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Identifying Sectors for Reform

Study report

This report was released on 5 December 2016 and it sets out the Commission's view on the priority areas where reform could offer the greatest improvements in individual wellbeing and community welfare.

For the services identified as best suited, the second stage of the inquiry is to make reform recommendations that help to ensure all Australians have timely and affordable access to high-quality services that are appropriate to their needs, and delivered in a cost-effective manner.

  • Key points
  • Contents summary
  • Greater competition, contestability and informed user choice could improve outcomes in many, but not all, human services.
  • The Commission has prioritised six areas where outcomes could be improved both for people who use human services, and the community as a whole. Reform could offer the greatest improvements in outcomes for people who use:
    • social housing
    • public hospitals
    • end-of-life care services
    • public dental services
    • services in remote Indigenous communities
    • government-commissioned family and community services.
  • Well-designed reform, underpinned by strong government stewardship, could improve the quality of services, increase access to services, and help people have a greater say over the services they use and who provides them.
  • Introducing greater competition, contestability and informed user choice can improve the effectiveness of human services.
    • Informed user choice puts users at the heart of service delivery and recognises that, in general, the service user is best placed to make decisions about the services that meet their needs and preferences.
    • Competition between service providers can drive innovation and create incentives for providers to be more responsive to the needs and preferences of users. Creating contestable arrangements amongst providers can achieve many of the benefits of effective competition.
    • For some services, and in some settings, direct government provision of services will be the best way to improve the wellbeing of individuals and families. The introduction of greater competition, contestability and choice does not preclude government provision of services.
  • Access to high-quality human services, such as health and housing, underpins economic and social participation.
    • The enhanced equity and social cohesion this delivers improves community welfare.
  • Government stewardship — the range of functions governments undertake that help to ensure service provision is effective at meeting its objectives — is critical.
    • Stewardship includes ensuring human services meet standards of quality, suitability and accessibility, giving people the support they need to make choices, ensuring that appropriate consumer safeguards are in place, and encouraging and adopting ongoing improvements to service provision.
  • High-quality data are central to improving the effectiveness of human services.
    • User-oriented information allows people to make choices about the services they want and for providers to tailor their service offering to better meet users' needs.
    • Transparent use of data drives improvements in the performance of the system for the provision of human services and increases accountability to those who fund the services.

Background information

Anna Heaney (Assistant Commissioner) 03 9653 2153

Leonora Nicol (Media, Publications and Web) 02 6240 3239 / 0417 665 443

  • Preliminaries
    Cover, Copyright and publication details, Foreword, Terms of reference, Contents and Abbreviations.
  • Overview - including key points
  • Chapter 1 The Commission's approach
    • 1.1 What has the Commission been asked to do?
    • 1.2 Roles for government in the provision of human services
    • 1.3 Competition, contestability and informed user choice
    • 1.4 The Commission's framework
    • 1.5 Services identified as best suited to reform
  • Chapter 2 Trends and drivers
    • 2.1 A snapshot of human services
    • 2.2 Trends and drivers affecting human services
  • Chapter 3 Social housing
    • 3.1 The social housing system
    • 3.2 Scope to improve outcomes
    • 3.3 Factors influencing the potential benefits of reform
    • 3.4 The potential costs of reforms
  • Chapter 4 Public hospital services
    • 4.1 Defining public hospital services
    • 4.2 Scope to improve outcomes
    • 4.3 Factors influencing the potential benefits of reform
    • 4.4 The potential costs of reform
  • Chapter 5 End-of-life care
    • 5.1 Scope to improve outcomes
    • 5.2 Factors influencing the potential benefits of reform
    • 5.3 Introducing greater user choice
  • Chapter 6 Public dental services
    • 6.1 Public dental services in Australia
    • 6.2 Scope to improve outcomes
    • 6.3 Factors influencing the potential benefits of reform
    • 6.4 The potential costs of reform
  • Chapter 7 Human services in remote Indigenous communities
    • 7.1 Remote communities and services
    • 7.2 Scope to improve outcomes
    • 7.3 Factors influencing the potential benefits of reform
    • 7.4 A way forward
  • Chapter 8 Commissioning family and community services
    • 8.1 Services to support individuals and their families
    • 8.2 Scope to improve outcomes
    • 8.3 Factors influencing the potential benefits of reform
    • 8.4 Increasing the benefits of contestability
  • Appendix A Public consultation
  • References

Printed copies

Printed copies of this report can be purchased from Canprint Communications.

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