Appendices

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Appendix D—Report under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy

This appendix summarises the Department's progress in implementing the Commonwealth Disability Strategy.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy was launched in 1994 to help Australian Government organisations to meet their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. In essence, the Act provides the legislative framework to protect people with disabilities from discrimination. It recognises that they have the same fundamental rights as other members of the community- rights that should be protected in a proactive way.

The strategy, which aims to ensure that people with disabilities are able to participate fully in community life, is the result of consultation with people with disabilities, their supporters, representatives of the community and Australian Government organisations. The strategy is an important element in achieving the government's vision of increasing community participation by people with disabilities.

More information about the strategy is available from the website of the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, at www.facsia.gov.au/disability/cds/index.htm

The strategy challenges Australian Government agencies to consider and report on their performance in five broad roles: policy adviser, regulator, purchaser, provider and employer. The following sections describe the Department's performance in these roles in 2006-07, against the performance indicators set out in the strategy.

Policy Advisor

Description

Policy advisors initiate and develop policy for Australian Government programmes and services

In doing this, they consider the needs of different groups and sectors and the desired impacts and outcomes to be achieved for the community

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

Performance indicators Results

New or revised policy/programme proposals assess impact on the lives of people with disabilities prior to decision

In developing its policies and programmes, the Department seeks to consult directly with clients, their representatives and other stakeholders.

Consultation is an essential part of the development of legislation and government policy, programmes and services. It provides an opportunity for members of the community to express their views in a safe, confidential and accessible manner.

The Department has commenced reviewing the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the transport standards. The review commenced within five years of the standards taking effect, and the standards will be reviewed again every five years. The terms of reference for the review were developed following a wide process of consultation with the disability community and other stakeholders. The review itself will include wide consultation with people with disabilities, their representatives and other stakeholders.

People with disabilities are included in consultations about new or revised policy/programme proposals

In developing its policies and programmes, the Department also seeks to consult directly with peak bodies. The Department maintains contact with more than 160 different groups, as listed in Appendix F of this report.

People with disabilities are included in consultations wherever appropriate, and support several forums through which their specific needs are considered. These include:

  • the Accessible Public Transport National Advisory Committee (APTNAC); and
  • the Accessible Public Transport Jurisdictional Committee, established to discuss government positions on issues raised at APTNAC meetings.

All new policy proposals that the Department presents to the Transport and Regional Services Portfolio ministers are required to describe their likely impact on the whole community. If there is likely to be an impact on people with disabilities, people with disabilities are consulted.

Public announcements of new, revised or proposed policy/programme initiatives are available in accessible formats for people with disabilities in a timely manner

 

During 2006-07 the Department used a variety of strategies to communicate information on new government policies and programmes, including those that addressed disability issues. For example, the Department:

  • continued to post announcements of new policies and programmes on its websites promptly-generally, within 24 hours of release;
  • used plain English in all guidance materials;
  • conducted the annual revision and printing of the Australian Government Regional Information Directory;
  • GrantsLINK maintained the whole-of-government GrantsLINK website www.grantslink.gov.au, which provides information on how community groups can access Australian Government grants programmes-the website registered more than 7 million hits;
  • maintained the Regional Entry Point website www.regionalaustralia.gov.au, which provides information about regional government programmes and services-the website registered more than 3 million hits; and
  • answered more than 20,000 inquiries from people seeking information about government services, through more than 15,000 telephone calls made to the Australian Government Regional Information Service toll-free call centre. The call centre operators assisted vision-impaired clients by reading aloud the requested information or by providing the information on CD or cassette, and assisted clients with hearing impairments through teletype services. An Australian Government Translating and Interpreting Service was also available to assist callers whose primary language was not English.

Regulator

Description

Regulators are usually involved with the enforcement of legislation or other government rules that influence the way people behave

These are not limited to primary or delegated legislation

They also include quasi-regulation such as codes of conduct, advisory instruments or notes which involve compliance

Authority for independent decision making and administration may accompany this function to support the separation of certain powers from the Executive

The Department administers transport regulations and standards and works closely with other regulators on matters concerning transport security, maritime and land transport and aviation and airports.

Other matters that the Department deals with in a regulatory role include civil aviation, transport safety and investigations, regional and rural services, regional development, matters pertaining to local government, natural disaster relief and mitigation, and administration of non self-governing territories, such as Jervis Bay and Christmas Island.

The Department administers regulations in accordance with more than 95 diverse Acts, including the Airspace Act 2007, AusLink (National Land Transport) Act 2005, Australian Maritime Safety Authority Act 1990, Aviation Transport Security Act 2004, Inspector of Transport Security Act 2006, Roads to Recovery Act 2000, and the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988.

