All Department of Human Services’ Access and Equity Framework 2013-17 Secretary’s Foreword Why an access and equity framework?



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Delivering for All

Department of Human Services’ Access and Equity Framework 2013-17



Secretary’s Foreword
Why an access and equity framework?

Victoria is a vibrant, engaging and diverse community.


It has played a central role in Australia’s economic, artistic, sporting, scientific, and educational achievements.
It comprises a rich mix of our ancient Aboriginal cultures, descendents of the first Europeans to arrive on the continent, and social, economic and humanitarian migrants through the last 200 years.
The place of the Department of Human Services in our community is to support those who need that extra hand to take best advantage of the opportunities Victoria can offer, and make their own contribution to this ongoing story.
We provide opportunities for people with a disability through our services, leadership and advice. We support families so they can give their children a better start, help people into sustainable housing, and support those acutely affected by natural disasters.
We also provide programs and policy leadership in issues facing women and young people in the community.
We work to protect our most vulnerable children, and to move young people out of Victoria’s justice system.
To do this successfully, our services need to provide effective support regardless of a client’s disability, cultural background, language, faith, gender, sexual orientation, or their distance from our major towns or cities.
We must also be a leader in the Victorian Government and the broader community through our employment and service delivery practices.

Delivering for All is our department’s four year framework outlining our commitment to equity, and ensuring our services are accessible and support every Victorian to participate in our community and our economy. The framework also aligns with the department’s Strategic Directions 2012-16 and the underpinning principles of valuing, respecting and treating our clients and staff fairly.

Gill Callister

Secretary


Our obligations
A range of human rights legislation guides our department’s staff in their work.
Together they provide a foundation for how our department provides its services, how we engage with our clients and our people.
They focus on addressing and preventing discrimination, and improving access to services for diverse groups including people from multicultural backgrounds and people with a disability.
Delivering for All outlines the department’s plans to meet its obligations under the following legislation by:


  • Increasing the participation, inclusion and employment of people with a disability across the department through the DHS Disability Action Plan under the Disability Act 2006 (see Appendix 1)

  • Undertaking cultural diversity planning under the Multicultural Victoria Act 2011

  • Making DHS a Victorian leader in meeting its positive duties under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010

  • Consolidating work done to implement the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 and ensure continuous improvement in our commitment to protecting human rights.

It also draws on key principles of non-discrimination under Commonwealth sex, race and disability discrimination law.


Finally, by committing ourselves to continuous improvement in how we deal with our staff and clients, we can play a role as community leaders by treating people fairly and respectfully, and in a way that champions fundamental principles of human rights.

Principles of Access and Equity

Given the department’s responsibility for supporting disadvantaged Victorians, and the range of legislative obligations, the department has adopted the following principles of access and equity.
Actions included in Delivering for All are aimed at helping us to meet these aspirations.
Access


  1. No one should be disadvantaged in their access to our services regardless of their country of birth, language, culture, race or religion, sex, sexual orientation, or disability.




  1. Our organisation and staff take reasonable steps so that location is not a barrier to support from our services.



  1. Opportunities for employment and advancement in the department are open to all. We have employment practices that encourage and support applicants from all backgrounds so that our workforce can reflect the diversity of our community.


Equity


  1. Services are developed and delivered on the basis of fair treatment of clients who are eligible to receive them.




  1. Every effort is made so that factors such as disability, cultural background, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or caring responsibilities do not result in unequal treatment in seeking employment or contact with the department.


Responsiveness and Sensitivity


  1. Consistent with our client charter and service delivery reform agenda, services are sensitive to the needs and requirements of clients from diverse backgrounds and responsive as far as practicable to the particular circumstances of individuals.


Consultation and partnerships

  1. Regular consultation and collaborative partnerships are key components of continuous improvement, and ensuring our access and equity policies meet the needs of people from diverse backgrounds.



Efficiency


  1. Initiatives aimed at improving access and equity are efficiently targeted to those that need them.


Leadership


  1. Our organisation and staff show leadership to our colleagues, service partners and the broader community by reflecting the principles of access and equity in their work.


The Access and Equity Framework
Our department has identified four key focus areas which will guide our actions over the life of the framework, and help us meet our commitment to principles of access and equity:



  • Embedding good practice in new ways of working

  • Build on our understanding of organisational diversity and better identify discrimination

  • Improve organisational diversity competency and practice

  • Ensure services delivered meets diverse needs.

These focus areas, and the actions that accompany them, have been developed taking into account existing progress in areas like implementing the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006, and areas where we need to do more.


