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Tuesday, 9 February 1999
Page: 2264

Mr Latham asked the Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business, upon notice, on 11 November 1998:

(1) What measures has the Minister's Department undertaken which are categorised as positive discrimination programs, that is, providing preference to certain citizens on the basis of their gender, sexuality, age, race, place of birth or some other personal characteristic.

(2) What are the details and funding commitments involved in each case.

Mr Reith (Workplace Relations and Small Business) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business has been implementing workplace diversity, equal employment opportunity (EEO) and equity measures in line with Government policy and its commitments under the Public Service Act. The Public Service Act requires the department to develop, implement, monitor and evaluate a workplace diversity program, which includes aspects of the EEO and equity agendas. The department is aiming to implement a program that is fair and equitable, and values diversity and requires non-discriminatory treatment of employees.

The merit principle underpins the department's policies in relation to recruitment, selection, promotion, and other employee-related processes and it aims to ensure that people are judged fairly and without bias or favouritism.

The department has responsibility for Recruitment Services Australia (RSA) which administers the Indigenous Australian test for recruitment to designated positions and the Graduate Administra-

tive Assistant Program for the Australian Public Service. The Indigenous Australian recruitment test is available to Indigenous Australians only. Indigenous Australians who successfully complete the test are recruited to designated positions through a merit-based selection process. This program is consistent with the Public Service Act—which allows the development of special programs to encourage the recruitment of Indigenous Australians.

(2) Funding for the Indigenous Australians recruitment test is on a fee for service basis. Departments using the services of the RSA are charged a fee of $325 per placed applicant. The department is provided with a loan from the Department of Finance and Administration of approximately $870,000 to administer the centralised recruitment program, which includes the Indigenous Australian recruitment program.