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Annual Report 2008-2009: Appendix 6

Appendix 6:
Human Resources and
Administrative Services

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management and staff development

The Commission reviews staff performance annually through its Performance
Management Scheme. The Scheme provides an opportunity to set goals and
priorities in line with our Strategic Plan and to assess the level of individual
performance and contribution to Unit outcomes. The Scheme also provides an
opportunity to identify and address learning and development needs and to plan
effectively for the acquisition of identified skill requirements.

A major learning and development focus for the year was the participation by
16 staff in a social leadership program by the Benevolent Society. This
staff development program specifically targeted the first two of the
Commission’s strategic goals: leadership and empowerment.

The Commission supports additional professional development through its
Studies Assistance Program and, across 2008-09, provided assistance to
staff in the form of study leave, examination leave and/or financial

The Commission provided opportunities for work experience and internships
through placements in various units with 26 participating in these programs in


During 2008-09, the Commission reviewed its Workplace Diversity Plan and
supported a range of diversity events, including International Women’s
Day, NAIDOC Week, Harmony Day and National Families Week. In order to ensure
that resources were used economically and opportunities to celebrate and
acknowledge various events were undertaken with care, creativity and forward
planning, the committee developed a Calendar of Events for 2009.

The Commission has also developed a draft Reasonable Adjustment policy to
provide clear and proactive commitment to supporting people with a disability to
enter and stay in the workforce.

Action Plan

The Commission launched a new Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in December

The Commission’s RAP built on the working draft, which was created in
May 2007 to coincide with the 40th Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum. The RAP
was developed with Reconciliation Australia.

One of the challenges for the Commission in developing its RAP was separating
RAP activities from day-to-day work. Much of the Commission’s work,
especially the work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice
Commissioner and the Social Justice and Native Title Units, is directly focused
on reconciliation and protecting the human rights of Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander people.

The RAP seeks to focus on how we do our business, rather than what we do.

It therefore identifies ways that the Commission can do its core work to
better promote reconciliation.

A significant achievement this financial year has been the review of the
Commission’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy.
The new strategy will provide greater employment opportunities within the
Commission and ensure staff retention and professional development. Under the
strategy, the Commission has created both a new traineeship and a new cadetship
to promote employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

The RAP has also been the basis for a range of ongoing activities, including
the commemoration of, and participation in, significant Indigenous events and
Indigenous cultural awareness training for all staff.

The Commission’s RAP is available online at:

health and safety

The Commission’s commitment to staff health and wellbeing, on site and
off site, continued with workplace assessments for the resolution of ergonomic
issues, access to a software program which encourages staff to take regular
breaks throughout the day, and access to preventative and informative health
information sessions. The Commission offers support to staff through QUIT
smoking programs, flu vaccinations and a Healthy Lifestyle Program.

The Commission provides staff with access to counselling services through its
Employee Assistance Program. This is a free and confidential service for staff
and their families to provide counselling on personal and work-related problems,
if required. No systemic issues have been identified through this service.

The Occupational Health and Safety Committee reviews any Occupational Health
and Safety issues promptly. A scheduled annual workplace inspection ensures that
any issues are identified and followed up.

relations and employment

The Commission’s Certified Agreement expired in December 2008. A
variation and extension to this Agreement was negotiated with staff and
certified by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission on 5 January 2009
for a further three years. The new Agreement offers 18 weeks paid maternity
leave, six weeks paid parental leave, and access to extended leave following
maternity or parental leave.

To enable staff to maximise their work-life balance, without compromising
service delivery, the Commission also introduced a new Workplace Flexibility
Policy as part of these negotiations. The Commission offers a range of flexible
work options including part-time employment and flexible working hours.

Salary progression within classification levels is subject to performance
assessment. Salary ranges are reflected in Table 42. The Commission has five
non-SES staff covered by Australian Workplace Agreements and two on section
24(1) Determinations. There is one SES employee on an Australian Workplace
Agreement and one covered by a section 24(1) Determination.

In order to manage its resources more effectively, and achieve the goals set
in the Strategic Plan, the Commission reviewed its staffing structure in 2009 to
provide a coordinated human rights policy agenda.


The Commission uses consultants where there is a need to access skills,
expertise or independence that is not available within the organisation.

