Portfolio Multicultural Plan 2013–15

Introduction

Purpose of this document

All government departments and agencies are required to prepare a two-year multicultural plan that is aimed at improving their performance in responding to the needs of Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) population.

The purpose of the portfolio multicultural plan is to ensure that the intended benefits of the Multicultural Access and Equity Policy are realised and fully delivered by providing a clear, objective basis for measuring the portfolio’s commitment and performance against agreed and clearly articulated actions and targets.

Coverage

This portfolio multicultural plan covers the Department of Agriculture (the department), and two agencies, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

Department of Agriculture

The department provides advice and support to the Australian Government on agriculture, food, fisheries and forestry. We deliver a range of programs and services to achieve the government’s objectives and to support stakeholders in these sectors. Within the portfolio, we support the minister and the parliamentary secretary in exercising their governance responsibilities in relation to portfolio agencies, advise on and oversee portfolio legislative and regulatory development, administer special appropriations for portfolio agencies and support advisory bodies.

The department employs over 5,000 staff in Australia and overseas, including policy officers, program administrators, economists, scientists, biosecurity officers, meat inspectors, researchers, veterinary officers, communicators and project managers. Our staff work in places as varied as offices, airports, mail centres, shipping ports, laboratories and abattoirs, located in regional centres, rural communities and capital cities.

The department engages with a significant number of clients (those persons and businesses directly impacted by programs, service delivery or regulation) and stakeholders (those who have an interest in policy and its impact, but are not directly affected by it), including public and private companies, brokers, industry associations, not-for-profit organisations, state and territory governments and other Commonwealth agencies. We also collaborate with other countries through bilateral and multilateral engagement and our involvement in international and regional bodies.

Australian Fisheries Management Authority

AFMA is responsible for ensuring the sustainable use and cost–effective management of Commonwealth fish resources. It provides management, advisory, compliance and licensing services and develops operational policies and regulations. The Australian Government and the commercial fishing industry jointly fund AFMA. Costs of managing commercial fisheries under the Commonwealth’s jurisdiction are recovered through levies and charges.

AFMA also undertakes foreign compliance functions through participation in the Australian Government’s civil maritime surveillance and response program, and outreach activities providing advice and training in neighbouring countries. AFMA’s role includes fisheries enforcement, planning, training and vessel disposal activities.

Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority

The APVMA is the independent Australian Government statutory authority responsible for the assessment and registration of agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals up to and including the point of retail sale. The APVMA evaluates the safety and performance of chemicals intended for sale in Australia, ensuring that the health and safety of people, animals and crops, the environment and trade are protected. Registered products must also not unduly jeopardise Australia's trade with other nations.

Roles and responsibilities

The department will lead and work collaboratively with AFMA and the APVMA to establish an effective and appropriate governance structure for the Portfolio Multicultural Plan, under which activities in the action plan will be progressed in an appropriate manner.

Our vision for multicultural access and equity

Our portfolio’s vision for multicultural access and equity is 'excellence in the delivery of services to all of our clients'.

The portfolio aspires to ensure that excellence in our services is maintained by responding to our clients’ needs and expectations. Quality in delivery is achieved through consistency in access and outcomes, regardless of our clients’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

Our core business

The department works to sustain the way of life and prosperity of all Australians. We lead the development of policy advice and provide services to improve the productivity, competitiveness and sustainability of agriculture, fisheries, forestry and related industries. We help people and goods move in and out of Australia while managing the risks to the environment and animal, plant and human health. Our current goals are:

  • resources – ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources
  • productivity – improving the competitiveness of portfolio industries
  • markets – enabling trade in goods.

To achieve this, the department works throughout the entire supply chain, from producer to consumer. We:

  • work with the Australian Government to develop and deliver policies and programs that help our portfolio industries
  • provide biosecurity services offshore, at the border and onshore to protect the environment, people’s health and our portfolio industries
  • work through our biosecurity services to maintain Australia’s favourable pest and disease status
  • provide export certification services to support access to overseas markets for Australian agricultural commodities
  • protect and develop the natural resource base on which our portfolio industries rely
  • negotiate access to international markets for our animals, plants, seafood and associated products
  • provide independent and integrated economic and scientific research, analysis and policy advice
  • represent the Australian Government at international meetings relating to the portfolio, to promote sustainable resource management, build agricultural productivity, protect Australia’s biosecurity and support free trade.

