Human Rights Commission releases guidance for businesses

Friday, 6 March 2015 10:18am

The Australian Human Rights Commission has moved to encourage the private sector to better integrate disability rights, among a host of other human rights, into their business processes.

Woman writing in a notepad during a business meeting

The commission has released a suite of resources, Good practice, good business, which include practical guidance for managers around workers with mental illness, guidance on improving access to premises and guidance on Disability Discrimination Act Action Plans.

According to the commission, the resources support diversity and inclusion, can improve productivity and customer engagement and help avoid complaints of harassment or discrimination.

“The… resources are designed to help promote diversity and prevent discrimination in your workplace,” the commission’s Good practice, good business site reads.

“They provide practical support to develop effective policies and practices in areas including gender equality, sexual harassment, recruitment and retention of older workers, managing employees with family and carer responsibilities, workplace cultural diversity and employment of people with disabilities.”

Australian Human Rights Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs, said in a statement that the commission received some 20,000 enquiries and around 2,200 complaints a year under the five major pieces of anti-discrimination legislation.

Based on this, the commission had consciously decided to work with the private sector to achieve “practical human rights outcomes in Australia”.

“We have made a commitment to work more closely with employers and the private sector around human rights issues within the workplace,” Professor Triggs said.

“The evidence tells us that a diverse workforce is one that is creative, innovative and leads to improved responsiveness and performance,” Professor Triggs said.

“From a risk management perspective, it is also essential that Australian businesses understand their legal obligations in relation to discrimination in the workplace.”

The consequences of the private sector not considering the needs of people with a disability have been highlighted recently, with the case brought against Coles’ online shopping service for alleged inaccessibility, and in complaints against the Seven, Nine and Ten networks, SBS and Foxtel for failing to provide an audio description service for the blind and vision impaired.

Media Access Australia and practical solutions

Complementing the work of the Commission, Media Access Australia continues to work with both public and private sector organisations to improve a key area of inclusion—digital accessibility.

Digital accessibility is the ability for all people—including people with disabilities, older members of the community, those with differing education levels and those from non-English-speaking backgrounds—to access information and services online.

Through its accessibility service, Access iQ, Media Access Australia supplies professional services around improving the accessibility of online documents, website accessibility, organisation-wide accessibility strategy as well as professional development in accessibility.

Media Access Australia also helps increase inclusion through its thought leadership and research in important areas such as social media accessibility, service provision for people with disabilities and cloud computing and mobile accessibility.

If you’re part of an organisation looking to create accessible mobile experiences, why not contact Media Access Australia by calling +61 2 8218 9320 or complete the enquiry form on our Contact page for more information.

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