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Australia Post Services Modernisation

Age Discrimination

The Australian Human Rights Commission provided this submission to the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts (the Department) regarding the modernisation of Australian postal services. 

The Commission did this in response to the ‘Postal Services Modernisation: Discussion Paper’. 

While recognising the need for modernisation of postal services, the Commission draws attention to the need for Australia Post to ensure that any reforms comply with Australia’s international human rights obligations and ensure non-discrimination and equal access to postal services for all Australians. 

A sufficiently lengthy transition period is recommended to allow adjustments to be made where barriers to equal access are identified or it is found that certain groups are being disadvantaged by particular reforms. Clear communication and close monitoring by Australia Post and the Department during the transition period will be critical to ensure no individual or group is left behind. 

The Commission raised several issues in our submission, including: 

  • People who cannot access services digitally because they are complete non-users, they are using the internet in a limited way, or they do not have access to internet services. The 'digital divide' effects some older people and cuts across other demographics including low-income households, new migrants and refugees and First Nations peoples.
  • The need for ongoing investment to train and support individuals and communities affected by the digital divide to access and use new technologies, including online and self-service options, implemented as part of the modernisation of postal services. 
  • Access to low-cost assistive technology aids for people with disability should also be considered. 
  • Adequate face-to-face or phone services should be maintained to support customers who are unable to access or use online or digitised service options. 
  • The modernisation of postal services should ensure that all retail premises are in compliance with the Disability Premises Standards and are accessible and age friendly. 
  • If changes to the frequency of letter delivery and other changes are applied, viable alternatives should be made available for customers to self-collect or to make specific request for re-delivery. 
  • Consideration could be given to a measure which, while protecting people’s privacy and safety, allows the postal delivery service to be altered where extra time is needed for someone to respond to a doorbell and receive a delivery.
  • Continue the support commitment of regional and remote communities, where 58% of Australian Post retail services are located.
  • In light of bank closures, work closely with the banking sector and affected communities, including older Australians and others who prefer to bank in person or do not have access to online banking to provide Bank@Post services.
  • Any innovation in service provision, whether physical or digital, must be age-friendly and accessible.
  • Due consideration must also be given to the safety and privacy of customers and staff. Any modernisation or expansion of services must adhere to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).
  • Consider trialling dedicated access times for concession card holders so they can avoid peak service hours, especially for banking and other services involving sensitive private information or transactions. 
  • Elder abuse and disability awareness training is also recommended to build the capacity of Australia Post staff to support older customers and prevent financial abuse. 
  • Support the continued provision of discounts to concession card holders and conduct ongoing review and monitoring activities to ensure that any increase in charges for letters or other services does not disproportionally disadvantage older people or people with disability with limited or no income. 

The modernisation of postal services must encompass forward-planning and consider longer-term social, economic and environmental projections. For example, demographic data about the distribution of Australia’s ageing population and related trends, could inform postal services in regional areas where there is a concentration of older residents.