Appendix A—Report under the Accessible Government Services For All Strategy

This appendix summarises the Department's performance against the Australian Government's strategy for ensuring equitable access to government services.

Australian Government departments are required to report annually on their efforts to improve the delivery of government services to Australia's diverse population. Previously, they reported against performance criteria set out in the Charter of public service in a culturally diverse society. In 2007, the charter was replaced by a new reporting framework under the Accessible government services for all strategy.

Accessible government services for all was developed in consultation with Australian Government agencies, taking into account agencies' ability to contribute, both as separate portfolios and through whole-of-government responses, to meeting the challenges faced by our culturally diverse nation.

The strategy is based on the four principles of:

  • responsiveness-the extent to which programmes and services are accessible, fair and responsive to the individual needs of clients;
  • communication-open and effective channels of communication with all stakeholders;
  • accountability-effective and transparent reporting and review mechanisms; and
  • leadership-a whole-of-government approach to management of issues arising from Australia's culturally and linguistically diverse society.

More information about the strategy is available from the website of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, at

The following sections describe the Department's performance in relation to the four principles in 2006-07, against the performance indicators set out in the strategy.



Extent to which programmes and services are accessible, fair and responsive to the individual needs of clients

Performance indicators Results

Developing and delivering fair programmes and services that are based on a sound knowledge of the needs, circumstances and cultural and other characteristics of clients and assess the direct impact on the lives of people


Delivering services

In developing and delivering programmes and services that are accessible, fair and responsive to the individual needs of people, the Department undertakes research and consults directly with clients and peak bodies.

Examples of the services that the Department delivered directly to clients in 2006-07 include those provided to residents of the Indian Ocean Territories (IOTs) and remote and isolated communities.

Services to the Indian Ocean Territories

The Department delivered a wide range of infrastructure services to residents of the IOTs, which comprise Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

IOT residents predominantly come from non-English speaking backgrounds. On Cocos (Keeling) Islands the majority are Cocos Malay, while on Christmas Island around 60 per cent are Chinese, 20 per cent are Malay and 20 per cent are European. The Department provides services that are designed to suit the residents' cultural and linguistic needs.

The range of services include emergency, health and education services and utilities such as ports, airports, power, water and waste management. The Department is also responsible for projects to improve the amenity of the IOTs, such as the rehabilitation of areas of Christmas Island that have been affected by phosphate mining and the removal of asbestos from government-owned buildings. See the report on performance for regional services (Chapter 4) for more details.

Services to remote communities

The Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme is a longstanding programme that provides services to approximately 226 remote and isolated communities, including some of the most disadvantaged communities in Australia. The scheme provides a weekly air service that delivers essential services including medical items, fresh food, passenger transport and mail. Around one-third of the communities assisted under the scheme are remote Indigenous communities.

Assessing community impact

The Department uses a range of mechanisms to identify the needs, circumstances and other characteristics of the communities for which it provides services, and to assess the impact of its activities.


The Department has mechanisms in place to encourage members of the public to report their transport safety concerns. Since 2005, the Department has provided a 24-hour transport accident/incident notification hotline (1800 011 034) for notification of all aviation, marine and rail safety occurrences. This is predominantly used for notification of immediately reportable matters. The Department has also administered the Confidential Marine Reporting Scheme, for reporting of marine safety matters, since 2005.

Since January 2007, the Department has administered the REPCON (Report Confidentially) scheme for reporting aviation safety matters. For more information on REPCON, see Chapter 3 of this report or the Australian Transport Safety Bureau website at, or contact the bureau by telephone (1800 020 505) or email (

To ensure that airport lessees/owners engage effectively with communities with regard to proposed developments at major airports, the Department has developed Airport Development Consultation Guidelines. The guidelines were developed in consultation with local, state and territory governments, airport lessee companies and key government agencies, and recognise the expectations of communities to be consulted on the planning and development of the 22 leased federal airports. The guidelines are available online through the Department's website,

Regional services

The Department includes Regional Australia Impact Statements (RAIS) in all its Cabinet submissions that are likely to impact differently across Australia's regions. The statement describes how the new submission may impact on Australia's regions, particularly where the impact will vary between regional locations or differ in rural and remote areas compared to metropolitan centres.

Through the Regional Partnerships Programme, the Department works closely with a national network of 56 volunteer Area Consultative Committees (ACCs). The committee members are drawn from the community, local business and local government sectors in their regions.

The ACCs provide advice to government on regional needs and encourage their communities to take up government programmes designed to help them achieve their developmental goals. The Australian Government priorities for the ACC network in 2006-07 were:

  • small or disadvantaged communities;
  • youth;
  • economic growth and skills development; and
  • Indigenous communities.

The charter which sets out the key roles and purposes of the ACC network is available online at

Individual ACCs have three-year strategic plans and annual business plans. ACCs report regularly to the Department, providing financial statements and details of progress towards achieving the deliverables specified in the annual business plan and outputs and outcomes set down in the strategic regional plan. See Chapter 4 for a discussion of ACC outcomes in 2006-07.