During 2008-09, six new consultancy arrangements were entered into, involving
total actual expenditure, including GST, of $305 008. There were three active
part-performed consultancy contracts from prior years. As the prior year
contracts were fully expensed and accrued in the year of commitment, payments
made in the current reporting period did not give rise to any new expenditure.
Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for
consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is
available on the AusTender website:

Table 41:
Consultancy services
Consultant name
Contract price
Selection process*
Aust Institute of Aboriginal
& Torres Strait Islander Studies
Research and community consultations relating to Indigenous freedom of
belief and spirituality.
$33 000
B & C
Myriad Consultants
Research and community consultations to explore issues and barriers to
integration and settlement of African Australians within the Australian
$185 408
The University of Queensland
Research and community consultations on issues relating to freedom of
artistic and cultural expression.
$31 600
B & C
Simply Qual
Case study evaluation, for the Adult English as a Second Language project.
Involving coordination, analysis and reporting.
$22 000
Direct source
B & C
Curtin University of Technology
Research project – Impact of the economic downturn on employment of
$11 000
Direct source
B & C
INCA Consulting
Stakeholder study for the Community Partnerships evaluation project.
Involving development of interview tools and primary data gathering and
$22 000
Direct source
B & C
$305 008

* Explanation of selection process terms drawn from the Commonwealth
Procurement Guidelines (December 2008):

Select Tender: A procurement procedure in which the procuring agency selects
which potential suppliers are invited to submit tenders. This procurement
process may only be used under certain defined circumstances.

Direct Sourcing: A form of restricted tendering, available only under
certain defined circumstances, with a single potential supplier or suppliers
being invited to bid because of their unique expertise and/or their special
ability to supply the goods and/or services sought.

** Justification for decision to use consultancy:

A – skills currently unavailable within the agency

B – need for specialised or professional skills

C – need for independent research or assessment.

The Commission’s purchasing procedures adhere to the Procurement
Policy Framework incorporating the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines and
Finance circulars issued by the Department of Finance and Deregulation. The
procedures address a range of procurement situations, allowing managers
flexibility when making procurement decisions, while complying with the
Commonwealth’s core procurement principle of value for money. There were
no contracts exempt from publishing through AusTender in 2008-09.

sustainable development

and environmental performance

Human rights principles are fundamentally embedded within the principles of
ecologically sustainable development. However, the Commission’s activities
do not explicitly contribute to ecologically sustainable development, nor impact
directly on the environment, other than through the consumption of resources
required to maintain its business operations.

The Commission uses energy saving methods in its operations and endeavours to
make the best use of resources. Purchase and/or leasing of ‘Energy
Star’ rated office machines and equipment with ‘power save’
features is encouraged, and preference is given to environmentally sound
products when purchasing office supplies.

The Commission has implemented a number of environmentally friendly
initiatives to reduce environmental impact. Waste paper, cardboard, printer
cartridges and other materials are recycled, subject to the availability of
appropriate recycling schemes. The Commission also uses new generation low
mercury triphosphor fluorescent tubes.

During 2008-09, the Commission participated in the Earth Hour initiative
which was held on 28 March 2009.


Consistent with the Australian Stock Exchange principles of good corporate
governance and the requirements of the Financial Management and Accountability
Act 1997 (Cth), the Commission maintains an audit committee. The audit committee
advises the President on compliance with external reporting requirements and the
effectiveness and efficiency of internal control and risk management mechanisms.
The audit committee met four times during the reporting period.


The Commission has undertaken a Fraud Risk Assessment, developed a Fraud
Control Plan and has procedures and processes in place to assist in fraud
prevention, detection, investigation and reporting in line with the Commonwealth
Fraud Control Guidelines. The Fraud Control Plan is made available
electronically to all Commission staff.

Advertising and
market research

During the reporting period, Market Focus International was contracted to
undertake a national telephone survey of sexual harassment. Total payments of
$62 700 (including GST) were made to the supplier for this purpose.

The Commission paid $60 279 (including GST) on non campaign advertising
(recruitment and rights awareness promotion) during the reporting period.


