Accessibility Action Plan
We have an Accessibility Action Plan, to make our services more accessible to people with disability. Adopted in 2017, the plan sets out actions for us to achieve by June 2020.
Our plan has three goals:
- to build an accessible Ombudsman’s office by reducing barriers for people with a disability
- to provide opportunities for people with a disability to obtain employment at our office and to support our staff with a disability to maintain employment at our office
- to provide opportunities for people with a disability to engage with our office.
The plan was developed by an Accessibility Action Plan Working Group, involving 10 staff from different areas of the Ombudsman's office. Three of these members identified as having a disability.
Message from the Ombudsman
The Ombudsman provides a free, fair and independent service for people who have a complaint about a state or local government agency in Victoria.
My vision for the office is to see a timely and fair system that is accessible to and understood by all.
Yet many Victorians are not aware of the Ombudsman’s services, and do not know how to access them or what to expect if they do.
This is particularly apparent among the most vulnerable groups in our society — all too often, those with the greatest need for Ombudsman services are the least likely to use them. Addressing this and making the office much more accessible is a central aspect of my vision.
In addition, in order to give effect to the Victorian Charter of Human Rights, and in particular the rights of individuals with disability to recognition and equality before the law, access to essential public services is crucial. This includes access to an independent Ombudsman.
Through this plan, we set out our vision for an office that has less barriers for people with a disability, that supports people with a disability in the workplace, and promotes engagement with people with a disability. It is a journey, and our goal is ambitious, but it’s time to take the steps.
Legal framework and guiding principles
Our Accessibility Action Plan (AAP) is guided by:
- Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic)
- Disability Act 2006 (Vic)
- Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)
- Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities resolution / adopted by the General Assembly, 24 January 2007, A/RES/61/106 - United Nations
- Absolutely everyone: State Disability Plan Victoria 2017-2020
Our plan is consistent with the legislative requirements outlined in section 38 of the Disability Act 2006 that a public sector body must ensure that a Disability Action Plan is prepared for the purposes of:
- reducing barriers to persons with a disability accessing goods, services and facilities;
- reducing barriers to persons with a disability obtaining and maintaining employment;
- promoting inclusion and participation in the community of persons with a disability;
- achieving tangible changes in attitudes and practices which discriminate against persons with a disability.
Defining accessibility needs
For the purposes of our AAP, people may have accessibility needs if they have a disability.
There are many definitions of disability used in both international and domestic law. For the purposes of our AAP, we are using the Victorian definition contained in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010:
- total or partial loss of a bodily function; or
- the presence in the body of organisms that may cause disease; or
- total or partial loss of a part of the body; or
- malfunction of a part of the body, including;
- mental or psychological disease or disorder;
- a condition or disorder that results in a person learning more slowly than people who do not have that condition or disorder; or
- malformation or disfigurement of a part of the body — and includes a disability that may exist in the future (including because of a genetic predisposition to that disability) and, to avoid doubt, behaviour that is a symptom or manifestation of a disability.
Accessibility and the Ombudsman
We are committed to creating an inclusive and accessible:
- workplace for our staff, and
- service to the public.
People with accessibility needs may be employed by our office.
People with accessibility needs may approach our office to request information or to make a complaint.
People with accessibility needs may participate in our education programs, hear the Ombudsman speak at a public event, or attend a community engagement session.
People with accessibility needs may be involved in our investigations. Recent investigations by our office that have explicitly involved or affected persons with a disability include:
- – September 2016
- – May 2016
- Reporting and investigation of allegations of abuse in the disability sector & – June and December 2015
- – September 2015.
The three goals of our AAP are to:
- build an accessible Ombudsman’s office by reducing barriers for people with a disability
- provide opportunities for people with a disability to obtain employment at our office and to support our staff with a disability to maintain employment at our office
- provide opportunities for people with a disability to engage with our office.
In meeting our goals we strive to create change in attitudes and practices that discriminate against people with a disability.
Accessibility Action Plan Working Group
The Accessibility Action Plan Working Group (AWG) was established to develop, implement and monitor our progress against the AAP.
The AWG is chaired by a Senior Investigation Officer and consists of 10 staff from different units in the office. Three AWG members identified having a disability.
Monitoring our Accessibility Action Plan
The AWG will be responsible for monitoring the plan and reporting on implementation.
