Commonwealth disability strategy

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

In accordance with the plan, in 2008–09:

  • Senators and their support staff were informed that specialised furniture, equipment and transport were available to meet the needs of people with a disability.
  • Departmental staff had access to information on the types of services and equipment available to assist people with a disability, and to the contact details needed to obtain assistance.
  • Disability groups were notified, as appropriate, of committee inquiries that were directly relevant to their members.
  • Participants in committee inquiries, Senate lectures and Parliamentary Education Office (PEO) programs were invited to identify their special needs.
  • The PEO designed its role-play programs to cater for the needs of students with hearing difficulties, colour blindness and intellectual disabilities.

Figure 23 describes the facilities, publications and services that the department provided to assist members of the public in 2008–09.

Figure 23 Assistance for members of the public who have a disability

A captioning service for the televised proceedings of the Senate chamber, with functions for changing the font size, colour and style of captions to enhance readability

Access to a TTY (teletypewriter) for people with a hearing disability

Information technology equipment for special needs

A link to software to help people with vision impairment to access some types of PDF documents on the department’s website

Audio loops for people attending Senate lectures and hearings

Special parking arrangements for people attending Senate lectures and hearings

Seating suitable for people with a disability in waiting areas


Committee documents (such as reports, submissions and Hansards) available in hard copy, on the internet and, in most cases, on CD

Large documents available on the internet split into smaller files to aid downloading and printing

Departmental information available on the internet in formats that aid user access and downloading, with layouts and font sizes that assist people with vision impairment

Access through the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to video footage of lectures

Senate lecture transcripts in hard copy

Email contact details, internet addresses and details of the TTY service on publications and publicity materials


Interpreter services for witnesses attending committee hearings and for students attending Parliamentary Education Office programs

A personal escort for people with a disability attending Senate seminars