Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2005
ISSN 1441 9335
Managing the department (continued)
The Department of the Environment and Heritage focuses on providing a high standard of service to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage.
The department interacts with the broader community mainly as a provider of specialised grants programmes, as a regulator, and through formal consultation on government initiatives.
The department provides a range of advisory and support services for the Minister for the Environment and Heritage and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage. These services include briefings, correspondence, web site maintenance and office support services. The range of subject matter covered by briefings and correspondence includes all aspects of the portfolio’s responsibilities, responses to parliamentary questions, and relevant business being considered by the Cabinet.
|Performance indicator||2004-05 results|
|Policy advising, ministerial and parliamentary|
Minister is satisfied with the timeliness and quality of briefs provided by the department, including briefs to assist statutory decision-making
Minister is satisfied with the timeliness and quality of draft ministerial correspondence provided by the department
Minister was satisfied-departmental support included a successful transition to new minister’s requirements
The Department of the Environment and Heritage publishes a service charter. The charter sets out the standards of service clients can expect from the department, their rights and responsibilities, and how to find out more about the department. During the year the department reviewed its service charter, with an updated charter to be released in October 2005. A feature of the new service charter is the creation of a client service officer, an impartial contact point to accept feedback and coordinate the department’s response to members of the public who raise concerns about service standards.
The principal means of accessing the charter is through the department’s web site (see www.deh.gov.au/about/contacts/index.html). The charter is also available in hard copy by contacting the Community Information Unit toll-free on 1800 803 772.
The previous service charter invited clients to provide feedback to the department through a form which is available on the department’s web site or via email. No formal complaints about service were received through these channels in 2004-05.
The Community Information Unit (freecall 1800 803 772) and the department’s switchboard (02 6274 1111) also receive feedback on the department’s services and redirect enquiries to the appropriate action officer. Few complaints were received in 2004-05; most related to difficulties in accessing information via the department’s web site, and were quickly resolved by the department’s web team.
Visits to departmental web sites (2004–05)
Total user sessions in 2004–05 = 8 769 994
Results are based on user sessions. ‘Other web sites’ supported by the department include: travelsmart.gov.au, npi.gov.au, ahc.gov.au, heritage.gov.au, oilrecycling.gov.au, freshwater2003.gov.au, waterwatch.org.au, nctwr.org.au, audit.deh.gov.au, nht.gov.au, nrm.gov.au. The chart does not include data for oceans.gov.au, which were unavailable at time of publication.
The department uses the internet to increase the capacity of all Australians to address environmental challenges. The department’s web sites provide public access to substantial holdings of information and knowledge, and deliver communication and education messages. The web sites meet the Australian Government’s online accessibility standards. During 2004-05 there were over four million visits to the department’s main web site and over two million visits to the Australian National Botanic Gardens web site.
The Australian Government aims to achieve fairer services and programmes through its Access and Equity Strategy. The strategy centres on implementing the Charter for Public Service in a Culturally Diverse Society. The Australian Government’s Access and Equity Annual Report reports on whole-of-government progress in implementing the charter (see www.dimia.gov.au/multicultural/access_equity).
The main groups of people with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds with whom the department deals are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, often in remote parts of Australia.
The department has a long history of working in partnership with Indigenous Australians in caring for land and sea areas. Key portfolio responsibilities include the management of the Indigenous Heritage Programme, Indigenous Protected Area Programme, the government’s main natural resource management programmes, and national parks. This work presents significant opportunities for government and Indigenous communities to work together to deliver a range of conservation and heritage outcomes, from weed and fire management through to the conservation of protected animals.
The Commonwealth Disability Strategy is a framework to help Australian Government organisations improve access for people with disabilities to government programmes, services and facilities.
The strategy’s Performance Reporting Framework helps Australian Government organisations to measure and report on their achievements in implementing the strategy. The framework is built around the five key roles of government: policy adviser, regulator, purchaser, provider and employer. Results for the ‘employer’ role appear on page 232 and for the ‘purchaser’ role appear on page 245.
The department will implement an action plan on disability in 2005-06. The plan will apply to all employees and clients of the department.
The department delivers environmental policies and programmes in a manner which is free from discrimination and recognises and utilises the diversity of the Australian community. The department has extensive web sites (see previous section on online information) and a Community Information Unit to provide access to information on the department’s activities. The department’s web site meets the Australian Government Online standards that relate to access for people with disabilities (www.deh.gov.au/about/accessibility.html). For technical reasons and to meet some legal requirements, the department’s web site has a limited number of documents that cannot be provided in the preferred HTML format. In such cases, contact details have been provided for their supply in alternative formats.
The department, including the Australian Antarctic Division, administers 38 Acts, together with associated Regulations and subsidiary legal instruments. Legislation is accessible via the internet (www.deh.gov.au/about/legislation.html) with additional fact sheets available on request from the Community Information Unit. Legislative instruments are accessible via the internet (www.comlaw.gov.au) and administrative instruments are available in the Australian Government Gazette, and (where required) on the department’s web site. The department may respond to specific requests by fax, email or post.
In the provider role, Parks Australia, the Marine Division and the Australian Antarctic Division within the department manage Commonwealth parks, reserves and protected areas including Kakadu, Uluru-Kata Tjuta, Booderee, Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, and Pulu Keeling national parks. Access is provided to these parks and reserves for tourism, recreation and commercial uses. Information regarding parks and reserves is available in accessible formats on the department’s web site (www.deh.gov.au/parks/commonwealth) and in hard copy from park management. Given the nature of the terrain, physical access to the terrestrial reserves varies for people with a disability. The marine reserves are generally less accessible, being mostly in remote offshore areas.