More information on ACCs is available online at

Drawing on cultural diversity to improve efficiency and effectiveness of agency programmes and to support innovation and success of Australian enterprises:

  • auditing and raising the profile of staff cultural skills
  • providing appropriate staff training-taking steps to recruit culturally diverse employees, volunteers, grantees and contractors
  • supporting Australia's competitive business advantage arising from the diverse backgrounds, skills and networks of its workforces and population

The Department continued to raise awareness of cross-cultural issues with its staff throughout 2006-07.

The Department supported the Regional Women's Advisory Council during 2006-07 to develop the Cultural diversity and economic development in our regional Australian communities report, which examines the economic, social and environment value of diversity in four rural and regional areas.

The Department produced a Travel Safely in Australia road safety brochure in eight languages. The brochure is available from state tourism offices and state and territory road safety agencies across Australia. The brochure can also be downloaded from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau website, or obtained from the Bureau by telephoning 1800 020 616.

Identifying and responding quickly to emerging issues affecting particular population groups or arising from Australia's cultural diversity

Throughout 2006-07 the Department continued to develop the National Regional Evaluation Framework (NREF). The framework provides an approach for analysing the conditions of Australian regions, to provide an empirical basis for place-based policy development and to increase understanding of the relationships between programme expenditure and regional conditions. Part of this work considers the economic profiles of regional communities, including Indigenous communities.



Open and effective channels of communication with all stakeholders

Performance indicators Results

Providing information in a timely manner, in appropriate media, publications, formats and languages


To ensure that information on the regulations it administers is available and accessible, the Department:

  • publishes a regulatory plan early each financial year;
  • uses plain English in preparing regulation impact statements and guidance materials;
  • uses charts and diagrams where appropriate to communicate issues; and
  • offers toll-free telephone numbers for information in key areas such as motor vehicle imports.

The Department also publishes targeted information to ensure members of the public are aware of regulatory changes that may affect them. For example, in consultation with industry, the Department has produced 14 million brochures explaining the new restrictions on carrying liquids, aerosols and gels on international flights to and from Australia. The brochures are published in English, Arabic, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Vietnamese and Malaysian, and are available at airports, travel agents and duty-free shops.


In providing services to Australia's non-self governing territories, the Department operates in a way that recognises the cultural and linguistic diversity of the territory residents, most of whom are from non-English speaking backgrounds. For example, the Department produces regular newsletters and radio bulletins for clients in all major community languages.

The Department provides current information on regional services programmes online, particularly through:

  • the Department's website, at;
  • the GrantsLINK website,; and
  • the Regional Entry Point website,

The Regional Entry Point website is one of three elements of the Australian Government Regional Information Service (AGRIS), a popular resource that the Department has been delivering for 20 years.

As well as the website, AGRIS produces the hard-copy Australian Government Regional Information Directory each year, and supports a toll-free call centre (1800 026 222). The call centre distributes copies of the directory on request, and provides information in a range of ways, including in CD and cassette format, by teletype or through the Australian Government Translating and Interpreting Service, to ensure accessibility. See Chapter 4 for more information on the performance of AGRIS in 2006-07.

In addition, information on select services is provided through publications such as postcards and rural magazines, including Farm Business.

Recruiting and training staff who have appropriate linguistic and cultural skills or using interpreting services, to ensure effective communication with clients, as necessary

The Department recognises the special needs of clients from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds and, where needed, provides language assistance through the Australian Government Translating and Interpreting Service.

Consulting appropriately with diverse communities and client groups about the development of policy, legislation and regulations, the implementation of programmes, and the delivery of services

The December 2006 announcement of the outcome of the market testing of the IOT Health Service was part of a comprehensive communication plan. All stakeholders were informed of the outcome, its implications and the future arrangements, in their own languages. Departmental officers met with key stakeholders to discuss the process.

The Regional Development Council (RDC) comprises the Australian Government Minister for Transport and Regional Services (the Chair), state and territory ministers responsible for regional development, and the Australian Local Government Association. The aim of the RDC is to facilitate more effective cooperation across all spheres of government in order to achieve sustainable economic, social and environmental outcomes for regional Australians. As a member of the Standing Committee on Regional Development, the Department supports and is informed by the RDC.

The Department participates in interdepartmental committees on immigration and humanitarian settlement where strengthening the settlement prospects of migrants is a key issue. The committees consider issues such as the need to ensure good access for humanitarian immigrants to support services, such as health and psychological support, supportive schooling environments for their children, and English language skills training; and the importance of providing cultural support by settling immigrants in areas with people from similar backgrounds.

The Department actively seeks the views and input of young people from rural and regional communities through the Youth Round Table and the ABC Heywire programme. The input and advice from youth representatives, including many from diverse cultural linguistic backgrounds, is considered in regional policy development and budget submissions.