Performance indicators Results

Publicly available information on regulations and quasi-regulations is available in accessible formats for people with disabilities

The Department ensures that information on the regulations it administers is available and accessible by:

  • providing links to legislation through the departmental website, at www.dotars.gov.au/department/dotars/legislation.aspx;
  • offering toll-free telephone numbers for enquiries in key areas such as motor vehicle imports;

Publicly available regulatory compliance reporting is available in accessible formats for people with disabilities

  • including compliance reporting in the Annual Report, which is publicly available; and
  • using plain English in preparing regulation impact statements and guidance materials.

Purchaser

Description

Purchasers act as agents of the policy adviser

Having been advised of the outcomes sought by the policy adviser, purchasers determine the precise outputs to be purchased in terms of price, volume and quality and nominate the providers

Service providers may be public, private or not-for-profit organisations

In 2006-07 the Department administered grants, subsidies and other payments on behalf of the Australian Government totalling $4.5 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; and
  • natural disaster mitigation and relief.

In its day-to-day operations, the Department also purchased a range of goods and services costing $94.5 million in supplier expenses.

The Department's administration of services to territories included providing state-type services for the Indian Ocean Territories (IOTS), which comprise Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands. In 2006-07, the Department managed the provision of a state-level legal framework for the IOTs, through the application of Western Australian legislation; and administered a programme to rehabilitate areas of Christmas Island that have been affected by phosphate mining. The Department successfully delivered services worth $118.4 million to assist in the effective management of Australian territories in 2006-07.

The Department employs 40 staff to deliver health services to the communities of the IOTs, through an eight-bed hospital on Christmas Island and two clinics on Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Performance indicators Results

Publicly available information on agreed purchasing specifications are available in accessible formats for people with disabilities

 

Guidelines on purchasing specifications are published on the Department's website at www.dotars.gov.au/department/tenders/index.aspx, and are available for downloading in Microsoft Word, PDF and HTML formats.

Regional Partnerships and Sustainable Regions programme guidelines are available through the Regional Entry Point website, www.regionalaustralia.gov.au. Regional Partnerships Programme information is also accessible through the 54 Area Consultative Committees that provide programme support for all of Australia's regions. Further information is available face to face, by e-mail or regular mail, or through the website at www.regionalpartnerships.gov.au/partnerships/index.aspx.

Processes for purchasing goods or services with a direct impact on the lives of people with disabilities are developed in consultation with people with disabilities

Where relevant, the Department consults with stakeholders, including people with disabilities, in managing tenders, contracts and grants.

Processes for developing and submitting applications for funding under the Regional Partnerships Programme, and contracting the services required for approved projects, are developed in direct consultation with the applicant.

Purchasing specifications and contract requirements for the purchase of goods or services are consistent with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992

All contracts within the Department are based on departmental templates which include standard clauses relating to people with disabilities.

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

Applicants with disabilities are also entitled to apply for grants under the Regional Partnerships and Sustainable Regions programmes. These are the only two major programmes which are discretionary, in that the minister or the Department has discretion in determining whether a particular applicant receives funding and what, if any, conditions are imposed on the payment.

Publicly available performance reporting against the purchase contract specifications requested in accessible formats for people with disabilities is provided

All publicly available specifications and guidelines are available on the departmental website www.dotars.gov.au and the Regional Entry Point website www.regionalaustralia.gov.au, and through the Australian Government Regional Information Directory. A toll-free call centre (1800 026 222) also provides information and a referral service.

Complaints/grievance mechanisms, including access to external mechanisms, in place to address concerns raised about the providers' performance

The Department recognises and respects the rights of clients to provide feedback about its services, regardless of whether services are delivered directly by the Department or through a third party. (See the report on the Department's complaints mechanism under the 'Provider' role.)

Additionally, the Department has a review process for applicants under the Regional Partnerships Programme who wish to have decisions reconsidered.

The Department also consults staff about purchasing decisions that might affect the lives of staff with disabilities (see the report on the 'Employer' role).

Provider

Description

Providers deliver the services they have been contracted to provide under specified conditions

The Department delivers transport and regional services and information to and in partnership with government, industry and the broader community. Several of the grants administered by the Department in 2006-07 focused on assisting people with disabilities to enter the workforce. For examples of these and other projects see the reports on performance for the Regional Partnerships Programme and Sustainable Regions Programme in Chapter 4.

The only services delivered directly to individuals by the Department are:

  • the infrastructure and services provided to the 2,744 residents of Australia's non-self governing territories; and
  • the responses to enquiries provided through the Australian Government Regional Information Service.
Performance indicators Results

Providers have established mechanisms for quality improvement and assurance

The Department regularly reviews its guidelines and procedures manuals, and has a client service charter in place explaining how people can provide feedback.

