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APPENDIX A-Report under The Commonwealth Access and Equity Strategy

The department aspires to communicate and consult effectively with all stakeholders, as outlined in Chapter 5. This appendix summarises the department's progress in implementing the Australian Government's Charter of Public Service in a Culturally Diverse Society (also known as the Access and Equity Strategy).

The charter, which was updated in 2003, requires us to report our performance in terms of five broad roles: policy adviser, purchaser, regulator, provider and employer. It also challenges agencies to consider how we approach those roles.

Policy Adviser


The policy adviser is responsible for initiating and developing government policy. They consider the needs of different groups and advise on what the government should achieve for the community as a whole.

The department undertakes research and analysis, and provides policy advice to ministers on a range of transport and regional issues addressing, where appropriate, access and equity issues.

Performance indicators

New or revised policy/programmes that impact in different ways on the lives of people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds are developed in consultation with people from those backgrounds.

In developing policies and programmes, the department seeks to consult directly with clients and peak bodies. We are in regular contact with over 120 different groups, as listed in Appendix F. We also target groups for consultation in the context of particular initiatives. In 2005-06 this included:

  • community meetings in the East Kimberley, where we sponsor a project by the Council of Australian Governments to improve living standards for Indigenous Australians
  • the Indigenous Road Safety Working Group, convened and chaired by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which addressed issues related to the three-fold over-representation of indigenous people in road deaths.

New or revised policy/programme proposals assess the direct impact on the lives of people from a range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds prior to decision.

New or revised policy/programme initiatives have a communication strategy developed and sufficiently resourced to inform people from relevant cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

All of the new policy proposals our ministers present to government are required to describe their likely impact on the community, and many include a high-level communication strategy. A variety of strategies are used to communicate information on new government policies and programmes.

For example, the department:

  • continued to post-announcements of new policies and programmes on its websites promptly-generally within 24 hours of release
  • registered 1.8 million hits on the whole-of-government website (www.grantslink.gov.au)
  • answered more than 22,000 inquiries (over 17,000 calls) to Australian Government Regional Information Service (AGRIS) toll-free call centre 1800 026 222
  • registered 1.2 million hits on the Regional Entry Point website from people wanting information about government services through www.regionalaustralia.gov.au
  • provided a printed directory called the Australian Government Regional Information Directory (AGRID).



The regulator is responsible for enforcing legislation or other government 'rules'. These rules may include quasi-regulations such as codes of conduct and advisory instruments or notes.

The department administers specific transport regulations and standards and works closely with other regulators on:

Performance indicators

Resources are provided so that publicly available and accessible information on regulations is communicated appropriately to people from a range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and especially to those identified as having a high level of non-compliance.

To ensure that information on the regulations the department administers is available and accessible, we:

  • publish a regulatory plan early each financial year
  • use plain English in preparing regulation impact statements and guidance materials
  • use charts and diagrams where appropriate to communicate issues
  • offer toll-free telephone numbers in key areas such as motor vehicle imports (see inside back cover for details).

Affected groups are consulted in the context of specific initiatives. For example, in 2005-06, nationwide workshops involving hundreds of people were held to learn from and enhance the security risk readiness of hundreds of aviation, maritime and other industry participants.

Below: In 2005-06 we continued to work with the National Transport Commission to update the Australian Dangerous Goods Code. The code requires transport operators to display vital safety information in the most graphic way possible.



The purchaser determines what is to be purchased and from whom. Purchased items may include outsourced government services, grants and cultural items for public display.

In 2005-06 the department administered grants, subsidies and other payments on behalf of the Australian Government totalling $6.4 billion. These payments mainly related to:

  • national road and rail infrastructure
  • maritime and land transport
  • regional services
  • services to territories
  • services to local government, including a number of Indigenous councils
  • natural disaster mitigation and relief arrangements.

In our day-to-day operations, the department also purchased a range of goods and services costing $97.8 million.

Performance indicators

Purchasing processes that impact in different ways on the lives of people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds are developed in consultation with people from those backgrounds.

The department consults with stakeholders in managing tenders, contracts and grants.

Tendering specifications and contract requirements for the purchase of goods or services are consistent with the requirements of the charter.

All the entities receiving payments are required to comply with relevant state and federal laws including the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

Only two major programmes are discretionary, in that the minister or department has discretion in determining whether a particular applicant receives funding and what, if any, conditions are imposed on the payment.

A number of grants administered in 2005-06 focused on assisting Indigenous communities to promote, and in some cases restore, their cultural heritage. For examples of these and other projects, see the Regional Partnerships Programme (page 132), and Sustainable Regions Programme (page 137).

Complaints mechanisms enable people (regardless of cultural and linguistic backgrounds) to address issues and raise concerns about the performance of service providers (contracted or other), and the purchasing agency.

