NSWEC Action Plan 2014-16: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Issue date: October 2014

Electoral Commissioner's Foreword

I am pleased to present the New South Wales Electoral Commission's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan 2014-2016. This plan has been developed to address issues primarily relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander enrolment and voting and to develop practical and achievable strategies to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander enrolment, improve the provision of information to these electors and promote the recruitment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to act as election officials at state and local government elections.

Under three broad headings of planning and evaluation, capacity building, and programs and services, the intended outcomes of this plan will be achieved through a series of specific and achievable actions. These include:

  • community consultation and research;
  • working with and through established Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and the federally funded Indigenous Electoral Participation Program;
  • encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to work as election officials; and
  • providing appropriate and accessible information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities about enrolment and voting.

This plan is intended to be a living document and will be reviewed after the March 2015 State Election to identify areas for improvement. I am looking forward to working in partnership with the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and representatives from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in NSW to promote participation and improve access to the electoral system in New South Wales for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Colin Barry
Electoral Commissioner

New South Wales Electoral Commission (NSWEC)

The NSWEC's role is to provide high quality election services that are impartial, effective, efficient and in accordance with the law.

The NSWEC is responsible for:

  • conducting elections for the Parliament of NSW and for local councils in NSW;
  • conducting elections for registered clubs, statutory boards and State registered industrial organisations;
  • working with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) in the management of the joint electoral roll in NSW; and
  • providing administrative support to the Election Funding Authority (EFA).

The NSWEC recognises the diversity of the New South Wales community and the demand for high quality electoral services to meet a wide range
of needs, expectations and levels of understanding of the democratic system.

The NSWEC's five values statements provide direction and guidance for the organisation in order to conduct its business in an ethical manner and includes:

  • Integrity in the way we work;
  • Impartiality in service provision to maintain the confidence of stakeholders and the community, and to uphold the democratic nature of the NSW Electoral system;
  • Uphold the principle of equal access to democracy for all NSW citizens;
  • Professionalism in providing electoral services regardless of size or nature of event; and
  • A learning culture amongst our staff to ensure we improve service delivery and remain modern, forwarding thinking and capable of meeting future challenges.

Development of Report

In 2014 the NSW Electoral Commission formed a reference group consisting of peak bodies, not for profit and government organisations. This group has been established to provide guidance, information and feedback to the NSW Electoral Commission in relation to electoral services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander electors.

The reference group reviewed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action plan 2014-2016 and will continue to work with the NSWEC to ensure accessibility barriers to services are identified and solutions to these barriers are reflected in programs and services.

The following organisations are currently represented on the reference group.

  • Aboriginal Disability Network NSW
  • Aboriginal Employment Strategy
  • Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW
  • Indigenous Electoral Participation Program - AEC
  • National Centre of Indigenous Excellence
  • National Indigenous Youth Parliament Representative
  • NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group
  • NSW Aboriginal Land Council

Planning and Evaluation

Goal 1: Action Plan strategies are supported by management and integrated into overall corporate and business planning.

STRATEGIES

  1. Develop an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan for 2014-2016 with specific and achievable outcomes.
  2. Support from senior management for the strategies of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan.
  3. Improve the integration of community education, information, and resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander electors into election operations planning and arrangements.

Goal 2: Policy development and service delivery is informed by research, staff expertise, data analysis, evaluation and community consultation.

STRATEGIES

  1. Consult with the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program (IEPP) team in NSW to develop the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan for 2014-2016.
  2. Use ABS data and other research to identify electoral districts and local government areas in NSW, and suburbs/towns within those areas, where there are large Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations for:
    • Targeted employment of people from Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities in polling places.
    • Targeted dissemination of information.
  3. Research the most appropriate delivery of advertising and information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  4. Seek feedback from electors and community organisations after the election about the usefulness and availability of information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander electors.

Capacity Building

Goal 3: State and federal electoral bodies work together to encourage greater participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in electoral processes.

STRATEGIES

  1. Work closely with the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program (IEPP) team in NSW to develop and disseminate appropriate electoral information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  2. Research and review what other electoral bodies are doing in regard to provision of information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander electors to inform development of programs and services.

Goal 4: The capacity of the agency is enhanced by the employment of people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

STRATEGIES

  1. Distribute information on employment opportunities to community organisations to encourage community members to apply to work at the NSW Electoral Commission and at election events.
  2. Ensure, where possible, polling place staff that identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander are recruited for polling places in areas where there are high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.
  3. Provide access to culturally safety and awareness training to all election staff in order to create an environment that is mutually respectful and acknowledges the unique identity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait electors.
  4. Increase staff knowledge and expertise by working closely with the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program (IEPP) staff and other established community organisations to deliver relevant and appropriate electoral information to community groups.
  5. Ensure election staff working in areas with high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations are aware of the demography of their districts and the resources and information available to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander electors.

Programs & Services

Goal 5: Barriers to participation and the accessibility of services for people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are identified and programs and services are developed to address them.

STRATEGIES

  1. Develop relevant and appropriate electoral information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander electors that emphasise the benefits of participating in federal, state and local government elections.
  2. Ensure language, photographs and graphics are culturally sensitive and inclusive in all NSWEC publications and on the website.
  3. Ensure electoral information is written in plain English.

Goal 6: A range of communication formats and channels are used to inform people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities about enrolment, elections and voting.

STRATEGIES

  1. Make available and accessible a variety of enrolment and election information through the NSWEC website and in hard-copy for distribution to community organisations.
  2. Highlight NSWEC's information, resources and key messages for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander electors through a special website 'event' to coincide with NAIDOC week.
  3. Provide plain English audio information on tablets in polling places.
  4. Deliver and disseminate electoral information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through existing communication pathways and established relationships with the community.
  5. Review and revise community information materials, formats and channels based on elector and community organisation feedback.
  6. Use appropriate media, education and social networks to encourage participation in the electoral process and to provide electoral information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.