The focus of the Inquiry is on the Australian Government departments and agencies and responses are now being sought to this discussion paper.
Access and Equity is the policy that requires that all Australians have equal access to Australian Government services for which they are eligible, no matter what their cultural background is or what language they speak.
It applies to both Australian Government agencies and to other organisations funded by the Australian Government to deliver services, such as language services or helping people find a job.
Some of the key Australian Government agencies are: the Department of Human Services, which includes Medicare Australia and Centrelink, the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, the Department of Health and Ageing, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and the Australian Taxation Office.
Access and Equity means that these organisations should think about the needs of people from diverse cultural and language backgrounds and change the way they do things to help clients access the services these organisations deliver.
Access and Equity policy conveys the message that Australians from all cultural and language backgrounds are full members of the community and entitled to equitable access to Australian Government services and programs. Australian Government services require awareness, responsiveness, flexibility and innovation in their design, delivery, monitoring and evaluation to ensure they meet the needs of all Australians.
In November 2011, the Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Senator the Hon Kate Lundy, announced the establishment of an independent panel to conduct an inquiry into Australian Government services to ensure they are responsive to the needs of Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse population. The Terms of Reference of the Access and Equity Inquiry (the Inquiry) are to:
The Inquiry is being conducted from November 2011 to June 2012 when our final report providing recommendations to the Australian Government on how existing Australian Government services could be improved will be presented.
- Inquire into the Australian Government's current approach to Access and Equity and its implementation
- Provide prioritised recommendations to the Australian Government for improving the responsiveness of Australian Government services to a culturally and linguistically diverse population.
The focus of the Inquiry is on the Australian Government departments and agencies. Inquiry Panel members: Mr Peter Hughts, Chair; Mr Pino Migliorino, Chair of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia; Ms Maria Dimopoulos, member of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights and International Commission of Jurists and recipient of an Amnesty International Human Rights Award; Ms Jatinder Kaur, a cultural diversity consultant; and Judge Rauf Soulio, Chair of the Australian Multicultural Council, an ex officio member of the panel.
This paper is meant to stimulate discussion about the issues which the Inquiry will consider. It is not meant to be a detailed discussion of all of the issues, but rather, an overview of key issues, accompanied by a series of questions. The inquiry invites written submissions in response to this paper.
The Inquiry is being conducted from November 2011 to June 2012 when the final report providing recommendations to the Australian Government on how existing Australian Government services could be improved will be presented.