Appendix 3: Commonwealth Disability Strategy

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The Commonwealth Disability Strategy provides a policy and planning framework for Australian Government departments and agencies to improve access to their policies, programmes and services for people with disabilities.

The Department’s Disability Action Plan 2004–07 was developed in consultation with all divisions and several peak disability service providers, including the Office of Disability and Better Hearing Australia, to meet the requirements of the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. The plan states our commitment to improving accessibility for people with disabilities. The plan outlines six key strategies, as shown in Table 48.

Biosecurity Australia participates fully in the Department’s Disability Action Plan.

We will review the Disability Action Plan in the second half of 2007, taking into consideration the Management Advisory Committee report, Employment of People with Disability in the APS, and the revised Commonwealth Disability Strategy, which is expected to be released before the end of the year.

The Department continues its commitment to the employment of people with disability and strives to provide a supportive environment. We are drafting a departmental Reasonable Adjustment Policy in order to remove barriers to workplace participation for people with disabilities and to establish effective mechanisms for responding to the individual adjustment needs of existing and potential employees.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy groups the roles of government agencies into five broad categories: policy adviser, regulator, purchaser, provider and employer. Each category applies to at least one of our divisions or agencies.

Table 48 outlines the strategies in our Disability Action Plan, which are designed to meet the five performance indicators of the Commonwealth Disability Strategy, as they apply to our clients and workforce:

  • appropriate consultation with colleagues and stakeholders on disability issues
  • assessment of the impact of proposals on individuals with disabilities
  • accessibility of information to all individuals with disabilities
  • compliance with all relevant legislation
  • appropriate review mechanisms.
Table 48 The Department’s Disability Action Plan 2004–07
Strategies Plans
Planning and policy development Consider the needs of people with disabilities in all planning and policy development.
Incorporate diversity (including equal opportunity) objectives into corporate planning and all relevant programme and service delivery planning.
Require successful tenders to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and other relevant legislation.
Communication Develop strategies to make information, services and documentation accessible for different groups of people with disabilities, taking language and cultural needs into account.
For public communication, ensure that our advertising is in accessible formats.
Education and training Ensure that all staff are aware through training programmes of Disability Discrimination Act provisions.
Consider the needs of people with disabilities when developing policy, designing programmes and delivering services.
Ensure that training makes employees sensitive to client diversity and its implications for policy formulation and programme delivery.
Consultation and participation Consult client groups on issues such as policy development, programme design, delivery and evaluation.
Seek to improve consultative mechanisms to ensure that we obtain the views of people with disabilities.
Accountability Provide information on equal opportunity performance requirements in annual reports and programme performance statements.
Accessibility to buildings Ensure access to all buildings for people with disabilities, including not only departmental offices but also venues for meetings and conferences.
Ensure that people with disabilities have access to appropriate signage and other information.
Appropriate consultation

During 2006–07, the Department managed programmes targeted at people with disabilities. For example, projects funded under the Recreational Fishing Community Grants Programme involved the construction of fishing platforms in Victoria and Western Australia and streambank access elsewhere, to enable recreational fishers with disabilities to pursue their pastime.

When we review our Disability Action Plan in 2007, we will consult closely with groups representing people with disabilities. Employers Making a Difference, of which we are a member, will facilitate our consultations. This not for profit organisation works to advance employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Assessment of impacts

The Department continued to assess policy, programme and project proposals for their likely impact on people with disabilities, and modified proposals accordingly. We incorporated diversity objectives into corporate planning and planning for programme and service delivery, as appropriate.

Accessibility of premises

Our recruiters and managers applied the principle of ‘reasonable adjustment’, by which we supply special access, equipment or software to employees who need it because of a disability.
In line with our Disability Action Plan, we required all successful tenders to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

We ensured that venues for conferences, meetings and launches were accessible for people with physical disabilities. Hearing loops are installed in our Canberra conference centre and amenities room, and braille signage has been incorporated in refurbished bathrooms in the building.

The fit-out of our new premises will comply with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act and Australian Standard 1428, Design rules for access and mobility. In the new accommodation, we have provided for the continued engagement of Koomarri Jobmatch in the Collie Street facility in Fyshwick.

Information accessibility

To ensure that information on the regulations we administer 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 Exceptional Circumstances assistance.

The Department maintained other freecall help lines during 2006–07, including for locust reports, avian influenza, levies, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, and the national Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline.

We adhered to the Government Online Strategy, ensuring that online information and services were accessible to all people, regardless of their technical capabilities or disabilities.

Our website (http://www.daff.gov.au) meets Australian Government standards for accessibility by incorporating all relevant priority 1 and most priority 2 and priority 3 requirements from the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Documents and announcements are made available in Word and PDF formats to accommodate the greatest range of clients.

Our website has been developed to display on all commonly used browsers and to work effectively with accessibility hardware and software. To accommodate a range of connection speeds, we minimise the size of each page. Our web pages are scaleable, to accommodate various common screen resolutions.

To make employment in the Department accessible to all, we supplied information to job applicants in a range of alternative accessible formats on request (within one day for electronic formats and two days for printed formats). We provided our TTY number in all job advertisements, as well as a 24 hour answering machine number for people who had difficulty accessing selection documents online. In addition, we made adjustments for people with disabilities when they attended employment interviews.

Centrelink delivers payments on our behalf under drought-related and some other programmes, and so comes into close contact with many people with disabilities. Our purchaser–provider arrangement with Centrelink includes that agency’s use of its own special action plans and facilities for people with disabilities, including the use of TTY phones, accessible websites, Freecall help lines and interpreter services. In response to identified need, Centrelink produces braille publications for clients.

Legislative compliance

During 2006–07, our employment policies, procedures and practices complied with all relevant legislation, including the Workplace Relations Act 1996, the Disability Discrimination Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 and the Public Service Act 1999.

The Department’s Collective Agreement 2006–2009 ensures that our internal policies and procedures will continue to meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act through providing flexible work arrangements and various means to ensure a balance between work and personal life.

Review mechanisms

The Disability Action Plan 2004–07 committed the Department to a regular review of the plan, reporting on and identifying areas for further development.

We have a number of mechanisms in place to respond to concerns raised by employees. These include a network of trained occupational health and safety, harassment and first aid officers who are available to assist employees with concerns or problems in the workplace.

During 2006–07, other avenues available to our staff to pursue complaints or grievances included:

  • the dispute settlement procedures in the Department’s Collective Agreement 2006–09
  • formal complaint resolution mechanisms under the Public Service Act
  • the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

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