Commonwealth Disability Strategy

Under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy, the department has the roles of service provider and employer. The strategy requires the department to have in place a Disability Action Plan which contains measures to eliminate disability discrimination while performing its two roles.

Service provider role

Participants involved in committee inquiries, Senate lectures and PEO programs were invited to identify any special needs.

Information was readily available to staff on the types of services and equipment available to assist people with disabilities and the contact details needed to obtain assistance.

Disability groups were notified, as appropriate, of committee inquiries that were directly relevant to their members.

To help people with disabilities, the department provided:

  • a captioning service for the televised proceedings of the Senate chamber with functions for changing the font size, colour and style to enhance readability
  • access to a TTY (teletypewriter) for people with hearing disabilities
  • information technology equipment for special needs
  • Adobe tools to help people with vision impairment to access PDF documents on the Senate homepage
  • access to the National Relay Service, which can provide information in a form suitable for converting to teletype
  • committee documents (such as reports, submissions and Hansards of hearings) in hard copy, on the internet and on CD-ROM; larger committee documents on the internet were split into smaller files to aid downloading and printing
  • information on the internet and intranet in formats that facilitate user access and downloading, and in a layout and font size that would assist people with vision impairment
  • email contact details, internet addresses and details of the TTY service on various literature and publicity material
  • interpreter services for witnesses at committee hearings and for students attending PEO programs
  • special parking arrangements for people attending hearings
  • Senate lecture transcripts in hard copy
  • audio loops for those attending Senate lectures and hearings
  • adjustments of role-play techniques in PEO programs to meet the needs of students with intellectual disabilities, and the option of different coloured paper for hand-outs to students with colour blindness.

Senators and their support staff were informed of the availability of specialised furniture, equipment and transport to meet the needs of people with disabilities. Special mouses, keyboards, flat screen monitors and wrist rests were readily available.

Employer role

Measures taken to assist job applicants with disabilities included:

  • providing a Parliament House TTY service to allow those with hearing impairment to obtain information on vacancies and the application process
  • making recruitment material accessible in hard copy and on the internet
  • inviting applicants to identify special requirements to help them participate fully in selection processes
  • advising selection panels of people’s special needs, and the requirement to apply the principles of merit, equity, fairness and reasonable adjustment when selecting staff.

Measures taken to assist staff with disabilities included:

  • assessing workstations for all new employees within the first two weeks of their employment, and modifying the workstations if required
  • responding promptly to requests for special workstation equipment or adjustments
  • providing hard copies of overheads to seminar attendees to help staff with eyesight difficulties participate fully in training
  • placing departmental policies and documents on the intranet and providing them in hard copy if required
  • providing the department’s information bulletin in two formats—either as hard copy or converted to PDF and loaded onto the intranet
  • making readily available to staff information on the procedures to use when requesting a review of an employment-related action.