They also reflect a department that is committed to reforming how our services are delivered, and the structure and efficiency of the organisation that supports those changes.
Focus Area 1 – Embedding Good Practice in New Ways of Working


Services Connect and the Positive Duty Obligation
New models of service delivery are currently being trialled under our Services Connect reforms.

These reforms should lead to a new way of delivering our services which will make it easier to put the client at the centre, and remove silos which can hamper efforts to provide coordinated and holistic support.

As part of the design of staff practice manuals, the department has been consulting with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to ensure that the positive obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (see box text page 6) are effectively built into service delivery design from the start.
Building access and equity principles into our policy development and service design will help to enshrine good practice from the very beginning and make a lasting difference.

The department has undergone significant organisational change, and we are reforming how we provide services to our clients.


Through these reforms, there is an opportunity to ensure that access and equity principles, obligations, and good practice are embedded early in the new organisational structure and emerging service delivery models.
Our department is committed to building the principles of access and equity into policy and services delivery reforms, and that there is appropriate governance and accountability structures under the new organisational structure.

What we will do…

The department is developing appropriate governance and accountability arrangements to monitor and report on progress against the actions, and ongoing commitment to principles of access and equity.

Build internal access and equity governance and accountability arrangements under new organisational structure




The department will continue to consult with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to ensure our Services Connect reforms are consistent with our positive duty obligations.

Work with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to ensure that Services Connect practices are consistent with positive duty obligations



Building on our experiences and work to implement the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006, the department is committed to continuous improvement so that our legislative obligations and principles of access and equity are embedded in policy, service design and practice reforms.

Transparency and responsiveness to views of employees and users of DHS services are integral to continuous improvement. DHS will establish appropriate external consultation and monitoring of our framework.

As a first step to ensuring broad understanding of our positive duty requirements, the department is developing a communications strategy for raising awareness of these obligations among its staff and service providers.


Develop accountability arrangements to ensure that principles of access and equity are embedded in policy development

Develop and implement a process for consultation and monitoring of the DHS Access and Equity Framework

Develop and implement a communications plan to raise awareness of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010

Focus Area 2 – Build on Our Understanding of Organisational Diversity and Better Identify Discrimination

Discrimination is not necessarily overt, conscious or intentional. Indirect discrimination, which is covered under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, can occur as a result of old ways of working, or systems which unintentionally treat some people less favourably than others because of factors like disability or cultural background.

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Our Legal Duty to Identify and Eliminate Discrimination
Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 all organisations – Government, not-for-profit and private– have a positive duty to identify and eliminate discrimination that may occur as a result of workplace practices.
A key goal of Delivering for All is to make sure our department meets this positive duty.
Efforts toward building on our understanding of our staff and clients are being designed so that we can meet our obligation to seek out and identify direct and indirect discrimination wherever it might be occurring.
his means it can be hard to identify unless we take the opportunity to review our organisational practice, and analyse trends which might point to where inequitable practices or outcomes are occurring.
A key component in meeting the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 positive duty on organisations will be to actively identify potential areas where discrimination or systemic barriers could exist.
Our department is committed to continually reviewing our organisation to ensure that our efforts to maximise opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds are effective.

What we will do…

Understanding the diversity of our staff assists us cater for the needs of our people, and recognise where we may need to do more to attract people from different backgrounds to our organisation.



Review sources of data relating to the diversity of DHS staff, including recommendations for: improving employment opportunities in DHS for people from diverse backgrounds, and monitoring levels of diversity among employees



Receiving feedback from our staff about how they perceive the organisation’s commitment to access and equity will assist us to better identify where we may need to focus our efforts to build a fair and diverse workplace.


Good data collection assists in ensuring that our services achieve outcomes that do not vary in effectiveness depending on cultural or diverse backgrounds of clients.

A full understanding of where improvements in accessibility are required can support future infrastructure and accommodation planning, raise awareness of accessibility issues, and allow for adjustments to be made at the local level.

Implement ways to survey staff on issues and experiences relating to diversity and discrimination

Review the effectiveness of data collection relating to outcomes for clients from diverse backgrounds

Consider ways to drive improvements in the accessibility of DHS locations


Focus Area 3 – Improve Organisational Diversity Competency and Practice
The face of our services is our people. When we all respect the diversity of our clients and our staff, we will be able to secure better outcomes and make the department a more attractive and dynamic place to work.
Maintaining a broad and thorough understanding of human rights and equal opportunity legislation among staff is also central to us meeting our obligations.
The department will maintain a continuous program of training for new and existing staff to raise awareness and improve the base level of competency in diversity practice.
What we will do…

Including reference to the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 in staff Performance, Progression and Development Plans (PPD) played an important role in raising awareness of staff’s human rights obligations. Revising the PPD to encompass access and equity principles will assist staff to understand their broader legislative obligations and incorporate them into work practice.


