Individuals and Travellers

Agency multicultural plan 2013-15

Secretary's foreword

I am pleased to present the Department of Immigration and Citizenship's inaugural Agency Multicultural Plan 2013-15, which articulates what actions this department will take to deliver on the Australian Government's strengthened Multicultural Access and Equity Policy-Respecting Diversity. Improving Responsiveness.

Australia's Multicultural Access and Equity Policy is the primary vehicle for ensuring that Australian Government programs and services are responsive to the needs of Australia's culturally and linguistically diverse population. The policy aims to ensure that government programs and services are accessible by all Australians, responsive to their needs, and deliver equitable outcomes to them, regardless of their cultural or linguistic backgrounds.

The policy is not just about client services, but also communication, engagement, policy and program design and delivery. It is also about the impacts of activities conducted on behalf of government by contractors, service delivery partners and other funded entities.

Australia's culturally and linguistically diverse population is the broad target group of the policy. Migrants who need a greater level of responsiveness to their particular circumstances are specifically targeted:

  • migrants with low levels of English language proficiency
  • refugees and humanitarian entrants
  • visibly different communities
  • newly arrived communities and individuals with low levels of knowledge of the Australian system
  • other migrants experiencing difficulties in accessing services based on age, gender, disability, youth or collectivist cultures

The department's Agency Multicultural Plan 2013-15 defines priority actions, responsibilities, timelines, and measurable targets across six key dimensions: leadership, engagement, performance, capability, responsiveness and openness. Each dimension includes minimum obligations that must be addressed.

The Agency Multicultural Plan 2013-15 identifies steps the department will need to take to create a baseline of its current multicultural access and equity actions, to identify gaps and room for improvement and to celebrate and maintain our performance in the areas in which we already do well. The intention is to solidify a culture within the department that embraces multicultural access and equity practices in all aspects of our work. Ultimately the Agency Multicultural Plan 2013-15 seeks to position the department to lead the way through aspiring to 'best practice' in multicultural access and equity.

The Agency Multicultural Plan 2013-15 also reflects the activities we will undertake as custodian of the policy in supporting all government agencies and departments to understand and implement their obligations under the strengthened Multicultural Access and Equity Policy.

I commend the Agency Multicultural Plan 2013-15 to you and look forward to embracing a workplace culture that values diversity and equity, and promotes participation for all.

Martin Bowles PSM

Former Secretary

Message from Multicultural Access and Equity Champion

I am pleased to take on the role of senior executive officer responsible for the Multicultural Access and Equity Policy. This role is an exciting one because of the unique opportunities it presents for the department.

My role as the Multicultural Access and Equity champion is to provide leadership and inspire staff, contractors and service delivery partners to embrace and implement their obligations in their everyday work.

This work is incredibly important because it goes to the very core of what this department is about and what all of us do in our work every day. It is very much a part of this department's nation building agenda. It is about public service and how we respect and properly service the multicultural diversity of Australia.

The department already performs well against multicultural access and equity; however, we can and indeed should strive to improve. As the whole-of-government lead agency on multicultural access and equity, we aspire to best practice and I am committed to us performing strongly in this work.

This Agency Multicultural Plan 2013-15 and the action items it contains is the first step on that journey - a journey that will take more than one cycle to achieve. As the lead agency, we are also supporting all Australian Government agencies in meeting their targets in multicultural access and equity. There is no single action that will deliver our goal. Rather, our story for this plan is about improving consistency across the department. We currently have pockets of excellence - by the end of the 2013-15 period we aim to improve performance across the board and build a solid foundation for our continuing journey.

The primary objective is to ensure all departmental staff understand multicultural access and equity and to embed it in our organisational culture, such that being responsive to the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse communities becomes second nature to all of us.

Our plan has 45 action items with representation from across all areas of the department. Several senior executive service officers have been identified as having lead responsibility to deliver on these action items. Our plan was developed in consultation with the Agency Multicultural Plan Working Group, which represented all work areas and state and territory offices, including consultation with overseas posts. We will see strengthened commitment in areas as diverse as incorporating multicultural access and equity in all corporate, strategic and business planning documents, a language and communication plan, and a cultural competency strategy.

We will continue to examine our performance and I encourage every staff member to look at each action item and reflect on areas for improvement. In the meantime, we have these first two years to start our journey. I look forward to working with you in ensuring this important government policy becomes an integrated part of our work culture.

Dr Wendy Southern PSM

Deputy Secretary, Policy and Program Management Group

Acknowledgments

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) acknowledges the traditional owners upon whose ancestral lands the department's activities are conducted. We pay our respects to their elders both past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The department would also like to acknowledge the DIAC Agency Multicultural Plan Working Group for their hard work and dedicated contribution to the development of the Agency Multicultural Plan 2013-15.

