Information about the department's functions and/or government funding allocation could be found in the Administrative Arrangements Orders, the annual Portfolio Budget Statements, in the department's annual reports and on the department's website.
At its creation, the department was responsible for:
Environment protection and conservation of biodiversity
National fuel quality standards
Administration of the Australian Antarctic Territory, and the Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands
Natural, built and cultural heritage
Water policy and resources
Co-ordination of sustainable communities policy
Built environment innovation
The department was an Australian Public Service department, staffed by officials who were responsible to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
^ abcCA 9334: Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, National Archives of Australia, retrieved 19 December 2013
^Australian Public Service Commission (2 December 2013), State of the Service Report: State of the Service Series 2012-13(PDF), Australian Public Service Commission, p. 253, archived from the original (PDF) on 6 December 2013