Delivering Services to Multicultural Australia 2012-2016
Delivering Services to Multicultural Australia 2012-2016 ensures the department continues to deliver quality services to multicultural Australians.
A message from the Secretary
I am very pleased to introduce Delivering Services to Multicultural Australia 2012-2016. Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds often face many challenges and this strategy ensures the Department of Human Services (DHS) is able to assist at every stage of their journey. We are committed to providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services and we recognise and embrace diversity. We also work with local communities to build services that match their needs.
DHS was established in October 2004 specifically to improve the development and delivery of Commonwealth social, disability and health-related services, including financial assistance. Since then we have been working to achieve a modern, flexible, whole-of-government service delivery system. From 1 July 2011, Centrelink, Medicare Australia, Child Support and CRS Australia became one Department—the Australian Government’s Department of Human Services. Working together, these programs provide a comprehensive service to more than 20 million customers. It is important that through our integration, and with new technology, and enhancements to programs and services, we continue to consider and meet the needs of multicultural customers.
Delivering Services to Multicultural Australia 2012-2016 clearly supports the government’s multicultural policy—The People of Australia—and firmly re-establishes our continued commitment to the access and equity framework that underpins service delivery to all Australians.
This strategy will ensure DHS continues to meet the current and future challenges and expectations of our multicultural customers. We take our service responsibilities very seriously and in the coming years are determined to maintain and build upon our very good reputation in the delivery of services to multicultural customers.
Secretary, Department of Human Services
Excellence in the provision of government services to every Australian.
'The service you need, when you need it'
Our outcome statement
To support individuals, families and communities to achieve greater self-sufficiency; through the delivery of policy advice to government agencies and high quality accessible social, health and child support services and other payments; and support providers and businesses through convenient and efficient service delivery.
Who we are
The Department of Human Services provides policy advice on service delivery matters to government to ensure effective, innovative and efficient implementation of government service delivery. It also delivers a range of government and other payments and services. It was created on 26 October 2004 as part of the Finance and Administration portfolio. The Human Services Legislation Amendment Act 2011, which integrated Centrelink, Medicare Australia and the Department of Human Services, began on 1 July 2011.
The Department offers a range of health, social and welfare payments and services through:
- the Medicare program
- the Centrelink program
- the Child Support program
The Department’s Strategic Plan 2012—2016 contains four themes that underpin the activities of the department. The themes are:
- Government outcomes, customer outcomes
- Capable and engaged people
- A strong collaborative approach
- Service transformation
Our Service Commitments
The department’s service charter Our Service Commitments has been developed to guide our work and is the foundation of what we do for multicultural customers in the Department of Human Services. The service charter sets out exactly what Australians can expect from us.
We know from extensive consultation that multicultural customers want accessible, quality information, fair and transparent services that are culturally appropriate, genuine consultation, efficient service delivery and quick, timely action to resolve complaints.
We want to make our services more accessible, more convenient, more efficient and more targeted at the needs of individuals. The key focus areas identified in this strategy will support the Service Commitments in delivering quality services in an honest, fair, responsible, professional and efficient way for multicultural customers.
- protect your personal information
- explain your review and appeal rights to you
- provide help in other languages
- ensure that people with a disability have access to products and services
- use your feedback to improve our products and services
- measure and publish our performance.
Our multicultural key challenges and opportunities
- Australia’s migrant and refugee and humanitarian entrant population is becoming more diverse and this is reflected in the range of languages spoken by the Department’s customers, this will impact on service delivery.
- Ensuring we continue to take into account the complex and changing needs of humanitarian and refugee and humanitarian entrant arrivals in the way we deliver services.
- Addressing service delivery challenges arising from Australia’s changing demographic profile, for example, ageing populations.
- Ensuring increasingly mobile migrant and refugee and humanitarian entrant populations moving to rural and regional Australia have access to our programs and services.
- Harnessing opportunities for tailored services arising from new technologies and new channels for service delivery.
- Continuing to work effectively with the community and non-government organisations, state, local and federal government networks and partners.
- Managing the impact that migration policy, domestic and global economic, political and social changes have on the demand for our services.
- Ensuring service delivery continues to improve through partnerships, networks and coordinated solutions to policy and service delivery issues.
- Implementing the priorities outlined in the Social Inclusion agenda as they apply to vulnerable migrants and refugee and humanitarian entrants.
Our multicultural objective
To ensure that our services are responsive to the needs of customers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Our Multicultural Key Performance Indicators
The success of Delivering Services to Multicultural Australia 2012 2016 will be measured and reported on using the relevant Key Performance Indicators consistent with the department of Human Services Portfolio Budget Statements. These will include customer satisfaction, the quality of services and timeliness of payments.
Our Service Offer to Multicultural Australia
The Department’s integration in July 2011 has provided us with greater opportunities to build on the high quality services we already deliver to multicultural Australians. We will continue to deliver the following services, programs and strategies outlined below.
- We currently:
- provide free interpreting and translation services for customers to do their business with us in a language other than English.
- recruit employees from diverse backgrounds to increase multilingual capacity and cultural awareness. Our workforce reflects our highly diverse customer base.
