The Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions (PASAI) held its regional communication workshop in Port Vila, Vanuatu from 5-9 September, 2016, the first of several communications programmes planned for Pacific SAIs in the Region. Eighteen participants from 13 Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) attended the workshop, which was opened by the Auditor General of Vanuatu, Mr John Path. In his speech he stated the importance of communication in the work that auditors carry out. “We are called to make a difference to the lives of citizens,” he said, “and we need to be able to effectively communicate the results of our work to stakeholders to achieve this”.
This regional workshop is important for Supreme Audit Institutions (SAI) as they need to demonstrate their ongoing relevance to citizens, Parliament and other stakeholders to achieve greater audit impact. SAIs can show their relevance by appropriately responding to the challenges of citizens, the expectations of different stakeholders and the emerging risks and changing environments in which audits are conducted. This can be achieved if SAIs have a meaningful and effective dialogue with stakeholders about how their work facilitates improvement in the public sector.
The participants spent the first two days discussing the value and benefits of SAIs as prescribed in the International Standards for Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI) 12: The value and benefits of SAIs – making a difference to the lives of citizens and how to effectively engage with stakeholders and developing a communication strategy for the SAI. In leading this part of the training, PASAI Director of Advocacy, Engagement and Financing, Ms Aolele Su’a Aloese reminded participants, “Right from the first day working as an auditor, we need to communicate effectively with auditees in order to obtain audit information”. She emphasised the importance of communication at every level for auditors in the work they conduct, and provided practical examples that supported this.
The second part of the training focused on report writing skills, dealing with media and social media, public speaking and writing media releases. Participants engaged in this part of the training with enthusiasm. “These skills will not only benefit the SAI but me personally,” said one participant. Another participant testified, “This training gives me new ideas and methodologies in communication after many years working in government and 15 years in auditing”. The participants’ critical thinking, analytical skills and writing abilities were put to the test through the myriad of audit-related exercises that honed their communication skills in each session.
PASAI will be conducting further communications training in the Tonga and Fiji SAIs over the next couple of months.
The training was co-facilitated by PASAI’s Director, Practice Development, Sinaroseta Palamo-Iosefo and Communications Advisor, Tina Vaka. The training was hosted by the Vanuatu National Audit Office and supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).