The department has commenced a Service Delivery Modernisation (SDM) program, which aims to define and transition the department to a client-focused, modern service delivery model through an agreed channel strategy and detailed implementation plan.

This program builds on previous work to improve the department’s service delivery operations, most notably work to increase consistency in the delivery of national services. It is on a much broader scale than previous efforts and seeks to take a whole-of-department approach to improving our service delivery to clients. Consequently, many of the targets referred to in the Portfolio Multicultural Plan will fall under the remit of this initiative.

AFMA aims to pursue ecologically sustainable and economically efficient Commonwealth fisheries, through understanding and monitoring Australia’s marine living resources and regulating and monitoring commercial fishing, including domestic licensing and deterrence of illegal foreign fishing. To achieve this outcome, AFMA’s focus over the coming period is on:

  • managing Commonwealth fisheries inline with the Commonwealth Harvest Strategy Policy and guidelines that facilitate sustainable and profitable fisheries
  • preventing unacceptable impacts of Commonwealth fisheries on marine ecosystems and organisms by assessing risk and applying ecological risk assessment and ecological risk management frameworks, and managing all fisheries in line with Commonwealth policy on bycatch
  • continuously improving the efficiency and cost effectiveness of fisheries administration, including providing incentives for voluntary compliance through simplified regulation of the commercial fishing industry and technologies that match the core needs of AFMA and its stakeholders
  • deterring and preventing illegal foreign fishing in the Australian Fishing Zone and adjoining regions by providing the fisheries focus in the Australian Government border protection arrangements, prosecuting offences, disposing of forfeited boats, gear and catches, and engaging in capacity building programs and cooperative monitoring, control and surveillance activities with regional countries.

The APVMA administers the National Registration Scheme for agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals and the scheme’s legislation in partnership with state and territory governments and a number of Australian government agencies. Australia’s system for managing agvet chemicals is a risk management system designed to provide a systematic, structured and scientific, evidence-based approach to our decision making.

The APVMA independently evaluates the safety and performance of chemicals intended for sale in Australia, ensuring that the health and safety of people, animals, crops, the environment and trade are protected. Before they can be registered, chemicals and products must be shown to work and be safe for people and the environment. Registered products must also not unduly jeopardise Australia’s trade with other nations. The states and territories are responsible for regulating and managing the use of agvet chemicals once they are sold.

How our work impacts on Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities

The department’s work primarily impacts Australia’s CaLD communities in their role as clients through the delivery of services. Services provide information and products to clients. Our services include:

  • assessment – risk and opportunity, document, business performance
  • advice – biosecurity, policy, economic, scientific, social, risk, market access, legal, business performance,  emergency response
  • information evaluation – information monitoring, social analytics, modelling and forecasting biosecurity intelligence, compliance intelligence, economic modelling, search, client evaluation
  • audit – operational, business assurance
  • examination – inspection, surveillance
  • intervention – prevention, emergency preparedness, emergency response
  • enforcement – investigation, incentive
  • recognition – accreditation, registration, permits and licensing, agreements, quota administration
  • communications – stakeholder engagement, advocacy, liaison, promotions, public relations, publications, departmental communications, government communications, media relations
  • client support – relationship management, client assistance
  • education – capacity building, staff development, training
  • cost recovery – charges and payments
  • knowledge and content management – library services, information sharing and collaboration, information and records management
  • finance operations, business planning, business administration (including program, levy, financial arrangements, grants).

The department delivers these services to clients through a variety of channels. We define a channel as a way in which a service is delivered to a client. Our channels include:

  • on-site – at the department, offshore, mobile, third–party premises
  • on paper – forms, faxes, email, mail, print
  • online – automated data exchange, self–service, web publishing, business system
  • on-call – voice, video conference, instant messaging
  • on-air – radio, television, voice/vodcast/podcast.