The Commission’s average staffing level for the year was 116 staff,
with a turnover of 9 percent for ongoing staff. As a result of the Certified
Agreement process, the Commission broadbanded classifications APS 1-2 and APS
3-4. An overview of the Commission’s staffing profile, as at 30 June 2009,
is summarised in the table below. The number of part-time staff excludes casual

Table 42:
Commission staffing profile (as at 30 June 2009)
Full time
Part time
Total ongoing
Total non-ongoing
Statutory Office Holder
SES Band 2
SES Band 1
EL 2
($91 641
– $110 114)
EL 1
($79 457
– $87 133)
($63 522
– $71 196)
($57 385
– $61 980)
APS 3/4
($46 162
– $55 863)
APS 1/2
($35 811
– $44 944)

Disability Strategy

The Commission, along with all other Commonwealth agencies, reports annually
against the Commonwealth Disability Strategy (CDS) performance framework. The
Commission’s employer role is now dealt with through the State of the
Service report which is compiled by the Australian Public Service Commission.
Full details on the CDS can be found on the Department of Families, Housing,
Community Services and Indigenous Affairs website at:

Through the CDS, the government seeks to ensure its policies, programs and
services are as accessible to people with disabilities as they are to all other
Australians. This, of course, is integral to the work of the Commission and
evident in the work we do. The CDS identifies four core roles that may be
relevant to the agency. The Commission’s primary roles are that of policy
adviser, service provider and employer. Full details on the policies and
services highlighted in the CDS reporting, below, are contained within the
relevant chapters of this Annual Report.

The Commission is committed to implementing best practice in relation to the
provision and improvement of access to its services for people with
disabilities. Examples of best practice include our Complaint Handling
processes, online access to our services, website and education material, and
consultations with disability groups.

Reporting June 2009

Further details on programs and policies outlined against the performance
indicators can be found in the relevant section of the Annual Report.

Policy Adviser

The Commission’s disability rights programs are planned by reference to
the Commission’s jurisdiction under the Disability Discrimination Act and
the Australian Human Rights Commission Act and include consultations with
disability groups and partnerships with disability organisations.

Performance indicator 1

New or revised policy/program assesses impact on the lives of people
with disabilities prior to decision

Performance measure

  • Percentage of new or revised policy/program proposals that document that the
    impact of the proposal was considered prior to the decision-making

Current level of performance 2008-09

  • Commission public Inquiries and exemption applications specifically seek the
    views of people with a disability.
  • During the development phase of new projects, national peak disability
    groups and selected regional groups are consulted about their views. In the
    Disability Rights Unit, compliance is 100 percent.
  • All submissions to Inquiries are taken in a range of formats, including
    verbal/audio (transcribed by the Commission), email and handwritten
  • All new initiatives are made publicly available through the
    Commission’s website, and key disability organisations are informed of
    developments through the Commission’s email lists.
  • Through the use of the Commission’s website and e-based networks, the
    Commission provides extensive information about new and revised policies and
    programs, and seeks feedback on their effect at any

Performance examples

  • Ongoing inspection of immigration detention facilities, and commentary
    regarding asylum-seekers and refugees, has a strong focus on:

    • – the availability and quality of mental health services
    • – the connection between declining mental health, immigration
      detention and restrictive visa conditions.
  • Each of the five sections of the African Australians: a report on human
    rights and social inclusion issues discussion paper (one of the projects under
    the Community Partnerships for Human Rights program) included a question that
    asked: whether a person’s experiences were different based on disability;
    what was the effect; and if examples could be provided.
  • The Sex Discrimination Commissioner raised the need for representation of
    women with disability on the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women
    and Children with the Minister for the Status of Women.
  • The Sex Discrimination Commissioner highlighted the high incidence of
    violence against women with disability and the need for appropriate service
  • The Disability Discrimination Unit and the Social Justice Unit undertook a
    joint research project that will assess the impacts of hearing impairment and
    deafness in Indigenous communities. The research contract has been advertised
    and a tender has been selected. It is anticipated that the research project will
    be completed during 2009-10.
  • In August 2008, the Social Justice Commissioner released a report entitled:
    Preventing crime and promoting rights for Indigenous young people with cognitive
    disabilities and mental health issues. This report provides an investigation of
    early intervention and diversionary practices, aimed at preventing offending
    behaviour in Indigenous young people with a cognitive disabilities and/or mental
    health problems. It examines services that are available for these young people,
    identifies systemic service delivery gaps and points to promising interventions
    that have the capacity to prevent offending behaviour.

Goals and
actions for 2009-10

  • Promote implementation of the Disability Convention, including promotion of:
    effective review of laws, policies and programs; awareness of the Convention;
    and development of NGO strategies to use the Convention.
  • Promote adoption and implementation of Disability Discrimination Act
    Disability Standards.
  • Follow up issues for, and the experiences of, people with disabilities that
    are raised in the national consultation for the African Australians: a report on
    human rights and social inclusion issues, and incorporate them into the final
    report. The aim of the final report is to suggest solutions to issues that have
    been raised and inform future policy, program and service design, as well as
    public debate and education.
  • In relevant policy documents and reports, the Sex Discrimination
    Commissioner will continue to raise the specific issues for women with
  • Revise the Commission’s Disability Action Plan to include strategies
    that ensure Commission activities involve assessment of impact on people with a
  • In relevant policy documents and reports, the Social Justice Commissioner
    will continue to raise the specific issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait
    Islander people with disability.

