The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (Department) recently published its Social and Human Services Investment Blueprint for 2014-19 (Blueprint).
The Blueprint highlights the size, complexity and importance of the community services sector in Queensland which comprises 2,200 government and non-government organisations, employing over 100,000 people (with 65,000 volunteers) and operating in 5,500 service locations.
It sets out a range of measures to reform the funding and delivery of services with the stated primary aim of improving results for customers. The key drivers of this include building partnerships, as well as increasing contestability, transparency, accountability and value for money.
The Blueprint is broken down into 6 priority areas being:
- More innovative solutions: Reflecting the increasing demand for services and the finite government resources, the government has identified a willingness to look at various alternatives which may improve efficiencies through changes to service delivery and funding models, government or business processes or improved access to information.
- Focus on customer service and results: This initiative is dedicated to a customer first philosophy which will see a refocusing of investment to prevention and early intervention as well as identifying and measuring desired results and outcomes. This will tie in closely to the funding models to be adopted such as the NDIS, which once implemented will see the Department exit direct delivery of disability services.
- Smarter investment: Improved targeting of customers and focusing investment to frontline services for priority customers are other significant elements of the Blueprint. As part of this the Department will move from grant funding to contracting for services. As a consequence there will be increased levels of contestability as well as greater need to measure and report the effectiveness and impact of the services delivered.
- Simpler processes: Red tape reduction and the lightening of the administrative burden is a stated commitment across the whole of the government but in particular the Department has identified several specific actions it will undertake to significantly (in some cases) reduce the regulatory burden. This should reduce the cost of doing business for many organisations and allow greater resources to be directed to service delivery.
- Stronger partnerships: Another major initiative is for the Department to seek new avenues for it to more effectively work together with service providers and customers, including in respect to the design and implementation of reforms.
- Dynamic workforce: Many of the changes proposed by the government will initially place increased burdens on organisations at various levels as they take steps to adjust to the reforms. The Blueprint identifies a number of ways in which the Department will address capacity development and training to assist the organisations concerned to successfully adapt to the new paradigm.
Swain Roberts, Special Counsel, comments: “The recently issued Blueprint sets out several important changes to how community services will be funded and delivered. The potential impact on service providers and customers could be substantial but if we are to see the intended benefits from these changes it will be critical for the government to follow through on its commitments to ease the regulatory burden and to support and work with the sector participants. All change brings challenges but these changes also often significant opportunity for better and more efficient service delivery.”