Financial Statements in the Public Sector

This course maps to capability:


This half-day interactive workshop will equip you with the necessary skills to read and understand financial statements prepared by an agency in the public sector. It is essential that government officers have a working knowledge of this fundamental subject. The concepts of accrual and cash based accounting will be covered, together with a variety of statements such as income statements, balance sheets and cash flows. You will also learn about assets, liabilities, equity, income, revenues and expenses as they apply in government work. The financial statements of a WA public sector agency will be used for illustrative purposes during the workshop, but participants are expected to bring along financial statements (eg from the Annual Report) for the agency where they work in order to address any specific questions relating to that agency. This course involves working through some exercises to establish an understanding of the basic elements of financial statements and to study important ratios in the financial statements. You will need a calculator. This course is intended for officers (with no accounting or finance qualifications) who may be involved in research or policy roles, as project officers, in middle management positions, or in specialist occupations such as planners. Graduates or people new to the public sector will also find this course useful. 

This course contributes towards fulfilling a number of requirements of the Public Sector Commission Finance Capability Profile.

Course Content

  • concepts of accrual and cash based accounting
  • definitions and recognition criteria for assets, liabilities, equity, income, revenues and expenses
  • income statement in the public sector
  • statement of changes in equity in the public sector
  • balance sheet in the public sector
  • cash flow in the public sector

Course Outcomes

By the end of this course attendees should be able to:

  • explain the meaning of assets, liabilities, equity, income, revenues and expenses
  • distinguish between accrual and cash based accounting and appreciate the use of accrual accounting for measuring an entity’s performance
  • appreciate the content and purpose of the balance sheet, statement of comprehensive income and statement of cash flows
  • demonstrate a working knowledge of financial statements prepared for an agency in the public sector

Benefits to your organisation

  • you will be better able to communicate with accounting staff in the agency
  • you will have a better understanding of the importance of financial reporting for the agency
  • you will have a better appreciation of the importance to the agency for employees to clear annual and long service leave when due

Benefits to you

  • be able to talk with more confidence about financial reporting
  • perform basic analysis of financial statements
  • have more confidence when reading a set of financial statements