The Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment (DEOPE) is a statutory officer appointed by the Western Australian Governor to perform the functions outlined in Part IX of the EO Act. The DEOPE reports annually to the minister responsible for public sector management.
The EO Act promotes equal opportunity in Western Australia and addresses discrimination in the areas of accommodation, education, employment, and the provision of activities, goods, facilities and services on the grounds of:
- family responsibility or family status
- gender history
- marital status
- religious or political conviction
- sexual orientation.
The objects of Part IX of the EO Act are to:
- eliminate and ensure the absence of discrimination in employment in public authorities1 on grounds covered by the EO Act
- promote equal employment opportunity for all persons in public authorities.
The EO Act positions equal employment opportunity (EEO) management plans as the principal accountability instrument for public authorities to ensure an absence of discrimination and positive employment outcomes for diversity groups. Sections 141, 143, 145 and 146 of the EO Act provide for a shared accountability between the DEOPE and chief executive officers of public authorities in achieving these outcomes.
Role of the DEOPE
The statutory role of the DEOPE is to:
- advise and assist public authorities to develop EEO management plans
- evaluate the effectiveness of EEO management plans in achieving the objects of Part IX of the EO Act
- monitor and report to the minister on the operation and effectiveness of EEO management plans
- undertake investigations into matters regarding the development and implementation of EEO management plans.
Responsibilities of public authorities
To achieve the objects of Part IX of the EO Act, public authorities are required to prepare and implement an EEO management plan as outlined in s.145(1) of the EO Act. Ultimate responsibility for the EEO management plan rests with the authority’s chief executive officer (s.141 of the EO Act).
EEO management plan preparation and implementation
The provisions to develop a plan are set out in ss.145(2)(a)-(h) of the EO Act.
Effective and compliant EEO management plans must contain:
- a process for the development of policies and programs to ensure a harassment-free workplace
- strategies to communicate the policies and programs referred to in point (a)
- methods for the collection and recording of diversity data, including a current workforce diversity profile
- processes for the review of personnel practices to identify possible discriminatory practices
- the inclusion of goals and targets to determine the success of the EEO management plan
- strategies to evaluate the policies and programs referred to in point (a)
- a process to review and amend the EEO management plan
- the assignment of implementation and monitoring responsibilities.
Public authorities need to consider how they can most effectively achieve EEO and diversity outcomes to suit their business needs and meet the requirements of the EO Act. This may be through an independent EEO management plan or an integrated workforce and diversity plan. Initiatives within independent and integrated plans must meet the requirements of ss.145(2)(a)-(h) of the EO Act. All EEO management plans should work toward achieving three high-level outcomes.
- The organisation values EEO and diversity while promoting a work environment free from all forms of harassment.
- Workplaces are free from employment practices that are biased, discriminate unlawfully against actual employees or potential employees.
- Employment programs and practices recognise and include strategies to achieve workforce diversity.
Public authorities’ annual report to the DEOPE
Section 146 of the EO Act outlines public authorities’ requirement to report annually to the DEOPE, in concurrence with the implementation date of their EEO management plan.
Regular monitoring and evaluation enables authorities to assess whether the EEO management plans strategies are appropriate, achievable and effective in meeting the objects of Part IX of the EO Act.
1 Public authorities refers to all public sector agencies and authorities (including the utilities), local government authorities and public universities.
Page last updated 11 September 2014