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Report on performance - Annual Report 2011-2012: Australian Human Rights Commission

People and performance

Report on performance

Key performance indicators and standards for our Investigation and
Conciliation Service

We have developed Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and standards that form
the basis for ongoing assessment of the complaint service. These indicators, and
our performance in 2011-12 in relation to these indicators, are summarised
below. In comparison with the last reporting year, the Service has seen a level
of improvement across all KPIs.

  • Timeliness. Our stated performance standard is for 80% of complaints
    to be finalised within 12 months of receipt. In 2011-12, we finalised 93% of
    matters within 12 months. The average time from lodgement to finalisation of a
    complaint was 5 months.
  • Conciliation rate. Our stated performance standard is for 30% of
    finalised complaints to be conciliated. In 2011-12, we achieved a 48%
    conciliation rate and 66% of all matters where conciliation was attempted were
    successfully resolved.
  • Service satisfaction. Our stated performance standard is for 80% of
    surveyed parties to complaints to be satisfied with the service they receive. In
    2011–12, 95% of surveyed parties reported that they were satisfied with
    the service and 62% rated the service as ‘very good’ or
    ‘excellent’. Further details of survey results for this reporting
    year are provided below.

Measuring satisfaction with the complaint
service

We seek feedback on aspects of the service from people lodging complaints
(complainants) and people responding to complaints (respondents). This feedback
is obtained through a service satisfaction survey, which is usually conducted by
telephone interview.

In 2011-12, 157 complainants and 161 respondents agreed to participate in the
survey.

  • 92% of complainants and 95% of respondents felt that Commission staff
    explained things in a way that was easy for them to understand.
  • 94% of complainants and 96% of respondents felt that forms and
    correspondence from the Commission were easy to understand.
  • 80% of complainants and 84% of respondents felt that the Commission dealt
    with the complaint in a timely manner.
  • 97% of complainants and 92% of respondents did not consider staff to be
    biased.

Our Charter of Service

Our Charter of Service provides an avenue through which complainants and
respondents can understand the nature and standard of service they can expect,
as well as contribute to continual improvement of our service. All complainants
are provided with a copy of the Charter when the Commission accepts their
complaint. Respondents receive a copy when notified of a complaint. Our Charter
of Service was updated during this reporting year and it is available at:
www.humanrights.gov.au/complaints_information/charter_of_services/.

In 2011–12 the Commission did not receive any complaints about its
service under the formal complaint process provided in the Charter.

Complaint of disability discrimination in recruitment

The complainant advised that she has depression. The complainant claimed that
the respondent supermarket withdrew an offer of employment after she disclosed
her disability at a pre-employment medical assessment.

On being advised of the complaint, the respondent company indicated a
willingness to try to resolve the matter through conciliation. The complaint was
resolved with an agreement that the complainant would be offered employment in
one of the respondent’s stores.

Ensuring accountability for our administrative decisions

People who are affected by administrative decisions we have made may be
entitled to seek a review of those decisions before a court or tribunal.

Judicial review: Judicial review of Commission decisions can be sought
by application to the Federal Court or the Federal Magistrates Court under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth).

In accordance with established legal principle, the Commission (as decision
maker) usually does not play an active role in those proceedings. This is to
avoid a perception of bias in the event that a matter is remitted to the
Commission for further determination. Instead, the Commission agrees to be bound
by the decision of the Court and leaves the substantive parties (usually the
complainant and respondent to a complaint that was before the Commission) to
argue the matter.

In 2011-12, the Commission was a respondent to one matter under the
Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act, which remains ongoing.

Merits review: Some decisions of the Commission or its staff (acting
under instruments of delegation) are subject to merits review by the
Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). These include decisions made under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth), and decisions on applications for
temporary exemptions under section 44 of the Sex Discrimination Act, section 55
of the Disability Discrimination Act and section 44 of the Age Discrimination
Act.

During the year in review, one matter, which continued from the previous
reporting period,
was settled with consent orders filed with the AAT.

Facilitating freedom of information

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) gives the general public
legal access to government documents.

Documents held by the Commission relate to:

  • administration matters, including personnel, recruitment, accounts,
    purchasing, registers, registry, library records and indices
  • complaint handling matters, including the investigation and resolution of
    complaints
  • legal matters, including legal documents, opinion, advice and
    representations
  • research matters, including research papers in relation to complaints,
    existing or proposed legislative practices, public education, national inquiries
    and other relevant issues
  • policy matters, including minutes of Commission meetings, administrative and
    operational guidelines
  • operational matters, including files on formal inquiries
  • reference materials, including press clippings, survey and research
    materials, documents relating to conferences, seminars and those contained in
    the library.

During the reporting year, we received 36 requests for
access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act. There were a further 3
requests ongoing from the previous reporting year.

All initial inquiries about access to Commission documents are directed to
our Freedom of Information Officer, who can be contacted by either telephoning
(02) 9284 9600 or by writing to:

Freedom of Information Officer
Australian Human Rights Commission
GPO
Box 5218
Sydney NSW 2001

We follow procedures for dealing with Freedom of Information requests
detailed in section 15 of the Freedom of Information Act. A valid request
must:

  • be in writing
  • state that it is a request for the purposes of the Freedom of Information
    Act
  • include details of how notices under the Freedom of Information Act can be
    sent to them, such as an email address
  • specify the documents to which access is sought.

Since 1 May
2011 agencies subject to the Freedom of Information Act have been required to
publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme
(IPS).

The Commission’s plan, which shows what information is published in
accordance with the IPS requirements, is available on our website at: www.humanrights.gov.au/ips/ips_scheme.html.

Consultancy services

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

We engage consultants where we lack specialist expertise or when independent
research, review or assessment is required. Consultants are typically engaged to
investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem; carry out defined reviews or
evaluations; or provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to
assist us in our decision making.

Prior to engaging consultants, we take the skills and resources required for
the task, the skills available internally, and the cost-effectiveness of
engaging external expertise into account. The decision to engage a consultant is
made in accordance with the FMA Act and related regulations, including the
Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines and relevant internal procurement policies
and controls.

During the year under review, thirteen new consultancy arrangements were
entered into for a total amount of $661,764. During the reporting period these
contracts involved total actual expenditure, including GST, of $311,434. There
were five 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: www.tenders.gov.au.

Advertising and market research

The Commission did not enter into any market research contracts during the
reporting period. We paid $8,049 (Including GST) on non campaign advertising
(recruitment) and $331,408 (Including GST) on non campaign advertising
(invitations to make submissions).

ANAO access clauses

No contracts were let during the reporting period for amounts of $100 000 or
more with provisions to exempt ANAO access the supplier’s
premises.