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Annual Report - Appendix 2: Commonwealth Disability Strategy
Appendix 1Appendix 2Appendix 3Appendix 4Appendix 5Appendix 6Appendix 7Appendix 8Appendix 9Appendix 10Appendix11


The Commonwealth Disability Strategy (CDS) recognises that the Australian Government has an impact on the lives of people with disabilities through its many programs, services and facilities.

Under the CDS, Australian Government organisations assist people with disabilities to have access to government policies, programs and services. The Department reports against a series of performance indicators in addressing CDS requirements.


Performance Indicator: New or Revised Program/Policy Proposals Assess Impact on the Lives of People with Disabilities Prior to Decision.

The Department takes into account issues relevant to disability groups and people with disabilities when developing and revising programs and policies, for example:
  • the impact on people with disabilities was considered in the development of the new National HIV/AIDS Strategy 2005-08;
  • the Aged Care Innovative Pool included a category of services for people with both disabilities and aged care needs who live in State and Territory-provided disability supported accommodation. This involved meeting the needs of ageing people with disabilities who are at risk of being admitted to aged care homes because their increasing care needs cannot be met through disability support systems alone. Pilot flexible care places were also available, focusing on assisting younger people with disabilities who reside in aged care homes to make the transition to more appropriate accommodation;
  • the National Respite for Carers Program (NRCP) targeted carers of frail older people and younger people with disabilities. All new policy or program proposals were assessed according to their impact on disabled people in line with NRCP policy directions and program guidelines; and
  • the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) Human Genetics Advisory Committee continued to consider the impact of human genetics and related technologies and provided advice on how they might best benefit Australians, including those with a disability resulting from a genetic disorder.

Performance Indicator: People with Disabilities are Included in Consultations about New or Revised Policy/Program Proposals.

In 2004-05, the Department undertook comprehensive consultation with a diverse range of communities, groups and individuals including those with disabilities:
  • new programs/policies developed and implemented by the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH) in 2004-05 were aimed at addressing systemic disadvantages to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, a significant proportion of whom have acute or chronic health needs, or disabilities. This involved comprehensive consultation with a diverse range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and individuals;
  • people with disabilities were included on NHMRC committees and working parties. Legislation requires that membership of the Australian Health Ethics Committee include a person with knowledge of the needs of people with a disability;
  • all new NRCP policy or program proposals were developed in consultation with peak organisations including those representing people with disabilities;
  • consultations concerning the Home and Community Care program, administered on a day-to-day basis by State and Territory governments, included representation by people with disabilities; and
  • all stakeholder groups were included in consultations during the development of the new national HIV/AIDS Strategy 2005-08.

Performance Indicator: Public Announcements of New, Revised or Proposed Policy/Program Initiatives are Available in Accessible Formats for People with Disabilities in a Timely Manner.

All departmental policy and program announcements, including client information materials, were published simultaneously in electronic and other formats - to allow access by all people, including those with a disability.
  • The Australian Organ Donor Register, and associated registration forms, are published in electronic and other formats to allow access by all Australians, including those with a disability. These are available through the departmental internet site and the Health Insurance Commission.
  • The NHMRC provides a range of information (for example published reports and guidelines, calls for public submissions and general information for stakeholders) through its website, and where requested, in hard copy. The provision of this information is regularly reviewed to ensure that it meets the needs of stakeholders. The NHMRC recently completed a redevelopment of the website to strengthen a number of components including accessibility in accordance with Government guidelines.
  • The departmental Budget night presentation to stakeholders included a sign language interpreter to provide Budget details in a manner that was understood by people who are hearing impaired.
  • The Department’s on-line Annual Report complies with Web Content Accessibility guidelines which were devised by the World Wide Web Consortium requirements (W3).


Performance Indicator: Publicly Available Information on Regulations, Quasi-regulations and Regulatory Compliance Reporting is Available in Accessible Formats for People with Disabilities.

All regulatory information meets departmental standards for accessibility and is available in electronic and other appropriate formats, including the Department’s internet site. All materials are provided in a timely and informative manner.
  • The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has primary responsibility in the Department for providing information on the regulation of therapeutic goods. The TGA provides FreecallTM and FreecallTM Teletype (TTY) information lines and an email address where individuals can request publicly available documents. The TGA internet site allows easy access to information about the TGA and the regulation of therapeutic goods. The site is under constant review to ensure that it meets current accessibility and usability standards and the needs of people with disabilities are taken into account as part of this review process.
  • The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) regularly updates its website with information on its functions and activities. This includes the conditions of all licences issued, risk assessment and risk management plans prepared for applications to release genetically modified organisms into the environment, and Quarterly Reports. The OGTR also maintains a 1800 number to respond to enquiries. Callers to this number (1800 181 030) are also able to access hard copies of all publicly available material.
  • The NHMRC endeavours to provide information in an accessible format with formats being reviewed regularly.
  • All relevant regulations and contracts governing the Australian Government Hearing Services Program are available on the Office of Hearing Services website.

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Performance Indicator: Publicly Available Information on Agreed Purchasing Specifications is Available in Accessible Formats for People with Disabilities.

Publicly available purchasing specifications are generally part of open request for tender (RFT) documents, which are available electronically through the Department’s internet tender page. All RFTs have details of contact officers who can provide information in other accessible formats as required.

