Social justice and equity

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The Department practises the principles of social justice and equity detailed in the Charter of Public Service in a Culturally Diverse Society, and we use publications, websites, CD ROMs, meetings and advisory panels to promote those principles.

We ensure that we are always accessible and fair when working with our clients. We want to communicate effectively with all Australians, including people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and people with disabilities. In 2006–07, we continued to:

  • consult a wide range of people and groups at all levels when developing and implementing policies and programmes
  • use a variety of media to inform people about new policies, programmes and regulations
  • consider the needs of all in purchasing and providing service.

In the latest edition of the Access and equity annual report (2005), the then Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs rated our performance against 11 access and equity key performance indicators. The report noted that we met 100% of the relevant indicators, indicating our compliance with the Australian Government’s Charter of Public Service in a Culturally Diverse Society.

The report found that we met 82% of the indicators ‘well’, which is the highest achievable rating. This was a significant improvement on our rating of 73% in the 2004 report, and well above the average for Australian Government departments of 62%.

During the year, the Department contributed information to the successor to the Access and equity annual report, which will be published as Accessible government services for all by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship later in 2007.

As a practical contribution to social justice and equity, we had Koomarri Jobmatch package and distribute our 2005–06 annual report.

In addition to Department wide initiatives to promote social justice and equity, individual programmes and divisions make particular contributions.

The Envirofund programme circulates pamphlets widely and has a translation service available for people from various language groups.

To assist groups with their applications, the Community Water Grants Programme has a call centre with a translation service, staff to transcribe applications for callers with disabilities, and access for people with poor or no internet access.

The Department’s natural resource management (NRM) team includes an indigenous team that presents the objectives and strategies of indigenous communities to regional NRM bodies and state and territory NRM joint steering committees. We also recruit indigenous land management facilitators to ensure effective communication and engagement with indigenous stakeholders.

The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service recruited indigenous Australians through entry level and graduate programmes. Employees in the Far North took part in men’s and women’s community leadership programmes during the year.

To support future public relations activities targeting farmers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, we commissioned market research to assess their knowledge, attitudes and behaviours in regard to highly pathogenic avian influenza. We also commissioned a multicultural public relations agency to develop an education and awareness strategy to strengthen biosecurity among peri urban farmers, many of whom have English as a second language.

Internationally, our capacity building projects in Southeast Asia seek to reduce poverty among local farmers by building the technical capacity of regional agriculture agencies. Typically, these activities involve greater numbers of female participants than males.

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