Social Justice and Equity
DOTARS fosters further development of partnerships and cooperation with stakeholders,communities, other Commonwealth agencies and State, Territory and local governments on activities designed to achieve equitable access to services and diverse community input to policy development.
Publicly available information on transport, regional services, Territories and local government policy and initiatives is communicated to all Australians by publication of information in the Portfolio Budget Statements, the departmental annual report and Internet homepage. Consultation mechanisms and information provision are accessible and culturally sensitive, and diverse representation on advisory bodies is encouraged.
In order to integrate cultural diversity into its policy development and program administration in keeping with the principles of the Commonwealths Charter of Public Service in a Culturally Diverse Society , the following activities were undertaken by DOTARS in 2000–01:
- In May 2001, the Regional Services, Development and Local Government Division launched GrantsLINK, a website that details Commonwealth grants funding available to communities. The site presents grants information organised by subject areas and also provides a flexible search engine to help users discover what programs are available to help meet the needs of their local community. In recognition of the variety of issues facing regional communities and the difficulty many people face in identifying the most appropriate Commonwealth agency to approach for funding, GrantsLINK also provides GrantsASSIST an email-based service that allows people to ask for assistance in locating suitable funding programs.
- The Regional Services, Development and Local Government Division has also commenced work on other online initiatives including the regional entry point and the gateway to northern Australia. These initiatives form part of the Governments customer-focused portals framework and will bring together information from across the Commonwealth into a single online entry point specifically targeted at regional and rural Internet users. The regional entry point will provide the capacity for regional communities to:
- promote events in their local area;
- access case studies offering practical examples of dynamic communities and innovative solutions;
- and discuss common issues in an online forum.
- In the Airports Division, new aircraft noise descriptors are being developed in a non-technical form, to enable much greater community access to vital information.
- The Australian Transport Safety Bureau Research Management and Strategy Team developed, on behalf of the Australian Transport Council, a National Road Safety Strategy for the period 2001–10 and Action Plan 2001 and 2002. The strategy contains the strategic objective of improving equity among road users, noting that not all users enjoy the same level of safety. The action plan contains measures available to jurisdictions to achieve the strategic objectives. The groups identified include indigenous people who have been estimated to be at least three times more likely to be involved in road trauma. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission was consulted in the development of the strategy and supports the measures relevant to this group.
- The Australian Transport Safety Bureau Communications and Information Team developed a strategy to provide road safety information to community language groups through the Bureau Internet website. If funding allows, information will be provided on child restraints, drink driving, fatigue and bicycle safety.
- In August 2000, the Cross-Modal and Maritime Transport Division sponsored a national forum on seafarers welfare, with one of the major outcomes being the proposed establishment of a port welfare committee in each State and the Northern Territory. DOTARS will make available $50 000 per annum for two years from 2001–02 to assist in establishing and building port welfare committees in each State and the Northern Territory. Port welfare committees will assist port welfare agencies to improve access to their services by foreign and Australian seafarers at Australian ports.
- Drawing on its transport economic skills, the Bureau of Transport Economics has been developing a database on regional socioeconomic information and sources for investigation. This will be used to underpin future regional research work in DOTARS.
- The value of diversity and inclusiveness is emphasised in the conduct of the Regional Services, Development and Local Government Divisions activities for example in policy development, regional impact statements, grants program guidelines and assessments, local government legislation and communications.
- Legal Aid funding is provided to Norfolk Island to ensure that all Norfolk Islanders have access to legal representation.
- DOTARS convenes the Jervis Bay Territory Justice Issues Group, comprising both public officials and representatives of the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council. The group has the broad objective of ensuring that the range and nature of justice outcomes available to Jervis Bay residents are comparable to those available to residents of the ACT and the surrounding Shoalhaven region of NSW. Aboriginal persons comprise roughly one-third of the population of Jervis Bay Territory, and services provided are sensitive to the community's differing needs.
- The Indian Ocean Territories administrations continue to liaise closely with community groups to ensure that the services provided by the Commonwealth reflect the principles of social justice. Some 1500 people are usually resident on Christmas Island, with an ethnic composition of approximately 70 per cent Chinese, 20 per cent of European extraction and 10 per cent Malay. The total population of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands is around 600, composed of about 85 per cent Cocos Malay people and 15 per cent of European extraction.
DOTARS has ensured that its recruitment guidelines comply with the requirements of the charter and the diversity requirements of the Public Service Act 1999 and the Equal Employment Opportunity (Commonwealth Authorities) Act 1987.
Staff induction programs include information about the DOTARS Workplace Diversity Program and its legislative framework.
Where training is provided by an external provider, that provider is required to meet the MAB Ethical Standards and Values in the Australian Public Service 1996 under the conditions of the DOTARS Standard Consultancy Agreement. These standards include:
- the promotion of equity and elimination of discrimination in employment; and
- the recognition of the diversity of the Australian community.