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Working at the Commission - Annual Report 2011-2012: Australian Human Rights Commission

People and performance

Working at the Commission

Workplace philosophy

The Commission has a highly committed and experienced workforce. To ensure
that staff have support to achieve a work life balance, we provide access to a
wide range of flexible work options. These best practice strategies assist staff
of all ages, with various disabilities and external responsibilities to work
productively and safely.

Meeting staff training and development

During 2011- 2012, we delivered the following selection of training sessions
to staff:

  • Issues in record management
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Competence
  • Social Media
  • Managing Challenging Client Interactions
  • Microsoft Office Training
  • Effective Submissions
  • Ergonomic Sessions for Managers.

Providing performance
feedback

We formally review staff performance on an annual basis. This review provides
the basis for decision-making about professional and personal development
activities. All performance planning is undertaken within the framework of the
strategic plan, the Commission’s key priority areas and good governance
requirements.

Encouraging a diverse workplace

The Commission recognised important events throughout the year including
Harmony Day, NAIDOC Day, White Ribbon Day and International Day for People with
a Disability. Each of these brought staff together to support, acknowledge and
celebrate diversity in all its forms. We continue to exceed APS targets for the
employment of people with a disability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
peoples and to explore ways to reduce barriers to employment. In 2011-12, we
also engaged a Business Administration Trainee using recruitment targeted to
attract a person with a disability.

Working in a way that supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
and cultures

Our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) was first developed with Reconciliation
Australia in 2008
and updated in 2011. The RAP helps us achieve our vision
by committing the whole organisation
to working in a way that respects,
values, engages and supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and
cultures.

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

In 2011-12, several staff road trialled and/or completed the foundation
course from the Centre of Cultural Competence Australia (CCCA). This is an
on-line accredited TAFE course regarding Indigenous cultural awareness.

Complaint of disability discrimination in the provision of goods and services

The complainant lodged the complaint on behalf of her husband who has
epilepsy and is accompanied by a seizure alert dog. The complainant claimed that
the respondent shuttle bus company discriminated against her husband by not
allowing him to be accompanied by his seizure alert dog on the bus.

The respondent indicated a willingness to try to resolve the complaint
immediately when advised of the complaint. The complaint was resolved with an
agreement that the respondent would amend its policy to allow seats to be
reserved for people travelling with assistance animals. The respondent also
provided the complainant with a written apology.

Ensuring our policies, programs and services are accessible

We are committed to implementing best practice in relation to the provision
and improvement of access to our 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.

In October 2011, we launched our Disability Action Plan 2011-2014. We have
committed to developing and promoting a ‘disability lens’ approach
to our work through which we will consider the impact of our work and consult
with people with disability in all stages of planning and developing policies
and projects.

We are also committed to leading by example. We strive to ensure that all of
our work practices support the inclusion of people with disability. For example,
our website, correspondence and communication tools are all accessible and the
equipment that we purchase meets the ‘universal design’
principles.

Working to make our workplace environmentally sustainable

We relocated our business premises at the end of June 2011. This relocation
enabled the Commission to access a significantly improved energy efficient work
environment and to implement environmentally friendly work systems. A
‘Green Committee’ has been convened to support further improvements
to the Commission’s commitment to minimise its environmental impact.

Ensuring health and safety at work

The harmonisation of Work Health Safety legislation in late 2011 provided an
opportunity for us to review all safety related roles, responsibilities, and
resources. All staff were provided with expert ergonomic advice and surveyed to
establish any knowledge gaps in this area. Staff were also required to complete
an on-line training module relating to the new health and safety arrangements,
issued by Comcare. The Work Health and Safety Committee met quarterly to
identify and address safety related issues. During the year in review, we did
not have any compensation claims.

Workplace relations and employment arrangements

In 2011-2012, the Commission negotiated a new Enterprise Agreement with staff
and the CPSU, our first under the Fair Work Act. As required under the APS
Bargaining Framework, this new Agreement remains in place until June 2014. It
encourages workplace flexibility to support a diverse workforce. We have three
SES employees, each covered by a section 24(1) Determination. During this
period, we had eight non-SES employees on IFA’s. We do not provide
performance payments.

Our recruitment processes

We meet Public Service Act requirements by conducting merit based selection
processes.
In 2011-2012, we explored a range of options to broaden the
diversity of our workforce and harness new technology to improve recruitment
outcomes. Applicant response rates were consistently high for all advertised
positions.

Promoting staff ethics

We have an Ethics Contact Officer who is responsible for ethics-related
issues in the workplace and to fostering a high performing ethical culture. No
issues were raised for investigation or resolution during the year in
review.

Our staff

Our average staffing level for the year was 132.6, with a turnover of 8.2%
for ongoing staff.
We have a diverse workforce mix, which includes:

  • 73% women
  • 3.3% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff
  • 9% People with a disability
  • 16% NESB staff.

An overview of our staffing profile, as at 30 June 2012, is provided at
Appendix 5.

Note: The Commission’s staffing profile was amplified in 2011-2012 due
to the continuation of the Australian Defence Force Review and the Age
Assessment
Inquiry.