Our vision for multicultural access and equity policy

Our vision is of a socially inclusive society in which everyone feels valued and has the opportunity to participate fully in the social, economic and cultural life of Australia consistent with their immigration status and entitlements. We seek to create a shared vision for multicultural access and equity in the department and across all Australian Government agencies. We are committed to understanding Australia's culturally and linguistically diverse population and how we can best meet its needs. We strive for high quality, accessible, client-centric services in pursuit of equitable outcomes for eligible Australians, regardless of cultural and linguistic backgrounds and for effective policies, programs and service delivery.

Our agency

The department's business is to 'build Australia's future through the well-managed movement and settlement of people'. Since its establishment in 1945, the department has managed the arrival and settlement in Australia of more than 7.2 million migrants from over 200 countries, including more than 800 000 refugees under the Humanitarian Program. The department works with a wide range of culturally and linguistically diverse clients and is positioned in 58 offices across the world. The department is committed to ensuring it is open and accountable, deals fairly and reasonably with clients and has staff who are well-trained and supported. The department's operational theme is 'people our business'.

The work of the department impacts Australia's culturally and linguistically diverse society fundamentally through our nation building mission. We facilitate immigration and citizenship outcomes, manage Australia's borders in terms of the flow of people and provide settlement services to support newly arrived migrants to fully participate in Australian society. In all of these activities we engage with and provide services to people whose cultural and linguistic needs must be considered. We have many different clients and stakeholders with high levels of diversity. We acknowledge we need to ensure our policies, programs, service delivery, communication, engagement and activities conducted by our service partners and contractors are responsive to needs resulting from cultural and linguistic diversity.

The Agency Multicultural Plan 2013-15 (AMP) supports the department's core business by creating a mechanism to enhance our cultural competency and improve our responsiveness to Australia's cultural and linguistic diversity. It will improve the effectiveness of service delivery as well as policy and program development and design in a planned, methodical and measurable way. The AMP will support departmental staff in consciously considering multicultural access and equity principles in their everyday work. It will also serve to build future AMPs that best respond to changes in our client and stakeholder base, and business needs.

Our agency multicultural plan

This AMP covers the department and the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority. It does not cover the Migration Review Tribunal and the Refugee Review Tribunal, who have separate AMPs.

The senior executive officer responsible for the department's AMP is Dr Wendy Southern PSM, Deputy Secretary, Policy and Program Management Group.

The DIAC AMP Working Group was formed in March 2013 and is the key mechanism through which the department developed its AMP. The working group is chaired by the Assistant Secretary, Multicultural and Settlement Policy Branch and consists of representatives from all key areas of the department's National Office (including representation on behalf of the overseas network) and from each state and territory office. A new function was created in the Language, Access and Equity Policy Section, Multicultural and Settlement Policy Branch, as the dedicated area responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of the department's AMP.

The inaugural AMP identifies the steps the department will need to take to create a baseline of its current multicultural access and equity actions, to identify gaps and room for improvement in the department's performance and to celebrate and maintain our performance in the areas in which we already do well. The AMP intends to solidify a culture within the department (and among our service providers and contractors) that embraces multicultural access and equity practices in all aspects of the department's work. Ultimately the AMP seeks to facilitate the department leading the way through aspiring to 'best practice' in multicultural access and equity. The AMP also reflects the activities we will take as custodian of the Multicultural Access and Equity Policy in supporting all government agencies and departments to understand and implement their obligations under the strengthened policy.

1. Leadership

Demonstrable and visible leadership by the Secretary and executive will ensure that the multicultural access and equity commitments set out in the department's Agency Multicultural Plan 2013-15 are realised and multicultural access and equity considerations become embedded as 'business as usual' by staff, contractors and service providers. Modelling 'best practice' and providing support across whole-of-government will position the department as a leader in Multicultural Access and Equity Policy.

Minimum obligations

1.1 Executive accountability-Agency to assign a senior executive officer to be responsible for implementation of multicultural access and equity obligations in the agency.

1.2 Agency commitment- Agency leadership to ensure staff understand and are committed to multicultural access and equity implementation.

1.1 Executive accountability

Action items

1.1.1 Appoint a senior executive service officer ('champion') with overall responsibility for embedding multicultural access and equity in the organisational culture and ensuring commitments identified in the AMP are fully realised and delivered.

Lead responsibility

Secretary, Department of Immigration and Citizenship

Timeline

Completed

Target

Dr Wendy Southern PSM, Deputy Secretary, Policy and Program Management Group, appointed as the department's Multicultural Access and Equity 'champion'. Our champion models 'best practice' in implementing the AMP creating a culture of fostering access and equity considerations in the department's mission and vision.

1.1.2 Senior executive service (SES) officers actively promote multicultural access and equity priorities, taking respective ownership for action items identified in the AMP.

Lead responsibility

Secretary, Department of Immigration and Citizenship

Timeline

September 2013

Target

Multicultural access and equity is incorporated into SES position descriptions, with AMP action items linked to SES performance development agreements (PDAs).

Lead responsibility

Chief Human Resources Officer

Timeline

July 2013

Target

Chief Human Resources Officer provides a tool for SES PDAs to ensure consistent wording in PDAs.