Effective and transparent reporting and review mechanisms

Performance indicators Results

Establishing mechanisms to encourage feedback from people of all cultural backgrounds and allow them to register complaints and raise concerns about the performance of policy developers, programme implementers and service providers (including outsourced services)

The Department provides transparent reporting and review mechanisms to people of all cultural backgrounds, including members of the public, clients and staff.

The Department's client service charter invites feedback on performance, including complaints. Members of the public are invited to telephone, email or write to the Department if they are unhappy with the service they have received. The charter commits the Department to investigate any complaints and to provide a speedy remedy if the Department is found to be at fault.

In addition to outlining the Department's responsibilities, clients, values and service standards, the charter provides contact information for specialist areas of the Department and other portfolio agencies. The charter is available on the Department's website at

The client service charter has been disseminated to the Department's key stakeholders, and complaints management systems have been established within the Department. See Chapter 5 for more information on the management of complaints in 2006-07.

The Department has a business hours hotline number (1800 621 372) to handle requests for transport safety information and general enquiries. The ATSB website,, has a feedback tab with a structured form for provision of feedback. Users can also subscribe to receive notification when investigation reports are released.

While formal client service charters exist for the Department's provision of infrastructure services to the non-self governing territories, residents who are not satisfied with the services provided generally choose to contact local advisory bodies, such as the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council, ministers' offices, or the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories. Residents of the IOTs have avenues for the review of complaints similar to those available to other Australians.

The Departmental Consultative Committee provides staff with an avenue to comment on employment guidelines and policies.

Responding to concerns raised by clients, to improve agencies' performance

Through its preparation of RAIS for inclusion in Cabinet submissions, and its role in providing coordination comments on other agencies' Cabinet submissions, the Department highlights issues that impact on regional, rural and remote areas for consideration by other Australian Government agencies and ministers.

The Department also responds to concerns and seeks input from clients to improve its performance as a service provider. For example, the Department worked with other agencies and community members to address health issues in the IOTs during 2006-07.

As a result of feedback from the communities, health consultative groups were established on both Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands to facilitate communication between the IOT Health Service and the communities. The groups have contributed to improved communication and initiatives to improve the delivery of health care. An article profiling the groups was published in the local press to inform the communities of their role.

Also as the direct result of concerns raised by the health service and the community, the Department initiated discussions with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) to establish health protocols for the delivery of health services to detainees on the IOTs. Development of the protocols involved the Department, DIAC and relevant Western Australian Government agencies consulting with the communities and formally reviewing the draft protocols during the first half of 2007. The Health Protocols have been finalised and will be implemented by the relevant parties.

Reporting to appropriate audiences of community concerns about agency programmes and agency responses to those concerns

Regional Development Council

The RDC secretariat worked with state and territory ministerial councils to assist Indigenous workers gain employment in the mining sector and to raise other issues of relevance to people of diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds (for example, the issue of skill shortages).

Immigration and humanitarian settlement

The Department participates in interdepartmental committees on immigration and humanitarian settlement where the focus is strengthening the settlement prospects of migrants.

Youth Round Table and Heywire programme

The Department actively seeks views and input from young people in rural and regional communities through the Youth Round Table and ABC Heywire programme. The youth representatives include those from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The input and advice from the youth representatives is considered in regional policy development and budget submissions.



A whole-of-government approach to management of issues arising from Australia's culturally and linguistically diverse society

Performance indicators Results

Collaborating within and between agencies and with other partners to identify and address issues relating to cultural diversity, through publicising good practices, sharing information, coordinating programmes or collaborating on projects

Throughout 2006-07 the Department's RAIS, RDC and interdepartmental committee activities contributed to its whole-of-government leadership role in identifying and addressing cultural diversity issues for Australians, particularly those located in regional, rural and remote areas.

Working with state, territory or local governments, non-government and community organisations, and contractors, raising their awareness of their responsibilities and encouraging improvement in their responses to cultural diversity

The Department consults with other service providers and different levels of government to ensure coordination of services appropriate to clients' needs. People from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds participate in decision-making and advisory bodies to ensure a broad range of views are brought to bear on all key decisions.

Contributing to the broader goals of cultural diversity policy, for example by:

  • strengthening the settlement prospects of migrants
  • enhancing the ability of all to achieve self-reliance
  • encouraging social, economic and educational participation for people from diverse backgrounds
  • including issues relating to social cohesion and participation in research and data development

Since July 2006, through the Regional Women's Advisory Council, the Department has provided advice on issues that affect women and communities in regional, rural and remote Australia. The council has provided advice to the Australian Government on agriculture, health, education, business, social welfare, regional development, Indigenous issues and industry. The current objective of the council is to support the development and maintenance of resilient, vibrant and sustainable communities that harness the potential of young women leaders and Indigenous women leaders.

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