-agency response to locate and retrieve the source.

Managing research infrastructure and national facilities

To ensure that our infrastructure supports innovation, productivity, and economic outcomes for the benefit of the country, ANSTO will continue to operate our national landmark infrastructure effectively, including:  

  • the Open Pool Australian Lightwater (OPAL) nuclear reactor: the planned upgrade in 2023-24 will preserve and enhance our ability to provide effective scientific infrastructure utilisation for science, research, and industry partners;
  • the Australian Synchrotron: $95 million has been secured for the project ‘BRIGHT’ program from more than 30 universities, research institutes, and government agencies in Australia and New Zealand. Under the project, an additional eight beamlines are being constructed, which will nearly double the Synchrotron’s research capacity; and
  • Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering and Centre for Accelerator Science: in 2023, upgrades to critical instrument and accelerator systems will be undertaken.

Advancing the Government’s policy priorities

ANSTO is committed to actively supporting the Government’s policy priorities for science and research. We will achieve this by:

  • supporting the Government’s refreshed National Science and Research Priorities and by working to the revitalised National Science Statement;
  • continuing to work alongside the Department to enable ANSTO to respond effectively to Government’s emerging policy priorities in a timely and efficient manner; and
  • ensuring that financial and other resources are directed to our core functions.

ANSTO will continue to engage regularly across Australian Government departments and agencies to ensure there is a broad understanding of where ANSTO’s capabilities can support national priorities. Our engagement approach is based on open and effective communication, finding mutually beneficial outcomes where possible.

Delivering a Future Made in Australia through the National Reconstruction Fund

ANSTO’s important work can, and will, contribute to the priorities of the Government’s National Reconstruction Fund (NRF). 

  • Silicon irradiation: With over 50 per cent of the global market share, ANSTO continues to maximise its market share in line with global demand for high quality neutron transmutation doped Silicon, required for high-power semiconductor applications, including high-voltage products for greener power grids, high-speed rail, industrial automation, and the international electric vehicle and hybrid electric vehicle automotive industry.
  • Resources sector: ANSTO has been a prominent and trusted technology developer and provider to the Australian critical minerals industry over the last three decades. We work with other key federal science agencies as part of the Critical Minerals Research and Development Hub in order to drive Australia’s research priorities, build partnerships across the globe, and make meaningful and sustainable changes to critical supply chains. In addition, ANSTO is leading a program to develop high-end technology in collaboration with industry, for the production of high purity silica. Access to this technology will have direct and immediate Australian benefit in determining applicability to global markets.

To secure Australia’s growing science and technology needs, in particular in nuclear, we will:

  • continue to work with other organisations in government, industry, and the education sector to develop the next generation of talent to add value and develop capability in the NRF priority areas;
  • continue to progress and grow our work in the study of materials used in energy infrastructure by utilising our unique capabilities;
  • advance energy technologies through the coupling of neutron scattering and other capabilities using hydrogen, solar-energy materials, and the study of energy-transport mechanisms in battery and ion-conductive materials;
  • remain a specialist centre for batteries research offering both capabilities and expertise with nuclear and accelerator techniques, contributing to areas such as the medical sector, aged care, regional and rural mobility, and low carbon solutions to mitigate climate change; and
  • use our unique capabilities to provide relevant and innovative support to meet the nation’s needs and priorities for the benefit of public health, industry, the environment, and defence capability (including ANSTO’s work with the Department of Defence for the ongoing security of Australia).

Achieving Net Zero emissions

ANSTO supports the Government’s objective of net zero emissions by 2030 and aspires to the highest standards of environmental protection, sustainable operations, and the application of research and innovation to support policy advice and solutions for a sustainable planet.

We are working to meet the 10 high-level goals of our Environmental Sustainability Strategy to reduce our environmental footprint. The Strategy provides the framework for ANSTO to achieve net zero scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2035, as well as:

  • reduce our energy emissions;
  • increase our water resilience;
  • manage pollution and waste responsibly;
  • manage a sustainable and ethical procurement program;
  • preserve our biodiversity and heritage;
  • establish green campuses; and
  • progress an effective, efficient, and integrated environmental management strategy.

ANSTO will implement a 15-year environmental sustainability roadmap as part of its Campus Renewal Plan for the Lucas Heights campus that will reduce ANSTO’s carbon emissions footprint. The roadmap will include long-term environmental sustainability plans, actions to contribute to ecologically sustainable development, and the key performance indicators that will enable us to track and measure our environmental performance.