Performance Indicator: Processes for Purchasing Goods or Services with a Direct Impact on the Lives of People with Disabilities are Developed in Consultation with People with Disabilities.

Consideration of the concerns and interests of stakeholders (including people with disabilities) is a requirement of the Department’s procurement plan template. Similarly, where the goods or services being purchased have a direct impact on people with disabilities that requirement would, as part of the Department’s standard request for tender template, be specified in the tender documentation.

Performance Indicator: Purchasing Specifications and Contract Requirements for the Purchase of Goods and Services are Consistent with the Requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

The Department’s contract for services and consultancy contracts both contain provisions in which the contractor agrees to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

The short form versions of standard contracts do not contain a provision that mentions the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 or that a contractor must comply with this Act. The extent that the Department uses these contracts, unamended, is not measured.

Performance Indicator: Publicly Available Performance Reporting Against Purchase Contract Specifications Requested in Accessible Formats for People with Disabilities is Provided.

All business opportunities (tenders) and grant/funding invitations are displayed on the Department’s internet site in accordance with departmental policy. All such published material meets departmental standards for accessibility. Much of this information is only available in electronic form unless specifically requested in printed form.

Detailed information for applicants for allocation of aged care places and related approvals under the annual Aged Care Approvals Round is provided through the Department’s internet site.

Information relating to the Home and Community Care program, funded jointly by the Australian, and State and Territory governments, is reported by the States and Territories. Most State and Territory governments make these reports available to the public, electronically and in hardcopy.

Performance Indicator: Complaints/ Grievance Mechanisms, Including Access to External Mechanisms, in Place to Address Concerns Raised about Providers’ Performance.

The Department has a variety of mechanisms in place to respond to complaints/grievances and address concerns raised by stakeholders, clients and members of the public:
  • the Aged Care Complaints Resolution scheme, overseen by an external Commissioner for Complaints, provided complaints access to all consumers of Australian Government funded aged care. Advocacy services in each State and Territory helped assist clients to understand their rights or make complaints, and contact service providers on a client's behalf if required;
  • to respond to concerns about the Home and Community Care program, all State and Territory governments had appropriate complaints and grievance mechanisms in operation, including access to external mechanisms;
  • mechanisms for feedback to the NHMRC were available by either calling the Department’s toll free number on 1800 020 103, by email or in writing. Full contact details are available on the NHMRC website. A person whose interests are affected by a reviewable action by the NHMRC can telephone the NHMRC Secretariat, write a letter to the Secretariat or submit a formal complaint to the Commissioner of Complaints;
  • the TGA and OGTR service charters offered mechanisms to receive feedback (and resolve complaints) on the performance and service delivered to stakeholders and members of the public;
  • OATSIH has a number of complaints/grievance mechanisms in place including internal complaints and dispute resolution processes and external avenues of appeal. Information about each mechanism and process for accessing them are fully documented in the OATSIH Program Management Guidelines, 3rd Edition, March 2003; and
  • the Office of Hearing Services has a comprehensive complaints/grievance mechanism. This mechanism, along with general client feedback and an annual client satisfaction survey, is in place to address concerns about provider performance.


Performance Indicator: Employment Policies, Procedures and Practices Comply with the Requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992

The Department ensures that its employment policies and programs comply with the principles of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, through, for example, training guidelines on workplace harassment and orientation programs for new recruits.

Performance Indicator: Recruitment Information for Potential Job Applicants is Available in Accessible Formats on Request.

The Department has recently implemented a streamlined recruitment process and every effort has been made to ensure information is accessible to potential applicants in a variety of formats. Recruitment information is provided both in electronic format (through the internet or via email), and in hard copy. Access to electronic formats is immediate when accessed via the internet. Email and hard copies of documentation are usually sent within 24 hours. A TTY telephone service is available for hearing impaired applicants.

Employment opportunities are advertised in the Public Service gazette and selected print media.

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Performance Indicator: Agency Recruiters and Managers Apply the Principle of ‘Reasonable Adjustment’.

The Department’s ‘Personal Particulars’ form asks applicants to identify any special requirements they may have for interview.

Information on ‘reasonable adjustment’ is provided on request, or as a result of a preengagement medical assessment. This information is provided by either business managers or the Health Management Unit. Guidelines on ‘reasonable adjustment’ are also available to all staff on the Department’s intranet site.

Performance Indicator: Training and Development Programs Consider the Needs of Staff with Disabilities.

The Department ensures that training programs are developed and delivered through flexible and accessible means. The training nomination process provides staff with the opportunity to identify any special requirements they may have. Where identified, arrangements are made to cater for these special requirements.

Performance Indicator: Training and Development Programs include Information on Disability Issues as they Relate to the Content of the Program.

All staff training programs include information on disability issues where applicable.

Performance Indicator: Complaints/ Grievance Mechanism, including Access to External Mechanisms, in Place to address Issues and Concerns Raised by Staff.

The Department has an established process to address staff complaints and grievances through the ‘Fair Treatment and Review of Actions’ policy, which includes access to external mechanisms as appropriate.

Produced by the Portfolio Strategies Division, Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.
URL: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/annrpt/publishing.nsf/Content/appendix2-commonwealth-disability-strategy-1
If you would like to know more or give us your comments contact: annrep@health.gov.au