Lead responsibility

Deputy Secretary, Policy and Program Management Group

Timeline

June 2015

Target

Action items identified in the AMP are delivered, with multicultural access and equity considerations seen as ‘business as usual' by staff.

1.1.3 Establish ongoing governance mechanism to report on implementation of the AMP.

Lead responsibility

Deputy Secretary, Policy and Program Management Group

Timeline

First meeting December 2013, then six-monthly reviews.

Target

First Assistant Secretary and Assistant Secretary officers report regularly to the department's Multicultural Access and Equity champion on implementation. Multicultural Access and Equity champion is able to oversee implementation and ensure it remains on track.

1.2 Agency commitment

Action items

1.2.1 Provide guidance on incorporation of multicultural access and equity commitments into corporate strategic and business planning documents.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Innovation Branch

Timeline

July 2014

Target

Guidance is provided on the need for corporate/strategic/business planning documents at all levels to acknowledge the department operates in a culturally and linguistically diverse environment, with a need for multicultural access and equity considerations to be integrated into all departmental activities including business objectives, forward planning and processes.

1.2.2 Develop a communications strategy to raise awareness and educate staff about the aims of the AMP by maximising internal communication channels.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Multicultural and Settlement Policy Branch

Timeline

July 2014

Target

Staff are aware of and understand multicultural access and equity commitments set out in the AMP, with communications products available to support staff needs during the implementation and reporting phases.

1.2.3 Establishment of a team responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of the AMP.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Multicultural and Settlement Policy Branch

Timeline

Completed

Target

Team established within the Multicultural and Settlement Policy Branch responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of the AMP.

1.3 Other actions

Action items

1.3.1 As the whole-of-government lead on Multicultural Access and Equity Policy, the department supports Australian Government agencies to develop, implement, deliver and report on their Agency Multicultural Plans 2013-15.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Multicultural and Settlement Policy Branch

Timeline

Completed

Target

Multicultural Access and Equity Toolkit and other resources are available to guide Australian Government Agencies and will be updated regularly.

Note: This is in accordance with Recommendations 6 and 13 of the Access and Equity Inquiry Report and the government's response

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Multicultural and Settlement Policy Branch

Timeline

June 2015

Target

Australian Government agencies supported to deliver and report on their Agency Multicultural Plans.

1.3.2 The department will compile a biennial whole-of-government report on multicultural access and equity, which will be tabled in Parliament.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Multicultural and Settlement Policy Branch

Timeline

June 2015

Target

Whole-of-government report on multicultural access and equity will be tabled in Parliament biennially.

Note: This is in accordance with Recommendation 17 of the Access and Equity Inquiry Report and the government's response.

Best practice examples

Supporting Australian Government agencies

As the department has lead responsibility for whole-of-government coordination and implementation of the strengthened Multicultural Access and Equity Policy, we have developed and distributed a toolkit of policy and planning resources and good practice guidelines. We have also conducted five whole-of-government workshops to assist departments and agencies in being responsive to their diverse clients in their policy, program and service deliveries.

High level and whole-of-department commitment

High level leadership is crucial for strong multicultural access and equity performance. Dr Wendy Southern PSM, Deputy Secretary, Policy and Program Management Group, has been assigned as the department's SES officer responsible for the Multicultural Access and Equity Policy (see action item 1.1.1).

Dr Southern has garnered staff commitment and understanding through intranet messages on the development of the department's Agency Multicultural Plan 2013-15 as well as a presentation to the internal AMP Working Group, inspiring the members to strive for high quality in developing the plan. In addition in March 2013 Warren Pearson, Assistant Secretary, Multicultural and Settlement Policy Branch, gave a presentation to staff on multicultural access and equity as part of the updates@DIAC seminar series.

2. Engagement

It is crucial for the department to engage and communicate effectively with clients and stakeholders on cultural and linguistic issues in order to deliver on our core business—to build Australia's future through the well-managed entry and settlement of people. To this end we will strive to communicate and engage through the most appropriate communication platform and in the language best suited for the circumstance.

Minimum obligations

2.1 Stakeholder engagement - Agency to have an engagement strategy to understand culturally and linguistically diverse communities' interactions with the agency.

2.2 Language and communication - Agency to have a language and communication plan for culturally and linguistically diverse communities, including the use of languages other than English and incorporating the use of interpreters and translators.

2.1 Engagement strategy

Action items

2.1.1 Incorporate multicultural access and equity and cultural competency considerations into the department's stakeholder engagement framework.

Actions include:

  • Provide guidance on incorporating consideration of stakeholders' cultural and linguistic diversity into stakeholder engagement strategies.
  • Incorporate cultural and linguistic diversity considerations into stakeholder engagement plans.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Innovation Branch

Timeline

June 2014

Target

Guiding principles for consideration of cultural and linguistic diversity in stakeholder engagement strategies, included in guidance materials. Stakeholder engagement plans include consideration of cultural and linguistic diversity.

2.1.2 Incorporate culturally and linguistically diverse stakeholder engagement into division/unit business plans where appropriate.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Innovation Branch

Timeline

June 2014

Target

Work areas supported to include engagement with culturally and linguistically diverse stakeholders in their business plans where appropriate.