ANSTO is also committed to continue to manage radioactive waste created by its operations safely, including the waste from nuclear medicine manufacture. The ANSTO Radioactive Waste Management Strategic Plan summarises ANSTO’s strong commitment and practices associated with the safe handling, secure management, interim storage of radioactive waste, waste minimisation through international best practice, and life-cycle planning for ANSTO’s current and future radioactive waste generation. Nevertheless, ANSTO’s capacity to manage waste at Lucas Heights is not infinite. 

ANSTO is also closely engaged with the planning for the establishment of the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility through support for Australian Radioactive Waste Agency’s (ARWA) design activities and other close engagement.

Communication of ANSTO’s science and research

We proactively engage across universities, industry, and Australian and international governments and agencies to support research and development solutions for Australia and the world. ANSTO will continue to promote and raise awareness of our work through:

  • continuing to proactively share details of the organisation’s research outcomes through the media, submissions to parliamentary inquiries, presentations to Commonwealth and State Agencies and our strong internet and social media presence; and
  • identifying innovative ways to increase engagement with all communities within Australia, including rural and remote communities, through building on the current suite of on-line and virtual reality applications.

Community engagement

We recognise the importance of building and maintaining strong and collaborative relationships with all groups within the community.  Examples are:

  • members of the public, including through site tours and children’s programs during the school holidays;
  • education sector, including through hosting school programs and the running professional days for teachers;
  • local councils, including through consultation and education about our activities;
  • state and federal governments, including through the provision of advice and offering familiarisation activities; and
  • first nation communities, including liaising with multiple aboriginal groups and representatives from across Dharwal, Kulin, Gandangara, Yulin, and Barngarla.

Advancing Indigenous Engagement in Science

ANSTO is strengthening and expanding its range of activities in engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, primarily under the umbrella of its Reconciliation Action Plan. ANSTO will release its 2nd Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan by the middle of 2023.

Initiatives captured by the Reconciliation Action Plan, towards which we will work, include employment outreach such as scholarships and traineeships and recognition of Dharawal and Kulin cultural heritage activities.

Our STEM outreach to Indigenous students includes science days at ANSTO for Aboriginal primary and high school students; and the inclusion of Aboriginal research/ANSTO science in general educational content for high school students and science teachers.

ANSTO has supported more than 30 Indigenous focused research projects in the last decade and continues to add to this portfolio.  This includes providing scientific evidence of the earliest occupation along the Australian coast and earliest occupation inland; dating of the oldest known Aboriginal rock art in the Kimberley and Kakadu; and evidence to support learnings from traditional practices in managing the environment. Our science has also helped to protect the quality of drinking water in regional communities and verified the origin of Indigenous products.

ANSTO Strategic Objective Two - Improve the Health of Australians by supporting access to current and future nuclear technologies;

Supporting the health of Australians

ANSTO will maintain its focus on developing and producing reliable nuclear medicines that will improve clinical outcomes for Australia. We will deliver this through significant investment in ANSTO manufacturing, research, and development capabilities. In turn, this will provide a pipeline of nuclear medicine solutions that will address critical areas that are currently unmet, such as in a range of cancers and other health conditions, including cardiac disease, hyperthyroidism, and muscular skeletal injuries.

ANSTO conducts and supports research into human health, including emerging nuclear medicine diagnostic and therapeutic products. This includes significant experiments at the Australian Synchrotron using accelerator technology to examine and understand disease structures and the development of potential medical treatments.

ANSTO produces 80 per cent of Australia’s nuclear medicines used for the diagnosis, staging, and treatment of diseases - around 12,500 patients receive nuclear medicine procedures each week in Australia. ANSTO’s production of nuclear medicines represents the only pharmaceutical production process owned by the Commonwealth Government which provides a platform for secure sovereign control of these critical products.

The three core nuclear medicine products produced at ANSTO, Technetium-99m, Lutetium-177 and Iodine 131, will remain core products to support the nuclear medicine industry for the foreseeable future. Lutetium-177 in particular is expected to become more widely used in various theranostic procedures.

ANSTO’s current Nuclear Medicine Production Facility, known as Building 23, which produces these products, is currently 60 years old and has been deemed by regulators and independent experts to be in urgent need of replacement. In September 2021, the Australian Government announced the funding of the first phase of a replacement project to design and build a new facility.

