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Australian government improves access and equity.



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MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon. Gary Hardgrave MP Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Telephone: (02) 6277 7890

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister Facsimile: (02) 6273 0434

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AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT IMPROVES ACCESS AND EQUITY

Government agencies are capitalising more and more on the cultural diversity of their staff to better tailor services for clients, the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Gary Hardgrave said today.

“In 2003, 53 of the 58 reporting agencies met all relevant indicators, and a large number of indicators were met well. In the previous year, 19 of the 46 agencies that reported met all of the performance indicators applicable to them,” Mr Hardgrave said.

Mr Hardgrave said that the Access and Equity Annual Report 2003, Progress in Implementing the Charter of Public Service in a Culturally Diverse Society, tabled in Parliament today, reported the contributions of Commonwealth departments a nd portfolio agencies to access and equity practices.

“The Charter represents a nationally-consistent approach to ensuring that government services are delivered in a way that is sensitive to the language and cultural needs of all Australians,” Mr Hardgrave said.

“There is a growing awareness among agencies of the importance of cultural skills.

“It was encouraging to see that many agencies have targeted programs and communication strategies that include the provision of interpreting services, translated information, advisory bodies and consultation with clients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds,” he said.

“Many agencies reported on how they are trying to develop the economic benefits of cultural diversity by providing cross-cultural awareness training to staff and there is now a trend for this kind of training to be part of agencies’ induction programs,” Mr Hardgrave said.

“The report contains a wealth of good practice access and equity strategies. These strategies are not restricted to the Australian Government. The report is a useful resource for other levels of government and those outside the public sector seeking to meet the needs of Australia’s diverse community.”

The report is available at www.immi.gov.au.

1 APRIL 2004

MEDIA CONTACT: ANTHONY MOATE 0402 415 167