2.2 Language and communication

Action items

2.2.1 Develop the department's Language and Communication Plan in line with the Multicultural Language Services Guidelines for Government Agencies.

Actions include:

  • Consultation across the department and with key stakeholders to establish the parameters and requirements.
  • Develop a policy position on the use of bilingual staff.
  • Promote the use of ‘plain' or ‘simple' English.
  • Draft guidelines and other tools to support the effective implementation of the department's Language and Communication Plan.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Multicultural and Settlement Policy Branch

Timeline

June 2014

Target

The department's Language and Communication Plan is approved by the Secretary and publicly available.

Note: This is in accordance with Recommendation 9 of the Access and Equity Inquiry Report and the government's response.

2.2.2 Review all departmental communications guidance materials to ensure compliance with the department's Language and Communication Plan (see 2.2.1).

Lead responsibility

National Communications Manager

Timeline

June 2015

Action

Updated departmental communication guides available to staff.

2.3 Other actions

Action items

2.3.1 Review the relationship between the Community Language Allowance Register and job families to determine what language skills, if any, are required for different jobs

Lead responsibility

Chief Human Resources Officer

Timeline

June 2014

Target

Community Allowance Register is monitored and updated regularly and easily accessible to staff.

Staff are recognised and rewarded for their language skills.

Language skills are considered in the context of job families.

2.3.2 Enhance accessibility of the department's service delivery channels through the use of ‘plain' English.

Lead responsibility

First Assistant Secretary, Client Strategy and Performance Division

Timeline

June 2014

Target

English language content available through the department's website and scripts is more accessible to culturally and linguistically diverse clients.

2.3.3 Implement the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) at Level AA across web systems in accordance with whole-of-government requirements, and develop strategies on how the department will comply with Level AAA, taking into account multicultural access and equity considerations where relevant.

Lead responsibility

Chief Information Officer, Technology Services Division

Timeline

December 2014

Target

Accessibility is strongly embedded through compliance to improved web accessibility standards for the department's online information and services.

Best practice examples

ImmiTV

The National Communications Branch maintains the department's YouTube channel—ImmiTV. The channel has more than 250 videos and 1.5 million views that cover stories and reports on the department's multicultural activities and programs.

When required, translated versions are provided in either captions or voice-over to ensure stories are accessible and clients are able to gain access to important information in their language.

ImmiTV gives the department the opportunity to address issues of culture and diversity with a global audience on an immediate basis, as well as to present positive messages such as mutual respect, fairness, inclusion and a sense of belonging for all Australians.

Community consultations

The department held consultations with ethnic community representatives across Australia over the period November 2012 to June 2013, to provide information and obtain community feedback, on migration policy changes arising from the recommendations of the Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers. This community engagement is facilitating effective implementation of government announcements in respect of asylum seekers to the benefit of the Australian community as a whole.

Community consultations also supported the department's broader Don't be Sorry campaign, designed to encourage communities onshore to advise their family and friends overseas not to risk their lives on boats but to come to Australia the right way.

3. Performance

By seeking feedback and measuring our performance, we will identify areas for improvement and determine how we need to enhance multicultural access and equity performance in our department.

Minimum obligations

3.1 Performance indicators and reporting - Agency to develop a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) relating to engagement with, or outcomes of services to, culturally and linguistically diverse clients.

3.2 Feedback - Agency to have arrangements to ensure affected culturally and linguistically diverse communities are able to provide feedback on agency multicultural access and equity performance.

3.1 Performance indicators and reporting

Action items

3.1.1 Develop a strategy for selecting suitable KPIs that are sensitive to cultural and linguistic barriers to effective engagement with clients and achievement of desired outcomes of services. Ensure that KPIs are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Strategic Policy, Evaluation and Research Branch

Timeline

February 2014

Target

Strategy developed in consultation with appropriate major policy and program areas.

3.1.2 Report annually on these KPIs.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Strategic Policy, Evaluation and Research Branch

Timeline

June 2014 and June 2015

Target

Report is approved by the Secretary and is included in the annual report and published on departmental website.

3.2 Feedback

Action items

3.2.1 Review existing proactive feedback mechanisms in consultation with staff and clients to ensure existing instruments, such as client surveys, adequately capture regular feedback on the department's multicultural access and equity performance.

Note: Crossover with Openness 6.1.3

Lead responsibility

First Assistant Secretary, Client Strategy and Performance Division

Timeline

December 2013

Target

If identified, improvements to feedback mechanisms are agreed by the Secretary and promoted to culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

3.2.2 Institute a regular report that consolidates and analyses feedback on multicultural access and equity performance in order to identify areas where policies, programs, community interactions and service delivery could be improved in this regard

Note: Crossover with Openness 6.1.3

Lead responsibility

First Assistant Secretary, Client Strategy and Performance Division

Timeline

Annually starting July 2014

Target

Report is distributed to all SES officers every year and considered by the department's AMP governance body established at 1.1.3. All SES officers are to take into account feedback on multicultural access and equity performance in the development of policy and client service improvements.

