1001.0 - Annual Report - ABS Annual Report, 2003-04  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/10/2004   
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Contents >> Section 6 - Appendixes >> Appendix 6 - Commonwealth Disability Strategy

This appendix provides information on the ABS' performance in implementing the Commonwealth Disability Strategy (CDS). The ABS has two roles in implementing the CDS - these are provider and employer. The performance indicators for both roles are reported against below.

Provider Role

Performance Indicator 1. Providers have established mechanisms for quality improvement and assurance

The ABS is committed to making its online services as accessible as possible so that no group is excluded from access to our services. We aim to meet our obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and strive to comply with World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C's) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0. The ABS' Online Action Plan https://www.abs.gov.au/actionplan outlines our approach to online services between 2002 and 2004.

The ABS' web site met W3C Priority 1 Guidelines by December 2000, except for W3C guidelines 5.1 and 5.2 relating to ensuring the accessibility of tables (by using appropriate meta-tags). The web site contains many thousands of tables for data with differing layouts, and these tables are continually being updated. For technical reasons, tables in these formats are not easily tagged. Numerous potential solutions to tagging these tables have been investigated, but at this stage none have provided a means to do it at a reasonable cost. The ABS continues to investigate how tables can be tagged to meet the W3C guidelines. In the meantime, the ABS provides a free conversion service where visually impaired users can ask for files to be converted to a suitable format. For further information see 'Information for Visually Impaired Clients' on our web site.

For the 2006 census, the ABS plans to provide an electronic method of form completion (as well as by paper). The 2006 census electronic form completion method will comply with W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Performance Indicator 2. Providers have an established service charter that specifies the roles of the provider and consumer and service standards which address accessibility for people with disabilities

The ABS has a Client Service Charter which describes the relationship between the ABS and users of its products and services. The charter describes a number of dissemination methods which may assist people with disabilities. As mentioned above, the ABS provides a free conversion service where visually impaired users can ask for data files to be converted to a suitable format.

Performance Indicator 3. Complaints/grievance mechanisms, including access to external mechanisms, in place to address concerns raised about performance

The ABS' Client Service Charter outlines the complaints/grievance mechanisms which are in place to address concerns raised about the ABS' performance. The Client Service Charter can be found on the ABS web site.

Employer Role

Performance Indicator 1. Employment policies, procedures and practices comply with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992

All ABS policies have been developed in line with the Australian Public Service (APS) Values. These values concord with the principles of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) in terms of eliminating discrimination, promoting equity and responding to the diverse needs of the Australian community. These values are also upheld in the ABS Corporate Plan, the ABS Workplace Diversity Program and the ABS Certified Agreement. Reviews of ABS policies, procedures and practices are undertaken as necessary and when these occur the principles of Workplace Diversity (including those of the Commonwealth Disability Strategy) will be considered.

ABS policies that have been produced specifically to comply with the DDA are the Reasonable Workplace Adjustment Guidelines and the Disability Action Plan (currently being finalised).

Reasonable Workplace Adjustment Guidelines

The Reasonable Workplace Adjustment Guidelines have been used to raise awareness of disability issues in areas such as recruitment, workplace performance and learning and development.

Disability Action Plan

The main purpose of the Disability Action Plan is to assist the ABS to provide equal opportunity and access for its staff and clients with disabilities and to identify strategies to continually improve our capacity in this regard.

The drafting of the Disability Action Plan is nearing finalisation and will be released later in 2004. Hard copies of the Disability Action Plan and the DAPCheck (a checklist from the Disability Action Plan) will be distributed to all staff. An electronic copy will also be available on the ABS Intranet. Information sessions and newspoint articles will be provided to ensure all staff are aware of the Plan and their responsibilities in relation to it.

Performance Indicator 2. Recruitment information for potential job applicants is available in accessible formats on request

ABS job vacancies are advertised in the Public Service Gazette in hard copy and electronically, and on the ABS web site.

