The Commission has a state-wide mandate, and to reach regional areas, has a three-year plan which attempts to cover four regions each year. Two of these trips involve two Community Education Officers travelling to the more distant regions for approximately a week. Regions closer to the metropolitan area may involve a two or three-day round-trip.
Each trip involves a mixture of fee for service and rights based sessions.
The Commission is also contracted from time to time by organisations (private sector, local government, and others) to provide onsite fee for service training in regional and remote areas. This has assisted the Commission to undertake additional trips to the regional plan, and where possible, to conduct additional training, networking and community development activities in these regions.
In February and March 2017 Community Education Officers provided equal opportunity training sessions to a local government shire in the south west of the state. While in the region, Commission staff met with community groups and service providers to discuss local issues, and raise awareness of the provisions of the Act and means of redress.
Issues raised by community members included lack of awareness by service providers in using interpreters when conducting interviews with recent arrivals with limited English proficiency, as well as difficulty encouraging people to stay in regional areas due to limited employment opportunities for skilled migrants and refugees.
Commission Officers conducted community outreach information sessions at the Bunbury Regional Prison and offered to relay prisoner concerns to the Superintendent, or where the issue was systemic, to the Department of Corrective Services.
Geraldton and Wheatbelt
During a regional visit to Geraldton and towns in the Wheatbelt in July 2016 community members and service providers raised concerns about mental health issues in the region. Illicit drug use appeared to be compounding mental health issues and impacting negatively on employment, housing and domestic relations.
A number of Aboriginal people said due to racism and negative stereotypes Aboriginal people were less likely to be employed and were treated less favourably when they were employed.
An Aboriginal worker asked to meet privately away from his work place after hours, fearing retribution if his employer knew he was describing the use of racist language and unfair treatment in the workplace.
Prisoners in the regional prisons raised issues relating to employment, food and limited warm clothing in winter, and agreed these matters could be raised with the prison Superintendent.
Pilbara Regional Visit
An outreach regional visit to the Pilbara towns of Karratha, Port Hedland and Roebourne was arranged in June 2017.
In Karratha, Community Education Officers conducted two and a half days of training with North Regional TAFE, which included Equal Opportunity Essentials for Managers and Supervisors as well as Equity and Grievance Officer Training.
The Equal Opportunity Essentials for Managers and Supervisors course was held in Port Hedland and open to any interested residents. It was attended by school principals from primary and secondary sectors, TAFE officers, staff from the Department of Transport and staff from Pilbara Ports Authority. One participant said it was valuable for managers and supervisors to become more aware of how to identify and manage discrimination in the workplace.
Rights based training sessions were also conducted at Roebourne Prison for prisoners and staff. While in Roebourne meetings were held with representatives of the Roebourne Community Legal Centre and the Cultural Centre.