Department of the Environment

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Publications archive - Annual reports

Disclaimer

Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Environment Australia Annual Report 2000-01

Environment Australia, 2001
ISSN 1441-9335

Commonwealth Disability Strategy

Prior to the mid-term evaluation of the Commonwealth Disability Strategy, Environment Australia had a draft disability action plan. Environment Australia now intends to revise the draft plan to meet the reporting requirements of the five key roles identified by the evaluation.

Environment Australia has identified that it performs the roles of policy adviser, provider, regulator, purchaser and employer.

Policy adviser

In the policy adviser role, Environment Australia advises the Commonwealth Government on policies and programmes for the protection and conservation of the environment, including natural and cultural heritage places.

Provider

In the provider role, Parks Australia and the Marine and Water Division within the Department manage Commonwealth terrestrial and marine parks and reserves. Access is provided to these parks and reserves for tourism and recreation. Information about the parks and reserves is available in accessible formats on Environment Australia's website at www.ea.gov.au/parks/commonwealth/index.html and in hard copy from the parks. Given the nature of the terrain, access for people with a disability to the parks and reserves varies. For example, a number of the major tourist destinations in the three mainland parks - Kakadu, Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Booderee national parks - are wheelchair accessible. At the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Cultural Centre, a touch wall for visually impaired people ensures that the information is accessible to everyone. Management plans developed through a consultative process address current and proposed levels of accessibility.

Regulator

Under its regulatory role, Environment Australia administers environmental laws, including the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and a range of other Acts. It is also responsible for Australia's participation in a number of international environmental agreements.

In the first year of operation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, the primary mechanisms for making information on the legislation available and accessible to the public have included the Act's website (www.ea.gov.au/epbc/) and brochures and fact sheets provided on request through Environment Australia's Community Information Unit.

Public notifications are also made via the Commonwealth Government Gazette and, depending on the needs of the persons requesting the information, specific requests may be responded to by fax, email or normal postal services.

Under section 170A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, Environment Australia is required to notify specific decisions, opportunities for comment and information made in the preceding week via the internet. Contact details are offered on the internet in the few cases where high cost or technical difficulties mean that accessibility guidelines cannot be adequately met.
Preparation of an annual report on the operation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act is required under the Act. The report will be tabled in Parliament later this year and will be available on the internet in an accessible format.
Purchaser

The Natural Heritage Trust fits the purchaser role description, as opposed to being merely an administrator of grants, as the Trust is a purchaser of environmental improvement services from local and State Governments and community organisations.

Employer

In its employer role, the Department's employment policies, procedures and practices comply with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. Recruitment information is available in electronic formats and contact details are provided should special assistance be required.

The principle of reasonable adjustment is applied within the Department. Training and development programmes are accessible to staff with disabilities and, where appropriate, contain information on disability issues. Complaints and grievance mechanisms are in place and available to all staff.

Much of the Department's activity, including its roles as policy adviser, regulator, purchaser and employer, is reflected in its websites. The Environment Australia website has recently undergone significant redesign in order to meet the Government's online standards that relate to access for people with disabilities. For technical reasons and to meet some legal requirements, the Environment Australia website has a limited number of documents that cannot be provided in the preferred html format. In such cases, contact details have been provided so that supply of documents in alternative formats can be arranged.

Bureau of Meteorology

Bureau of Meteorology documents such as the Certified Agreement 2000-2001, Workplace Diversity Programme and Disability Action Plan comply with the legislation, including the Disability Discrimination Act. The Bureau's policies on occupational health and safety and workplace harassment are currently being reviewed to ensure currency and compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act.

Recruitment information for potential Bureau job applicants is made available in various ways depending on the needs of the individual. Campaign recruitment information is also made available on the Bureau's website. Recruitment opportunities advertised in the Commonwealth Government Gazette and the press are accessible via the internet.

The principle of reasonable adjustment is applied, as appropriate, in the Bureau. For example, work is arranged to suit individual requirements and the necessary equipment is provided such as large computer screens or more appropriate keyboards. Flexible work arrangements are put in place as necessary to suit the needs of the individual.

The needs of participants are taken into account as a matter of course within the Bureau. Nomination forms invite employees to identify their particular needs including disability access. For example, emphasis is placed on conducting training in accessible venues for those with mobility difficulties and signing interpreters are engaged when required.

During 2000-01, the Bureau made available throughout the organisation a programme entitled Cross-cultural Training with a Difference. The programme, which has been attended by several hundred employees throughout the Bureau, comprises a half-day hypothetical followed by a workshop and explores the impact of culture and individual difference in the workplace. The skills of the presenters and the content of the training foster appreciation and acceptance of the difference of the other person. This type of training has ensured attention is focused on ability, the inherent requirements of the job and the means of incorporating reasonable adjustment as required.

Work groups also participated in awareness sessions on topics such as psychiatric and intellectual disabilities to give a greater understanding of these conditions. The sessions served to dispel myths about these types of disabilities and gave suggestions on how to interact effectively with people experiencing disabilities of this nature.

Sign language classes were conducted regularly for employees.

The Bureau has networks of harassment and diversity contact officers, and appropriate policies and mechanisms are in place should staff have concerns or issues needing to be addressed and resolved. Bureau employees also have access to an employee assistance programme to discuss issues and concerns and to the Public Service and Merit Protection Commission for external reviews of actions.