Disability Access and Inclusion Plan 2020 - 24

The Electoral Commission of South Australia acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the State’s first people and recognises their traditional relationship with Country.

We acknowledge that the spiritual, social, cultural and economic practices of Aboriginal people come from their traditional lands and waters, and that the cultural and heritage beliefs, languages and laws are still of importance today.

One of the great privileges and responsibilities of conducting state and council elections is supporting every eligible South Australian to vote, regardless of their location or personal circumstances. 

For most South Australians, voting is a relatively straight-forward exercise that is successfully done in a matter of minutes every four years. For South Australians living with disability, however, the act of voting can be much more challenging. 

As Commissioner, I am conscious of my responsibility in creating a culture of awareness, acceptance and celebration of diversity not only within the workplace, but also for elections. 

This Disability Access and Inclusion Plan sets out a range of tangible targets that will allow Electoral Commission SA (ECSA) to continue to deliver a range of inclusive and innovative measures to support all voters in our community. 

Following on from consultation with the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee, I am pleased to share with you ECSA’s Plan. This will help ECSA empower all South Australians to participate in elections with the respect and understanding that they deserve. I see this as a flexible and agile document that we will update as required, and we welcome any feedback or enquiries about the Plan.

I would like to acknowledge the ongoing support of the members of our Electoral Disability Advisory Committee for their valued advice which has been integral to the development of the ECSA Plan.

I am optimistic that with ongoing guidance from the Committee as well as public feedback, ECSA is heading in the right direction to continue to improve how we engage with and support people living with disability to participate in democracy in South Australia.

Mick Sherry 

Electoral Commissioner 

The Electoral Commission of South Australia (ECSA) is an independent agency responsible for: 

  • conducting and administering South Australian state and council elections
  • ensuring electors are enrolled to vote
  • registering political parties
  • maintaining the electoral roll in conjunction with the Australian Electoral Commission.

In line with the Disability Inclusion Act 2018 (SA), ECSA is committed to tailoring these responsibilities to include access and inclusion planning for people living with disability. 

ECSA’s Strategic Priorities focus on providing high quality electoral services for South Australians, community and stakeholder engagement, investment in electoral research and cultivating a high performing organisation. 

To ensure that these priorities are applicable to people living with disability, ECSA has developed this draft Disability Access and Inclusion Plan framework in accordance with the State Disability Inclusion Plan 2019-2023 and the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020.

To provide accessible and inclusive electoral services to people living with disability, ensuring that all South Australians are respectfully included in the democratic process and their voices heard. 

As at June 2020 ECSA employed 28 people under the Public Sector Act 2009, with no employees identifying as having a disability.

ECSA also employees a number of people under the Electoral Act 1985, including 7,282 roles undertaken at the 2018 State Election. ECSA did not collect data on the disability status of these employees at the 2018 State Election. Employing people living with disability at the 2022 State Election and collecting relevant data is a major focus of this Plan, as detailed in actions 4.2.1, 4.2.2 and 4.3.3

Consultation process

ECSA, as a State Authority for the purpose of the Disability Inclusion Act, has committed to a four-year Disability Access and Inclusion Plan. This will allow for preparation for the state and council elections held every four years, as well as post-election evaluation and analysis (the results of which will be used for the next Disability Access and Inclusion Plan iteration).  

Development of the ECSA’s draft Disability Access and Inclusion Plan began late 2019. 

The first phase involved detailed consultation with the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee, an advisory group representing the disability sector. 

The role of Electoral Disability Advisory Committee was to determine potential barriers experienced by people living with disability throughout the election process, and in the ECSA workplace, and provide guidance and advice to develop strategies to address these challenges. 

The Electoral Disability Advisory Committee members are:

The second phase involved public consultation, which was hosted on ECSA’s website from 6 August 2020 to 4 September 2020. 

The Disability Access and Inclusion Plan was available in the following formats:

  • A draft online Disability Access and Inclusion Plan (Plan) was accessed 154 times.
  • A draft PDF Plan was downloaded 82 times. 
  • A PDF Easy Read Plan was downloaded 80 times. 
  • A plain text Easy Read Plan was downloaded 12 times. 
  • Multilingual and print alternative texts were also offered on request (no requests).

The consultation was promoted through: 

  • The Electoral Disability Advisory Committee networks 
  • ECSA’s Facebook and Twitter channels 
  • Online paid advertisements
  • The YourSAY network 
  • An email campaign targeted at 153 additional organisations representing the following sectors was undertaken:
    • Aboriginal  
    • Carers networks 
    • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities (CALD) 
    • Disability  
    • Homeless 
    • Youth.