3.2.3 The next review of the department's Client Feedback Policy to include consultation with key representatives of culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Note: Crossover with Openness 6.1.3

Lead responsibility

First Assistant Secretary, Client Strategy and Performance Division

Timeline

December 2014

Target

Key representatives of culturally and linguistically diverse communities are consulted in the Client Feedback Policy review process.

Note: This is in accordance with Recommendation 15 of the Access and Equity Inquiry Report and the government's response.

3.2.4 Continue to commission the Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia (FECCA) and relevant advisory bodies to provide structured feedback from culturally and linguistically diverse communities on their perceptions of agencies' multicultural access and equity performance within the new arrangements.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Multicultural and Settlement Policy Branch

Timeline

June 2014

Target

Feedback provided through FECCA and other advisory bodies supports client/stakeholder feedback being incorporated into policy, program design and service delivery across government agencies.

Note: This is in accordance with Recommendation 16 of the Access and Equity Inquiry Report and the government's response.

3.3 Other actions

Action items

3.3.1 Review the Client Service Charter to ensure service standards adequately reflect

re-invigorated multicultural access and equity requirements

Lead responsibility

First Assistant Secretary, Client Strategy and Performance Division

Timeline

December 2014

Target

The Client Service Charter is updated where required and approved by Secretary and available to the public.

3.3.2 Include reference to measuring and overcoming cultural and linguistic barriers to service and program delivery in departmental guidance on evaluation and development of program logics.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Strategic Policy Division

Timeline

July 2014

Target

Guidance included in Policy Innovation Research and Evaluation Unit's evaluation support materials.

Best practice examples

The community liaison officer network

The department engages closely with a wide range of ethnic community and religious organisations and individuals across Australia. This engagement is facilitated through the community liaison officer (CLO) network.

CLOs are based in the department's state and territory offices and facilitate ongoing, two-way communication between Australia's diverse communities and the department. CLOs provide advice on Australia's ethnic communities and disseminate information on government services and programs. CLO activities support government policy development and implementation, and promote national unity and social cohesion.

The Client Experience Program

The Client Experience Program began in 2007 when the department commissioned its first client satisfaction survey. In 2013, the department will respond to the cultural and linguistic needs of clients by offering the client satisfaction survey in multiple languages. This allows the department to better engage with clients across the globe by utilising and applying languages other than English.

The survey will evaluate the department's responsiveness to clients' cultural backgrounds, level of English ability and language preferences. It will also capture feedback on the department's multicultural access and equity performance by asking clients whether they were offered interpreting services across their interactions with the department and their level of satisfaction with the services offered.

The research aims to meet the department's commitment to keeping clients' needs central to the development and implementation of client service improvements.

4. Capability

Investing in cultural capability within the department and cultural competency on the part of our staff enables us to engage effectively with our culturally and linguistically diverse stakeholders and clients. Complementary to this we need to understand the cultural and linguistic diversity of our clients and stakeholders through research and data collection.

Minimum obligations

4.1 Cultural competency - Agency to have training and development measures to equip staff with cultural competency skills.

4.2 Research and data - Agency to collect ethnicity data on the culturally and linguistically diverse groups with which the agency engages and to which it delivers services, either directly or indirectly.

4.1 Cultural competency

Action items

4.1.1 Develop a cultural competency strategy.

Examine the department's cultural competency and identify areas for improvement.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Multicultural and Settlement Policy Branch

Timeline

May 2015

Target

The department's cultural competency strategy is in place.

Note: This is in accordance with Recommendation 12 of the Access and Equity Inquiry Report and the government's response.

4.1.2 Develop an associated cultural competency training package, tools and resources to ensure staff are equipped with cultural awareness and competency skills suitable to the work of the department and to their specific roles.

Training:

  • promoting awareness of existing cultural competency training
  • develop an elearning module
  • develop more in-depth cultural competency training tailored to specific roles.

Other resources to support cultural competency.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Global Learning and Change Branch

Timeline

July 2013

Target

Cultural competency e-learning module available on myLearning

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Global Learning and Change Branch

Timeline

June 2015

Target

At least 75 per cent of staff have completed the e-learning module.

4.1.3 Make a cultural competency e-learning module (developed as part of 4.1.2) available to all Australian Government agencies, with capacity to insert agency specific content.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Global Learning and Change Branch

Timeline

August 2013

Target

Cultural competency e-learning module available to other agencies.

Note: This is in accordance with Recommendation 12 of the Access and Equity Inquiry Report and the government's response.

4.2 Research and data

Action items

4.2.1 Improve departmental and public survey and administrative data, including those relating specifically to client and population diversity, through initiatives such as:

  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on data development, standards and dissemination.
  • Work on a departmental metadata repository to bring together information about the full range of departmental data and support improvements in the extent, quality and accessibility of departmental data.
  • Establish the Building a New Life in Australia survey to understand the settlement experiences of and issues faced by Humanitarian Program entrants.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Strategic Policy, Evaluation and Research Branch

Timeline

June 2015

Target

Under the MoU, support the ABS to link permanent visa information with the 2011 Census and raise the profile and build on migrant statistics on the ABS website.

