National Conference on Reconciliation, Multiculturalism,Immigration and Human Rights

Deirdre O'Donnell
Deputy Ombudsman, Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Scheme

Jane Hill
Business Manager, Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Scheme

Diversity Training

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) Scheme, which is an industry-based and funded alternative dispute resolution scheme, identified diversity training as potentially offering benefits in terms of both client services and internal culture. As a consumer protection agency, the TIO handles telecommunications-related complaints brought by residential and small business consumers. Accessibility to the TIO's service is critical, and ensuring any barriers to access were identified and rectified was a key factor in the TIO's diversity training. Accordingly, a program was developed by MyriaD in close consultation with TIO staff, so that core cultural issues could be aired and addressed.

As a process, the TIO found its diversity training both challenging and energising. The workshops generated a list of four key areas which were potential barriers to diversity, and a short and tightly outcome-focused action plan was developed to address these barriers.

As a learning experience, the TIO came to a much greater understanding of its strengths and weaknesses. As a motivational exercise, the enthusiasm generated and the positive initiatives which resulted have to date been most encouraging. The great unknown at present is whether long term improvements in work practices and output will result.

Deirdre joined the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Scheme as the in April 1999. She brought with her over 12 years' experience in telecommunications, with five years as Manager, Regulatory Strategy for Cable & Wireless Optus, plus several years at the industry regulator, the former AUSTEL (now the Australian Communications Authority), and at the former Telecom. Prior to joining the telecommunications industry, Deirdre taught for over 10 years in Victorian high schools as well as in France and Italy, and has qualifications in foreign languages and education. She also has an MBA from Melbourne University and is presently studying commercial law, with a focus on dispute resolution.

Jane Hill is the Business Manager and Company Secretary for the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Scheme. Jane completed an Arts/Law degree at Melbourne University in 1990 and has since completed a Graduate Diploma of Marketing and an MBA. Prior to working in telecommunications, Jane managed a professional association for pharmacists. Jane is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and in her spare time works for a number of local charities.

Presentation Type
30 min paper

University of Technology, Sydney, 1-2 December 2000

Papers & Workshops