The ABS web site provides recruitment material and corporate information for potential applicants in HTML and PDF formats. If required, the same information can be provided in plain text or hard copy by contacting the contact officer.

The ABS Application Cover sheet, which applicants are required to return with their applications, contain provisions for requesting any additional requirements in the event of interviews such as interpreters and other aids.

Performance Indicator 3. Agency recruiters and managers apply the principle of 'reasonable adjustment'

A large amount of information is made available in the corporate manuals and workplace diversity databases on reasonable adjustment and the selection process. Selection panels are made aware of this information and the processes for putting it into practice.

The ABS application cover sheet (part B) has an area provided to enable the ABS selection panel to seek information with regard to possible reasonable adjustment requirements for the interview situation.

When new starters commence, the Occupational Health and Safety area undertakes a workplace assessment to assess any special needs and to discuss and assist in implementing as appropriate, reasonable adjustment strategies with the relevant line manager.

Performance Indicators 4 and 5. Training and development programs consider the needs of staff with disabilities and include information on disability issues as they relate to the content of the program

ABS Learning and Development (L&D) training and development activities consider the diversity needs of staff as outlined in the ABS Workplace Diversity Program and the Reasonable Workplace Adjustment Guidelines. L&D provides guidance to line managers and employees about their role and responsibilities and provide support information to employees.

In accordance with the disability strategy all training and development activities were:

  • learner centred
  • designed using an instructional design phase that considers the diverse needs and learning styles of our trainees
  • delivered and event managed with activities that provide for the reasonable adjustment requirements of the trainees, such as specific hearing, language/translator and mobility issues
  • designed to continue the work with specific components on disability and reasonable adjustment in management and leadership development aspects of programs.
Performance Indicator 6. Complaints/grievance mechanisms, including access to external mechanisms, in place to address issues and concerns raised by staff

The ABS has several mechanisms in place to assist all ABS employees, including those with disabilities, to resolve issues. These mechanisms include support networks to assist staff and a well defined process to resolve workplace issues internally. The ABS also provides information to employees about external appeal mechanisms.

Workplace Diversity network

The ABS has a network of Workplace Diversity advisers throughout all ABS offices who provide information to staff on the options for resolving complaints. Workplace Diversity Advisers are responsible for the local implementation of national strategies in relation to workplace diversity.

Harassment and Workplace Support network

The ABS has a network of Harassment and Workplace Support (HWS) contacts throughout all ABS offices who provide objective and unbiased support to people who feel they have been harassed or discriminated against. The harassment or discrimination could be due to a wide number of issues including a person's disability. HWS volunteers receive comprehensive training for this role and are supported by the ABS workplace diversity advisers.

People Management Section

In recognition of the importance and value of its people, the ABS has established a dedicated section to deal with people issues, including issues of discrimination and harassment.

Employee Assistance Program

The ABS provides all employees with access to an external contracted Employee Assistance Program where confidential and professional assistance is provided for personal, family related, or work issues.

ABS Workplace Diversity Program

The ABS has a Workplace Diversity Program in place to give effect to the APS Values and the principle of equal employment opportunity in the workplace. The ABS aims to have workplace diversity principles underpinning all aspects of ABS human resource management including the resolution of workplace issues and complaints. This program is available via the ABS Intranet and in hard copy. The current plan is under review and an updated plan will be available by the end of 2004.

Processes for resolving workplace issues

In addition to more formal mechanisms set out in the Public Service Act 1999, the ABS has agreed internal procedures for resolving workplace issues. These procedures were established under the ABS Certified Agreement 2003-2006. They have worked particularly well in assisting early, effective resolution of issues.

The key aim is to sort out problems quickly, informally and as close to the workplace as possible. Employees are encouraged to use these procedures whenever possible, however the more formal mechanisms remain available under the current APS employment framework.

Information for employees

Information on both internal and external processes (including action under section 33 of the Public Service Act 1999, and disputes about matters covered by the ABS Certified Agreement) is provided to all employees via the ABS Intranet.

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