Performance indicator 2

People with disabilities are included in consultation about new or
revised policy/program proposals

Performance measure

  • Percentage of consultations about new or revised policy/program proposals
    that are developed in consultation with people with

Current level of performance 2008-09

  • Consultation with people with disabilities and their representative
    organisations occurs at a number of levels, through:

    • – direct contact with representative organisations at a national and
      state/territory level
    • – invitation to respond to new and revised policy/programs in writing,
      through the Commission’s website, e-based networks or by phone
    • – public forums, conferences and public meetings.
  • New initiatives are made publicly available through the Commission’s
    webpage and disability organisations, and individuals are informed of
    developments through the Commission’s listserve.
  • Wherever possible, public consultation events occur in accessible venues,
    with hearing augmentation and sign language interpreters available.

Performance examples

  • As part of the materials supporting the National Human Rights Consultation,
    the Commission prepared specific materials about human rights issues of concern
    to people with disability. The Commission ensured that all of the workshops
    held, to encourage participation in the National Human Rights Consultation, were
    accessible to people with disability. The Commission ensured that Auslan
    interpreters were available as necessary.
  • As part of the national consultations for African Australians: a report on
    human rights and social inclusion issues, a specific consultation session was
    held with Action on Disabilities in Ethnic Communities, a community-based
    organisation in Melbourne. (Interested stakeholders were given the opportunity
    to request a consultation session with the project consultant). Issues and
    experiences of people with disabilities were raised in several sessions by
    services providers, advocates, carers and friends of people with
  • The Sex Discrimination Commissioner held a workshop, on protecting human
    rights in Australia, for the women’s sector in Canberra, in order to
    support their involvement in the National Human Rights Consultation. The
    workshop was accessible for women with disabilities, who were specifically
    invited to attend.
  • The Sex Discrimination Commissioner co-hosted an employer forum about
    preventing and managing sexual harassment in the workplace. The forum was
    accessible for participants with a disability.
  • The Sex Discrimination Commissioner met with the Victorian Women with
    Disabilities Network to seek their input into the Commission’s work on
    gender based violence.
  • Since December 2008, the Social Justice Commissioner has headed a Steering
    Committee that is undertaking consultations on the formation of a new national
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative body. All consultation
    materials were produced in accessible formats for people with disabilities, and
    provision was made for people with disabilities to access national workshops and
    focus group forums. The discussions that ensued identified the need for a
    national representative body to reflect the diversity within Aboriginal and
    Torres Strait Islander communities, including Indigenous people with
    disabilities and the issues they face.

Goals and actions for

  • The Sex Discrimination Commissioner will endeavour to ensure that women with
    disability do not experience barriers to participating in any consultation or
    policy development processes held by the Commission.

Performance indicator 3

Public announcements of new, revised or proposed policy/program
initiatives are available in accessible formats for people with disabilities

in a timely manner

Performance measure

  • Percentage of new, revised or proposed policy/program announcements
    available in a range of accessible formats.
  • Time taken in providing announcements in accessible formats.
  • Current level of performance 2008-09
  • All information about new Commission initiatives is available on a W3C/WAI
    compliant website, simultaneously with public release.
  • 100 percent of announcements and information material is available in
    accessible electronic format.
  • 100 percent of material produced is also available in standard print, large
    print, audio and Braille on request.
  • Time taken to produce in other than electronic format varies according to
    the size of the document, but generally within seven

Performance examples

  • Development of a Human Rights E-Network in accessible format to WCAG 1 Level
    A compliance. The aim of the E-Network is to establish an electronic forum and
    clearing house to communicate across sectors: the community; government; service
    provision; non-government/advocacy; academic; and other relevant sectors with an
    interest in racism, cultural and religious diversity and the promotion of human
  • The E-Network is undergoing accessibility user testing with people with
    different disabilities (such as vision impairment, hearing impairment and
    cognitive disability).
  • The Commission ensured that all materials produced to support the National
    Human Rights Consultation were accessible to people with a disability.
  • The Commission funded the production of specific materials for people with
    an intellectual disability.
  • The Commission resourced the development of a plain English publication
    about the Human Rights consultation, aimed at people with an intellectual

Goals and actions 2009-10

  • Accessibility issues will be continually addressed throughout the
    maintenance and implementation of the E-Network site.


