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Wednesday, 10 February 1999
Page: 2403


Mr Latham asked the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, 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 Bruce Scott (Veterans' Affairs; Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

Human Resources Measures

(1) and (2) My Department is committed to ensuring equal employment opportunity and workplace diversity principles are fully integrated into all departmental activities, management practices, policies and procedures. This includes policies to ensure equal access in employment, such as in recruitment and promotion processes, and flexible working hours and part time work. My Department currently has an Equal Employment Opportunity Strategic Plan 1995-99 and Disability Discrimination Act Action Plan 1996 in place, and the draft Workplace Diversity Strategic Plan 1998-99 has been in place since mid-December 1998. The Plans have been developed as part of my Department's human resource management policies and practices aimed at improving organisational performance through better people management. Through these measures my Department aims to create an environment where all people can better achieve their potential. It is not practicable to cost these measures.

Examples of a number of specific measures that provide assistance to certain staff (for the period from 1 July 1997 until now) are outlined in the below table:

Programs

Details

Costs

Senior Women in Management (SWIM)

. One person currently participating in the program

. Program fees $12,000.

. Promotion of program

. Travel and accommodation expenses.

Carer Rooms (family carers, child care, emergency child care)

. Carers—women and men with carer responsibilities

.Approximately $4000 initial set up cost in each state office and national office ($4000 x 7 = $28000)

. Rooms equipped with TV, computers, telephone, bed and toys

. Ongoing cost $1000 per annum for each room ($1000 x 7 = $7000).

. Promotion of program

. Note: Savings may accrue as the provision of the room supports carers in the workplace and is as an alternative to absence from the workplace.

Return to Work Policy

. When illness or injury (compensable and non-compensable) has occurred appropriate assistance to achieve early, safe return to work at the fullest activity level consistent with the medical status of an employee.

. Approximate cost of $108,000 per annum based on average rehabilitation costs.

. Note: Early and well-managed return to work programs reduce compensation costs for the Department.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans Project

(1) My Department has initiated a strategy to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans' access to of Veterans' Affairs entitlements by involving indigenous veterans in the development of policies which more effectively address their health and other needs, and the needs of their spouses and dependants.

A first step in this strategy has been the creation of an ongoing national Forum consisting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans and Departmental officers which has met twice since its formation in June 1998.

An important part of this initiative has been the three-month placement in my Department of an officer at director level from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. This officer is an Aboriginal veteran.

Among issues being examined by the Forum are the following:

. recognition of indigenous veterans' service to the nation;

. development of a nominal roll of all indigenous veterans;

. development of an indigenous veterans' network;

. a greater emphasis on departmental staff undertaking cross cultural awareness training; and

. examination of the impact of indigenous veterans' service on their families.

(2) My Department has made a commitment to funding the meetings of the national Forum. No other specific requests for funding have been made.