Expand existing references to the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 in Performance, Progression and Development Plan templates to include access and equity principles




The positive duty obligation is relatively new. It will require staff, managers, and executives in the department to fully understand the meaning of discrimination under the Act and be aware that they have an obligation to actively identify where discriminatory practices may be occurring.

Incorporate modules on the positive duty obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 in staff and manager development





A review of existing access and equity resources, including incorporation of the principles in this framework, will be undertaken. Raising awareness of the availability of these resources will form part of the communication strategy.

Improve staff and funded sector awareness of and access to diversity and equity resources




A regular program of events will help maintain awareness of the valuable contribution people from all backgrounds bring to our community. It is also an opportunity to raise the level of understanding of complex issues that may arise when working with people from different cultures or with different needs.

Celebrate diversity at local area levels through a calendar of events, and ensuring positive representations of diverse groups in DHS publications




Building on the introduction of the Disability Employment Advisory Service, the department will explore how it can continuously improve its capacity to employ, retain and offer professional development to people with a disability.


Strengthen employment pathways for people with a disability and improve the department’s employment and retention of people with a disability




Focus Area 4 – Ensure Services Delivered Meets Diverse Needs
S
The Youth Parole Board Larry Osborne Scholarship
The Youth Parole Board scholarship was introduced in 2011 to encourage and support the development of innovative best practice in parole planning and supervision of parolees in the community.

The 2012-13 scholarship winner will investigate new approaches to working with young people from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) community in the youth justice system with a view to developing initiatives to improve current practice.



ervice delivery is our primary business. We also fund a wide variety of not for profit service providers to deliver good outcomes for clients.
Our systems must be designed so that they reflect the principles of access and equity, and we should use our role as a contractor of services to give leadership and guidance to the broader service sector.
What we will do…


A review of how translating and interpreting services are delivered by the department is currently underway. This is intended to ensure they are delivered efficiently to those who need them.

Review language services to ensure the service delivery model maximises access, efficiency and responsiveness to need



The department currently has a language services policy which outlines when and how translating and interpreting services should be used by service providers and DHS staff. This will be reviewed and updated.





Review and update the department’s policy on the use of translating and interpreting services




Provide accessible information and communication that takes into account the needs of people with a disability




The department will also review its current communication practices and identify ways to make its communication more accessible for people with a disability including through use of alternate formats, readable print and compliance with AA or AAA web standards.




The department will work in partnership with the funded sector to consider ways to help improve diversity competency as part its ongoing work with the human services sector on service delivery reform.

Improve support for service delivery partners to improve diversity competency as part of the human services sector reform




The department’s existing guide for staff and funded service providers will also be reviewed and updated as required.

Understanding the user experience is crucial to knowing whether our efforts to ensure access and equity are effective. The department will look at ways of receiving continuous feedback on service delivery experiences.

Review and update the department’s cultural diversity guide


Consider ways to receive feedback on the experience of people with a disability and other diverse groups accessing services


Our commitment to consultation and continuous improvement


As part of the implementation of our access and equity initiatives, the department will develop forums for continuous consultation with relevant stakeholders to:


  • Assess whether the implementation of our actions is effective and meets their needs

  • Consider new areas for action or emerging issues.

In this way, the framework and implementation plan is intended to be a living document. Actions can be refined, re-scoped or replaced on the basis of feedback from staff, stakeholders or effectiveness.


The framework provides overarching guidance for our department.
The development of accountability procedures and regular reporting on actions included in the framework will be used to:

  • Monitor the progress and effectiveness of actions under the framework

  • Adopt new actions and areas for improvement.


Our timeframes
The broad timeframe includes regular consultation, reporting and evaluation. A detailed implementation plan, including an outline of the monitoring and reporting framework has also been developed.


Appendix 1



Delivering for All
The department’s Access and Equity Framework and the

DHS Disability Action Plan


The Department of Human Services has developed an overarching Access and Equity Framework. Consistent with the department’s reform agenda aimed at providing client-centred services, the framework seeks to:

  • Make sure our services provide effective support regardless of a client’s disability, cultural background, language, faith, gender, sexual orientation, or their distance from our major towns or cities; and


  • Demonstrate leadership through our own corporate and organisational practices.