As this is a three year plan, it will review the plan annually to reconsider actions and timeframes for the next financial year.
The AWG plan to meet regularly and to report on progress to the Senior Leadership Committee.
The Ombudsman will report on our progress in implementing the AAP in her annual report to Parliament.
Actions to achieve our goals
Goal: Build an accessible Ombudsman’s office
Goal: Obtain and maintain a diverse workforce by having:
human resource and business practices that reduce barriers for people in obtaining and maintaining employment
an accessible recruitment process.
|Human Resource and Business Practices|
|1. Develop a reasonable adjustments procedure.||Develop and implement a reasonable adjustments procedure.||June 2018|
|Educate all staff on the procedure.|
|2. Capture and report on the number of staff with a disability.||Consider the benefits and risks to capturing the number of staff with a disability in an anonymous way.||June 2018|
|Provide this assessment to the Working Group with a recommendation on how to proceed.|
|3. Ensure all internal VO policies on our website are available in alternative formats.||Review the internal policies available on our website.||July 2018 - June 2020|
|Create a timeline for transferring publications into accessible formats.|
|Translate these policies into alternative formats as per the timeline.|
|4. Clearly document our current recruitment practices.||Document our current recruitment practices and procedures.||July 2018 –June 2020|
|5. Review our recruitment practices.||Consider seeking external advice to review/audit our recruitment practices to ensure any barriers for people with a disability are removed, where possible.||July 2018 –June 2020|
|6. Implement improvements to our recruitment practices.||Implement identified improvements to our recruitment practices to reduce barriers for people with a disability identified by the review/audit, where possible.||July 2018 –June 2020|
|Engage with the disability sector to ensure our positions are advertised widely and in forums commonly accessed by people with a disability such as the Disability Advocacy Resource Unit.|
|Ensure all advertisements for positions at our office contain a statement encouraging people with a disability to apply.|
Goal: Provide opportunities for people with a disability to engage with our office
|1. Consider the viability of forming a Disability Action Group (DAG) to review the selected policy, procedure or practices and offer advice in relation to the sector for the purposes of engagement and/or investigations.||Develop a business case for a DAG.||July 2018 - June 2020|
|2. Engage with businesses that support people with a disability.||Adopt and implement the Victorian Government’s Social Procurement Framework.||July 2018 - June 2020|
|3. Increase the awareness of our office in the disability community.||Develop a community engagement strategy for targeting the disability sector and people with a disability.||July 2018 - June 2020|
|Create clear targets for engaging with the disability sector.|
|Undertake community and sector engagement.|
About Arts Project Australia
We have used images from Arts Project Australia throughout the hard copy of our Accessibility Action Plan. We have also provided these images below.
Arts Project Australia is a centre of excellence that supports over 120 artists with intellectual disabilities, promoting their work and advocating for inclusion within contemporary art practice.
About the artists:
Image 1 (2015) Artist: Anne Lynch
Anne Lynch has been fiercely committed to her art making practice in the Arts Project Australia studio since the early nineties. In her pastel works, lone figures are suspended over gentle fields of colour, summoning a sense of isolation and melancholy. Where her works often seem to represent fleeting moments in time, they also carry an air of nostalgia and memoir.
Image 2 (2015) Artist: Kate Knight
Kate Knight is a painter, ceramicist and print-maker whose work shows a keen eye for the ornate, with a focus on repeated surface motifs. Knight is inspired by the natural world and architectural elements, using a collection of diverse images to form the basis of her art work.
Image 3 (2015) Artist: Erica Berechree
Erica Berechree is a painter and photographer who also works in digital media. Her paintings frequently adopt an elevated standpoint, presenting an aerial view of Earth. These works reveal urban landscapes and the joys of domestic life through a rich technicolour lens. Berechree refers to these paintings as her ‘Google Earth’ pictures. Her digital artworks and photographs often compliment this exploration yet signal a degree of departure. Berechree hones in on specific elements, such as roads and trees represented in her Google Earth paintings, which she playfully isolates, abstracts and then reconstructs into a digital artwork.
Image 4 (2016) Artist: George Aristovoulou
George Aristovoulou is an emerging artist who works predominantly with pencil on paper. His style exemplifies figurative abstraction, carefully segmenting the picture plane by creating broad linear stripes that often incorporate a figurative image.
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