We recognise and respect the rights of clients to provide us with feedback about our services, regardless of whether services are delivered directly by us or through a third party. In this context, we have provided a single report on our complaints mechanisms in our response to the provider role.

We also consult with staff about purchasing issues that may affect staff from different backgrounds (see our response to the employer role).



The provider delivers services, often under contract by government. Providers can be government, private or not-for-profit organisations.

The department delivers transport and regional services and information to-and in partnership with-government, industry and the broader community. The only services the department delivers directly to individuals are:

  • the infrastructure and services we provide to the 2,744 residents of Australia's non-self governing territories
  • AGRIS.

Performance indicators

Providers have established mechanisms for planning for implementation, monitoring and review that incorporate the principles underpinning the charter.

The department seeks feedback about the activities we deliver or pay for through a range of mechanisms. Examples can be found throughout our report on performance (chapters 3 and 4). The main ways we seek feedback are through:

  • reports from the bodies who receive funding, usually as projects achieve key milestones but sometimes on a regular basis as in the Roads to Recovery Programme (page 74)
  • client surveys where the beneficiaries of services can be identified, such as the individual households in airport noise insulation programmes (page 118)
  • formal evaluations of programmes, usually on a three to five-yearly cycle.

Provider data collection systems incorporate the requirements of the Standards for Statistics on Cultural and Language Diversity

Diversity data are considered in planning and evaluating policies and programmes. For example, recent reports that incorporate diversity data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics include the individual profiles of all ten regions targeted for funding under the Sustainable Regions Programme. A summary of this information is presented on page 139.

Providers have established service standards that utilise the cultural and linguistic diversity of their staff, or their staff's cross-cultural awareness, to facilitate and enhance service delivery.

In 2005-06, we:

  • continued to ask our clients to rate the quality of our services and introduced several new client surveys (page 178)
  • had service charters in place explaining how customers can provide feedback.

Complaints mechanisms enable people (regardless of cultural and linguistic background) to address issues and raise concerns about the performance of providers.

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission received two complaints about the department in 2005-06. There was a 14 per cent increase in complaints about the department to the ombudsman during 2005-06 compared to 2004-05; however this was still well below the number of complaints to the ombudsman in the previous two years (see page 178).

Services to residents of Australia's non-self governing territories

In the non-self governing territories, where the vast majority of our clients are from non-English speaking backgrounds, we operate in a way that recognises the cultural and linguistic diversity of territory residents. For example, we produce regular newsletters and radio bulletins for clients in all major community languages.

While formal client service charters exist, residents who are not satisfied with our services generally choose to contact local advisory bodies such as the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council, our ministers' offices, and the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories.

Residents of the Indian Ocean Territories have avenues for the review of complaints similar to those available to the rest of Australia.

Australian Government Regional Information Service (AGRIS)

AGRIS assists Australians, mainly in rural, regional and remote Australia, with information on Australian Government programmes, services and agencies and some state programmes.

Callers can obtain information by calling the AGRIS free call number, 1800 026 222, and can also request a copy of the Australian Government Regional Information Directory.

Call centre operators assist people who are vision impaired by reading aloud the requested information from the directory. The department will also provide a copy of the directory in cassette or CD form. Callers with a hearing impairment can call through teletype service operators. Clients whose main language is not English can access the information by requesting the services of the Australian Government's Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50.



The employer provides a range of work conditions, including wages, in exchange for labour to produce goods and services. All portfolio agencies undertake this role.

The department is an employer under the Public Service Act 1999. At 30 June 2006, we employed 94 people in the Indian Ocean Territories, and 1,285 people in other locations around Australia.

Our employment policies and practices reflect the requirements of relevant laws, including the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

The DOTARS Collective Agreement 2006-09 provides access to a range of flexible work practices, including home-based work and flexible working hours to enable employees to balance work and life interests.

Performance indicators

No performance indicators-agencies are not required to report directly on the employer role.

Information on the employer role is extracted from the Workplace Diversity Report produced annually by the Australian Public Service Commission.

In 2005-06, the department had a range of mechanisms in place for communicating and consulting with staff and for attracting and retaining a diverse range of staff.

We have received positive feedback about measures introduced to address the number of our staff from an Indigenous background. As mentioned in Chapter 5, we have been actively addressing these issues over 2005-06, for example, by:

  • implementing an Indigenous professional network
  • targeting Indigenous graduates as part of our 2006 and 2007 graduate intakes
  • implementing an Indigenous Employment Strategy that includes cadetships and contract management trainees in regional areas.

We will also continue to work with the department's diversity and equity network to promote awareness and understanding of diversity issues. For details of the network's activities in 2005-06, (see page 189).