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Thursday, 2 September 1999
Page: 9901


Mr Latham asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 21 June 1999:

Further to the answer to question No. 26 (Hansard , 8 March 1999, page 3412) in which he referred to positive discrimination measures within the internal management practices of his Depart ment, for those measures which are available to and impact on the general public (a) what measures has the Department implemented which could be categorised as positive discrimination, that is, providing preference to certain citizens on the basis of their gender, sexuality, age, race, place of birth or some other personal characteristic, and (b) what are the details and funding commitments in each case.


Mr Downer (Foreign Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

DFAT

(a) The internal management practices of Corporate Management Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the areas identified in the question impact on the general public when the department recruits staff.

Clause 2.24 of the department's Certified Agreement recognises the need for "employment to be open to competition from other APS employees and from other members of the Australian community". Clause 2.25, concerning recruitment and promotion processes, reaffirms the department's commitment to apply the merit principle. Discrimination on the basis of race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin is prohibited.

There is only one area of recruitment activity where preference is given to certain citizens: the department employs four Indigenous Australians under the program arrangements authorised by section 33 (4) (b) of the Public Service Act 1922 and Public Service Regulation 71B (1). Special programs authorised by these provisions are open only to Indigenous applicants who are not current APS officers. The merit principle is applied when assessing Indigenous applicants against selection criteria for these positions.

(b) The salary ranges for these four positions are:

APS 3 $33,925—$35,688

Executive Level 1 $55,460—$59,891.

AUSTRADE

Austrade has four programs that may be categorised as positive discrimination programs:

Indigenous Cadetship Program

The Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs (DETYA) through its Training for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders Program provides assistance to agencies for indigenous cadets that they employ. The student cadets must be studying an approved full-time undergraduate degree course at an Australian tertiary institution, and must participate in a work placement within the employing agency during the long break at the end of the academic year. On successful completion of the cadetship they advance to a position in the employing agency that requires specific professional qualifications.

Austrade currently employs one indigenous cadet under this scheme. This person completed the second year of a Law/Commerce Degree at the University of Melbourne in 1998 and undertook the work experience component of the program in the Invest Australia unit located in Austrade's Melbourne office.

DETYA supports Austrade and the cadet by providing academic salary support, books and equipment allowance ($350 per annum), compulsory course fees, fares for travel from the cadet's permanent address and place of study, and recruitment assistance.

Austrade is responsible for paying the cadet under the general conditions of service which apply to Austrade employees and for providing a work placement for the indigenous cadet during the long academic break (from November to February—approximately 8 to 12 weeks of employment). Austrade is also responsible for paying the annual HECS fees incurred throughout the course of study.

Funding Commitment

Austrade funding commitment is approximately $18,000 per annum for the gross salary component and approximately $4000 per year for annual HECS fees. Total yearly commitment $30,000 on average.

Assistance to Indigenous Exporters

Australian Indigenous Exporters Program

Austrade began the Australian Indigenous Cultures Export Program in 1995, with financial assistance from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC). The program delivers targeted Austrade assistance to indigenous clients to assist them to achieve exports. Under an arrangement with ATSIC, Austrade's export assistance to indigenous clients can be provided with ATSIC subsiding up to half Austrade's standard fees. Similar assistance from ATSIC is available to support indigenous clients' participation in selected International Trade Displays.

Australian Indigenous Export Products Directory

Austrade publishes the Australian Indigenous Export Products Directory. The 1999 edition was launched in January 1999.

Ethnic Exporter Program

Austrade recognises and actively responds to the cultural and language requirements of its clients. Austrade's brochure An Exporter's Guide to Austrade has been produced in English, Chinese, Vietnamese and Indonesian and is distributed through all Austrade offices around Australia and to relevant organisations.

A database of foreign language skills within Austrade in Australia has been prepared and has been made available to all Austrade offices throughout Australia.

Austrade offices continue to work with a wide range of bilateral and ethnic business chambers and organisations to support them and their members in export-related activities.

Women in Export Program

Austrade is a regular organiser and sponsor of seminars and workshops around Australia that support the specific needs of businesswomen entering the export market.

Funding Commitment

Austrade's commitment for the Australian Indigenous Exporters Program, the Australian Indigenous Export Product Directory, the Ethnic Exporters Program and the Women in Export Program for the 1998/99 year is approximately $90,000. This does not include the cost of resources involved in delivering these programs.