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Appendix 4

Commonwealth Disability Strategy

The department continued to implement the Commonwealth Disability Strategy (CDS) in its core roles as policy adviser, provider and employer. Our policies and Service Charters—the Passports Australia Client Service Charter and the Consular Services Charter—expressed our commitment to providing appropriate and equitable services to people with disabilities.

The department’s Workplace Diversity Program (WDP) includes specific reference to our commitment to employees with disabilities. In 2002–03, we introduced and trialled the departmental Workforce Skills Scheme to facilitate the development of workforce skills and experience, including for people with disabilities. Under the Scheme, we provided a three-month placement, from late April 2003, for a trainee employee with a disability in the department’s Information Management Branch, where the trainee undertook information technology (IT) system support duties.

We also continued to seek new and improved ways of meeting the needs of individual employees with disabilities, including improved procedures to assist the movement of employees with limited vision within the department’s headquarters in Canberra, the R G Casey Building, and assistance to expand work opportunities for employees with physical and learning disabilities.

To support employees with sight impairment and physical disability in typing, the department’s IT Change Review Board facilitated the installation of WDP-related applications for SATIN, the Australian Government’s secure international communications system. Officers with sight disabilities were provided with Zoomtext and Jaws software programs and with 21-inch flat screen monitors, and officers unable to type have access to Dragon Dictate software to produce documents.

We promoted the WDP throughout the year through a network of Workplace Diversity Contact Officers in all divisions, passport, state and territory offices, and overseas posts. The officers disseminated information to employees and ensured continuing awareness of the needs and contributions of employees with disabilities.

As at June 2003, approximately 1.5 per cent of our employees identified themselves as having a disability. The collection of more comprehensive baseline data and the implementation of mechanisms for monitoring performance on CDS issues continue to be under review as areas for further improvement.

Policy advisor role
Performance indicator Performance measure Current level of performance, 2002–03
New or revised program/policy proposals assess the impact on the lives of people with disabilities prior to decision Percentage of new or revised policy/program proposals that document that the impact of the proposal was considered prior to the decision-making stage The department’s role in formulating Australia’s foreign and trade policies is such that its direct impact on people with disabilities, if any, cannot be quantified easily. Where Australia participates, for example, in an international meeting involving the rights of the disabled, the relevant Australian Government agency would have prime carriage for developing Australia’s position, including consultation as appropriate with the disabled community.
People with disabilities are included in consultations about new or revised policy/program proposals Percentage of consultations about new or revised policy/program proposals that are developed in consultation with people with disabilities See above comment.
Public announcements of new, revised or proposed policy/program initiatives are available in accessible formats for people with disabilities in a timely manner Percentage of new, revised or proposed policy/program announcements in a range of accessible formats

Time taken in providing announcements in accessible formats
New policies are placed on the Internet at www.dfat.gov.au. The department’s Workforce Skills Scheme was advertised in the Public Service Gazette in April 2003. Policies are expressed in clear English. The department is committed to making documents available in other formats (for example audio, large print) on request.


Provider role
Performance indicator Performance measure Current level of performance, 2002–03
Providers have established mechanisms for quality improvement and assurance Evidence of quality improvement and assurance systems in operation Access to online consular services meets the accessibility standards set by the National Office for the Information Economy for people with disabilities or technical constraints, for example low bandwidth users.

Information on travelling with a disability is included from time to time in the Consular newsletter.

Client responses on the provision of consular services have made no references or requests concerning areas of improvement for people with disabilities.

Client responses to Passports Australia’s feedback questionnaires have made no references or requests concerning areas of improvement for people with disabilities.

Revised physical security arrangements in the department during the year took into account the needs of people with disabilities. These include special escort arrangements.
Providers have an established service charter that specifies the roles of provider and consumer and service standards which address accessibility for people with disabilities Established service charter that adequately reflects the needs of people with disabilities in operation The department has a Consular Services Charter in place. The Charter states the department’s commitment to provide consular services in an equitable way, including for Australians with disabilities.

Passports Australia’s Client Service Charter includes a commitment to the provision of appropriate passport services for people with disabilities. In 2002–03 the department began a review of the Passports Australia Client Service Charter and the needs of people with disabilities form part of the review.
Complaints/grievance mechanisms, including access to external mechanisms, in place to address concerns raised about performance Established complaints/grievance mechanisms, including access to external mechanisms, in operation The department has complaints and grievances mechanisms to handle any matters relating to harassment and discrimination, including concerning people with disabilities.

Passports Australia’s Client Service Charter states that complaints and other feedback can be provided to the Australian Passport Information Service; to the Passports Australia website; and directly in writing or by email to the Director, Passport Operations Section.

The Consular Services Charter outlines mechanisms for lodging complaints, including an online form which can be submitted electronically, or sent by facsimile, raising it directly with the overseas office concerned, or directly in writing to the Assistant Secretary, Consular Branch.

Complainants can use external mechanisms such as the Commonwealth Ombudsman, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.


Employer role
Performance indicator Performance measure Current level of performance, 2002–03
Employment policies, procedures and practices comply with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 Number of employment policies, procedures and practices that meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 The department’s Certified Agreement 2000–03 precludes discrimination on the basis of physical or mental disability, consistent with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

The department’s Workplace Diversity Program precludes discrimination on the basis of physical and mental disability, consistent with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.
Recruitment information for potential job applicants is available in accessible formats on request Percentage of recruitment information requested and provided in:
— accessible electronic formats
— accessible formats other than electronic

Average time taken to provide accessible material in:
— electronic format
— formats other than electronic
Although no data are available on the percentage of recruitment information requested in accessible format, the department is committed to ensuring that recruitment information in accessible format is available on request.

Guidelines provided to employee Selection Advisory Committees include advice to avoid discrimination on the grounds of disability, and reference to its legal underpinning.

Recruitment documentation makes provision for potential applicants to identify any special needs as part of the recruitment process.
Agency recruiters and managers apply the principle of 'reasonable adjustment' Percentage of recruiters and managers provided with information on 'reasonable adjustment' All recruitment/employment managers are aware of and implement, as a matter of routine, the principle of ‘reasonable adjustment’ to the extent practicable. Examples of adjustment made by the department include the use of specific interpreters; large computer screens for the visually impaired; provision of voice-activated software; and specially designed furniture as appropriate.
Training and development programs consider the needs of staff with disabilities Percentage of training and development programs that consider the needs of staff with disabilities All training and development programs take into account the needs of individuals with disabilities on a case-by-case basis.
Training and development programs include information on disability issues as they relate to the content of the program Percentage of training and development programs that include information on disability issues as they relate to the program Information on disability issues is included in all training and development programs including leadership, graduate and pre-posting training.
Complaints/grievance mechanisms, including access to external mechanisms, in place to address issues raised by staff Established complaints/ grievance mechanisms, including access to external mechanisms, in operation The department has established complaints/grievances mechanisms as part of its human resource management arrangements. These include the Workplace Diversity Contact Officer Network and the Workplace Relations Committee.

 

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Annual Report 2002–2003
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