- operate a national multilingual call centre (phone 131 202) that provides full call centre services to Centrelink customers in their preferred language using bilingual employees supported by interpreters where necessary.
Multicultural Service Officer (MSO) Program
- We have a network of Multicultural Service Officers across Australia who work with customers, the community and other Department employees. They:
- disseminate information to the community to facilitate access to services and payments
- participate in local community and interagency forums
- facilitate Multicultural Advisory Committees and Forums and encourage community feedback
- ensure our employees are culturally competent and know how to meet customers’ language needs
- mentor, develop and support employees on multicultural issues
- provide brokerage services in complex customer cases.
Community and Customer Engagement Strategies
- convene local, state and national community consultation forums to provide feedback on the quality and effectiveness of services to multicultural Australians
- publish a national on-line newsletter, The Journey to provide information on events, changes and activities affecting multicultural customers and communities
- provide translated brochures, fact sheets and audio products in a range of languages
- provide regular information to multicultural Australia on the national SBS radio network and through community radio stations nationally
- publish regular articles and notices in ethnic newspapers throughout Australia.
Employee Support Tools and Strategies
- include multicultural service delivery issues and processes in all relevant training materials
- deliver training via a computer assisted learning package and DVD that uses audio, video and interactive exercises to explore multicultural issues, the use of interpreters and translators, intercultural communication and ethnic naming practices
- deliver training using a Working with Interpreters DVD and video that covers step-by-step strategies for conducting three way interviews
- publish A Guide to Ethnic Naming Practices which is available to all employees to enable them to understand the naming conventions of different language groups.
Multicultural Strategic Alignment 2012—2016
Access and Equity Framework
Department of Human Services Strategic Plan
The service you need, when you need it
Excellence in the provision of government services to every Australian
- Government outcomes
- Capable and engaged people
- A strong collaborative approach
- Service transformation
Multicultural Key Focus Areas
- Reflect the needs and issues affecting multicultural customers in the design and implementation of service delivery and business strategies.
- Develop and implement appropriate communication strategies for multicultural customers.
- Ensure our customers interact with culturally sensitive staff.
- Ensure we are connected with the multicultural community by consulting with individuals, communities, agencies and service providers.
Multicultural Key Focus Areas and Strategies 2012—2016
In addition to our existing service offer, we have committed to Key Focus Areas to position the Department to continue to provide consistent, high quality services to customers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds across all our programs and in line with our strategic themes.
Strategic Theme 1: Government outcomes, customer outcomes
Multicultural Key Focus Area: Reflect the needs and issues affecting multicultural customers in the design and implementation of service delivery and business strategies
Understand our customers
- Improve data collection and analysis related to multicultural customers across the Department of Human Services.
- Use research to inform the broader development of policy.
- Contribute to the development of innovative strategies for the delivery of services to Australia’s diverse community by identifying groups at risk and designing tailored strategies.
- Understand and address barriers to participation and social inclusion for our multicultural customers.
Develop appropriate plans and effective strategies
- Develop and implement an integrated Refugee Service Offer.
- Ensure that business planning processes continue to include multicultural servicing strategies.
Report and evaluate our outcomes
- Contribute to annual Access and Equity reporting and consultations.
- Develop a reporting framework for measuring outcomes against this Strategy.
Multicultural Key Focus Area: Develop and implement appropriate communication strategies for multicultural customers
Develop and deliver supporting products and services
- Implement a Department-wide multicultural communication strategy and ensure a consistent approach to information products that outline key services.
- Review key publications, forms and letters to ensure they are simple and easy to understand by customers and translated into appropriate languages where feasible.
- Improve the delivery of in-language information and services online.
Strategic Theme 2: Capable and engaged people
Multicultural Key Focus Area: Ensure our customers interact with culturally skilled staff
Help our staff provide consistent quality customer service to multicultural customers
- Implement consistent cultural awareness packages for staff across the Department
- Expand our current suite of multicultural staff tools and products and develop new ones where required.
- Implement specific multicultural recruitment strategies under the Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.
Employ staff to effectively work with customers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
- Maximise the cultural and linguistic skills of staff through training, recognition and recruitment.
- Explore recruitment pathways for refugee and humanitarian entrant applicants as part of the multicultural employee plan.
Strategic Theme 3: A strong collaborative approach
Multicultural Key Focus Area: Ensure we are connected with the multicultural community by consulting with individuals, communities, agencies and service providers
Work with stakeholders
- to ensure a connection with multicultural communities by consulting with relevant. stakeholders including local communities, government agencies and the community sector
- to embed multicultural input in new design processes and principles.
- to conduct targeted consultations with key communities in specific locations to overcome barriers and improve services.
- to develop collaborative partnerships to address identified service gaps.
Strategic Theme 4: Service transformation
Multicultural Key Focus Area: Build on the strengths of our programs to improve access and outcomes for multicultural customers
Share our knowledge and resources
- Expand the reach of the Multicultural Service Officer (MSO) network and identify, promote and build upon its strengths and successes.
- Implement consistent language services procedures across the Department.
- Develop pathways to share and promote good practice in culturally diverse servicing across our network.