The Commission’s ongoing role in relation to substantive equality is to assist public sector agencies address issues of systemic discrimination, and in the implementation of substantive equality programs. The Commission provides this service by offering information sessions on Substantive Equality.
The Public Sector Commissioner’s Circular on Substantive Equality requires agencies to comply with the Policy Framework for Substantive Equality, and to review systemic discrimination in relation to all grounds of unlawful discrimination in the Act. The circular also highlighted the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity’s functions under section 80 of the Act to raise systemic issues directly with agencies, and during the current year the Commission continued to contact public sector organisations about systemic issues.
Currently 31 public sector agencies are participating in the Substantive Equality program. The Commission also convenes meetings and works with individual agencies that seek direction and feedback on their substantive equality work including review of policies.
The Commission continues to encourage all public sector organisations to adopt Substantive Equality policies and practices.
Substantive Equality lessons from the United Kingdom
Ms Beverly Thompson-Brown, a UK based consultant contracted to advise the Department of Corrective Services on systemic discrimination. She had significant experience in working on systemic discrimination issues with UK police and correctional services and was the lead speaker at a Commission seminar for public sector employees She described the significant initial resistance and challenges of implementing substantive equality with the UK police.
Participants from WA public sector organisations described the policies and initiatives employed by their agencies to address systemic discrimination and the needs of various groups covered under the Act.
EOC Implementation of Substantive Equality
Although the Commission not mandated under the Public Sector Commissioner’s circular it has chosen to implement the objectives of the Framework in its policies and operations. During the current year the Commission has:
- Continued the revision of its Implementation Plan
- Included Substantive Equality as a standing item on agenda for staff meetings
- Continued the identification of policies requiring review and an impact assessment.