Workplace diversity and inclusion
The department is committed to creating workplaces that are accessible and inclusive for all staff. During 2016-17 the department launched its Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2016-19 which recognises the value a diverse and inclusive workforce brings to our services. The strategy includes five employee plans:
- Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (Multicultural) Employee Plan 2016-19
- Workplace Accessibility Plan 2016-19
- Mature Age Employee Plan 2016-19
- Gender Equality Plan 2016-19
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Inclusion Plan 2016-19.
Cultural and linguistic diversity
The department has significant diversity across its workforce with 25.2 per cent of staff at 30 June 2017 identifying as having a CALD background. The diversity of the department’s people assists in better understanding the needs of multicultural recipients and ensures that the department provides culturally appropriate services to the Australian community.
The department’s Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (Multicultural) Employee Plan 2016-19 demonstrates the department’s commitment to increase and support a diverse workforce.
During 2016-17 the department became a member of the National Anti-Racism Partnership which is helping to implement the government’s National Anti-Racism Strategy. The department provides multicultural awareness training to staff, celebrates days of significance such as Harmony Day and Refugee Week, and pays a Community Language Allowance to recognise staff who use their language skills to assist multicultural recipients.
ICT support for greater accessibility
During the year the department provided support, training and advice to around 550 staff with disability who use assistive technology software and 150 staff with disability who use accessible telecommunication products. The department continued to explore and implement innovative assistive technology solutions to assist staff who are deaf or have hearing loss to actively participate in the workplace.
In 2016-17 the department also continued to deliver accessibility support shared services to the NDIA. This includes support and training for assistive technology software and accessible telecommunication products for staff with disability and their managers. The department also entered into a new shared services arrangement with the ATO to provide accessibility support services to their staff with disability and their managers.
Employment of people with disability
The department’s Workplace Accessibility Plan 2016-19 outlines recruitment and retention strategies for attracting, supporting and retaining people with disability. At 30 June 2017, 5.3 per cent of staff in the department identified as having disability.
In 2016-17 the department continued to:
- apply the APS RecruitAbility scheme which advances applicants with disability to a further stage in the selection process and helps to build their confidence and capability when applying for positions
- provide workplace adjustment advice and support to staff with disability and their managers via a centralised National Disability Access Coordinator
- deliver an ‘immersive’ experience program to senior leaders to build a broader awareness and understanding of the recruitment, career progression, and work experiences of people with disability
- deliver online and face-to-face disability awareness and confidence training programs to managers and staff.
The department’s Scanning Operations Centre offers substantial employment opportunities for people with disability. Work includes mail sorting, digitising recipient correspondence, and data entry. The centre has 31 ongoing staff of which 32.3 per cent identify as having a disability. Through a contract arrangement with Koomarri the department also supports employment of people with intellectual disability who provide administrative and office support services.
Celebrating the lives of people with disability
Each year on 3 December countries around the world celebrate the International Day of People with Disability. The 2016 theme was 'Achieving 17 goals for the future we want' that together aim to create a more inclusive and equitable world for people with disability.
Events were held across the department's network in support of these aims. Festivities in Canberra kicked off with a BBQ breakfast, raising over $900 for the Black Dog Institute, which is dedicated to understanding, preventing and treating mental illness. The Secretary presented certificates to acknowledge the amazing work of a number of staff who actively promote diversity and inclusive workplaces.
Landscape gardener and a volunteer with the institute, James, spoke about his recovery from debilitating depression. He said: ‘Disabilities aren't always visible. But with support from the institute and from family and friends, exercise, and just 'putting one foot in front of the other' you realise help is at hand.'
Another speaker, Jo, who is vision impaired and works at Guide Dogs, showcased her guide dog Wiley, who helps her get around safely and independently.
Jo said: 'I want to let people know that you can overcome challenges and lead an interesting and fulfilling life.
'Wiley can sense when I am anxious. He will put his head in my lap or touch my fingers with his nose. Taking the time to talk to him and pat his beautiful soft ears gives me the opportunity to make considered and safer decisions.'
Amie-Louise from the department's Ethics, Values and Diversity Team said: 'The department has a long held commitment to fostering a workplace that supports staff with a disability and to eliminating barriers that prevent people reaching their full potential.
'So it was fantastic to see so many of our people and organisations from across the disability sector participate on the day.'
Training for people on the autism spectrum
The Dandelion Program is a unique partnership between the department, DXC Technology and Specialisterne People Foundation to establish ICT traineeships with the department for people on the autism spectrum. It creates training opportunities for people to systematically process information and excel in roles that use their skills.
The program uses a five-week selection, assessment and on-boarding program (conducted by DXC Technology and the foundation) for hiring people with autism. After completing this program, candidates who fit the job profile are employed by DXC Technology and then contracted to the department on a three-year traineeship.
The department now has 31 trainees who are working in areas such as software testing, programming, systems analytics, data analytics and information analytics.
Other diversity initiatives
During the year other diversity initiatives which foster and promote workplace diversity and inclusion included:
- developing a Gender Equality Plan 2016-19 to guide actions which support implementation of the APS Gender Equality Strategy
- setting a department target of achieving 50 per cent representation of women in the Senior Executive Service by the end of 2019
- implementing the Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender by providing the options of M (Male), F (Female) and X (Indeterminate) when gender information is collected from staff
- introducing a departmental Multicultural Champion, Gender Equality Champion and Senior Executive LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) Ally to complement the existing Indigenous Champions and Disability Champions
- hosting five staff diversity networks to share information and to support Indigenous staff, staff with disability, mature age staff, staff from CALD backgrounds, and LGBTI staff.