The public was able to provide feedback through four channels: 

  • An online survey, with 18 responses received 
  • Email, with 10 responses received 
  • Phone, with five responses received 
  • In person, with no requests received.

Thirty three comments and contributions were received in total. Twenty three of these were from individuals, and 10 were from organisations.

Of the survey responses:

  • 61% were female, 33% were male and 6% identified as other 
  • 5% were 12-25 years old 
  • 89% were 26-65 years old 
  • 6% were over 65 years old 
  • 6% identified as Aboriginal 
  • 12% identified as CALD 
  • 65% identified as a person living with disability 
  • 35% identified as a carer or a family member of a person living with disability 
  • 84% said they had experienced barriers enrolling or voting. 

Main themes of feedback

Four main themes emerged through the public feedback: 

  1. Accessibility of polling places 
  2. Disability parking 
  3. Sensory issues 
  4. Unsound mind 

Finally, there was a small amount of feedback about:

  • Telephone voting, and 
  • More diversity on the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee. 

ECSA collaborated with the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee to review all feedback received and made numerous changes to the Plan.

ECSA has developed the draft Disability Access and Inclusion Plan framework in accordance with these State and Federal legislation, policies and documents:

  • Disability Inclusion Act 2018
  • The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Commonwealth)
  • State Disability Inclusion Plan 2019-2023
  • The South Australian Equal Opportunity Act 1984
  • Code of Ethics for South Australian Public Sector Employees
  • Public Sector Act 2009
  • National Disability Strategy 2010–2020
  • Electoral Act 1985
  • Electoral Commission SA Strategic Plan 2017-2020.

In accordance with the State Disability Inclusion Plan, the focus areas of the ECSA Disability Access and Inclusion Plan are:

  1. Inclusive communities for all
  2. Leadership and collaboration
  3. Accessible communities
  4. Learning and employment.

2014 - ECSA publishes its State Election Disability Access and Inclusion Plan.

2014 - A dedicated polling booth for people with disability is used for the State Election. 

2014
- The Office of the Public Advocate and JFA Purple commend the efforts of ECSA for producing resources to assist people living with disability to vote at the State Election.

2017
- ECSA, Orana and the City of West Torrens are nominated for their collaboration in civic participation for the Community Excellence Award in the 2017 National Disability Awards.

2018
- ECSA publishes a new State Election Disability Access and Inclusion Plan.

2018
- The first unassisted voting system for blind and low vision electors is trialled during the State Election.

2019
- ECSA establishes an ongoing Electoral Disability Advisory Committee.

ECSA acknowledges the members of Electoral Disability Advisory Committee for their assistance in the development of the ECSA Disability Access and Inclusion Plan framework. 

Social inclusion is a priority for people living with disability as it affects all aspects of their lives. It is our aim that the contributions and rights of people living with disability are valued and understood by all South Australians and that their rights are promoted, upheld and protected. We want to ensure that people living with disability are supported to advocate for their own rights. 

Priority 1: Involvement in the community.
Priority 2: Improving community understanding and awareness.
Priority 3: Promoting the rights of people living with disability.

Outcome Actions Measurable Target
1.1  Electors can participate in accessible community engagement events. 1.1.1  Develop an internal parliamentary elections community accessibility and engagement tool kit.
 
1.1.2  Develop an internal local government elections community accessibility and engagement tool kit.

Tool kits for use at parliamentary and local government elections are created and used for each event.
1.2  Electors can access accessibility information via the EasyVote app.

1.2.1  Incorporate wheelchair and other disability-access friendly features such as text to voice conversion and Easy Read into the EasyVote mobile application.

1.2.2 The app and its features are promoted to potential users. Information is distributed in other formats for those who do not have access to or use computers or mobile phones.

1.2.3  Incorporate multilingual capabilities into the EasyVote mobile application.

1.2.4  Pilot the EasyVote mobile application with a user test group of people living with disability.

EasyVote mobile application incorporates these features.

EasyVote mobile application is user tested prior to official launch.
1.3  The experiences of people living with disability at state and local government elections are evaluated. 1.3.1  The voting experiences of electors living with disability are captured after voting on the day or through post-election surveys.

