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Introducing competition and choice into human services

These submissions comment on the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into introducing competition and informed user choice into human services, as well as a parallel inquiry, the People’s Inquiry into Privatisation initiated by the Public Services International (PSI) Australia.

Jesuit Social Services is a strong advocate for innovative and quality human services. Our programs have developed in response to local community needs, working with the community to support those most vulnerable in our society.

Our submissions draw on our experience undertaking this work, including by partnering with governments to deliver a wide variety of human services.

Submission 1: Response to the Commission’s Issues Paper

Our first submission made the following key recommendations to the Commission:

  • Reinforce the important role played by government and human services together in addressing complex and dynamic social problems (i.e. addressing entrenched disadvantage).
  • Recognise that community organisations should not be seen simply as government service delivery arms, but as co-producers of policy and program solutions.
  • Recognise that the role of government must be greater than that of a service purchasing agency – in some circumstances government will be best placed to deliver services.
  • Ensure there is robust evaluation of the recent experiences of commissioning and tendering of government services to ensure that vulnerable communities do not lose out through marketisation.
  • Avoid undue haste in implementation of any reforms and ensure careful and considered planning with high levels of stakeholder engagement.

Get your copy of Submission 1

Download our submission to the Productivity Commission’s issues paper

Submission 2: Response to the Commission’s Preliminary Findings

The second submission focused on two key areas identified by the Commission as potential reform areas:

  1. Human services in remote Indigenous communities, and
  2. Grant-based family and community services.

Our second submission made the following key recommendations to the Commission:

  • Promote improved sector coordination, planning and design through an inclusive process of government, providers and service users.
  • Implement place-based service models targeting communities experiencing entrenched disadvantage.
  • Commit to adequate and ongoing funding, and stable policy approaches.

This submission will feed into the Commission’s study report due to be released in November 2016. A second phase of the inquiry will make recommendations on how to apply market principles to the human services identified in phase one.

Get your copy of Submission 2

Download our submission to the Productivity Commission’s preliminary findings

Submission 3: Response to the Reforms to Human Services Issues Paper

Our third submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into introducing competition and informed user choice into human services responds to the Reforms to Human Services Issues Paper.

Our recommendations focus on human services in remote Indigenous communities, grant-based family and community services, and social housing.

We call on the government to:

  • Strengthen formal Indigenous representation in key governance roles and bodies which have a direct impact on decision making and priority setting in Indigenous communities.
  • Prioritise and invest in building local capacity (including leadership and community development) to enable ATSI people to inform planning and sustainably manage services offered to individuals and groups within their communities.
  • Pursue a concerted effort to improve co-design and an integrated approach between government and service providers and service users.
  • Introduce and strengthen mechanisms to facilitate meaningful engagement of service users in service design, planning, commissioning and evaluation.
  • Invest in a diversity of housing options for people with multiple and complex needs.
  • Immediately increase capital funds to develop new housing stock, along with investment for housing support to enable people to maintain their tenancy.

Get your copy of Submission 3

Download our submission to the Reforms to Human Services Issues Paper

Submission 4: Response to the Productivity Commission’s Draft Report

In our fourth submission to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into introducing competition and informed user choice into human services, we support a number of the key points and findings outlined in the Draft Report; in particular, acknowledgment of:

  • The significance and impact of government stewardship on human services provision
  • The need for more certainty concerning contracts and a move to more relational approaches to contract management
  • The need to engage and empower communities in decision-making.

However, we remain concerned about a number of things. For example, one of the most pressing needs in social services is addressing unmet demand and the inability of the vulnerable and marginalised in our communities to access the services they need. Adequate funding of social services cannot be separated from the broader question of market reform, and will have a major bearing on the success or failure of any service subjected to the application of competition policy.

In this submission we call for Governments to:

  • strengthen formal Indigenous representation in key governance roles and bodies which have a direct impact on decision making and priority setting in Indigenous communities
  • introduce and strengthen mechanisms to facilitate meaningful engagement of service users in service design, planning, commissioning and evaluation
  • immediately increase capital funds to develop new housing stock, along with investment for housing support to enable people to maintain their tenancy.

Get your copy of Submission 4

Download our submission to the Productivity Commission’s Draft Report

Response to the People’s Inquiry into Privatisation

Our submission to this separate, independent inquiry reiterated our key recommendations made in our response to the Issues Paper (see Submission 1, above). Our CEO, Julie Edwards, was also invited to present to the inquiry panel at a public hearing held in Melbourne in late October.

Download our submission to PSI Australia’s People’s Inquiry into Privatisation