Since 1994, Commonwealth departments and agencies have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy, which required each of them to have in place a disability action plan. In 2007–08, reporting by executive agencies on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service Report and the APS Statistical Bulletin (available at www.apsc.gov.au). From 2010–11, departments and agencies are no longer required to report on these functions.
In addition, the Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been superseded by a new National Disability Strategy which sets out a ten-year national policy framework for improving life for Australians with disability, their families and carers. A high level report to track progress for people with disability at a national level will be produced by the Standing Council on Community, Housing and Disability Services to the Council of Australian Governments and will be available at www.fahcsia.gov.au. The Social Inclusion Measurement and Reporting Strategy agreed by the Government in December 2009 will also include some reporting on disability matters in its regular How Australia is Faring report and, if appropriate, in strategic change indicators in agency annual reports. More detail on social inclusion matters can be found at www.socialinclusion.gov.au.
As this department is not subject to the Australian Public Service Commission reporting requirements, this year it will continue to report on measures in its current disability action plan to support the elimination of disability discrimination. Although the department initiated a review of its disability action plan in 2011, as the Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been superseded by the new National Disability Strategy, consideration will be given to the most appropriate strategy for the department in the future.
In accordance with the department’s disability action plan, in 2010–11:
- the Committee Office trialled a service to convert committee submissions to HTML format to assist visually impaired people
- departmental staff had access to information on the types of services and equipment available to assist people with disability, and to the relevant contact details to obtain assistance
- committee secretariat staff had information about disability access to venues outside Parliament House
- disability groups were notified, as appropriate, of committee inquiries that were directly relevant to their members
- recruitment applicants and participants in committee inquiries, occasional lectures and Parliamentary Education Office ( PEO) programs were invited to identify any special needs
- PEO role-play programs cater for the needs of students with hearing difficulties, colour blindness and intellectual disabilities.
Figure 22 describes the facilities, publications and services that the department provided in 2010–11 to assist members of the public with disability.
Figure 22 Assistance for members of the public who have disability
captioning of the televised proceedings of the Senate chamber, with functions for changing font size, colour and style of captions to enhance readability
access to a teletypewriter (TTY) facility through the Parliament House switchboard for people with a hearing or speech impairment
a link through the committees homepage to software to assist visually impaired people with access to PDF committee documents
audio loops for people attending the department’s occasional lectures and committee hearings in Parliament House
special parking arrangements for people attending occasional lectures and committee hearings
seating available in waiting areas for people with disability
committee documents (such as reports, submissions and Hansards) available in hard copy, on the internet and, in most cases, on CD
Senate and departmental information available on the internet in formats that aid user access, downloading and printing, with layouts and font sizes which can be manipulated by visually impaired people
access through the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian Public Affairs Channel to broadcasts of selected occasional lectures
live audio broadcasts of most interstate committee public hearings were available
occasional lecture transcripts available in hard copy and as WMV and MP3 files on the internet
email contact details or internet addresses on publications and publicity materials and details of the TTY service on committee webpage ‘How to make a submission’
interpreter services for witnesses attending committee hearings and for students attending PEO programs
a personal escort for people with disability attending departmental seminars and occasional lectures
national relay service utilised by PEO for contact with hearing or visually impaired people
transcription facility available to assist visually impaired people to prepare submissions to committee inquiries
trial of a service to convert committee submissions to HTML format to assist visually impaired people