On 11 December last year, the Legislative Council Committee on Social Issues tabled the Report of its inquiry into Service Co-ordination in communities of high social need. The Report made some excellent recommendations, in line with those proposed by NCOSS, which if adopted will improve service delivery to those communities in greatest need.
Key recommendations of the Report are:
A review of the competitive tender processes, emphasising collaboration and joint tendering
NCOSS has consistently emphasised the important role that collaboration between services and relationships between services and clients play in service delivery. Competitive tendering has threatened to undermine these relationships, so this recommendation is welcome. Recognition of collaboration is a key point put forward in our current campaign A Fair Deal For Our Community Services, which developed a set of recommendations to underpin a stronger relationship between the sector and Government.
5 year terms for funding agreements
The Committee agreed with the evidence from a number of inquiry participants, including NCOSS, that the current length of funding contracts is too short for service providers to effectively build and maintain relationships with clients and other organisations, or to implement long-term planning and strategies to build capability across the sector. Funding agreements with a minimum of 5 years were proposed.
Recognising that information sharing between services would be valuable for service coordination, but there are concerns that this conflicts with individuals’ rights to privacy, the Committee recommended that the Privacy Commissioner develop guidelines and provide training for both government and non-government organisations on appropriate information handling and information sharing. This has long been advocated by NCOSS.
Better collection of data and measurement of outcomes
The Committee recognised that service coordination would be improved if data was collected in a consistent way and the success of programs was measured by outcomes rather than outputs. To assist with these objectives, the Committee recommended that the Data Analysis Centre within NSW Government regularly release publications, and also endorsed the recommendations of the Dropping Off the Edge 2015 Report that a Centre for Community Strengthening and Program be established, linked to State and Territory counterparts. NCOSS supports these recommendations.
The Government’s response to the Report is due in June this year. NCOSS will be referencing the recommendations in our advocacy, particularly in relation to funding and the importance of localised approaches to service delivery. If adopted, the recommendations have potential to create significant improvements for our members and the people we support.