Agency Multicultural Plan 2013-2015

This Agency Multicultural Plan covers the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Other portfolio agencies have separate AMPs or have received exemptions

Our vision for Multicultural Access and Equity

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) strives to present to the world an image of Australia that closely reflects our social and cultural diversity – an image that DFAT’s staff increasingly reflects and is able to project overseas directly.  Our support for this diversity hinges on our efforts to provide the best possible access for Australians of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to services allowing them to travel overseas as safely as possible.  At the same time, we are reaching out ever more to communities in Australia to inform those aspects of Australia’s foreign policy aimed at creating greater inter-cultural understanding throughout the world.

Our Agency

The department is responsible for advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally.  To this end, we work with other government agencies to ensure that Australia’s pursuit of its global, regional and bilateral interests is coordinated effectively.

DFAT is the lead agency managing Australia's international presence through a network of 95 overseas posts in 77 countries.  Over 4,200 staff in Canberra, state and territory offices and overseas posts, including locally engaged staff, are focused on achieving outcomes in three areas:

  • advancing Australia’s international strategic, security and economic interests through bilateral, regional and multilateral engagement;
  • protecting and ensuring the welfare of Australians abroad through timely and responsive travel advice and consular and passport services in Australia and overseas; and
  • securing Australia’s presence overseas through the provision of security services and information and communications technology infrastructure, and the management of the Commonwealth’s overseas owned estate.

Our AMP

This AMP was developed in consultation with functional and policy divisions of DFAT, as well as state and territory offices.  It seeks to ensure that DFAT’s client services aimed at helping Australians travel or reside abroad as safely as possible – especially in relation to passports and consular assistance – remain best practice in interactions with people from CALD backgrounds. The AMP also strives to increase awareness of Multicultural Access and Equity issues throughout the department to improve ways of presenting both Australia’s foreign and trade policy priorities to CALD communities, as well as an image of Australia as a socially and culturally inclusive society abroad.

Leadership

Through its overseas operations and networks, DFAT has unique experience, among Australian government agencies, in dealing directly with a broad range of cultural and linguistic contexts. The department draws on this experience in engaging effectively with CALD clients in Australia and overseas.

Minimum Obligations:

  • Executive Accountability – Agency to assign a Senior Executive Officer to be responsible for implementation of Multicultural Access and Equity obligations in the agency
  • Agency commitment – Agency leadership to ensure that staff understand and are committed to Multicultural Access and Equity implementation.
  Action Responsibility Timeline Target
Executive Accountability      
1.1.1 The department will appoint a Senior Executive Service Multicultural Champion who will have responsibility for promoting the AMP and oversighting its implementation throughout the agency. First Assistant Secretary, Corporate Management Division June 2013 Appointment of Multicultural Champion
1.2 Agency Commitment      
1.2.1 Division Heads, State and Territory Office Directors and Heads of Mission/Post will promote multicultural access and equity obligations to all staff and will publicise commitments under the AMP. The Multicultural Champion will also review – on a biannual basis – progress on AMP commitments with key departmental stakeholders interacting with CALD communities. Multicultural Champion July 2013, followed by six-monthly reviews Biannual review of implementation of AMP commitments

Engagement

DFAT’s effective interaction with CALD communities enhances their understanding of the department’s provision of passport and consular services to the Australian public, as well as an awareness of Australia’s foreign policy and trade priorities affecting those communities’ countries of origin.

Minimum Obligations:

  • Stakeholder Engagement – Agency to have an engagement strategy to understand CALD communities’ interaction with agency
  • Language and Communication – Agency to have a language and communication plan for CALD communities, including on the use of languages other than English and incorporating the use of interpreters and translators.
  Action Responsibility Timeline Target
2.1 Stakeholder Engagement      
2.1.1 DFAT will deepen engagement with representatives of CALD communities and representative bodies through bilateral Foundations, Councils and Institutes (FCIs) administered by DFAT, including by actively considering appropriate CALD representatives to recommend to the Minister for Board appointments, implementing the Minister’s request to FCI Chairs that they support programs focused on cultural overlap, and encouraging innovative funding applications from relevant CALD communities. FCIs July 2013-June 2015 Multicultural Champion to review recommendations made by FCIs based on feedback from CALD communities
2.1.2 Subject to recommendations from FCI Boards, DFAT will continue to fund and implement relevant FCI programs to strengthen cultural understanding, such as the Australia-Indonesia Institute’s Muslim Exchange Program, Australia-Thailand Institute’s Next Generation Community Leaders Program and the Australia-Malaysia Institute’s cultural exchange program, the Asia-Australia BRIDGE school partnerships program and the Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program. FCIs July 2013-June 2015 Improved cultural linkages between FCI target countries and Australia, measured by number and quality of sponsored events.
2.1.3 DFAT will continue to support interfaith dialogue initiatives, such as the Cultural Overlap Roundtable hosted by the Minister in July 2012, which included representatives from multicultural foundations and representatives from various faiths, to advance interfaith and inter-cultural dialogue internationally. International Organisations and Legal Division February 2014 (likely timing of next Alliance of Civilisations meeting). Productive contribution to outcomes at relevant bilateral and multilateral fora, including the UN Alliance of Civilisations.
2.1.4 Among the key goals of DFAT’s Public Diplomacy Strategy is to strengthen Australia’s international reputation through messaging that highlights, among other things, the social assets from our multicultural community. DFAT will continue to incorporate where appropriate multicultural organisations in International Cultural Visitor (ICV) and International Media Visitor (IMV) programs. Public Diplomacy Branch July 2013-June 2015 Accurate international appreciation of Australia’s social and cultural diversity.
2.2 Language and Communication      
2.2.1 DFAT offers training in 27 languages to staff and encourages staff to maintain linguistic skills through payment of a Language Proficiency Allowance based on regular examination. DFAT will endeavour further to expand offers of week-long immersion courses and regular conversation classes. Language Studies Unit, Staffing Branch July 2013-June 2015 Increase in foreign language proficiency among DFAT officers
2.2.2 DFAT provides access to DIAC’s Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) and the National Relay Service (NRS) at passport interviews and for consular contacts, as required, and through the Australian Passport Information Service. Further enhancements will be made to alert clients to these services. Australian Passport Office; Consular, Public Diplomacy and Parliamentary Affairs Division August 2013 Passport website and publications to reference TIS and NRS services
2.2.3 The department will explore ways of improving officers’ use of interpreters, including through the development of a training module. Language Studies Unit, Staffing Branch September 2014 Review of mechanisms for improving use of interpreters
2.2.4 DFAT will develop a Language and Communication Plan in line with the Multicultural Language Services Guidelines for Government Agencies. This will include guidance on referral to the TIS and NRS by consular operations and APO staff and outreach activities related to the Smartraveller campaign, including in target languages. At overseas posts, locally engaged and some Australia-based staff regularly service Australian clients with CALD backgrounds in their native languages. Director, Management Strategy, Conduct and Diversity Section June 2014 Language and Communication Plan is approved by Senior Executive and is made available to staff

Performance

DFAT is committed to making measureable progress in uptake of Smartraveller services and obtaining positive feedback on the department’s efforts to make its services more accessible to CALD communities to help all Australians travel overseas as safely as possible. DFAT also sees value in ensuring that Australia’s international engagement is, where appropriate, informed by views from CALD communities.

Minimum Obligations:

  • Performance indicators and reporting – Agency to develop a set of KPIs relating to engagement with, or outcomes of services to, CALD clients.
  • Feedback – Agency to have arrangements to ensure affected CALD communities are able to provide feedback on agency Multicultural Access and Equity performance.
  Action Responsibility Timeline Target
3.1 Performance indicators and reporting      
3.1.1 Review and overhaul passports website to ensure compatibility with government accessibility standards, including in relation to CALD communities. Australian Passport Office February 2015 Transition to new website platform. Development of new online application form
3.1.2 DFAT has engaged a consultant to develop outreach activities for CALD groups to improve understanding of Smartraveller services, covering Mandarin, Hindi, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Arabic and Bahasa (based on speakers of these languages having highest population growth rate and highest propensity to travel). Consular, Public Diplomacy and Parliamentary Affairs Division June 2014 Improved awareness of the availability of Smartraveller services, particularly in target communities
3.1.3 As part of its paid advertising, DFAT has provided live reads and interviews for radio in target languages and introduced ‘Readspeaker’ (text-to-speech technology) to improve the accessibility of the Smartraveller website. Consular, Public Diplomacy and Parliamentary Affairs Division June 2014 Improved awareness of the availability of Smartraveller services, particularly in target communities
3.2 Feedback      
3.2.1 DFAT will explore ways of gathering feedback from service users and assisting them to navigate sites to locate information required, including through a feedback facility on webpages that also provides a link to the TIS and NRS for CALD users. Australian Passport Office December 2013- June 2014 Review of CALD provisions for improved feedback mechanisms
3.2.2 Head of Mission/Post-designates will ensure consultation with relevant CALD community leaders during pre and mid-posting consultations to obtain feedback directly. HOM/HOP   Expansion of more direct channels of feedback and communication between CALD communities and Australia’s overseas missions

Capability

DFAT has uniquely strong expertise in cultural and foreign language competency, owing to the international focus of its operations. DFAT staff are competent in more than 30 languages and have broad-ranging experience in dealing with foreign government officials and other representatives.  The increasing diversity of DFAT officers, including many born overseas, has also contributed to the department’s ability to more directly present a multicultural image of Australia overseas.

Minimum Obligations:

  • Cultural Competency – Agency to have training and development measures to equip staff with cultural competency skills.
  • Research and data – Agency to collect ethnicity data on the CALD groups with which the agency engages and to which it delivers services directly or indirectly.
  Action Responsibility Timeline Target
4.1 Cultural Competency      
4.1.1 DFAT will expand targeted cultural awareness sessions for staff, including a portfolio-wide one-day Islamic Awareness course, to be also incorporated into mandatory annual training for DFAT Graduate Trainees. Training, Development and Performance Management Section, Staffing Branch November and May each year Cultural; awareness sessions provided to staff
4.1.2 DFAT will broaden efforts to ensure Australian Passports Office counter staff and consular officers have a high degree of cultural sensitivity. Australian Passport Office; Consular, Public Diplomacy and Parliamentary Affairs Division June 2014 All APO counter staff to have undertaken CALD-related training (PET module)
4.2 Research and data      
4.2.1 Review of options for collecting and using ethnicity data. Given that clients may prefer not to volunteer such information, such options could include monitoring frequency of access to electronic information in target languages and rate of recourse to interpreting services. DFAT will consult with other agencies, which have more interaction with CALD communities, on data collection mechanisms. Multicultural Champion July 2013-June 2015 Implementation of recommended options

Responsiveness

DFAT is committed to delivering consular assistance in a prompt and effective fashion and to ensure effective passport services for all Australians. The department is also attentive to issues raised by CALD community groups in relation to aspects of Australia’s foreign and trade policies.

Minimum Obligations:

  • Standards – Any whole-of-government standards and guidelines developed by the agency must address Multicultural Access and Equity considerations.
  • Policy, program and service delivery – Provision to ensure that policies, programs, community interactions and service delivery (whether in-house or outsourced) are effective for CALD communities.
  • Outsourced services – Provision for incorporation of Multicultural Access and Equity requirements in funding agreements with states or third-party service deliverers.

State what actions your agency plans to take to improve its Multicultural Access and Equity responsiveness (complete the table below). Please number your actions for ease of reference. When considering your actions, keep in mind that the obligations can go beyond service delivery, for example policy development or communication.

  Action Responsibility Timeline Target
5.1 Standards      
5.1.1 DFAT will adhere to Multicultural Language Guidelines for Government Agencies and other relevant whole-of-government standards in ensuring compliance with multicultural access and equity obligations. Multicultural Champion December 2013, six-monthly thereafter Feedback from CALD clients to be reviewed by the Multicultural Champion
5.2 Policy, program and service delivery      
5.2.1 Update foreign language APO brochures to ensure consistency with Smartraveller. Australian Passport Office September 2013 Foreign language APO brochures consistent with Smartraveller
5.2.2 Monitor and analyse data received on those accessing the DFAT website from within Australia, where computer language is set to language other than English. Online Communications Section June 2014 Identification of additional target languages for publication of DFAT materials
5.2.3 DFAT website enhancements to include:
  • the TIS phone number among contact details
  • references to CALD considerations in DFAT’s accessibility statement.
  • references to CALD in information on accessibility on DFAT’s Intranet
Online Communications Section October 2013 Implementation of website enhancements
5.3 Outsourced services      
5.3.1 Where relevant, and in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, incorporate multicultural access and equity requirements into procurement, property and contracts. Financial Management Branch    

Openness

DFAT is committed to accountability on the quality of its service delivery to all clients, including from CALD communities, and to transparency in its efforts to receive feedback and enhance service delivery.

Minimum Obligations:

  • Publishing – Agency to publish AMP on agency website and performance reports against agency KPIs for CALD in agency annual reports.
  • Data – Agency to make CALD data available to other agencies and the public

State what actions your agency plans to take to be open and accountable about Multicultural Access and Equity (complete the table below). Please number your actions for ease of reference. When considering your actions, keep in mind that the obligations can go beyond service delivery, for example policy development or communication.

  Action Responsibility Timeline Target
6.1 Publishing      
6.1.1 The department will publish its AMP on the DFAT website. Summary reporting on progress against the AMP will be published in the DFAT Annual Report, commencing 2013-14. Director, Management Strategy Conduct and Diversity Section August 2013 Publication of DFAT AMP
6.2 Data      
6.2.1 DFAT will make available CALD data to other agencies and consult with them on their CALD data, as well as liaise with the Australian Bureau of statistics to source any useful data to inform the provision of services to CALD groups within the Australian Community Staffing Branch July 2014-June 2015 Compare CALD data between APS agencies