Note: This is in accordance with Recommendation 7 of the Access and Equity Inquiry Report and the government's response.

  • Subject to it being funded, establish the metadata repository.
  • The Building a New Life in Australia survey is established.

Note: This is in accordance with Recommendation 19 of the Access and Equity Inquiry Report and the government's response.

4.2.2 The department to prepare a compendium of cultural and linguistic diversity related information in the Report on Government Services.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Multicultural and Settlement Policy Branch

Timeline

December 2013

Target

The department to upload compendium as part of the Access and Equity online resources.

Note: This is in accordance with Recommendation 18 of the Access and Equity Inquiry Report and the government's response.

Best practice examples

Intercultural effectiveness

For the last five years, the department has supported staff to develop intercultural competency skills through providing a face-to-face training opportunity titled Intercultural Effectiveness. To date, over 3 000 staff have completed the latest version of this course. The course provides participants with an opportunity to explore their own culture, evaluate the impact of their preferred behaviours in interactions with others and gain an awareness of different approaches to communication.

Community detention

Before being placed in community detention the department provides the contracted service provider with information on the client's cultural, religious and language background. This enables the service provider to arrange appropriate accommodation close to appropriate support services including religious facilities and community support and to provide culturally appropriate services.

In placing clients in community detention, each case is considered on a case-by-case basis taking into account personal circumstances, individual vulnerabilities and level of support required. It is standard practise to form households, particularly for unaccompanied minors, based on nationality, ethnicity, religious background, language and gender (in addition to ‘other vulnerabilities').

In referring a community detention client to a service provider, the department provides as much known information about the client as possible. A care plan for all community detention clients is required to be developed by the relevant service provider to identify the client's specific needs while in community detention. Components of this plan include language, cultural and religious considerations. This then allows for the creation of a tailored action plan to address the client's individual needs by engaging them in relevant support services and activities.

Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors

In February 2012, the department introduced the refugee Youth Support Pilot to trial a new approach to the growing number of older unaccompanied humanitarian minors (UHMs) arriving in Australia by boat, to assist these young people in preparing for the transition to independent living in a new country. The program was established to recognise the self-sufficiency demonstrated by UHMs on their journeys to Australia and also the independence developed as a result of the family responsibilities borne by many of this group.

Under the pilot, UHMs aged 16 to 17 years were placed in shared accommodation arrangements to develop independent living skills in a supported environment, outside of a live-in carer model. All clients received intensive, youth-specific case management and training with a strong emphasis on education and employment pathways, accommodation, self-advocacy and Australian laws and values.

Service providers delivered their specialised settlement services through the assistance of bilingual youth workers who were recruited on the basis of understanding and empathy for the UHM social context. Service providers also engaged with local community ethnic groups.

The pilot trialled a range of examples of good practice and these will be used to inform future UHM program care models.

5. Responsiveness

The department's clients, prospective clients, partners and the Australian society are culturally and linguistically diverse. For business objectives to be achieved, departmental policies, programs and services should be accessible, fair and sensitive to their needs.

Minimum obligations

5.1 Standards - Any whole-of-government standards and guidelines developed by the agency must address multicultural access and equity considerations.

5.2 Policy, program and service delivery - Provision to ensure that policies, programs, community interactions and service delivery (whether in-house or outsourced) are effective for culturally and linguistically diverse communities

5.3 Outsourced services - Where relevant, provision for incorporation of multicultural access and equity requirements into contracts, grant agreements and related guidance material of which the agency has carriage.

5.1 Whole of government standards

Action items

5.1.1 Multicultural Language Services Guidelines for Government Agencies:

  • Update in line with strengthened Multicultural Access and Equity Policy to assist agencies to develop their AMP Language and Communication Plans.
  • Promote awareness to ensure they are used as a key resource document across Australian Government departments and agencies to facilitate effective communication with clients and stakeholders.
  • Use internally to develop the department's own Language and Communication Plan.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Multicultural and Settlement Policy Branch

Timeline

Complete. Update periodically.

Target

The updated guidelines are available and are used by agencies to develop their own Language and Communication Plans. Feedback from clients interacting with Australian Government departments and agencies confirms effective/improved communications through provision of appropriate language/interpreting services.

Note: This is in accordance with Recommendation 8 of the Access and Equity Inquiry Report and the government's response.

5.2 Policy, program and service delivery

Action items

5.2.1 Conduct an audit of all the advisory/reference groups assisting the department to assess their cultural and linguistic diversity.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Innovation Branch

Timeline

June 2015

Target

Audit report prepared and circulated appropriately for consideration.

5.2.2 Update departmental templates to include a mandatory field for multicultural access and equity considerations.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Ministerial, Executive Services and External Accountability Branch

Timeline

December 2013

Target

All changes to existing and development of new policies, programs and services take into account the cultural and linguistic diversity of clients and stakeholders.