The Department seeks feedback about the activities it performs or for which it administers funding. Examples can be found in the reports on output group performance (Chapters 3 and 4). The main mechanisms for feedback are:

  • reports submitted by the bodies that receive funding, either when projects pass key milestones or on a regular basis (as in the AusLink Roads to Recovery Programme);
  • client surveys where the beneficiaries of services can be identified, such as surveys of the individual households participating in airport noise amelioration programmes; and
  • formal evaluations of programmes, usually conducted on a three-year to five-year cycle.

Providers have an established service charter that specifies the roles of the provider and consumer and service standards which address accessibility for people with disabilities

The Department has a client service charter, provided in printed format and on the website at www.dotars.gov.au/department/dotars/charter.aspx. Clients can provide feedback by contacting the Department by telephone, by email or in writing.

The service charter and other relevant documents advise clients of their options in making complaints or raising grievances, including their rights to access external mechanisms such as the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Complaints/grievance mechanism, including access to external mechanisms, in place to address issues and concerns raised about performance

As explained in the client service charter, clients of the Department can submit complaints and grievances to the Department's Governance Centre through various means, including:

Complaints and grievances can also be directed externally to the Commonwealth Ombudsman or the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

There were no complaints to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission about the Department in 2006-07.

Additionally, there was a decrease in complaints to the Commonwealth Ombudsman of 23 per cent in 2006-07, to 41 from 53 in 2005-06, continuing the downward trend in the number of complaints in recent years.

Employer

Description

The employment role usually involves providing employment and ensuring workplace procedures and practices support equitable working conditions for employees, including those with disabilities

The Department is an employer under the Public Service Act 1999. At 30 June 2007, the Department employed 93 people in the IOTs and 1291 people in other locations around Australia. In 2006-07 the number of departmental staff who reported having a disability increased from 23 to 30 (a 30 per cent increase). In part to maintain this progress, the Department developed the DOTARS People with a Disability Strategy, a component of the workforce diversity strategy, during the year.

The key elements of the DOTARS People with a Disability Strategy, outlining the Department's commitment to current and future employees who have disabilities, have been agreed upon and will be progressively implemented

Performance indicators Results

Employment policies, procedures and practices comply with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992

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

  • include a specific clause in our collective agreement reminding staff of these legislative requirements; and
  • offer flexible working arrangements and opportunities for personal and professional development to staff.

Recruitment information for potential job applicants is available in accessible formats on request

The Department publishes details of employment opportunities weekly in the Australian Public Service Gazette, available online through the APSjobs website at www.apsjobs.gov.au/, and occasionally in the press.

More detailed recruitment information is available on the Department's website, at www.dotars.gov.au/department/careers/vacancies/index.aspx, and on request from the contact person for each opportunity.

Most website documents are in a PDF format that is accessible to screen readers for vision- or hearing-impaired people. Microsoft Word format is also available, as well as a relay service through Australian Communication Exchange for hearing- or speech-impaired people.

Agency recruiters and managers apply the principle of 'reasonable adjustment'

Assistance is readily available to ensure that any applicants with impairments receive fair, equitable and non-discriminatory consideration. This may include interpreters or, for hearing- or speech-impaired applicants, the relay services of the Australian Communication Exchange. Diversity data for new staff is recorded at induction.

Once recruited, staff members can access occupational health and safety services as appropriate. These have included workstation assessments, accessible car-parking spaces, telephone equipment for hearing-impaired staff, and voice recognition software and special computer keyboards for staff at risk of occupational overuse injury.

Training and development programmes consider the needs of staff with disabilities

The Department provides access to a range of learning and development activities to cater to the varying needs of staff members, including those with disabilities. All providers of training and training facilities and associated services comply with Australian Public Service standards and relevant legislation.

Training and development programmes include information on disability issues as they relate to the content of the programme

The Department's training and development programmes include information on disability issues where relevant. Specific courses that cover disability issues include training for:

  • new starters, giving an overview of support mechanisms in place for all occupational health and safety issues;
  • fire wardens, as staff with disabilities may have specific evacuation arrangements;
  • occupational health and safety representatives, who are made aware of staff with particular needs to ensure that the workplace is free of hazards for all staff; and
  • workplace harassment contact officers, who are made aware of the types of issues that may arise for people with disabilities.

Other courses made available by the Department that provide information on disability include Working Ethically and Professionally in the Australian Public Service.

Complaints/grievance mechanism, including access to external mechanisms, in place to address issues and concerns raised by staff

If an employee has a specific grievance, the Department encourages them to take the matter up with their supervisor or with the senior management in their division. Where this does not resolve the matter, the collective agreement sets out the process for resolving disputes.

Additionally, a network of workplace harassment officers is available to employees, with contact details accessible on the intranet.

Employees may also submit applications to the Merit Protection Commissioner for external review.

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