The new facility, subject to approval by Government, will meet domestic demand and will have the flexibility to respond to market and technological changes for the next 50 years. The modern design will enable modern manufacturing practices and greater process automation than is possible with the existing facility, leading to improvements in efficiency and quality, and, importantly, to the highest levels of reliability and production safety. This facility will also support radiopharmaceutical research and development, accommodate future advances in nuclear medicine technology, and contribute to research translation and medical industry collaboration.

The construction of a new facility, if approved by the Commonwealth Government, will secure Australia’s end to end modern, sovereign nuclear medicine manufacturing capability.

Over the next decade, until the new facility is operational, ANSTO will continue to work closely with Government and key stakeholders to ensure future reliability of the supply of nuclear medicine to Australian patients, from the current facility.

To continue to support the Australian medical community and the health and wellbeing of Australian patients, we will:

  • produce nuclear medicines and new diagnostic approaches and respond to new developments such as theranostics and accelerator-based techniques;
  • work with Government to ensure that the pricing of nuclear medicines by ANSTO takes into account the full lifecycle cost of their production; and
  • use our sovereign capabilities in radioisotope and radiopharmaceutical development for the benefit and growth of nuclear medicine treatment and translational medical research.

ANSTO Strategic Objective Three - Australia’s source of nuclear expertise, advice and services

We continue to advise the Australian Government on the application of nuclear technology, including with respect to the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines as part of AUKUS. We assist national security agencies and the defence industry by providing access to a unique combination of scientific infrastructure and expertise in materials engineering, advanced manufacturing, and nuclear security science.

As such, we will continue to:

  • support the delivery of translatable, world-class research, placing ANSTO at the forefront of scientific developments of national significance;
  • support the Government in protecting the national interest through provision of specialised advice on all matters relating to nuclear science, technology, and engineering;
  • provide Australia’s sovereign capability for nuclear security science including nuclear forensics, analytical techniques and radiation detection technologies that enable national, regional, and international efforts to enhance nuclear security, including measures to support safeguards, non-proliferation and protect against nuclear terrorism;
  • support the Government to establish a sovereign nuclear-powered submarine capability;
  • encourage and facilitate the application and use of results gained from research and development;
  • provide opportunities for collaboration and sharing our capabilities with universities, industry, research agencies and institutes, and international partners; and
  • use knowledge incubation, research translation, and collaboration within the Innovation Precinct to produce real-world benefits.

Taking Australian Science to the World

ANSTO has obligations to act as a liaison between Australia and the world in matters of nuclear science and technology. We will continue to support Australia’s obligations under international law, through compliance with and advancement of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and other relevant international legal instruments.

For example, we remain a regional leader in nuclear science and technology by providing Australia’s National Representative on the treaty-level Regional Cooperative Agreement (RCA) for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology for Asia and the Pacific, including serving as the Chair of the RCA in 2023, which is the first time in 23 years that this opportunity has arisen for Australia.  As a part of this, we will host the National Representative Meeting of the RCA in Sydney in May 2023, which will ensure Australia’s continuity in terms of leadership, partnerships and commitment in the region.

Further, we will:

  • continue to help lead Australia’s international nuclear policy work by contributing to key multilateral fora, including the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD, and the Generation IV International Forum;
  • oversee Australia’s participation in IAEA Coordinated Research Projects (CRPs);
  • foster nuclear-related research and development, supporting Australian and international user access to our landmark research facilities, including the Australian Synchrotron, the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering, and the Centre for Accelerator Science; and
  • continue expansion of bilateral and collaborative agreements with key nuclear research institutions and bilateral partners.

ANSTO Strategic Objective Four – Lead the development of a nuclear capable workforce

Promoting STEM

Educating and engaging with the wider community enables ANSTO to grow a more informed generation of Australians who understand the benefits of nuclear science and technology. We will continue to work with government, industry, and the education sector to develop the next generation of talent.

STEM Careers

ANSTO will commit to engaging in the Diversity of STEM review and will engage in the steps taken by Government once the review is completed.

ANSTO has been working towards the realisation of outcomes in line with key principles:

  • expanding ANSTO’s career development programs to providing students, apprentices, undergraduates and graduates through to experienced workers with the opportunity to gain in-demand, transferable, job-ready skills and benefits from access to ANSTO’s nuclear expertise;
  • collaborating with other nuclear and government agencies to expand the early careers pathways and provide opportunities for mid-career upskilling to support a sustainable nuclear workforce, including in support for AUKUS;
  • collaborating in workforce upskilling, so that workers are ready to support critical sovereign capability needs in defence, modern manufacturing, critical minerals, science, and nuclear sectors​;
  • supporting education, research, and skills development through partnerships with tertiary and vocational education and training providers​;
  • providing comprehensive nuclear training programs to support and expand the nuclear capabilities;
  • providing access to world class nuclear research techniques and facilities; and
  • increasing workforce participation of females in STEM disciplines and driving actions to connect them to jobs.

