Page 528 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 18 February 2015
community services is not replicated at the commonwealth level. Ms Porter has described the devastating impact of cuts to just a couple of local service providers across the ACT. This uncertainty and angst are being felt deeply amongst all organisations, their staff and their clients. Many of our local community organisations receive direct funding from the Australian government, and many receive Australian government funding via national partnership agreements between the ACT and the commonwealth. Our community feels the impact when key services are cut. We can all continue to write letters, but I do not think paper cuts are going to make a difference here.
The actions of the commonwealth also show a lack of recognition of the extensive reform process underway—again, through close partnership between the government and the community sectors—on the way services are funded, shaped and delivered.
The development of the ACT’s human services blueprint and our community sector reform program has been based on a genuine conversation, partnership and commitment between community and government. The blueprint is transforming the way we deliver services in the ACT. It is enabling community, health, education and justice systems to work together, to join up support for people and families.
Three better services initiatives are providing simpler supports for people when they need it. The one human services gateway, the strengthening families program and the local services network for west Belconnen are changing the way we deliver services. In time, other services and supports will link in to build a human services system that is truly about delivering better outcomes for people and making the best use of available resources.
In terms of funding, through the red tape reduction program, recent changes to the way government purchases and contracts services have delivered savings in time and effort to local community organisations. These savings are worth over $2.6 million annually to those organisations. Every hour of administration which is freed up is more time a community sector organisation can focus on its core business. Simple measures, such as establishing a single relationship manager structure, mean that local community organisations can get used to dealing with just one person in government, not five or six. We are also in the process of developing fairer and simpler contracts, developing simpler tender prequalification processes, and further reducing reporting requirements. These reforms are in response to the constrained fiscal environment of today.
Our community service providers understand as well as anyone the need to find efficiencies and to achieve outcomes they get funding for. But it is reckless and naive to expect wholesale funding cuts not to have a damaging impact on the ground, in the ACT and nationwide. The ACT government is genuine about ensuring that social inclusion and equality are reflected in the way our policies are developed, in the way our programs and services operate, and in the way our infrastructure is shaped and delivered.
As the minister responsible for carrying this agenda forward, I will continue an approach that is broad and consultative across governments, within the ACT and with the community sector. Our next steps will be informed by a strong evidence base and