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Appendix D - Report under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy

The Department is required to report on its performance against the Commonwealth Disability Strategy (CDS) framework. The Department's progress in implementing the CDS in 2008-09 is summarised in this appendix.

The Australian Government's desired outcome for people with disabilities is full inclusion in all aspects of community life. Nearly one in five Australians has a disability, and the government is committed to widening their opportunities for independence, access and participation.

The CDS was introduced in 1994 to assist Australian Government agencies to meet their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, by providing a framework to assist in the development and delivery of policies, programs and services accessible to people with disabilities. It was the product of consultation with people with disabilities, their supporters, representatives of the wider community and Australian Government organisations.

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

The tables in this appendix describe the Department's performance in 2008-09 in relation to the performance indicators set out in the strategy for the roles of policy adviser, regulator, purchaser and provider.

Table D.1 Commonwealth Disability Strategy policy adviser role

Description Departmental perspective

Policy advisers initiate and develop policy for Australian Government programs 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 undertook and published high-quality research and analysis and provided policy advice to ministers on a range of infrastructure, transport and regional issues, addressing disability issues where they applied.

Performance indicator Results for 2008-09 and goals and actions for 2009-10

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

Results

The Department seeks to consult directly with clients, their representatives and other stakeholders when developing its policies and programs.

Consultation offers members of the community the opportunity to express their views in a safe and confidential manner and is an essential part of the process of developing legislation and government policy, programs and services.

During 2008-09, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, in cooperation with the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children's Services, established the Aviation Access Working Group to provide advice to government on disability access policy, the relevant legislative framework and practical measures that can be taken to improve the access to air services for people with a disability.

The first five-year review of the efficiency and effectiveness of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 progressed in 2008-09. Following consultations with people with disabilities, their representatives and other stakeholders, a draft final report was provided to the Department by the independent consultant in June 2009. The consultant also maintained a dedicated, accessible website, at www.ddatransportreview.com.au.

Goals and actions

The Aviation Access Working Group will contribute positively to the Aviation Policy White Paper process. This will include implementing a scheme asking airlines that offer regular passenger transport services to submit 'disability access facilitation plans' detailing their efforts to improve access to air travel. Information on the AAWG's individual projects and terms of reference is available from the Department's website, at www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/aawg.

The Department expects to finalise the review of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 in early 2009-10, and to implement any actions arising from the government's response to the review.

People with disabilities are included in consultation about new or revised policy/program proposals

Results

The Department supports consultation forums through which the impact of proposals on the specific needs of people with disabilities are considered, such as:

  • the Accessible Public Transport National Advisory Committee (APTNAC);
  • the Accessible Public Transport Jurisdictional Committee, which coordinates government positions on issues raised by the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 and APTNAC; and
  • the Aviation Access Working Group, which provides advice to government on disability access policy, the relevant legislative framework and practical measures that can be taken to improve access to air services for people with disabilities.

The Aviation Access Working Group comprises representatives from the aviation industry, Australian Government agencies (including the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) and a number of disability advocacy groups, including:

  • the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations;
  • the Deafness Forum of Australia;
  • National Disability Services; and
  • Physical Disability Australia.

Goals and actions

Disability advocates will continue to make a valuable contribution as members of the Aviation Access Working Group, particularly in their provision of ongoing feedback and advice to government and the aviation industry. The working group will also consult with other disability advocacy groups as necessary.

The Department will continue to consult widely with interested groups in formulating or revising policy and programs.

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

Results

In 2008-09, the Department communicated the progress of the Aviation Access Working Group through a page on the Department's website, with all documents in accessible formats.

The Department also communicated new government policies and programs, including those that addressed disability issues, by:

  • providing information on how community groups could access government grants, through a dedicated website, GrantsLINK, at www.grantslink.gov.au. GrantsLINK promoted over 250 Australian Government grants programs and received more than 9 million hits during 2008-09;
  • answering more than 19,000 enquiries from people seeking information about government services through telephone calls made to the Australian Government Regional Information Service (AGRIS) toll-free call centre. The call centre operators assisted vision-impaired clients by reading the requested information aloud, or by providing the information on CD or cassette. Clients with hearing impairments were assisted through teletype services;
  • promptly posting announcements of new programs and policies on its websites, usually within 24 hours of release;
  • providing information about regional government programs and services through the Regional Entry Point website, which received more than 2.5 million hits, at www.regionalaustralia.gov.au; and
  • using plain English in its guidance materials.

Goals and actions

The progress of the Aviation Access Working Group will continue to be conveyed through the Department's website, and email contact is also available online, at aawg-secretariat@infrastructure.gov.au. Airlines that submit a disability access facilitation plan will be encouraged to provide the plan in a range of accessible formats, in addition to website publication.

The Department will maintain and improve access to accurate and timely program information, through its websites and documentation.

Table D.2 Commonwealth Disability Strategy regulator role

Description Departmental perspective

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.

In 2008-09, the Department administered regulations and standards in accordance with more than 70 Commonwealth Acts, while working closely with other regulators, on matters concerning:

  • infrastructure investment, maintenance and development;
  • maritime and land transport, and aviation and airports;
  • transport safety and security;
  • regional services and development; and
  • local government.
Performance indicators Results for 2008-09 and goals and actions for 2009-10

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

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

Results

Regulations administered by the Department are published by the Attorney-General's Department on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments. Guidance material on the legislative process is published on the Department's website in accordance with departmental publishing standards.

The Department ensured that information on regulations and quasi-regulations, and regulatory compliance, was available and accessible by:

  • using plain English in preparing guidance materials and regulation impact statements;
  • providing toll-free telephone numbers for enquiries in key areas such as motor vehicle imports;
  • maintaining links to legislation through the departmental website; and
  • including compliance reporting in the annual report, which is publicly available in hard copy upon request and through the departmental website.

