Reserve Bank of Australia Annual Report – 2009
Equal Employment Opportunity
The Reserve Bank is required under the Equal Employment Opportunity (Commonwealth Authorities) Act 1987 to report to the Australian Parliament each year on its equity and diversity program. The Equity and Diversity Annual Report 2008 was tabled on 12 September 2008. The Bank seeks to ensure that all staff are treated with dignity and respect in the workplace and experience equal opportunity throughout their careers.
During the year, the Reserve Bank finalised its new two-year Diversity Plan. The plan, which is the eighth in the series, sets out diversity initiatives that the Bank will support over the near term. The initiatives include gaining an understanding of the issues related to work/life balance that are important to staff, improving the accessibility of the Bank’s information systems and building facilities for staff and the community, and understanding the needs of a maturing workforce. Other equity and diversity initiatives undertaken in 2008/09 included an extensive study of gender at the Bank, a review of the effectiveness of the Bank’s trainee scheme and the trialling of a mentoring program for indigenous Australians. The Equity and Diversity Policy Committee was also revamped to better reflect the interests of staff and the Bank. Full details of the Bank’s program will be included in the Bank’s Equity and Diversity Annual Report 2009, which is scheduled to be tabled in the Australian Parliament later this year.
Health and Safety, Compensation and Rehabilitation
As required in terms of section 74 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 and the conditions of its licence as a Licensed Authority under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988, the Reserve Bank reports each year on matters of health and safety, workers’ compensation and rehabilitation as they affect the Bank. The Bank is committed to the safety, health and wellbeing of its employees, contractors and visitors.
The focus of the Reserve Bank’s activities in this area in 2008/09 was on prevention and continuous improvement. This included initiatives to improve the capacity of staff at the Bank’s business resumption site and the newly acquired banknote research and development area at Note Printing Australia to manage occupational health and safety matters effectively. During the year there were 47 incidents, which resulted in 10 claims for workers’ compensation. The claims largely related to lunch-time sporting injuries. This compared with an annual average of 65 incidents and 17 claims over the previous three years.
Following consultation with staff, the Reserve Bank’s Health & Safety Committee, Comcare and the Finance Sector Union, the Bank also implemented its new Health & Safety Management Arrangements (HSMAs). These provide a framework for the Bank and its staff to work co-operatively to promote and develop measures to ensure employees’ health, safety and welfare at work. The HSMAs will operate initially for a term of two years but are subject to review after 12 months. Three additional Health & Safety Representatives were appointed to the Health & Safety Committee to ensure a wider coverage of designated workgroups.
The Reserve Bank’s strong track record in all aspects of occupational health and safety, compliance with the relevant legislation and the Bank’s Conditions of Licence was confirmed by external audits. The Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission confirmed the Bank’s highest possible rating for its prevention, claims management and rehabilitation practices during the year.
Freedom of Information
Section 8 Statement
Organisation and functions: The Reserve Bank of Australia is Australia’s central bank. It was established by Commonwealth legislation in 1911. Its functions, powers and responsibilities are specified in the Reserve Bank Act 1959, the Banking Act 1959, the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997, the Payment Systems (Regulation) Act 1998, the Payment Systems and Netting Act 1998, the Corporations Act 2001 and the Financial Services Reform Act 2001, and in Regulations made under those Acts. An overview of the structure of the Reserve Bank is provided in the organisational chart, which appears on pages 122–123.
Categories of documents: The Reserve Bank publishes speeches, reports, articles, occasional papers, conference volumes, information booklets, minutes of the monetary policy meetings of the Reserve Bank Board, media releases, statistical data and various other documents. These are available on the Reserve Bank’s website (www.rba.gov.au), which also provides other information about the Bank. The Bank publishes a monthly Bulletin, which includes speeches, reports, media releases, statistical data and other items. Other documents are held in the form of working notes and files covering policy and operational matters, statistical data, personnel, premises and general administration.
The right of access to documents in the possession of Australian Government agencies in terms of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) applies to the Reserve Bank. However, the Bank is an exempt agency under the FOI Act in respect of documents concerning banking operations (including individual open market operations and foreign exchange dealings) and exchange control matters.
Facilities for access and Freedom of Information procedures: Enquiries under the FOI Act, including requests for access to documents, should be directed to the Secretary of the Reserve Bank. Applications should be accompanied by the application fee (currently $30). Facilities to inspect documents to which access has been granted are available.
Section 93 Statement
Thirteen requests for access to documents under the FOI Act were received in 2008/09. Access was granted in part in response to seven requests, while access was denied in response to two requests. No relevant documents were found in response to three requests. One request, which was received towards the end of the financial year, had not been finalised at the end of June 2009. Processing of two requests that were outstanding at the end of the 2007/08 financial year was finalised; in one case, full access to the documents requested was granted and, in the other case, partial access to relevant documents was provided.
The estimated number of staff hours spent dealing with all aspects of FOI requests in 2008/09 was around 280 hours. The total cost to the Reserve Bank of administering the FOI Act in 2008/09 is estimated to have been about $70,300. Application fees of $390 were collected; additional charges of around $1,600 were levied.