Delivering for All has also been developed to include a series of actions specifically aimed at improving access and equity for people with a disability. They have been designed to address the Disability Action Plan outcome areas as determined by the Disability Act 2006.
We hope that the broader access and equity principles in Delivering for All and its related implementation plan, together with actions outlined in the Victorian state disability plan below, will contribute to reducing direct and indirect discrimination and promote greater opportunities for people with a disability in our department.
The Victorian state disability plan 2013-16
The Department of Human Services, through the Office for Disability, played a lead role in the development of the Victorian state disability plan 2013-16.
The department is leading or co-leading a number of key commitments under the state disability plan in 2013-14 including:


GOAL 1: A strong foundation in life

Outcome area

Example of DHS led or co-led action

Improved housing and accommodation choices


Strengthen the disability accommodation service system to:

> increase resident choice

> provide portability of funding

> support people with complex support needs


GOAL 1: A strong foundation in life (continued)




Encourage social housing providers to incorporate Livable housing design guidelines in the construction of new housing

Develop a Victorian Social Housing Framework to ensure public and community housing is both sustainable and fair

An improved response to lifelong health needs

Fund and monitor specialised clinical assessment and treatment services for people with a disability who also have a mental illness

Conduct a cancer-screening awareness project for people with an intellectual disability


GOAL 2: Upholding rights and promoting participation

Outcome area

Example of DHS led or co-led action

Better protection of human rights

Implement the Victorian roadmap for the reduction of restrictive practices – a human–rights based framework for service providers to assist them to reduce their use of restrictive practices


Monitor and evaluate the use of restrictive interventions and compulsory treatment across disability services and recommend improvements in practice

Involve people with a disability in monitoring, evaluating and reporting on disability action plan

Support women with a disability or women who have a child with a disability experiencing or escaping from family violence to access a crisis response or remain safely in their own home


Better pathways to employment

Roll out a coordinated communication strategy to better inform young people with a disability, their parents and teachers about further education, training and employment options






GOAL 2: Upholding rights and promoting participation (continued)

Outcome area

Example of DHS led or co-led action




Develop and implement approaches to build work awareness and work readiness of young people with a disability both in school and post-school, with particular emphasis on opportunities to gain work experience in open employment

Improve the capacity of the Victorian public sector to employ, retain and offer professional development to people with a disability



Greater participation in the community

Encourage the representation of people with a disability on boards and committees
Include provision in the Aboriginal Recruitment and Retention Strategy to improve recruitment of Aboriginal people with a disability in DHS
Support, monitor and implement the Enabling choice for Aboriginal people living with a disability principles in order to:

> build the capacity of government and community-based disability services to be more culturally inclusive for Aboriginal people and

> promote and enable increased leadership and participation by Aboriginal people with a disability in community and service development activities


GOAL 3: Accessing information, transport, buildings and places

Outcome area

Example of DHS led or co-led action

Improved access to buildings and places

Support implementation of the Disability (Access to Premises – building) Standards 2010
Review the current government communications requirements and develop a tool kit for Victorian Government Departments to assist in making their communication more accessible to people with a disability

GOAL 4: A contemporary approach through disability system reform


Outcome area

Example of DHS led or co-led action

More opportunities for independence, choice and control

Continue to identify opportunities to transition from a system that funds services to one that funds individuals
Support the launch and evaluation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in the Barwon area in order to better prepare for full scheme launch


Better targeted and integrated services

Simplify the way that people with a disability receive support services at Services Connect lead sites in Dandenong, Geelong and the South-West Coast, by providing individuals and families with just one key worker and one client or family plan
Develop a statewide disability forensic practice framework to drive consistent approaches and evidence-based practice


The role of families and carers is better supported

Involve people with a disability, families and carers in the development of respite policy and programs

Improve access to government services including disability services, for children in out-of-home care



More information about the Victorian state disability plan can be found at:
www.officefordisability.vic.gov.au
The DHS Disability Action Plan – Year 1
This departmental Disability Action Plan (the DAP) focuses on key actions in Year 1. The intention is that the DAP will be a living document and future Year 2 and Year 3 actions will build on learnings, as well as respond to emerging issues identified by the Access and Equity Reference Group to be established as an ongoing part of the framework’s consultation and monitoring arrangements.
Some of the key actions identified in Year 1 are highlighted below.
DAP Outcome Area 1
R
The Services Connect trial sites are an integral part of the DHS service reform agenda. If rolled out more broadly, it will form the department’s basic service delivery model.
Ensuring that Services Connect practices are consistent with the new positive duty obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 means that good practice in identifying barriers to services for people with a disability will be built into the model from the ground up.
Year 1 outcomes: Positive duty obligations are effectively built into service delivery design from the start


educing barriers to persons with a disability accessing goods, services and facilities



Work with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to ensure that Services Connect practices are consistent with positive duty obligations





It is important to continue to review accessibility across the department’s locations to help raise awareness of accessibility issues and support future planning at the local level.

