Appendix 6 - Commonwealth disability strategy
The ABS has two roles in implementing the Commonwealth Disability Strategy (CDS) — provider role and employer 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 its services.
The ABS aims to meet its obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and strives to comply with World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C’s) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0. The ABS’ Online Action Plan <www.abs.gov.au/action plan> outlines the ABS approach to providing online services. 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, however at this stage there has not been a cost effective solution found. The ABS continues to investigate how tables can be tagged to meet the W3C guidelines. In the interim, the ABS provides a free conversion service where visually impaired users can request files to be converted to a suitable format. For further information see ‘Information for Visually Impaired Clients’ on the ABS web site.
The ABS plans to provide an electronic method of form completion as an alternative to traditional paper form method for the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. The 2006 Census electronic form 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 Client Service Charter 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 Client Service Charter outlines the complaints and grievance mechanisms which are in place to address concerns raised about ABS’ performance. The Client Service Charter can be found on the ABS web site.
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 Values. These values concord with the principles of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 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) are considered.
ABS policies that have been produced specifically to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 are the Reasonable Workplace Adjustment Guidelines and the Disability Action Plan.
Reasonable Workplace Adjustment Guidelines
The Reasonable Workplace Adjustment Guidelines are 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 ABS’ capacity in this regard.
The Disability Action Plan and the accompanying checklist (DAPCheck) were released in December 2004. An ABS Intranet article provided information to staff on their responsibilities and to raise awareness of issues surrounding disability. Information sessions on the Disability Action Plan will be provided to ABS staff in the latter half of 2005 in conjunction with the release of the 2005–2007 Workplace Diversity Program.
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 and on the ABS web site.
The ABS web site provides recruitment material and corporate information for potential applicants in HTML and PDF formats. The ABS Application Cover Sheet, which applicants are required to return with their applications, contains provisions for requesting any additional requirements in the event of interviews such as interpreters and other aids.
Recruitment material can also be obtained through the relevant contact officer.
PERFORMANCE INDICATOR 3. AGENCY RECRUITERS AND MANAGERS APPLY THE PRINCIPLE OF 'REASONABLE ADJUSTMENT'
Internal ABS corporate manuals and workplace diversity databases have information on reasonable adjustment and the selection process. Selection panels are made aware of this information and the processes for its application.
Information gathered from the ABS Application Cover Sheet enables the ABS selection panel to seek further information with regard to possible reasonable adjustment requirements for the interview situation.
Occupational Health and Safety representatives undertake a workplace assessment to assess any special needs and to discuss and assist in implementing, as appropriate, reasonable adjustment strategies with the relevant supervisor on commencement at the ABS.
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) consider the diversity needs of staff, as outlined in the ABS Workplace Diversity Program and the Reasonable Workplace Adjustment Guidelines, when developing training and development activities. 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 internally resolve workplace issues. 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 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. Harassment and Workplace Support 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 externally 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.
The 2005–2007 Workplace Diversity Program is due to be released in August 2005. It will be distributed to staff and will be available on the ABS Intranet. Information Sessions will be provided to ensure staff are aware of their responsibilities in relation to diversity.
In October 2004, the ABS ran a comprehensive survey of employee opinions covering a number of areas affecting their employment. Areas where employees are relatively more satisfied include flexibility of employment conditions, physical environment, working relationships and social environment. Areas that have been identified as warranting priority attention include: levels of satisfaction with the use being made of employee skills/challenging work; information sharing; deadline and workload pressure; and remuneration.
The results of the survey have provided the impetus to develop strategies to address concerns and have been incorporated into the 2005–2007 Workplace Diversity Program.
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 and have worked particularly well in assisting early, effective resolution of issues. The 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 2003–2006), is provided to all employees on the ABS Intranet.