From the Priority List inbox:
The Race Discrimination Commissioner of the Australian Human Rights Commission has welcomed the report and recommendations of the independent Access and Equity Inquiry Panel.
The Access and Equity policy has been an important policy that defines Government services obligations to culturally diverse communities. The review of this policy arises from the recommendations of the Australian Multicultural Advisory Council, which recommended the formation of the Australian Multicultural Council and ‘The People of Australia’ policy.
Dr Helen Szoke said, “The Access and Equity policy is an important focus for government departments in all interactions with Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse population. A focus on cultural responsiveness is an investment in ensuring that all people in Australia can participate equally in the community and receive the services and responses that they need to be part of the broader Australian community.”
The Panel’s recommendations call for the strengthening of this policy, through identifying clearer and more specific obligations that departments and agencies are required to meet. There is also an expectation that the principles of Access and Equity will influence all Government social policy areas.
The Panel has proposed some important core minimum obligations for Australian Government departments and agencies in relation to the Access and Equity policy, with an emphasis on a whole-of-government approach to better engage with the country’s increasingly diverse community. The recommendations, if adopted, will encourage better participation of people from different backgrounds in Australian community life.
The Australian Human Rights Commission’s research conducted with African Australian and Arab and Muslim Australian communities has identified that often members of these communities are reluctant to report on negative experiences when dealing with programs and services due to a lack of knowledge about the law and complaints processes, or the perceived difficulty in making complaints.
Dr Szoke said, “The panel’s recommendation to review the accessibility of complaints mechanisms, in consultation with communities, will help to address some of these barriers and make the process of providing feedback both easier and more effective.”
“I look forward to the Australian Government’s response to the report and in particular, to learning what mechanisms will be identified to enhance the governance, accountability and implementation of the policy,” Dr Szoke said.
The full report of the Access & Equity Inquiry is available at www.immi.gov.au/living-in-australia/a-multicultural-australia/government-approach/government-services/AandEreport.pdf