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Report on Government Services 2018


Community services

Main aims of services within the sector

Community services provide support to sustain and nurture the functioning of individuals, families and groups, to maximise their potential and to enhance community wellbeing.

Services included in the sector

There is no nationally agreed definition of ‘community service purpose’, and community services often overlap with other sectors such as health and housing/homelessness. Services listed below are those most commonly identified as community services by government:

Detailed information on the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of service provision and the achievement of outcomes for the aged care, disability, child protection and youth justice service areas is contained in the service-specific chapters.

Government expenditure in the sector

Total Australian, State and Territory government recurrent expenditure on community services was estimated to be $31.2 billion in 2016‑17, around 13.9 per cent of total government expenditure on services covered in this Report. Aged care was the largest contributor ($17.4 billion, table 14A.4), followed by services for people with disability ($7.8 billion, table 15A.4), child protection services ($5.2 billion, table 16A.6) and youth justice services ($0.8 billion, table 17A.8).

Flows in the sector

The community services sector is diverse. It comprises services delivered by a variety of government and non‑government providers in a range of service settings with people accessing these services through many different pathways. People with disability may need aged care services earlier than those without, and aged care services need to cater for aged people with disability. These two services also have a key interface issue with the age of the person at first contact with the service determining access (a person with disability aged under 65 years or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged under 50 years may have access to disability services, but a person with disability aged 65 years or over and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years or over will only have access to disability services if they were approved for the service before turning 65 years old or 50 years old for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; otherwise they will need to access support services through the aged care system). Additionally, child protection and youth justice services also have interface issues1, although understanding of these processes is still being developed.

The role of informal carers across Australia

Carers play a vital role in supporting people, in need of assistance with core activities of mobility, self-care and communication, to remain in the community. Although some care is provided by formal providers, it is often undertaken informally by friends and family. Carers enable older people to remain in their homes and support people with disability and long term health conditions to remain in the community. In 2015, 855 800 people (3.7 per cent of the Australian population) were primary carers2 of people with disability or older people3. Chapter 15 includes further information on carers of people with disability.


  1. Malvaso C G, Delfabbro P. H, Day D, 2017, 'The child protection and juvenile justice nexus in Australia: A longitudinal examination of the relationship between maltreatment and offending', Child Abuse and Neglect, Vol 64, February 2017, pp. 32-46. Locate Footnote 1 above
  2. See chapter 15, section 15.4 for the definition of primary carer. Locate Footnote 2 above
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2016) Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2015; table 35.1; Cat. No. 44300DO30_2015. Locate Footnote 3 above

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