Annual Report 2003-2004
 

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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. The department implements its commitment to services for people with disabilities through human resource management policies and two service charters, the Passports Client Service Charter and the Consular Services Charter.

The department's Workplace Diversity Program (WDP) refers specifically to our commitment to employees with disabilities. In 2003–04, we engaged the services of the Royal Blind Society and Advance Personnel to develop and deliver information technology (IT) skills training for a sight impaired employee to assist in compiling the bulletin issued by the department's H V Evatt Library and to perform other IT system support duties.

To support employees with sight impairment and physical disability, the department has installed WDP-related applications for SATIN, the Australian Government's secure international communications system. Staff with sight disabilities have Zoomtext and Jaws software programs and 21-inch flat screen monitors. Employees whose disabilities prevent their use of IT keyboards have been provided with access to Dragon Dictate software to enable them 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 2004, approximately 1.3 per cent of our employees identified themselves as having a disability. We continued to seek more comprehensive baseline data and to explore means for monitoring performance on CDS issues.

Policy adviser role

Performance indicator Performance measure Current level of performance, 2003–04
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 The department regularly updates its internet site at www.dfat.gov.au to ensure that information on foreign and trade policy is current and accurate. Policies are expressed in clear English. The department makes documents available in other formats (for example audio, large print) on request.

Provider role

Performance indicator Performance measure Current level of performance, 2003–04
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 Australian Government Information Management Office.

Information for travellers with disabilities is included in the booklet Hints for Australian travellers (issued free with every passport and updated annually) and on the smartraveller website at www.smartraveller.gov.au.

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

Physical security arrangements in the department take account of 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.

The department's Passports Branch Client Service Charter includes a commitment to the provision of appropriate passport services for people with disabilities. The needs of people with disabilities were included in the review of the Charter completed in 2003–2004.
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 those which concern people with disabilities.

The department's Passports Branch Client Service Charter states that complaints and other feedback can be provided to the Australian Passport Information Service; to the passports website (www.passports.gov.au); and directly in writing or by email to the Director, Passport Operations Section.

The Consular Services Charter outlines various ways of lodging complaints. They can be taken up directly with the overseas office concerned, submitted electronically to centre.conops@dfat.gov.au, or by 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, 2003–04
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 2003–2006 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 requests for recruitment information in other accessible formats, the department ensures 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 relevant legal issues.

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 the department's policies and programs addressing disability issues is included in training and development programs.
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 department's Certified Agreement 2003–2006, the Workplace Diversity Contact Officer Network and the Workplace Relations Committee.

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Annual Report 2003–2004
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