Financial Services

External Audit Requirements Policy

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Under the Financial Management Act 2006 and the Auditor General Act 2006, the Office of the Auditor General conducts an annual audit of the accounts and financial statements of The University of Western Australia and any of its controlled entities.

This annual audit is undertaken through Financial Services in a year-long process.

Policy statement

External audit function

The Office of the Auditor General, or the agency to which it has contracted this function, performs the audit in accordance with Section 28 of the Auditor General Act 2006 to form an opinion of the University's financial position and accounts based on a reasonable level of assurance. Note that related entities may be audited by the Auditor General in accordance with section 17 of the Auditor General Act 2006.

The audit procedures of the external auditors include examining, on a test basis:

  • controls exercised by the University to ensure financial regularity in accordance with legislative provisions
  • evidence to provide reasonable assurance that the amounts and other disclosures in the financial statements are free from material misstatement
  • evaluation of accounting policies and significant accounting estimates.

These procedures result in the formation of an opinion by the Auditor General which prefaces the financial statements and appears in the University's annual report along with the financial statements.

This opinion offers a consideration as to whether, in all material respects, the financial statements are presented fairly in accordance with Accounting Standards, other mandatory professional reporting requirements and the Treasurer's Instructions in order to present a view which is consistent with the Auditor General's understanding of the University's and the consolidated entity's financial position, the results of their operations and their cash flow.

External audit process

Financial Services provides all audit working papers in support of the accounts, as well as access to the inquiry function of PeopleSoft, and assists the external auditors in other ways. The auditing process is undertaken throughout the financial year.

In October/November, the external auditors establish preliminary controls and conduct an interim audit which is focused at a transactional level and on any items for follow-up or items noted in previous years. The Office of the Auditor General also refers to internal audit reports on some occasions.

After this process, the external auditors identify any issues needing clarification and issue an interim audit report. In January/February, the University Senate receives and approves the drafts of the financial statements.After their approval, the financial statements are forwarded to the Auditor General and to Parliament.

The external auditors conduct a year-end audit of the University's accounts in February/March which is more heavily focused on the presentation and representation of financial data and the identification and investigation of material variations from previous years.

The financial statements are revised accordingly, if required, and any discrepancies in opinion on the presentation of financial information are discussed between representatives of the Office of the Auditor General and Financial Services/University Executive. The financial statements may then be revised if required.

At the conclusion of this process, the Auditor General provides a final management letter and opinion which is published along with the financial statements in the Financial Statements and Performance Indicators of the Annual Report for the University. This is also forwarded to the Department of Education and Training (DET) in accordance with the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA) section 19.10 which stipulates that a financial statement along with a report by a qualified auditor be submitted by 30 June of the year following the operating grant funding year.

Financial Services ensures that the recommendations made by the Office of the Auditor General are implemented during the following year and monitors their compliance. When areas of non-compliance and non-cooperation are identified, Financial Services ensures that these are rectified. If items in the report of the Auditor General require action by another section of the University, Financial Services will provide written notification to the relevant School/Area.

Details regarding accountability of audit trails, cooperation and access to records and timely response and action of audit recommendations as per the internal audit function are also applicable to the external audit function for Financial Services.

While the external audit process primarily involves Financial Services, with the increased devolution of financial activities and control to Schools/Areas, it is sometimes the case that Schools/Areas fulfill a supporting role in the University's external audit process. In such cases, the details referred to above are also relevant.