During 2008-09, the Department continued making improvements to its main website that will enhance accessibility for a range of users, including clients with disabilities. The improvements include smaller page sizes with greater flexibility to adjust font sizes for clients with vision impairments. The improvements will also allow access by various assistive technologies used by people with disabilities.

Goals and actions

The Department will continue to provide information in accessible formats and through a range of channels.

Table D.3 Commonwealth Disability Strategy purchaser role

Description Departmental perspective

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 2008-09, on behalf of the Australian Government , the Department administered grants, subsidies and other payments totalling $8.7 billion. These payments mainly related to:

  • national road and rail infrastructure;
  • maritime and land transport;
  • regional services; and
  • services to local government, including a number of Indigenous councils.

In its day-to-day operations, the Department also purchased a range of goods and services costing $106.5 million in supplier expenses.

Performance indicator Results for 2008-09 and goals and actions for 2009-10

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

Results

The Department follows the Australian Government purchasing and procurement guidelines, which are published by the Department of Finance and Deregulation and made available online, through www.finance.gov.au and www.tenders.gov.au

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.

Results

The Department consulted with stakeholders, including, where applicable, people with disabilities, when managing tenders, contracts and grants.

Goals and actions

The Department will continue to adopt a consultative approach when purchasing goods and services that have a direct impact on the lives of people with disabilities.

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

Results

All departmental contracts issued in 2008-09 were based on templates which included standard clauses relating to people with disabilities.

All suppliers who received payments from the Department were required to comply with relevant state and Commonwealth laws, including the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

Goals and actions

The Department will continue to ensure that the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 are reflected in its purchasing specifications and contracts.

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

Results

Publicly available specifications, guidelines and performance reports related to the Department's support for infrastructure and regional development projects were available online, through the departmental website and/or the Regional Entry Point website, and through the Australian Government Regional Information Directory. A toll-free call centre (1800 026 222) also provided information and a referral service.

The Department's annual report, which includes information on purchasing and the use of contracts, was made available for download from the website and provided in hard copy on request.

Goals and actions

The Department will continue to make all publicly available specifications and performance information accessible online, and to provide an information and referral service through the toll-free call centre. Improvements to the Department's website will make the online information more accessible by allowing the use of assistive technologies.

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

Results

The Department recognises that, regardless of whether its services are delivered directly by the Department or through a third party, clients have the right to provide feedback about its services.

People wishing to make a complaint are advised by the Department's client service charter to first explain their concern to staff in the area they have been dealing with, and ask them to address it. If the complaint is not resolved at that level, the client can contact the Governance and Reporting Branch, where the matter will be investigated.

Clients are able to access external mechanisms, in particular the Commonwealth Ombudsman, if they are not satisfied with the Department's handling of a matter.

The report on the Department's provider role includes more information on complaints resolution in 2008-09.

Goals and actions

The Department will continue to uphold its client charter and seek to resolve concerns about its performance quickly and responsively.

Table D.4 Commonwealth Disability Strategy provider role

Description Departmental perspective

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

During 2008-09, the Department delivered services and information to and in partnership with government, industry and the wider community. Several grants administered by the Department assisted people with disabilities to enter the workforce.

During 2008-09, the Regional Partnerships program had seven projects under management that were specifically targeted to people with disabilities. Many of these involved projects designed to improve employment and recreational opportunities. An additional 18 projects had various provisions to assist people with disabilities - for example, improved physical access to community facilities. Also during the period, the Better Regions program had three projects under management that sought to provide assistance to people with disabilities.

Performance indicator Results for 2008-09 and goals and actions for 2009-10

Providers have established mechanisms for quality improvement and assurance.

Results

The Department reviews its guidelines and procedure manuals regularly, and uses a client service charter to explain how feedback can be provided.

The Department gathers feedback regarding its activities through the following main mechanisms:

  • client surveys, where the service recipient could be identified, such as surveys involving households affected by airport noise amelioration programs;
  • formal evaluations of programs, usually conducted on a three-year to five-year cycle; and
  • reports submitted by the parties receiving funding, either on an agreed regular basis or when projects pass key milestones.

Goals and actions

The Department will continue to seek feedback from its clients and to use that feedback, combined with the analysis of formal program evaluations, as a basis for continuous improvement.

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.

Results

During 2008-09, the Department's client service charter was available in printed format and available online through the Department's website, at www.infrastructure.gov.au/department/about/charter.aspx. The charter sets out the Department's service standards, including standards of accessibility, and encourages clients to provide feedback on how well the Department is meeting those standards.

Goals and actions

The client service charter will be reviewed in 2009-10 to ensure that it remains current and effective.

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

Results

Through the client service charter, clients are encouraged to provide feedback on the Department's performance, and advised of the best process for making a complaint. Clients are encouraged to initially seek resolution of a complaint from staff in the area where the concern arose. If the complaint is not resolved at that level, clients have the option of submitting complaints and grievances to the Department's Governance and Reporting Branch, including:

Clients are able to access external mechanisms, such as the Commonwealth Ombudsman, the Australian Human Rights Commission or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, if they are not satisfied with the Department's handling of a matter.

During 2008-09, there were no complaints about the Department made to the Australian Human Rights Commission. The downward trend in complaints to the Commonwealth Ombudsman continued, with a 37 per cent decrease from 35 in 2007-08 to 22 in 2008-09.

Goals and actions

The client service charter will be reviewed in 2009-10 to ensure that it remains current and directs people with concerns about the work of the Department, or the level of service the Department has provided, to the most appropriate area for a quick response.

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