The Commission has a small team of experienced educators who raise awareness about equal opportunity and human rights and promote the adoption of best practice models though:
- Organisational training
- Community education on equal opportunity and human rights
- Projects such as convening stakeholder groups to work in partnership on specific projects (see project work on LGBTI issues).
- Community development - working with communities with specific needs, such as project work with new and emerging migrant and refugee groups
- Service Delivery Agreements with Commonwealth Territories to build capacity and provide community education training on equal opportunity and human rights issues. Currently Agreements exist regarding – the Indian Ocean Territories (IOT) of Cocos (Keeling) islands, Christmas Island, and second service agreement with the Northern Territory’s Anti-discrimination Commission.
Indian Ocean Territories
Under agreement with the Commonwealth, the Indian Ocean Territories are covered by the Equal Opportunity Act 1984, and the Commission is contracted to provide community education and information. The Commission also investigates complaints of alleged unlawful discrimination from Cocos (Keeling) and Christmas Islands.
In the past Commission Officers have travelled to the Islands to deliver training to Local Government employees, the private sector and community groups. Commission staff have usually travelled alone to the islands. This year a different model of service delivery was trialled, when the Commission joined with the WA Departments of Child Protection & Family Support and Department of Sport & Recreation, to travel to the Islands together and deliver joint sessions on issues such as the need for Working with Children Checks. The Federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development funded this initiative.
Over the past two years the Commission has been contracted to deliver training in the NT on behalf of the NT Anti-Discrimination Commission (ADC) to public sector and community organisations. A decision was made at the end of 2015 to discontinue this service as it was reducing the Commission’s capacity to undertake regional work in Western Australia.
The Commission’s Community Education officers undertook four trips in 2015 to Darwin, Katherine and Tenant Creek. In 2016 a number of organisations in the NT requested specific training and in response two further trips were undertaken, to assist the NT ADC.
Whist the Commission has a state-wide mandate, the organisations budget limits travel outside the metropolitan area and in particular to regional and remote parts of the state.
Fortunately the Commission is contracted from time to time by private sector organisations, local government, and others to travel to and provide onsite fee for service training, in regional and remote areas. This has funded the Commission to travel intrastate, and whilst there, to conduct additional training, networking and community development activities in these regions.
Fee for service training
Requests for fee paying training has been significantly lower than previous years. This trend is evident in training requested from public sector, private enterprise and community organisations. This trend is possibly a result of a general economic downturn, where organisations treat training as a discretionary item.
To ensure course content was relevant, a process of reviewing and updating training material has taken place.
The Commission has also been exploring new ways of providing whole of organisational training. One model for whole of organisation training was developed in consultation with the Water Corporation, and signed off in a Memorandum of Understanding. This model of training is being evaluated and if proven successful will hopefully provide a useful strategic model for developing positive workplace cultures which are inclusive and free of discriminatory practices.
Rights based education
The Commission delivered rights based sessions throughout the year to community groups, not for profit associations and other bodies that do not have a budget to pay for training services. Rights based training serves a valuable function in educating groups such as refugees, Aboriginal people, people with disability and others who may not be aware of the protections available under the Act, and the obligations to behave respectfully towards others.
The number of rights based sessions delivered this year totalled 86. Though the number of sessions increased in the current financial year, they were on the whole fewer participants compared to the previous financial year.
In addition to delivering stand alone training programs to organisations that have traditionally sought rights based training, the Commission also worked with a number of peak bodies to deliver training programs which saw equal opportunity awareness sessions alongside training delivered by other organisations. This had a mutual benefit as we provided the expertise on equal opportunity law for the sessions whilst the peak organisations managed the sessions.
Examples of these innovative programs include:
- Partnering with the Ethnic Disability Advocacy Centre as part of the ‘Let’s Talk About Your Rights’ self advocacy program. This included an intensive week of sessions in the West Kimberley region in August and three sessions in the metropolitan area.
- Partnership with the Western Australian Sports Federation to deliver the Membership Protection Information Officer (MPIO) course which is similar to the Commission’s Contact Officer Course. These courses have been delivered to volunteers at sporting bodies and have provided an opportunity to raise awareness about rights and responsibilities with regard to the Equal Opportunity Act 1984.
Working with the Department of Corrective Services, the Community Education team visited a number of prisons whilst on regional visits. In the current year, visits were made to the East Kimberley prison camp and Albany prison. Attempts were made to visit Bunbury prison, but the dates of this trip conflicted with the prison’s schedule. These prison visits provide for contact with prisoners and prison staff. Prisoners are informed of their rights under the legislation, and also provided with an opportunity to raise issues of concern. The Community Education team, will when prisoners provide consent, raises local issues with the Prison Superintendent. Systemic issues are usually raised with the Department of Corrective Services in Perth.
Standard rights based sessions have continued throughout the year and have included:
- Sessions on Human Rights and your rights and responsibilities under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 with the Adult Migrant English language program, with both Central TAFE and Polytechnic West.
- Equal Opportunity Awareness sessions conducted with many groups of Community Service students at West Coast Institute of Training.
- A series of workshops for the Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health Centre, with sessions on the Rights for Carers and the people for whom they care.