5.2.3 Determine whether existing policies, programs, community interactions and service delivery are sufficiently responsive to the cultural and linguistic diversity of clients and communities, using data including that provided by the report at action 3.2.2 and identify additional action items as required for the next AMP.

Note: Crossover with Performance 3.2.2

Lead responsibility

Deputy Secretary, Policy and Program Management Group (as Multicultural Access and Equity champion)

Timeline

Annually starting June 2015

Target

Departmental policies, programs, community interactions and service delivery are responsive to the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse clients and communities.

Note: This is in accordance with Recommendations 5 and 19 of the Access and Equity Inquiry Report and the government's response.

5.2.4 Build on existing consultation with frontline services managers to identify cultural and/or linguistic issues which may impact on staff delivering accessible and equitable services.

Lead responsibility

Global Manager, Client Services

Timeline

June 2014

Target

Frontline staff members are confident in their dealings with the cultural and linguistic diversity of their clients. Feedback from clients confirms that the department's programs and services are responsive to their needs.

5.2.5 Build on existing interpreting services to ensure they are aligned to reflect settlement patterns and language needs and are easily accessible to culturally and linguistically diverse clients.

Lead responsibility

Global Manager, Client Services

Timeline

June 2014

Target

Clients, particularly those from new and emerging groups living in regional or outer regional areas, are able to communicate with the department's program and service providers in their community language.

5.2.6 Ensure all new visa policies, programs and products take into account Multicultural Access and Equity Policy requirements such that the right services are provided in the right way, for the right clients, to ensure more efficient and effective service delivery.

Lead responsibility

First Assistant Secretary, Migration Visa Policy Division

Timeline

June 2014

Target

Culturally and linguistically diverse clients and stakeholders who require greater responsiveness are able to access visa programs and products equitably.

5.3 Outsourced services

Action items

5.3.1 Where relevant, incorporate multicultural access and equity requirements into procurement, property and contracts as well as grants, future funding agreements, relevant guidance material, selection processes and tender documentation.

This includes all relevant aspects of the minimum obligations such as performance standards, KPIs, feedback mechanisms, language services requirements and cultural competency training requirements.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Property, Procurement and Contracts

Timeline

January 2014

Target

New funding agreements, grants and contracts align to the same multicultural access and equity standards as the department's work areas, where relevant. This includes third party providers, including non-government organisations, state and territory governments and commercial enterprises.

5.4 Other actions

Action items

5.4.1 In program and service delivery areas which intersect across agencies, maintain existing cross agency partnerships to ensure programs and services are responsive to the cultural and linguistic needs of clients.

Includes for example:

  • education/training needs of young people
  • refugee health
  • migrant employment
  • social and health needs of older/elderly people.

Lead responsibility

First Assistant Secretary, Citizenship, Settlement and Multicultural Affairs Division

Timeline

Annually starting June 2015

Target

Feedback confirms that programs/services delivered through cross-agency partnerships are responsive, particularly to vulnerable groups and new and emerging communities.

Note: This is in accordance with Recommendation 19 of the Access and Equity Inquiry Report and the government's response.

5.4.2 Investigate and develop a policy position on the extent to which the Multicultural Access and Equity Policy applies to clients and stakeholders who are not Australian citizens or permanent residents.

This will include particular consideration of:

  • Interaction with clients through the offshore network (in consultation with First Assistant Secretary, Visa and Offshore Services).
  • Detention operations (in consultation with First Assistant Secretary, Status Resolution Services and First Assistant Secretary, Detention Infrastructure and Services).

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Multicultural and Settlement Policy Branch

Timeline

June 2015

Target

The department has a policy position on the extent to which the Multicultural Access and Equity Policy applies to clients and stakeholders who are not Australian citizens or permanent residents and this is communicated to all business areas and the public.

5.4.3 Review all standard letters and communication to clients on debt collection (legal and removal debt) to ensure the language used is client-focused and straight forward.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Financial Management and Operations Branch

Timeline

June 2014

Target

Feedback from culturally and linguistically diverse clients interacting with the department supports effective and improved communications.

5.4.4 New policy proposal (NPP) costing tools incorporate access and equity considerations when guidelines and supporting materials for business areas are developed.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Financial Strategy and Budgets Branch

Timeline

October 2013

Target

Departmental guidance material updated to incorporate access and equity considerations. Feedback from business areas confirms that the NPP costing process considers the cultural and linguistic diversity of clients.

Best practice examples

Peak bodies and advisory groups

The department engages regularly with a number of peak bodies who represent organisations that provide services and advocacy for migrants and humanitarian entrants. Peak bodies play an important role in supporting dialogue within the settlement and migration sectors, bringing together service providers and client groups to have a greater voice and to ensure their varying needs and opinions are well represented and taken into account.

The department provides financial support to some organisations, including the Refugee Council of Australia, the Settlement Council of Australia, the Migration Council Australia, the Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia and the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network.

