The Report on Government Services 2009 is being released. This is the fourteenth edition of the Report, produced by a Steering Committee of senior officials from Australian, State and Territory governments for the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). The Steering Committee is chaired by Gary Banks, Chairman of the Productivity Commission.
Mr Banks noted that the Report promotes open and informed debate about the performance of governments providing a range of services. He stated, 'This Report is important to us all: everyone relies on government services at different stages of their life, and services are particularly important for the more disadvantaged members of society. Improving government services is also important economically. Governments spent over $132 billion on the services covered in this year's Report, more than 70 per cent of their recurrent expenditure, equivalent to around 13 percent of Australia's gross domestic product.'
Mr Banks drew attention to significant improvements in this year's Report, including: a revised ambulance indicator framework with reporting against four new indicators, and reporting for the first time on: hospital readmissions and community follow up after an episode of mental illness; maintenance of individual functioning from the Transition Care Program for aged care; response times for child protection services; and school attendance data for students in years 1 through 10.
Reporting on services to Indigenous Australians remains a priority. Improvements for this Report include school learning outcomes for Indigenous students by remoteness area for each State and Territory, and data for Indigenous preschool attendance. There has also been further improvement in the reporting of Indigenous hospitalisations data.
During 2008, COAG emphasised the importance of performance reporting in its reform of Specific Purpose Payments. New National Agreements set out agreed objectives, outputs, outcomes and performance indicators, which will be monitored by the COAG Reform Council. The Steering Committee will provide relevant performance information to the Council. COAG has initiated a review to ensure this Report is appropriately aligned with the National Agreements, and to examine improvements to the Report's scope and processes. A link to the terms of reference for the COAG review can be found on the Steering Committee's website.
Further information on each service covered by the Report is summarised in the attached Fact Sheets. The most recent data and any errata will appear on the Steering Committee's web page.