Consider ways to drive improvements in the accessibility of DHS locations



A review of how translating and interpreting services are delivered by the department is currently underway. This is intended to ensure they are delivered efficiently to those who need them, and includes the use of AUSLAN interpreting via the Video Relay Interpreting Service.
Year 1 outcomes: Accessible and responsive language services system that is client focused

Review and update the department’s policy on the use of translating and interpreting services


Provide accessible information and communication that takes into account the needs of people with a disability


The department will review its current communication practices and identify ways to make its communication more accessible for people with a disability including through accessible formats, readable print and compliance with AA or AAA web standards.
Year 1 outcomes: More accessible departmental information and communication responsive to the needs of people with a disability


Understanding the user experience is crucial to knowing whether our efforts to ensure access and equity are effective. The department will look at ways of receiving continuous client feedback on service delivery experiences for people with a disability.


Consider ways to receive feedback on the experience of people with a disability and other diverse groups accessing services


Improve support for service delivery partners to improve diversity competency as part of the human services sector reform


The department will review and revise its existing access and equity resources to ensure these continue to be relevant and up-to-date to assist staff and the funded sector to build on good practice in delivering services to people from diverse backgrounds including those with a disability.

Improve staff and funded sector awareness of and access to diversity and equity resources


The department will work in partnership with the funded sector to consider ways to help improve their diversity competency as part of its ongoing work with the human services sector on service delivery reform. This includes providing practical support and encouragement to partner agencies to produce disability action plans.



DAP Outcome Area 2
Reducing barriers to persons with a disability obtaining and maintaining employment


As part of the review of our employee data sources, the department will look at continued monitoring and reporting on levels of employment of people with a disability in the department.
Year 1 outcomes: Emerging discriminatory practices are identified and can be addressed at the earliest opportunity

Review sources of data relating to the diversity of DHS staff, including recommendations for: improving employment opportunities in DHS for people from diverse backgrounds, and monitoring levels of diversity among employees







The department will draw on findings from the culture survey regular monitoring of employment and length of service to improve the support provided to people with a disability. Building on the introduction of the Disability Employment Advisory Service, the department will explore how it can continuously improve its capacity to employ, retain and offer professional development to people with a disability.






Strengthen employment pathways for people with a disability and improve the department’s employment and retention of people with a disability



Outcome Area 3
Promoting inclusion and participation in the community of persons with a disability


A regular program of events will help maintain awareness of the valuable contribution people from all backgrounds bring to our community. This will include events focused on people with a disability, such as celebrating the International Day of People with Disability.
Year 1 outcomes: A workplace that celebrates diversity and encourages engagement in access and equity issues



Celebrate diversity at local area levels through a calendar of events, and ensuring positive representations of diverse groups in DHS publications





DAP Outcome Area 4
Achieving tangible changes in attitudes and practices which discriminate against persons with a disability

Receiving feedback about how our staff perceive the organisation’s commitment to access and equity will assist us to better identify where we may need to focus our efforts to build a fair and diverse workplace free of discrimination including for people with a disability.
This information will also be used to inform efforts to change departmental attitudes and practices where required, including targeted training and support.
Year 1 outcomes: A fair and diverse workplace where staff views are heard and respected

Implement ways to survey staff on issues and experiences relating to diversity and discrimination.



This action will assist staff to consider their own professional responsibility to contribute to equity and rights, facilitate conversations between staff and managers and understand how their work practice can contribute to the department improving its access and equity practices including for people with a disability.
Year 1 outcomes: An informed and aware workforce committed to access and equity principles




Expand existing references to the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 in Performance, Progression and Development Plan templates to include access and equity principles



Incorporate modules on the positive duty obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 in staff and manager development

The department will develop training modules to ensure staff, managers and executives fully understand the meaning of discrimination under the Act and are aware that they have an obligation to actively identify and eliminate discriminatory practices including in relation to people with a disability.

Year 1 outcomes: Staff are informed and aware of their positive duty obligations









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