The department also engages with advisory bodies to provide advice to government on matters relating to refugee, humanitarian, migration, settlement and social cohesion issues. Some of these groups include the Refugee Resettlement Advisory Council, the Australian Multicultural Council, the Ministerial Council on Asylum Seekers and Detention and the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration.

The department engages with these bodies to contribute to policy and program development through sharing information and best practice on what works at local and national levels. It is only through collaboration that we are able to help identify and respond to service gaps or barriers in policy and programs, directly relevant to early settlement success and effective provision of immigration services.

TIS National and the Doctors Priority Line

The department provides a user pays interpreting service for people who do not speak English and for the English speakers who need to communicate with them through the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) National. This supports the department and other agencies to ensure that government services are responsive to language needs.

TIS National has access to over 2 400 contracted interpreters across Australia, speaking more than 160 languages and dialects. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any person or organisation in Australia requiring interpreting services. It provides immediate telephone interpreting services, as well as pre-booked telephone and on-site interpreting services on a fee for service basis.

The department also provides free interpreting and translating services for eligible individuals and groups. The Doctors Priority Line, which is available through TIS National, is an important part of the free telephone interpreting service. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which helps medical practitioners in private practice to communicate with their non-English speaking patients. This is an important initiative supporting primary health service delivery to members of the community with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

6. Openness

Openness about the department's Multicultural Access and Equity Policy provides an opportunity for the department to share with clients, stakeholders, other government agencies and the wider Australian society its commitment to multicultural access and equity principles through the AMP. Through transparency, the department can achieve accountability to the government and the public.

Minimum obligations

6.1 Publishing- Agency to publish its AMP on agency website and performance reports against agency KPIs for culturally and linguistically diverse clients in agency's annual reports.

6.2 Data - Agency to make culturally and linguistically diverse data available to other agencies and the public.

6.1 Publishing

Action items

6.1.1 Publish the AMP on the department's website.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Multicultural and Settlement Policy Branch

Timeline

August 2013

Target

The AMP is published on the department's website.

6.1.2 Investigate feasibility of publishing the AMP in key community languages.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Multicultural and Settlement Policy Branch

Timeline

December 2013

Target

The AMP is easily accessible by key language and cultural groups.

6.1.3 Investigate feasibility of publishing the annual report (from 3.2.2) that consolidates and analyses feedback from the public on the department's multicultural access and equity performance.

Note: Cross over with Performance 3.2.1, 3.2.2 and 3.2.3.

Lead responsibility

First Assistant Secretary, Client Strategy and Performance Division

Timeline

December 2014

Target

Annual report published if appropriate.

6.2 Data

Action items

6.2.1 The department's maintains and shares cultural and linguistic data with other government agencies and stakeholders.

Actions include;

  • Work closely with the ABS in dissemination and/or updating of the ABS Standards for Statistics on Cultural and Linguistic Diversity.
  • Continue to work with other agencies, including the ABS, to share and improve data.

 

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Strategic Policy, Evaluation and Research Branch

Timeline

June 2015

Target

Appropriate data sets are expanded and accessible to and shared with other agencies.

Note: This is in accordance with Recommendation 7 of the Access and Equity Inquiry Report and the government's response.

6.3 Other actions

Action items

6.3.1 Ensure that the department, in consultation with relevant agencies, gives (or ensures the availability of) clear, coordinated advice to New Zealand citizens contemplating long-term temporary residence in Australia both before and after their arrival, on their entitlements.

Lead responsibility

Assistant Secretary, Citizenship Branch

Timeline

July 2014

Target

New Zealand citizens contemplating long-term temporary residence in Australia are aware of their entitlements.

Note: This is in accordance with Recommendation 20 of the Access and Equity Inquiry Report and the government's response.

Best practice examples

Sharing data — Settlement Reporting Facility

The Settlement Reporting Facility is a reporting tool that provides the general public with statistical data on permanent arrivals to Australia. The facility is accessible via the department's website. It provides point-in-time statistical data on permanent visas granted since January 1991. The settlement statistics represent permanent visa grants under all migration streams.

The database brings together data from a number of sources within the department and other Australian Government agencies to assist government and community agencies involved in the planning and provision of services to migrants. The facility is updated at the beginning of each month. Data holdings represent permanent migrants who arrived in Australia on a permanent visa, or were granted a permanent visa while in Australia (certain provisional visa holders are also included). Clients can also request the department to provide more complex data requests for permanent settlers (contact details available on the Settlement Reporting Facility website pages). In 2012-13 the facility was accessed 55 times a day by external users, with the location of settlers being the most requested report.

Reports

The department produces a wide range of reports which are web accessible and include client diversity information such as country of birth and country of citizenship. These include data on overseas arrivals and departures, permanent migration both into and out of Australia, settler arrivals and visa-specific reports on the numbers and distribution of temporary entrants.

New reports which have either recently been released or are under development will provide additional resources to support government agencies and other organisations in providing settlement and other services to address clients' cultural and linguistic needs, such as the State and Territory Migration Summary report and the Regional Net Overseas Migration report. These reports help to support other agencies and organisations while educating the community about its diversity through such data.