FECCA’s 2014-15 Access and Equity Report provides a summary of the perspectives and broader feedback received through consultations with culturally and linguistically diverse communities and service providers around Australia, regarding the design and delivery of Australian Government services. The report aims to discuss diverse community perspectives relating to the accessibility and quality of service delivery, highlighting gaps, key issue areas, models of good practice and opportunities for continued development and reform. This report addresses two of the dimensions in the Government’s Multicultural and Access and Equity Policy – responsiveness and engagement.
These two dimensions were chosen following community consultations as they reflect the areas in which FECCA received the most feedback regarding government services. Responsiveness obligations include the need to ensure that policies, programs, community interactions and service delivery (in-house or outsourced) are effective for culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Engagement obligations include the need to ensure effective communication and interaction between diverse community groups and respective programs and agencies, including in languages other than English.
Part I of this report identifies and discusses cross-cutting issues including awareness and information provision, self-service, and the availability of data for responsive services. Community discussion asserted that service delivery must remain focused on accommodating the needs of diverse clients, even in the context of adapting to external factors. Innovation in the delivery of services through a broad range of platforms and mechanisms is positive, but only to the extent that accessibility for all Australians, including those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, remains a paramount concern. Relevant and disaggregated data is crucial to improving providers’ understanding of their clients, a common theme that emerged in community consultations.
Part II considers whether specific categories of government services, including translating and interpreting, education and training, employment, and welfare services, are meeting their responsiveness and engagement obligations. The report’s key findings highlight the importance of culturally-competent service delivery, and the need for broad application of a person-centred approach to be flexible and responsive to complex and ever-changing client needs. An overriding theme that emerged from consultations was the need for stronger coordination between government agencies to streamline and improve the delivery of services agency-wide. It was revealed that a lack of awareness about programs and limited communication between agencies regarding the processes used to develop and implement such practices results in service delivery which does not fully cater to the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse clients.
Dispersed amongst community views on the above issues and other key themes, the report suggests ‘what can be done’ for enhanced service development and delivery, and achieving better outcomes for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, with a view to supporting their full participation. While not exhaustive, these strategies are aimed at facilitating access and equity for culturally and linguistically diverse clients.
The report concludes by reiterating the importance of for more effective coordination through establishing an inter-agency implementation and evaluation platform.