1.3.2  A post-election review of ECSA’s support for people living with disability will be conducted in partnership with the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee.
Post-election surveys of electors living with disability are conducted immediately after the 2022 State and Local Government elections.

ECSA and the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee conduct a review of services for electors with disability following the 2022 State and Local Government elections.
1.4  The experience of people living with disability during federal elections and other state and territory elections is evaluated. 1.4.1  Senior ECSA staff attend meetings of the Australian Electoral Commission’s national Disability Access Committee to ensure consistency of services for electors living with disability between state and federal elections.  A senior ECSA staff member participates in every meeting of the Australian Electoral Commission’s Disability Access Committee and provides a summary of discussion to the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee.
1.5  Improved disability awareness amongst ECSA head office staff.

1.5.1  All ECSA head office staff undertake mandatory disability awareness training as part of their induction training package. Refresher training will also be periodically provided to ongoing staff.

1.5.2  ECSA head office holds an annual event to celebrate the International Day of People with Disability, including a guest speaker.

1.5.3 – ECSA head office will invite a guest speaker or host an event to educate staff on cultural barriers to enrolling and voting regarding Aboriginal voters, including those living with disability.

100% of ECSA head office staff have completed the training.

An event is held on 3 December 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024.

An event is held to improve staff awareness of Aboriginal voters living with disability prior to 2022 State Election.


1.6  Improved disability awareness amongst ECSA election staff. 1.6.1  Senior election staff receive a presentation from a member of the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee as part of their face to face training.

1.6.2  All election staff required to watch a co-designed training video about how to offer appropriate support to voters living with disability as part of their training material.

1.6.3  Hardcopy and online training materials for election staff include guidance on how to offer appropriate support to voters living with disability, which is drafted in partnership with the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee.
All returning officers, assistant returning officers and polling booth manager have improved their disability awareness.

A video is created to be used in training all election staff, with viewing of the video recorded.

All training materials for the 2022 State and Local Government elections include appropriate guidance for supporting electors living with disability.
1.7  ECSA’s Disability Accesses and Inclusion Plan is endorsed and promoted to staff and electors. 1.7.1  Ensure ECSA’s Disability Access and Inclusion Plan is endorsed and championed by the Electoral Commissioner.

1.7.2  Engage electors and carers in the review and discussion of the Disability Access and Inclusion Plan by seeking their advice, incorporating their feedback and endorsement of plan. Ensure the views of hidden and vulnerable people who live with disability are sought.

1.7.3  Develop a communication plan to support the implementation of the Disability Access and Inclusion Plan.

1.7.4  Publish an easy read version of the Disability Access and Inclusion Plan.
After being endorsed by the Electoral Commissioner, the Commissioner has launched the Disability Access and Inclusion Plan to all ECSA staff and has regularly monitored and reported on its implementation.

The Disability Access and Inclusion Plan is created on the basis of consultation with the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee and the broader community through the YourSAy platform and invitations for feedback through a range of other channels.

Disability Access and Inclusion Plan progress is highlighted to staff through regular intranet articles and discussion at all staff meetings, as set out in a communication plan.

An easy read version of the Disability Access and Inclusion Plan is created and disseminated in partnership with the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee.

People living with disability need to have a greater role in leading and contributing to government and community decision-making. It is our aim that the perspectives of people living with disability are actively sought and that they are supported to participate meaningfully in government and community consultation and engagement activities.

Priority 4: Participation in decision-making.
Priority 5: Leadership and raising profile.
Priority 6: Engagement and consultation.

Outcome Actions Measurable Target
2.1  Young electors living with disability are enabled to participate in decision-making.  2.1.1  Design and implement an awareness strategy to support participation of young electors living with disability in state and local government elections

2.1.2  Work with one or more youth disability organisations to co-design and disseminate resources.
A strategy is designed and implemented at the 2022 state and local government elections.

Co-designed resources are created and disseminated.
2.2  People living with disability are enabled to participate in decision-making. 2.2.1  Design and implement an awareness strategy to support participation of electors in state and local government elections.

2.2.2  Work with the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee to co-design and disseminate resources. This will also include stakeholders representing the CALD, Aboriginal and Auslan.
A strategy is designed and implemented at the 2022 State and Local government elections. 

Co-designed resources including Easy Read and Auslan are created and disseminated.
2.3  Strategies to engage and support electors living with disability are designed, delivered and evaluated based on consultation and collaboration with sector stakeholders. 2.3.1  An ongoing Electoral Disability Advisory Committee is established and meets regularly.