The department’s clients include:

  • residents, migrants, tourists, the Indigenous, scientists, environmentalists, families
  • importers, exporters, producers, transporters, points of entry (ports, airports), farmers, not-for-profit organisations, community groups
  • other Commonwealth agencies, state and territory governments, defence organisations, border protection agencies, environmental agencies, international bodies, international trading partners.

AFMA impacts Australia’s CaLD communities in a similar way to the department. However, AFMA’s focus is on sustainable fisheries and the communities associated with the management of Australia’s fisheries resources. In addition to those services set out above, specific services and delivery channels for AFMA include:

  • assessment – fisheries compliance and ecological risk and opportunity assessment
  • advice – fishery–specific management advisory committees and Research Advisory Groups
  • examination – inspection and surveillance of fishing vessels
  • observation – AFMA staff and remote electronic equipment observe fishing activities and record scientific information.

In comparison, the APVMA characterises its business through its stakeholders, which include the Commonwealth and state and territory governments, the community, the chemicals industry, farmers and farm workers and other users of pesticides and veterinary medicines.

Our current support

The department’s work to date to support our Multicultural Access and Equity Policy has concentrated on the service delivery aspect of our business. Our service delivery initiatives have focussed on efforts to educate and inform through offering advice to individuals and businesses around import and export conditions at points of entry.

Based on feedback, we have also identified language user groups that require additional support around education and language needs. The department's website provides details of languages supported by translation services (external site), with educational and awareness material relating to quarantine, animal and plant health, and the use of farm chemicals.

The department supports border staff with internal documentation, such as guides, tour group facilitation resources, and a cultural awareness calendar and fact sheets, so that they might provide assistance to people from non-English speaking backgrounds. We also maintain an internal Linguists Register to assist in providing feedback on the Extension and Outreach program in languages other than English.

As a regulator of commercial fishing, AFMA has formal advisory bodies that reflect the range of interests in Commonwealth fisheries. The participants of these bodies reflect the cultural diversity and community backgrounds of their clients and maintain regular communication and awareness of specific needs relevant to people from CaLD backgrounds.

The APVMA has launched a booklet and poster titled Understanding Pesticide Chemical Labels, which was designed for farmers, market gardeners and home pesticide users. Industry contacts subsequently suggested that the APVMA develop a Vietnamese translation as a pilot edition. Further translations in Chinese, Arabic and Khmer languages are under development for the APVMA website.

How our portfolio multicultural plan supports our core business

The Portfolio Multicultural Plan supports our core business by articulating how our CaLD clients interact with us through our channels to enable us to meet their needs more effectively in the provision and delivery of services.

In addition, the Portfolio Multicultural Plan defines how partners who deliver services on our behalf should work with and address the needs of CaLD clients in line with our principles, guidelines, commitments and standards.

Finally, the Portfolio Multicultural Plan outlines our stakeholders in the Australian Government Multicultural Access and Equity Policy and ensures that they are consulted and represented in the implementation of the Portfolio Multicultural Plan.

Responsibility for our portfolio multicultural plan

The Senior Executive Officer responsible for our Portfolio Multicultural Plan is the First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture.

What we seek to achieve through our portfolio multicultural pPlan

Our Portfolio Multicultural Plan facilitates and enables more effective interaction with our CaLD clients through our channels. It provides a mechanism to communicate our performance targets that measure whether our clients’ needs are being met in the provision of services.

The Portfolio Multicultural Plan also ensures that the standard of delivery is defined and maintained by those partners who work on the portfolio’s behalf with our CaLD clients.

Finally, by outlining the portfolio’s stakeholder needs in the implementation of the Portfolio Multicultural Plan, we are better able to engage with them through inclusive consultation that will deliver change through the fulfilment of the Portfolio Multicultural Plan’s actions.

Our portfolio multicultural plan's structure

The portfolio multicultural plan is structured and guided using the six policy obligations outlined in the Australian Government Multicultural Access and Equity Policy:

  • leadership
  • engagement
  • performance
  • capability
  • responsiveness
  • openness.

Each obligation is introduced and addressed in turn.

