Kim Wilson - Victorian Council of Social Service

Connecting government services to improve
community outcomes
Establishing Victorian state-wide area based governance
Presentation to the VCOSS - YACVic Building the Scaffold Forum
23 October 2013
Government agencies are tasked with managing a complex mix of universal and targeted
service systems for the purpose of achieving better social and economic outcomes for
individuals, families and communities
Wicked problems: The case for change
Community needs are often complex and multifaceted, requiring multiple interventions
There is increasing awareness of areas of need or
disadvantage that are specific to particular locations.
Instances of concentrated, entrenched disadvantage
(often presenting as “wicked problems”) are
generally attributable to multiple contributing
factors, requiring tailored, coordinated responses.
There is also increasing awareness of the importance
of local understanding and insight in the design and
delivery of social services.
Harnessing available
knowledge of particular
communities can allow
universal platforms and
services to be
tailored to deliver
stronger outcomes
for families and
Single government agencies cannot tackle complex social challenges as effectively as agencies
working together. Tailoring programs and supports for specific communities, drawing on the
resources of multiple agencies and existing local insights, has emerged as the leading method for
improving community outcomes and tackling entrenched disadvantage.
The shifting paradigm of service delivery
Old bureaucratic systems
Planned centrally, delivered
Addressing single
Deficit-based approach
National or state-wide
Modern enabling environment
Locus of decision making
Planned locally, supported
Holistic, wrap-around approach
to address multiple issues
Service focus
Strengths-based approach
Place-based focus
To the client/service recipient
Service delivery
Choice, control and diversity to
the service user
To the centre
Single models of service
offered to all
Performance reporting
Focus on outcomes delivered
(using the evidence base)
Greater opportunity for organic systems, focus on
early-intervention/prevention and partnerships with
community sector organisations
An Area Based Governance Architecture
The Victorian Government is pursuing the design and establishment of an area-based
governance architecture, initially targeting vulnerable children and at-risk young people and
their families under the auspice of Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Strategy
17 area-based social service governing boards would be created (aligned with new DHS
regional structure), drawing together senior regional officials from key social policy agencies
from State, Commonwealth and local government.
The focus of the area-based governing bodies is intended to be on coordinated planning and
collaboration, rather than the direct management of service delivery
• Shared vision
• Appropriate balance between flexibility
and accountability
• Evidence-based through sharing of data
• Inclusive and adapted
• Integrated planning
• Outcomes orientated
• Create linkages from areas to centre
• Clarity of roles and responsibilities
Critical success
• Local problem identification and solutions
• Formal commitment (including through
joint planning)
• Awareness of funding mechanisms
• Access to appropriate senior decisionmakers
• Strong leadership at both central and local
• Dedicated resourcing and/or support
Possible structure under consideration
High-level Coordination Board
Secretaries of social service departments
17 area-based governing boards aligned to DHS regional structure
Critical success
Each area would identify 34 priority issues. Timelimited working groups
would be established to
progress actions to address
each priority issues
VIC DEECD and DHS (co-chairs), DoH,
VicPol, Local Government,
Commonwealth agencies
(e.g. Depts Social Services & Human
Services) - other agencies may be coopted onto discrete working groups
Purpose of reform and examples of projects/initiatives
The purpose would be to drive the achievement of national, state-wide and local-level transformative initiatives though
joint planning and priority setting at the area level; conduct of special projects; information sharing; improving service
coordination; and performing program governance functions where there is multi-agency involvement
Examples of projects
that the
area-based social services
governing bodies might
oversee at the
local level
Establishing collaborative approaches to supporting at risk
children and vulnerable young people
Providing coordinated supports and services for people
with disability
Addressing high rates of unapproved absenteeism and
youth disengagement
Development of social services in growth corridors
Establishing coordinated responses to support refugee
Preparing early intervention strategies to address youth
Addressing specific, complex challenges, e.g. teen parents,
family violence
Note that the focus of the area-based governing bodies would be on coordinated planning and
collaboration, rather than the direct management of service delivery (i.e. establishment of
collaborative case management mechanisms).
Some of the details of the model still to be worked through include:
• Membership, including what role there may be for community sector
organisations and how representation could work across 17 regions
• Scope (initially targeting vulnerable children and at-risk young people, moving
to life-course focus over time)
• Integration with other structures/networks (at a range of levels and across tiers
of government)
• Decision-making authority (full decision-making powers, or
networking/coordination function only)
• Performance reporting and accountability (linked to scope and membership)
• Opportunities for innovative funding models in future (e.g. pooled funding)
• Stakeholder engagement (NFP sector, Commonwealth, local government,
schools, etc)
Next steps:
• Vulnerable Children Reform Unit:
• Jointly funded unit, located in DHS, to coordinate, monitor and report on
the Victorian Vulnerable Children Strategy.
• Executive Director is being recruited at the moment.
• DEECD, Justice and Health are recruiting staff for the unit at the moment.
• DHS and DPC have provided staff to the unit.
• RFQ on next stage:
• Will work on the next phase of the development of the model
• Victorian Children and Youth Implementation Group
• Membership State Government, MAV, VCOSS
• Oversee implementation of the Vulnerable Children’s Strategy through the
VCRU including Area Based Governance
The next phase of the work will focus on further refining these details
… target is for implementation by first half of 2014
Challenges to Consider:
• Existing Structures
• What other governance structures focus on vulnerability, children and
young people?
• Would they duplicate or be complimentary?
• Membership
• What would representation in a local area look like?
• If the area based governance groups pick up central functions of
evaluation, procurement, funding how is conflict of interest of service
providers managed?
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