2.3.2  Sector stakeholders are consulted to identify challenges and opportunities for engaging and supporting people living with disability.
The Committee meets at least twice annually, and more frequently in the lead up to an election.

Consultation with the SA disability sector occurs prior to the 2022 State and Local government elections.

Universal access to the built environment, quality services and information is key to ensuring people living with disability are included and can equally participate in all aspects of community life. 

Priority 7: Universal Design across South Australia.
Priority 8: Accessible and available information.
Priority 9: Access to services.

Outcome Actions Measurable Target
3.1  Improved awareness and accessibility of attendance voting locations. 3.1.1  A new accessibility checklist for polling places will be developed and endorsed by the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee to ensure the checklist meets the needs of electors living with disability as well as the requirements set out in relevant legislation and guidelines.

3.1.2  Returning officers will be instructed on the importance of securing fully accessible polling places. The selection of a non-accessible polling place will only be approved through a formal exception process.

3.1.3  ECSA will liaise with the Australian Electoral Commission, councils and other government agencies to identify a pool of accessible polling places in the lead up to a state election.

3.1.4  Polling places will have at least two accessible parking spaces within close proximity to the polling place entrance. At polling places without permanent accessible parking spaces, the polling booth manager will use signage to establish temporary accessible parking spaces wherever possible.

3.1.5  A dedicated early voting centre for people living with disability and sensory needs will be promoted and available in the Adelaide CBD and will be staffed by people living with disability. ECSA will investigate the feasibility of providing additional early voting centres in the north and south. 

3.1.6  Accessible attendance voting locations are promoted on the EasyVote Card, the app, the website, and through Electoral Disability Advisory Committee members and other relevant organisations in the disability sector.
A new checklist is created in partnership with the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee and utilised at the 2022 State Election.

Percentage of accessible polling places utilised.

A pool of accessible polling places is created by ECSA and utilised by state election returning officers.

All polling places will have at least two permanent or temporary accessible parking spaces.

One or more early voting centres are established with their success to be evaluated through postelection surveys and the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee post-election review.

All relevant ECSA promotional material includes polling place accessibility information.

Information about accessible voting locations have been widely disseminated through disability sector partners.
3.2  Improved accessibility of the attendance voting experience. 3.2.1  At least one desktop voting screen will be available in every polling place to support electors using a wheelchair or mobility aid to cast a secret ballot.

3.2.2  Voting compartments will be edged with black strips to provide improved contrast for electors with vision impairment.

3.2.3   A queue priority system will be promoted and offered to electors living with disability, pregnant women, electors accompanied by children, the aged, the infirm, and with mobility issues.

3.2.4  Voting services will be promoted and made available outside of the polling place for voters who are unable to leave their vehicle. Signage will include the mobile number of the polling booth manager so they can be easily contacted for assistance.

3.2.5  Voting centres with accessible resources will be promoted and available in selected polling places (maxi pens, hearing loops, Auslan and other deaf friendly resources and electronic large print magnify readers).

Every polling place has at least one desktop voting screen.

All voting compartments feature black strip edging.

Queue priority is highlighted in staff training materials with its success to be evaluated through post-election surveys and the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee post-election review.

Voting outside the polling place is highlighted in staff training materials with its success to be evaluated through post-election surveys and the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee post-election review.

Selected polling places have accessible resources available.
3.3  Improved awareness and accessibility of non-attendance voting services. 3.3.1  Investigate the feasibility of a telephone voting method for electors with a vision-impairment and expand the legislated eligibility criteria to allow people with other types of disability to use it.

3.3.2  Promote the Register of Declaration Voters to electors with a disability, enabling them to have their voting material issued by post on an ongoing basis for every state election.

3.3.3  Promote the option to request the attendance of mobile voting teams at relevant locations to provide on-the-spot voting facilities.

3.3.4  Liaise with the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee to identify locations that will benefit from having a mobile voting team offer voting services.

3.3.5  Promote the option that if the elector is unable to complete and sign a postal vote application and postal ballot themselves, the elector can apply to have the materials filled in and signed by a person of their choice if the necessary requirements are met.

3.3.6  Promote the option to be enrolled as a silent elector to people living with disability, who are potentially more vulnerable to risk of abuse or exploitation, particularly women.

3.3.7  Promote that electors can be assisted to complete their ballot papers and associated declarations by a trusted person of their choice.
If deemed feasible, a  new telephone voting method is designed and implemented in collaboration with the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee.