1 Leadership

Knowing the clients we serve, understanding their needs and addressing their barriers to equitable access or engagement is crucial to achieving the portfolio’s outcomes. The portfolio is committed to engaging effectively with, and being responsive to, cultural and linguistic diversity, both in the national interest as part of this whole-of-government initiative and in the interests of the clients to whom we deliver our services. A strategic approach to client engagement builds stronger and more transparent ongoing relationships. It provides benefits for both the portfolio and its clients, and is recognised as a factor in successful delivery.

Action Responsibility When Target

1.1 Executive accountability

1. Assign a Senior Executive Officer to be responsible for implementation of multicultural access and equity obligations. First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture July 2013 First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture appointed Senior Executive Officer for the portfolio multicultural plan.
2. Formalise the governance, reporting and key stakeholders involved to implement the portfolio multicultural plan. First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture July 2013 Assign responsibility for the portfolio multicultural plan’s preparation and delivery to the People and Service Delivery Division, Department of Agriculture.
First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture July 2013 Incorporate the provision of oversight for the portfolio multicultural plan into the terms of reference for Department of Agriculture’s SDM Steering Committee.
Executive Director, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) July 2013 –
June 2015
Continue to champion cultural and linguistic diversity.

1.2 Portfolio commitment

3. Incorporate the portfolio’s vision for multicultural access and equity into corporate and strategic plans and charters. First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture July 2014 Incorporate CaLD commitments into Department of Agriculture’s revised service charter.
4. Assign ownership to coordinate and promote the implementation of the portfolio multicultural plan. First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture July 2014 Assign responsibility for the portfolio multicultural plan’s delivery to the People and Service Delivery Division, Department of Agriculture.
5. Ensure that staff understand and are committed to the implementation of the Multicultural Access and Equity Policy. First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture July 2014 Ensure that the portfolio multicultural plan is promoted and communicated utilising current communication channels, including through culturally and linguistically diverse training programs, based on 2.1 Client engagement.

2 Engagement

Strong and clear performance by the portfolio under the Multicultural Access and Equity Policy is a key requirement for our CaLD clients, and its measurement encourages needs and expectations to be met or exceeded. For our service delivery, effective performance means that our CaLD clients experience equitable access to services, without culture or language representing a barrier to their outcomes. This benefits the portfolio through the overall improvement in the quality of delivery, regardless of our clients’ backgrounds.

Action Responsibility When Target

2.1 Client Engagement

6. Undertake analysis of the portfolio’s CaLD clients to identify them, and to understand and prioritise their needs. First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture December 2013 Incorporate CaLD clients’ interactions with the portfolio and those partners who work on the portfolio’s behalf into Department of Agriculture’s SDM client segmentation work.
7. Leverage existing communication mechanisms to understand our CaLD clients from a front–line perspective and to convey key messages to them. First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture July 2013 –
June 2015
Ensure that the portfolio multicultural plan is promoted and communicated utilising current communication channels, including through culturally and linguistically diverse training programs.
8. Review existing educational and information resources that support our staff in their interactions with CaLD clients. Assistant Secretary, People Strategy and Capability, Department of Agriculture December 2013 Review existing staff training and maintain the currency of training provided to staff on CaLD obligations.

2.2 Language and communication

9. Introduce a language and communication plan (LCP) for CaLD clients, including coverage on the use of languages other than English and the use of interpreters and translators. Assistant Secretary, Communication, Department of Agriculture June 2014 The LCP is approved by the Secretary and made publically available.
10. Develop a list of priority languages for the translation for the portfolio’s information products that support its core business. First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture December 2013 Review existing guidance for translating and interpreting services (TIS).

3 Performance

Strong and clear performance by the portfolio under the Multicultural Access and Equity Policy is a key requirement for our CaLD clients, and its measurement encourages needs and expectations to be met or exceeded. For our service delivery, effective performance means that our CaLD clients experience equitable access to services, without culture or language representing a barrier to their outcomes. This benefits the portfolio through the overall improvement in the quality of delivery, regardless of our clients' backgrounds.

Action Responsibility When Target

3.1 Performance indicators and reporting

11. Develop key performance indicators (KPIs) relating to engagement with or outcomes derived from the provision of services to the portfolio’s CaLD clients. First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture December 2013 Consult with clients through the SDM reference group, communication channels, committees and forums to establish KPIs as part of Department of Agriculture’s SDM.
First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture July 2014 –
June 2015
Monitor and report on the KPIs on a regular basis, and consult with and engage CaLD clients on the portfolio’s performance.