Driving ANSTO’s performance and organisational sustainability.

The ANSTO Board is committed to ensuring that ANSTO is a high-performing and continually improving organisation.

Legislative requirements

ANSTO will:

  • continue to fulfill the requirements set out in our governing legislation, including the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Act 1987 (the ANSTO Act) and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (the PGPA Act);
  • deliver informative and timely governance documents, including annual reports and corporate plans, in consultation with you and your Department, which recognise the priorities set out in the Statement of Expectations and this Statement of Intent; and
  • continue to refine metrics that meaningfully capture the scope of ANSTO’s work and, where applicable, highlight opportunities for improvement. This includes the availability and utilisation of key infrastructure as detailed in the organisation’s Annual Performance Statement.

Organisational governance and capability

We reaffirm our commitment to the safe and sustainable operation of the organisation, both now and into the future, with a particular focus on our core responsibilities, while enhancing safety and financial performance. Moreover, we are committed to continuing to work closely with you and the Department to support organisational change where required;

In particular, ANSTO Board and management are committed to the financial sustainability of the organisation and we are engaged in an on-going program focussing on operating expenditure as well as growing revenue opportunities.

In addition we will:

  • provide relevant and accurate monitoring and reporting with appropriate delegations and accountabilities;
  • strive to fulfill ANSTO’s purpose and achieve the strategic objectives set forth by the Board and Executive Team by engaging with risk and exploiting opportunity, while also efficiently managing uncertainty, including striving for financial sustainability; and
  • continue to regularly evaluate the effectiveness and performance of the Board and its individual members. As part of the organisation’s commitment to good governance, independent reviews of the Board will be conducted every 3-5 years.

Agency staff and health

ANSTO will endeavour to continue to build and strengthen our nuclear capability, to be in a strong position to support the growth of a wider Australian nuclear workforce, which will also be required to meet the needs of AUKUS.

To support and retain the nuclear workforce, we are ensuring that through effective succession planning we grow nuclear knowledge, from our subject matter experts to our early career pipeline of undergraduates, graduates, post-doctorals and apprentices. We have the ability to expand our early careers pipeline to support the future Defence Nuclear-powered submarine workforce, by providing work placements and mid-career cross skill training at ANSTO.

ANSTO has deep connections in the education sector and will continue to work to raise the STEM profile, encourage students towards STEM in their formative years and support teachers with tailored nuclear science programs. We engage with universities to support nuclear curriculum, industry affiliations and draw from their student pipeline for future work engagements.

ANSTO is committed to continuous improvement of the safety culture for our staff and to providing an inclusive environment that empowers and supports a culture of collaboration and engagement.

As such we will:

  • review and develop our focus on the health and wellbeing of ANSTO staff, so that we can continue to attract and retain the best talent;
  • continue to engage openly and positively with our regulators, including ARPANSA, the Therapeutic Good Administration (TGA), and Comcare, to facilitate continuous improvement in our safety culture;
  • maintain our place as a leader in work health and safety management systems. ANSTO is certified to ISO45001 and is committed to having a system that exceeds the standard and provides practical guidance on maintaining a safe and healthy workplace, actively engaging with health and safety obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011;
  • strive to be a leader in the diversity and inclusion space by employing a range of initiatives such as Women in STEM Decadal Plan, an LGBTQI+ Staff Support Network, a Parental Career Phase resource, a Domestic and Family Violence Support Program, and inclusive leadership programs; and
  • aim to fulfill the targets of our SAGE Action Plan over the coming years, working towards attaining a higher accreditation when it becomes available in Australia.

Working with your Department and Office

ANSTO will:

  • continue to provide the availability of ANSTO’s Chair and Executive to work with your Office and the Department, including for regular briefings, meetings, phone, and email contact, particularly with regard to budgetary matters;
  • keep you and your Department informed of major developments;
  • continue to provide timely notice of all significant announcements and events likely to attract attention from the media or key stakeholders; and
  • keep you and your Office informed of significant issues relating to the organisation, including being available for six-monthly meetings with ANSTO’s Chair and CEO, and providing continuous briefings of the Department.