An awareness campaign is implemented, resulting in higher numbers of electors with disability signing up to the Register of Declaration Voters.

Increased mobile voting services offered to electors with disability compared to the previous state election.

Increased awareness amongst electors living with disability. 

Increase in the number of electors living with disability becoming silent electors.

Widespread awareness within the disability sector of the option to seek assistance, with success to be evaluated through post-election surveys and the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee post-election review.
3.4  All publications, information and promotional material use inclusive language, correct symbols and access information (where relevant). Apply accessible design principles and readily provide information in alternative formats upon request. 3.4.1  Review information and awareness material for accessibility and representation of people who live with a range of disabilities.

3.4.2  Develop alternative formats for public facing information.
All public facing information has been reviewed for accessibility and is available in alternative formats including multilingual and Auslan.

Wherever possible, material is written in plain English in line with South Australian Government guidelines.
3.5  Information on the website is available in appropriate formats and website content complies with accessibility standards. 3.5.1  Ensure ECSA’s website is accessible to all South Australians.
Refer to the online accessibility toolkit (external link).

3.5.2  Easy read publications and materials are co-designed and made available for people with an intellectual disability or low literacy.

ECSA’s website will be audited and user tested to ensure it is WCAG 2.1 compliant.

Readspeaker text-to-speech software will be available on the website.

ECSA’s website will be Dyslexia friendly.

A dedicated webpage is created with information for electors living with disability.

A suite of co-designed easy read materials are available covering key information about enrolling and voting.
3.6  ECSA’s feedback and complaint systems are simple, flexible and accessible. 3.6.1  Educate relevant ECSA staff on accessible complaint and feedback processes, including the variety of formats these can be submitted (e.g. verbal, written etc.).

3.6.2  Provide simplified information regarding the complaint and feedback systems so that all electors understand their rights and responsibilities.

3.6.3  Ensure complaints are fed back to the staff responsible for the DAIP to inform safety and quality systems.

Post-election surveys of electors living with disability include questions on the accessibility of providing complaints and feedback.

A simplified guide to providing feedback and complaints is available on the relevant ECSA webpage. All complaints will be confidential and 90% will be actioned within two weeks.

All complaints relating to disability and accessibility are provided to the Community Awareness and Research Branch for review and collation for the consideration of the Electoral Disability Advisory Committee.

3.7  Improved process around the removal of person from enrolment list due to disability. 3.7.1.  Ensure that this action is accessible and straightforward. 

Workforce participation is fundamental to social inclusion. It provides economic independence and choice, social connections and friendships, value, identity and belonging. It is our aim that people living with disability have access to inclusive places of study and that education and training provides pathways to meaningful and inclusive employment and volunteering opportunities.

Priority 10: Better supports within educational and training settings.
Priority 11: Skill development through volunteering and support in navigating the pathway between learning and earning.
Priority 12: Improved access to employment opportunities and better support within workplaces.

Outcome Actions Measurable Target
4.1  ECSA head office encourages applications from people living with disability.  4.1.1  All recruitment advertising includes diversity statements encouraging applications from people living with disability. Increase in applications from people living with disability.
4.2  Create opportunities for election employment for people living with disability so that the election workforce reflects the diversity of the South Australian population. 4.2.1  Develop and implement a campaign to encourage people living with living disability to apply for election work, in partnership with sector stakeholders. 

4.2.2  ECSA works with senior election staff to ensure positions offered to people living with disability.

4.2.3  Ensure the employment system used for the 2022 State Election allows ECSA to generate reporting on staff  livingwith disability.
A campaign is rolled out in late 2021.

At least 3% of the 2022 State Election workforce is people living with disability. 

Data is collected and reported from the new employment system.

Ballot paper
Paper containing names used for voting in an election.

Best practice
A method or technique that has been generally accepted as superior to any alternatives because it produces results that are better to those achieved by other means or because it has become a standard way of doing things.

Co-design
A range of activities and processes used in the design of services and products that involve people who use or are affected by that service or product.

ECSA
The Electoral Commission of South Australia.

Elector
A person who is entitled to vote at an election.

Electoral roll
A list of names of people who can vote in an election.

Polling booth
The physical location where a person can vote in private.

RDV
A list of names of people who are sent a postal vote at every election.

Silent elector
A person whose name and address is hidden on the electoral roll for safety reasons. 


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Authorised by M.Sherry, Electoral Commissioner