  • Development of an adult English as a second language curriculum resource
    with DVD components, captioned for hearing impaired learners, and audio scripts
    in accessible word documents.
  • The African Australians: a report on human rights and social inclusion
    discussion paper, and all translated summaries of it, were accessible
    online from the Commission website, as Word documents and as PDF


Further details about the Commission’s complaint handling function,
with a full description of its services and relevant statistics can be found in
Chapter 4.

Performance indicator 1

Complaints information service provides information about complaint
handling service to people with disabilities

Performance measure

  • Complaints information service accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Number of calls/emails/visits to complaints information service related to
    disability issues.
  • Number of groups that attended complaint handling information session, or
    were visited by the CHS during regional and interstate visits, included
    disability advocacy and disability legal services.

Current level
of performance 2008-09

  • The Commission’s complaints information is available in electronic and
    alternative formats. Email facility and accessible online complaint form for the
    lodgement of complaints is available. Telephone and TTY facilities are
    available, with a national 1300 number at local call cost.
  • All complaint handling brochures and publications are available on the
    Commission’s website, in accessible electronic format and are available in
    alternative formats on request. Information about the complaints process and
    legislation is available in plain English format on the Commission’s
    website. The website is updated regularly.
  • Six percent of phone/email/written enquiries to the CHS are related to
    disability issues.
  • A complaints information referral list is updated regularly to ensure
    callers with disabilities can be referred to appropriate advocacy groups and
    other appropriate services.

Goals and actions 2009-10

  • Targeted community education and liaison with disability groups and advocacy
    organisations in all states, in particular regional areas.
  • Liaise with Indigenous and disability networks in each state to ensure the
    CHS is responsive to their needs.
  • Liaise with networks working with young and mature/older people with
    disabilities in order to ensure the CHS is responsive to their

Performance indicator 2

Complaint handling service accessible to people with disabilities

Performance measure

  • Number of complaints received under the Disability Discrimination Act.
  • Number of complaints lodged by people with disabilities under all
    legislation administered by the Commission.
  • Number of complainants who identify the need for specific assistance on
    intake form.
  • Complaints received about accessibility of service.
  • Current level of performance 2008-09
  • 980 complaints were received under the Disability Discrimination Act during
  • Complaints were received under all Acts administered by the Commission from
    people identifying themselves as having a disability. 71 percent of responses to
    a survey question on demographics indicated the complainant had a
  • 226 requests for assistance were recorded including, requests for assistance
    with language interpreters and sign language interpreters, provision of
    information in an alternative format, TTY and assistance with writing.
  • There were no formal complaints received regarding accessibility of the
    Commission’s complaint handling service or premises. Performance measure =
    100 percent.
  • The Commission’s premises are accessible. Premises used for remote and
    regional conciliation conferences are accessible. Performance measure = 100
  • The CHS Access Committee reviews access to the CHS service by the community,
    including a specific focus on people with disabilities.

Goals and
actions 2009-10

  • Maintain flexible approach to service delivery.

indicator 3

Staff training and development, includes training related to people
with disabilities

Performance measure

  • Percentage of training programs that include information regarding people
    with disabilities and relevance to complaint handling

Current level of performance 2008-09

  • CHS investigation and conciliation training courses include specific
    training on accommodating people with disabilities in the complaint handling
    investigation and conciliation processes. Performance measure = 100 percent.
  • Ad hoc CHS training sessions specifically address relevance to people with
    disabilities who use complaint handling services. Performance measure = 100
  • CHS Complaint Handling Manual advises staff to consider reasonable
    accommodation for people with disabilities is provided during the investigation
    and conciliation process, such as provision of Auslan interpreters, use of TTY,
    use of alternative formats for information. Performance measure = 100

Goals and actions 2009-10

  • Provide specific client service training to all CHS staff, focussing on the
    needs of clients with disabilities.

Performance indicator 4

Complaint mechanism in place to address concerns raised about service
and addresses requirements of people with disabilities

Performance measure

  • Established complaint/grievance mechanism in operation. Detailed in Charter
    of Service which is provided to all parties to a complaint and available on the
    Commission website. Provided in alternative format on request.

Current level of performance 2008-09

  • Charter of Service addresses roles and responsibilities of the Commission
    and parties.
  • One complaint about the accessibility of the CHS was received under the

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