Appendix C - Report Under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy

The Department is required to report on its performance against the Commonwealth Disability Strategy (CDS) framework. 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.

Nearly one in five Australians has a disability. Through the CDS, the Australian Government seeks to ensure that its policies, programs and services are accessible to all Australians. The Australian Government is committed to widening opportunities for independence, access and participation in all aspects of community life.

More information about the CDS and the reporting framework is available from the website of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, at www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/disability/pubs/policy/Documents/cds/default.htm

The tables in this appendix describe the Department's performance in 2009–10 in relation to the performance indicators set out in the CDS for the roles of policy adviser, regulator, purchaser and provider. The Department also reports on its role as an employer, through the annual State of the Service Report produced by the Australian Public Service Commission.

Table C.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 2009–10 and goals and actions for 2010–11
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.

In December 2009, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government released the National Aviation Policy White Paper: Flight Path to the Future, which included a new access policy initiative: the development of disability access facilitation plans. These plans, to be developed by airline and airport operators, will detail what services and facilities are available to travellers with disabilities and how the operators approach the range of issues involved in meeting the needs of travellers with disabilities.

Following consultations with people with disabilities, their representatives and other stakeholders, the independent consultant's final report of the first five-year review into the efficiency and effectiveness of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 was completed in late 2009.

Goals and actions

The Aviation Access Working Group (AAWG), which provides advice to the Australian 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, will monitor the implementation of the disability access facilitation plans by airline and airport operators.

The AAWG consists of 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.
Further information on the AAWG is available from the Department's website, at www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/aawg.

The Australian Government's response to the independent consultant's final report on the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 is expected to be released before the end of 2010.
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 AAWG.
In 2009–10, the Office of Transport Security consulted with members of the AAWG while working on the revision of aviation security screening techniques for people with disabilities.

Goals and actions

Disability advocates will continue to make a valuable contribution as members of the consultation forums, particularly by providing feedback and advice to government and industry. The Department will also consult with other disability advocacy groups and other interested groups as necessary.
Public announcements of new, revised or proposed policy/program initiatives are available in accessible formats for people with disabilities in a timely manner. The Department communicated the progress of the AAWG through a page on the Department's website, with all documents in accessible formats, and by email through aawg-secretariat@infrastructure.gov.au.

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 nine million hits during 2009–10
  • 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 AAWG will continue to be conveyed through the Department's website and by email. Airlines and airport operators will be encouraged to ensure that their disability access facilitation plans are available online and in a range of accessible formats.

The Department will maintain and improve access to accurate and timely program information, through its websites and documentation.
Table C.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.
The Department administered regulations and standards in accordance with more than 70 Commonwealth Acts, while working closely with other regulators, on matters concerning:
  • road, rail and intermodal 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 indicator Results for 2009–10 and goals and actions for 2010–11
Publicly available information on regulations and quasiregulations 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, quasiregulations 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 was made available for download from the departmental website and provided in hard copy on request.
The Department continued making improvements to its main website that will enhance accessibility for a range of users, including clients with disabilities.

Goals and actions

The Department will continue to provide information in accessible formats and through a range of channels.
Table C.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-forprofit organisations. On behalf of the Australian Government, the Department administered grants, subsidies and other payments totalling $8.9 billion. The 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 had supplier expenses of $88.3 million.

Performance indicator Results for 2009–10 and goals and actions for 2010–11
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 2009–10 were based on templates which included standard clauses requiring contractors to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (in the case of short-form contracts, the clauses require contractors to comply with all legislative requirements, which include the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 if it is applicable to the services being contracted).

Goals and actions

The Department will continue to ensure the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, along with all other relevant legislative requirements, are reflected in its purchasing specifications and contracts for services as appropriate.
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.

The Department managed the Australian Government Regional Information Service (AGRIS), which provides people living outside metropolitan areas with information about the Australian Government's programs and services.

AGRIS provides this information through two channels:
  • a toll-free telephone information line operated by a call centre based in Cooma, New South Wales, and
  • the Regional Entry Point website www.regionalaustralia.gov.au
The Department contracts the Cooma Call Centre to support the AGRIS function. The contract contains some obligations for the call centre to meet when supporting callers who have additional needs. The call centre also provides statistics on caller activity in monthly reports.

The Department's annual report, which includes information on purchasing and the use of contracts, was made available for download from the departmental 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 a toll-free information and referral service through the 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 that 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, Planning and Reporting Section, 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 2009–10.

Goals and actions

The Department will continue to uphold its customer service charter and seek to resolve concerns about its performance quickly and responsively.
Table C.4 Commonwealth Disability Strategy provider role
Description Departmental perspective
Providers deliver the services they have been contracted to provide under specified conditions. 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. In addition, all grant contracts required recipients to comply with the provisions of all relevant statutes, regulations, by-laws and requirements of any Commonwealth, state, territory or local authority (including the Disability Discrimination Act 1992).

Round 1 of the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program had 93 projects specifically targeted at people with disabilities. Two other projects included provisions to help people with disabilities-for example, improved physical access to facilities.
Performance indicator Results for 2009–10 and goals and actions for 2010–11
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, mainly through the following mechanisms:
  • client surveys, 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 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

The Department's client service charter was reviewed to ensure it remained current and effective. 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.

The charter is available in printed format and available online through the Department's website, at www.infrastructure.gov.au/department/about/charter.aspx.

Goals and actions

An internal complaints-handling policy in support of the client service charter will be prepared, to ensure that complaints made under the charter are dealt with consistently and effectively.
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 are 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, Planning and Reporting Section, 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 2009–10, no complaints about the Department were made to the Australian Human Rights Commission. The downward trend in complaints to the Commonwealth Ombudsman continued the Ombudsman received 10 approaches about the Department, representing a 55 per cent decrease on the result for the previous year.

Goals and actions

An internal complaints-handling policy in support of the client service charter will be prepared, to ensure that complaints made under the charter are dealt with consistently and, where possible, resolved in the area where they arise.

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Last Updated: 24 October, 2014