Realising inclusion through adjustments at DHS

Fri 25 May 2018

The Federal Department of Human Services (DHS) has a number of workplace accessibility policies, programs and initiatives. They were designed to realise the principles of access and inclusion, and provide recruitment, retention and career development opportunities for people with disability.

Workplace adjustments have been a key focus area and have been effective in supporting employees with disability in DHS and across the Australian Public Service via inter-agency shared service arrangements.

Clayton Trevilyan, Assistant Director of DHS' Access and Inclusion Unit, reflects on the department’s participation in the Australian Network on Disability's (AND) 2017 Access and Inclusion Index. He said:

“The Index has helped us prioritise some areas where we could make some real difference. One of the initiatives we’re really proud of is realising the implementation of a Workplace Adjustment Passport. The Passport has provided staff with more confidence to identify any accessibility requirements they may have or adjustments they need to actively participate in all aspects of the workplace.

“The Index also provided the opportunity to evaluate the department’s workplace accessibility programs and services provided to ensure staff were aware of the adjustments available and could access them immediately." 

Mr Trevilyan said it was not just about implementing new initiatives, but looking at what was already being done, and to look at the opportunities to improve.

“The department already had a number of access and inclusion programs and services to assist staff throughout all stages of the workplace adjustment process including advice regarding availability and suitability, sourcing and procurement, software installation and support and training.” he said.

“One of the easier changes we made was improving awareness of other initiatives that relate to the workplace adjustment process. This included better visibility of our National Disability Access Coordinator, and the advice and support available to both staff, their managers and HR practitioners of the policies, programs and information available to support people with disability.”

Mr Trevilyan said the Index also identified the opportunity to empower people with disability. The SES Changing Mindsets: Direct Experiences Programme is an immersive cultural program where staff with disability can share their experiences, including the importance of making workplace adjustments.

“Some of the other measures that we have taken to foster a culture of trust and inclusion include International Day of People with Disability Expo event, where we held stalls showcasing services and support available to people with disability. The Expo event incorporated a formal ceremony, highlighting the good work the department has done to support staff with disability.” 

We have also developed an Access and Inclusion Video series to showcase the real experiences of staff with disability. The current “Our staff, our stories” videos tell the stories of Julie, Craig, Patsy and Christine, and highlight the importance of realising inclusion through workplace adjustments, particularly in the areas of awareness, contribution, empowerment and sharing.

Craig, whose video focuses on the empowerment that effective workplace adjustments provide for people with disability, says:

“The department is growing all the time in the area of empowering people with disabilities by providing adjustments in their workplace.”

The 2019 Access and Inclusion Index is now open. Designed to help you understand, assess and benchmark your organisation's disability confidence, the Index will provide you with a roadmap for improvement across your whole business. AND Members are highly encouraged to take advantage of this invaluable tool.

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