Other Reporting Requirements

Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD)

As required, under s 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), the ALRC is required to report the environmental performance of the organisation and the organisation’s contribution to Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD).

The ALRC has considered whether any of its activities have significant ESD implications in accordance with the ESD Reporting Guidelines (June 2003) and has determined that in 2009–10, none of the ALRC’s activities or appropriations were relevant to ESD.

The ALRC monitors energy use and takes steps to reduce consumption where

possible. In 2009–10 electricity consumption decreased by 1.44%.

Environmental Management System (EMS)

The ALRC is committed to environmental best practice in office management and general operations. Through a process of continual improvement, the ALRC will develop and maintain efficient and effective environmental office practices and will comply with relevant government policy and environmental legislation.

The ALRC’s EMS commits the organisation to minimise its ecological footprint by:

  • incorporating environmental management considerations into core business and management practices including the organisation of the ALRC’s reduction in programs, conducting inquiries and community education about law reform;
  • considering environmental impacts of all purchases made and ensuring that, wherever possible, options chosen include recyclable products, minimum packaging and minimum toxic chemicals;
  • creating a culture where sustainable environmental management is considered an integral element of all ALRC activities and providing information to staff as to the recycling system and to maximising energy efficiency;
  • setting measurable environmental targets as part of a continual improvement process;
  • regularly monitoring environmental performance and providing reports to the ALRC Board of Management and to Government, as required; and
  • reviewing this policy at least every two years to ensure it is relevant and delivering desired outcomes. The next revision is due in 2011.

In minimising our environmental impact, the ALRC will consider the following:

  • options for travel during the consultation process, using telephone conferencing when appropriate instead of air travel, using public transport, and sharing vehicles as far as possible;
  • encouraging filing electronically, to reduce the amount of paper used;
  • printing double-sided for internal documents, whenever possible;
  • using recycled paper that has an environmental sustainability rating;
  • encouraging the use of e-payments to reduce reliance on paper products;
  • developing an online option for submitting to ALRC inquiries in order to reduce paper usage and photocopying;
  • purchasing ‘fair trade’ consumables, if available;
  • ensuring all office lights are switched off overnight;
  • ensuring printers, fax machines and computers are turned off on weekends and holidays;
  • encouraging all staff to use the recycling system;
  • asking ALRC Commissioners who are eligible for a vehicle as part of their remuneration to treat fuel efficiency and carbon emissions as significant factors when choosing a vehicle;
  • encouraging staff to use window blinds to regulate the temperature of their offices to reduce the use of the air conditioning system; and
  • considering the amount of packaging when purchasing goods for the office.

The ALRC’s Executive Director is the EMS officer, whose role is to ensure ongoing monitoring and continuous improvement of environmental performance. The EMS officer is responsible for developing and implementing the EMS, including the review of the established objectives and targets.

Freedom of Information Statement

The ALRC follows a policy of openness with the information it holds (set out in the ALRC Access to Reference Material Policy), subject to necessary qualifications where, for example, material is supplied in confidence or its disclosure might breach the privileges of Parliament. A large number of requests for information are satisfied by material provided on the ALRC’s website.

In 2009–10, the ALRC received no applications for information under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act).

Section 8 of the FOI Act requires the ALRC to publish certain information in its Annual Report. Information about the ALRC’s organisation, functions, decision-making powers and about public participation in the work of the ALRC is contained in this Annual Report. The other information required by the FOI Act is set out below.

The FOI Act requires the publication of a statement of the categories of documents held by the ALRC. The ALRC holds the following categories of documents:

  • correspondence and working papers, including formal submissions, notes of meetings and transcripts of public hearings relating to the ALRC’s references and relating to the reform of the law in general;
  • databases used by staff for the purposes of communicating with persons and organisations connected with the ALRC and the conduct of its references or general operations; and
  • correspondence and working papers relating to the administration of the ALRC, including personnel and financial papers.

The following categories of documents are available in hard copy for purchase by the public or accessible free of charge through the ALRC’s website.

  • ALRC reports, including inquiry and annual reports;
  • community education and consultation documents relating to past references, including background papers, issues papers, discussion papers and summary papers; and
  • past issues of Reform, the ALRC’s law reform journal (no longer in publication).

The following categories of documents are available upon request (without the need for a formal application under the FOI Act):

  • community education and consultation documents relating to current references, including any relevant background papers, issues papers, discussion papers, summary documents and final reports; and
  • submissions to ALRC inquiries that have not been marked confidential by the submitter.

Commonwealth Disability Strategy

The ALRC has a broad commitment to the inclusion of, and participation by, people with disabilities. Reporting on compliance with the Commonwealth Disability Strategy continues to provide the ALRC with the impetus to improve its policy, procedures and approach to working and communicating with people with a disability.

Table 14: Commonwealth Disability Strategy

Goal Achievement Revised Goal for 2010-11
Provide advice on availability of accessible formats, as publications are released. Goal achieved.
The ALRC makes all new publications available in HTML, RTF and PDF formats.
No change to goal.
Implement Communications with People with a Disability Procedures as consultations are arranged in association with ALRC inquiries. This is an ongoing goal.
The ALRC’s Communications with People with a Disability Procedures provide guidance for ALRC staff on how to consider the needs of people with a disability when organising consultation meetings.
No change to goal.
Identify issues of relevance to people with a disability for each reference, and consult with appropriate disability groups on those  issues.

This is an ongoing goal.
For the Family Violence Inquiry the ALRC received 6 submissions concerning people with disabilities. Issues discussed in this Inquiry include vulnerable witness protection for cognitively impaired  witnesses; sexual offences against people with a cognitive   impairment; guiding principles/objects clauses to include reference to people with a cognitive impairment; the difficulties faced by people with disabilities in terms of providing information to courts in initiating application forms; family violence legislation to include examples of emotional or psychological abuse which may have particular relevance to those with a disability; how economic abuse may have particular impact on those with a disability and that family violence legislation should refer to the particular impact of family violence on a wide range of marginalised persons—including those with a disability.

For the Secrecy Inquiry the ALRC received one submission addressing disability issues.

For Royal Commission Inquiry, the ALRC received one submission
addressing disability issues.

No change to goal.
Provide HTML versions of all past reports, currently available only in PDF and ASCII. This is an ongoing project.
During 2009–10, the ALRC completed HTML versions of six past reports.
No change to goal.
Monitor ALRC website to ensure it remains compliant with relevant standards for access by people with a disability. This is an ongoing goal.
ALRC staff monitor current developments in relation to accessibility. In 2009–10 the ALRC’s website manager attended training on web accessibility standards and is ensuring that the ALRC’s new website implements the recent Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Version 2.0 to make government websites more accessible to people with disabilities.
No change to goal.
Consider the principles of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) and incorporate them into any new or revised employment and staff development policies, practices and procedures. This is an ongoing goal.
The ALRC considers that its policies, procedures and practices are consistent with the principles of the Act.
No change to goal.
Ensure all key ALRC documents are available in HTML or RTF format on the ALRC website. All recent ALRC reports and consultation papers—including Annual  Reports—are available on the ALRC website in HTML format. Key documents such as the Corporate Plan 2009–11, relevant ALRC policies, information on the internship program and information on the general work program of the ALRC, are available on the website in accessible formats. No change to goal.