Page 3851 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 19 September 2017

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I have previously expressed concern that prices being set by the National Disability Insurance Agency are seeing disability support workers made redundant and re-hired at lower levels, undermining the intent of the ERO, but that is another story. The estimated cost to the ACT over the ERO phase-in period to 2020 is $69.87 million, which includes the commonwealth’s share for the increase to ACT services funded by the commonwealth through ACT funding agreements. A small portion of the levy was used at the establishment of the equal remuneration case to determine the amount of support for each organisation each year, including any negotiations.

The ACT committed in 2012 to providing over $30 million in support for the impact of the ERO to community sector employers. Since commencing the community sector reform program in 2012-13, more than $8.7 million has been disbursed to community sector organisations in the form of support for the equal remuneration order. There is another three years of support still to come.

Second, a number of initiatives have commenced to strengthen the capacity of the community sector in the ACT to deliver social outcomes at a time of considerable financial pressure and change. Major initiatives include more than 40 bundles of consulting assistance over a two-year period, each worth $20,000, to community sector organisations. This assistance was accessed from a panel of consulting organisations procured through the levy and made available to community sector organisations. They were able to use this support for strategic purposes, such as having their strategic plans assessed, or for practical purposes, such as assistance with developing service costing models.

An outcomes-based approach to funding service delivery was identified by the community sector reform advisory group as a significant reform. Work undertaken by the reform program supported a shift from an output to an outcome perspective for the children, youth and family services program and for the special homelessness services program, with resulting changes reflected in new service funding agreements. The implementation of the out of home care strategy, a step up for our kids, provided the opportunity to design an outcome model for out of home care from the ground up.

Third, levy funds were used for red tape reduction. This component of the program commenced in 2013-14. The first batch of red tape reduction measures focused on changes to procurement, contracting and reporting arrangements, which have led to a reduction in red tape impact on the community sector in the ACT equivalent to approximately $2.6 million per year.

Initiatives included reduced financial reporting requirements for community sector organisations from twice to once a year and reducing the reporting requirements in other areas, for a saving of approximately $150,000 per year. Simplified audit requirements through changes to the regulations of the Associations Incorporation Act 1991 reduced the cost of audits for small and medium sized community sector organisations, leading to sector savings of approximately $800,000 per year. Smaller local service providers in receipt of relatively modest support payments were transferred from complex service funding agreements to simple, low-risk, recurrent grants. These changes produced administrative savings to the sector worth approximately $650,000 per year.

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