3.2 Feedback

12. Ensure that our CaLD clients are able to provide feedback on the portfolio’s multicultural access and equity performance. Assistant Secretary, Business Assurance and Risk, Department of Agriculture June 2014 Enable the portfolio’s feedback and complaints mechanisms to cater for CaLD clients’ needs.

4 Capability

Strong foundations in cultural and linguistic capabilities increase the capacity of the portfolio and our staff to understand and respond to the growing diversity of our clients. Capability within the portfolio and competency on the part of our staff and our service delivery partners is a key factor in our capacity to engage with our CaLD clients. This enables the portfolio to deliver policies, programs and services in a responsive way.

Action Responsibility When Target

4.1 Cultural competency

13. Provide training and development measures to equip staff with cultural competency skills suitable for their roles. Assistant Secretary, People Strategy and Capability, Department of Agriculture December 2013 Based on 2.1 Client engagement, refine or extend training for staff based on the portfolio’s existing cultural awareness modules and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s cultural competency eLearning package.
Assistant Secretary, People Strategy and Capability, Department of Agriculture July 2014 –
June 2015
Publicise the provision of translating and interpreting services (TIS) in existing supported languages and Department of Agriculture’s internal Linguists Register.

4.2 Research and data

14. Evaluate what ethnicity data is collected on the CaLD clients with whom the portfolio engages and to which we directly or indirectly deliver services. First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture December 2013 Establish which ethnicity data is currently being collected within the portfolio or by our partners, and the extent to which it may be shared and used.
First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture December 2013 Evaluate additional data collection mechanisms, including TIS, the portfolio’s websites and intranets, and surveying front-line staff.

5 Responsiveness

Multicultural Access and Equity Policy has a focus on engendering a greater level of responsiveness by the portfolio to the particular circumstances of some CaLD clients. Accordingly, an assessment should be made of the portfolio’s effectiveness in engagement, communication and way it conducts business with the broader community, and the impact of these activities on the portfolio’s CaLD clients. Our outcomes should be effective for all sectors of the community if policies, programs and service delivery are to be considered truly responsive.

Action Responsibility When Target

5.1 Standards

15. Ensure that the portfolio’s standards and guidelines address multicultural access and equity considerations. First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture December 2013 Promote awareness of and adherence to relevant standards and guidelines, such as this plan, by utilising current communication channels.

5.2 Policy, program and service delivery

16. Ensure that policies, programs and service delivery (whether in-house or outsourced through our partners) are effective for CaLD clients. First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture December 2013 For Department of Agriculture, ensure that the SDM design principles will consider and incorporate the needs of CaLD clients.

5.3 Outsourced services

17. Incorporate reference to all multicultural access and equity obligations in our standard form contracts, grant agreements and related material of which the portfolio has carriage. Assistant Secretary, Commercial Business , Department of Agriculture December 2013 Perform a stocktake of existing templates and seek amendment to bring them to the current standard.

6 Openness

The formulation of our portfolio multicultural plan, its publication on the department's website and its two-yearly update is necessary to provide both the portfolio and our clients with certainty about our expected performance under the Multicultural Access and Equity Policy. The aim of the requirement to convey portfolio information to the public is to improve interaction, engagement and communication between the portfolio and the community.

Action Responsibility When Target

6.1 Publishing

18. Publish the portfolio multicultural plan on the department's. First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture July 2013 Publish the portfolio multicultural plan on the department's website.
19. Report against the CaLD–focused KPIs established in 3.1 Performance indicators and reporting in the department's annual report. First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture July 2014 Report against the CaLD–focused KPIs established in 3.1 Performance indicators and reporting in the department's annual report.

6.2 Data

20. Make CaLD data available to other departments or agencies and the public. First Assistant Secretary, People and Service Delivery, Department of Agriculture July 2014 Review data that is available for distribution and encourage the sharing of data that could be useful to other departments or agencies (accepting privacy principles).

 

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