Access and Equity
Almost one half of all Australians were either born overseas or had a parent born in another country. Our country is also home to the world’s oldest continuing culture. Despite this, services are often strongly biased towards the main cultural group in their area. Sometimes this is deliberate but sometimes it just happens.
Whether or not it is deliberate, it is against the law to discriminate against people in:
- School, TAFE or university
- Getting or using services
- Going to public places
- Renting accommodation
- Playing sport
- In other aspects of public life
The Australian Government has set up policies that make sure all government money and departments are used in ways that benefit the whole community. This means there should be no discrimination based on where someone comes from, their language, culture, race or religion. However, it also it means services should be set up so that people are treated fairly and that resources are allocated based on their needs. This could mean making a special effort to include people from ‘Culturally and Linguistically Diverse’ (CALD) backgrounds – these are people who are from different cultures or who speak different languages. CALD people might have special needs that should be addressed in order for them to be comfortable using your services. Making this kind of fair service rarely just happens. It is something which takes some effort and often in ways we don’t normally think about. This is why it is important to make a special effort to include all people, to find out what things will make them more comfortable using the service or easier for them to find out about the service.
In short, access and equity means: ensuring that all Australians, regardless of racial, religious, cultural or language backgrounds enjoy full access to services they are entitled to. It is NOT about special services for people of culturally and linguistically diverse background or from a non-English speaking background.
Finding and removing barriers that prevent people from knowing, using and participating in a service that they want to use. An equitable, fair and just distribution of resources among all eligible clients, even if it means providing additional services or seeking additional resources to do so.
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) has information that answers common questions about Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples, migrants & multiculturalism and refugees and asylum seekers – http://www.hreoc.gov.au/racial_discrimination/face_facts/index.html
HREOC also has information and resources for people who feel they have been discriminated against – http://www.hreoc.gov.au/complaints_information/lodging.html