Businesses, Agents and Trade Professionals

Multicultural Access and Equity Policy guidance on procurement and contracting

Multicultural Access and Equity Policy (the 'policy') is the primary vehicle for ensuring that Australian Government programmes and services are responsive to the needs of Australia's culturally and linguistically diverse population. The key objectives of the policy are respecting diversity and improving responsiveness. The policy aims to ensure that government programmes and services are accessible by all Australians, responsive to their needs and deliver equitable outcomes regardless of cultural or linguistic backgrounds.

While access and equity have been the cornerstone of Australia's responsiveness to its culturally and linguistically diverse population for decades, the policy has been strengthened in line with the Australian Government's commitment under The People of Australia - Australia's Multicultural Policy. The strengthened policy provides greater clarity for Australian Government departments and agencies and a more structured approach to implementation. This includes a clear set of minimum obligations, stronger governance and accountability arrangements and a robust planning and implementation framework.

Multicultural access and equity applies to all aspects of government work, from policy design to service delivery and engagement, whether delivered directly or outsourced with minimum requirements applicable. Conformance to the policy will increase, amongst other things, the transparency and accountability of access and equity obligations.

Application of the policy to procurement and grants and other expenditure activity

The policy applies to relevant procurement, grant and other expenditure activity that relates to procuring and managing Australian Government funded programmes and services.

The policy applies irrespective of whether the relevant programme or policy is delivered by Australian Government agencies, state and territory governments, community organisations or the private sector. Those delivering programmes and services on behalf of the Australian Government need to be aware of multicultural access and equity considerations in service delivery.

Determining how the policy applies to a particular procurement, grant or other expenditure activity

Where we have determined that the policy is appropriate to be applied to a particular procurement, grant or other expenditure activity, the approach to market or application documents will specify our requirements in relation to the policy and may include measurable performance indicators.

Considerations in applying the policy in procurement and contracting

We may consider the following list of considerations when applying the policy. This not an exhaustive list but it can be used as a guide to develop service requirements and performance measures in contracts.

Language

  • Use plain English - write in plain language in a direct and clear way so that readers can easliy understand and use the information. Avoid jargon and unnecessary official, legal or bureaucratic wording.
  • Provide information in other languages, in plain language, so it can be easily translated, as appropriate.
  • Develop services to make the information easier to access for culturally and linguistically diverse groups to use the information. The cost of access does not need to be expensive.
  • Consider the needs of relatives who may be accessing information on behalf of your customers, including young adult relatives.

Presentation and design

  • Make sure that your design elements are easily understood and culturally appropriate.
  • Present data and information in ways that are clear to culturally and linguistically diverse audiences, including those outside Australia where relevant. Examples include date, time, currency, weight and measure formats, phone numbers and addresses.

Testing and evaluation

  • Test resources with representatives from culturally and linguistically diverse groups.
  • Performance measures should be based on the Access and Equity Framework principles:
    • Responsiveness: The extent to which programmes and services are accessible, fair and responsive to the individual needs of clients.
    • Communication: Open and effective channels of communication with all stakeholders.
    • Accountability: Effective and transparent reporting and review mechanisms.
    • Leadership: Broad approaches to management of issues arising from Australia's cultural and linguistic diversity.
  • As part of performance reporting, consider ways in which data can be collected on cultural and language diversity relevant to the particular contract, including by seeking feedback from customers or users. Broadly, consider ways in which data collection is consistent with Standards for Statistics on Cultural and Language Diversity. [1] Specifically, ensure that the outcomes under a contract are consistent with the policy. This includes ensuring that the contractor has:
    • planning, implementation, monitoring and review mechanisms that incorporate the policy
    • performance standards that use the cultural and linguistic diversity of personnel or their awareness of issues
    • complaint mechanisms that enable people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to raise concerns about the services provided.

Other considerations

  • Consider the needs of people with a disability who come from diverse backgrounds in the above context.
  • Consider whether an organisation delivering a programme or policy for, or on behalf of the department, can provide evidence that it has recruited culturally diverse employees, volunteers, grantees and contractors.

[1] ABS cat. No. 1289.0, www.abs.gov.au

Approach to market or application inclusions - template provisions

Subject to the particular needs of a programme or policy, we may include a clause in an approach to market or application document requiring tenderers or applicants to demonstrate how they will comply with the policy, including at a minimum, by demonstrating:

  • A sound knowledge of the needs, circumstances, cultural and other characteristics of clients and assessment of the direct impact of the services, programme and/or activity on the lives of the people.
  • How they will provide the services, programme and/or activity to a culturally and linguistically diverse population, consistently with the policy. At a minimum, tenderers or applicants must demonstrate that they have:
    • planning, implementation, monitoring and review mechanisms that incorporate the policy
    • performance standards that use the cultural and linguistic diversity of personnel or their awareness of issues (Note: data collection on a service, programme or activity, including on performance standards, must be consistent with Standards for Statistics on Cultural and Language Diversity [1])
    • complaint mechanisms that enable people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to raise concerns about the services, programme or activity provided
    • recruited, as relevant, culturally diverse employees, volunteers, grantees and contractors.

[1] ABS cat. No. 1289.0, www.abs.gov.au

Contract inclusions - template provisions

Subject to the particular needs of a programme or policy, the following clause may be included in a contract:

The Contractor acknowledges that the Australian Government's Multicultural Access and Equity Policy (the 'policy') applies to the provision of [services/programme/activity] under this Contract and will comply with the policy according to <schedule or part including the service/programme/activity description and performance requirements>.

Where such a clause is included in a contract, details on the application of the Multicultural Access and Equity Policy to the services, programme or activity need to be provided in the relevant schedule. This should include key performance indicators (KPIs) or other measures to enable us to assess and report on compliance. Below are some suggested minimum items for inclusion in the service provision schedule:

  • Description of how the contractor will provide the services, programme or activity to a culturally and linguistically diverse population, consistent with the policy.
  • Performance standards should use the cultural and linguistic diversity of personnel or their awareness of issues and include standards in relation to:
    • planning for delivery of the services, programme or activity
    • delivering the services, programme or activity
    • monitoring and reporting on the services, programme or activity, including:
    • data on recruited, as relevant, culturally diverse employees, volunteers, grantees and contractors
    • a complaint mechanism that enables people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to raise concerns about the services programme or activity provided.

Further Information

Information on the policy and related documents are available at: