Comms and Human Services show how departments can be more inclusive in the workplace

By Shannon Jenkins

November 27, 2019

Source: Getty Images

Federal departments have been highlighting inclusion and diversity initiatives in the workplace, going beyond the usual representation targets.

The Department of Communications and the Arts has created its own version of the ABC program You Can’t Ask That.

In You Can Ask That, employees from the department’s Indigenous Staff Network answered a range of questions relating to the importance of staying connected to culture, country, and community (even when living in Canberra), and what it means to be Indigenous. 

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have such great connection to kinship and family ties, and a deadly connection to country,” says Liam, a Noongar Wongai man from Kalgoorlie Boulder.

“It’s important to hang around culturally safe places. Know your mob, know mob here in Canberra, because Canberra can be very isolating, especially if you don’t know any other black fellas around.”

Feoina, a Kamilaroi woman, explains the significance of NAIDOC.

“NAIDOC, to me, means that out culture is front and centre in Australia, and that  all of Australia get to enjoy our beautiful culture,” she says.

Also embracing differences in the workplace is Services Australia, with its Access and Inclusion Unit.

The unit offers support and training to roughly 700 staff who use assistive technology — including those living with an injury, medical condition, or disability — and is tailored to the unique needs of the individual. The service is delivered to staff in real time, over the phone and virtually via screen sharing capability.

It helps foster an accessible and inclusive workplace culture, by removing barriers and creating opportunities for staff, through a range of technologies including screen magnifiers and speech-to-text applications.

The department was recognised for its efforts last year at the APS Diversity Awards, taking home a trophy for its Changing Mindsets Program — an innovative disability awareness program that drives cultural change in the workplace.

 

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