Where we're at
In the 2011/12 budget, the State Government allocated more than $600 million over four years to ensure the ongoing sustainability and continuity of services delivered by the not-for-profit community sector.
The first stage of this initiative was a 15% across-the-board price adjustment on all eligible not-for-profit community service agreements from 1 July 2011. The Department for Communities (Communities) succeeded in applying the price adjustment to all our eligible service agreements by 2 July 2011.
The Delivering Community Services in Partnership (DCSP) Policy and associated procurement reforms also came into effect from 1 July 2011. Communities was a key partner in informing the development of the DCSP Policy. It reflects many of the reforms that Communities proposed as a result of the comprehensive review undertaken of all our funded services in 2010 and our attendant Future Funding Directions project, which was closely aligned with Communities' strategic priorities. For this reason, the introduction of the DCSP Policy coincided with Communities' preparations to negotiate new service agreements with all our funded services, which were due to expire on 30 September 2011 (160 services). To ensure both Communities and our partners in the community services sector had sufficient time to successfully transition to the new arrangements, we extended our existing service agreements for the necessary periods, that is to 30 June 2012 (62 services) and 30 June 2013 (88 services) respectively.
The DCSP Policy requires both the public and community sectors to redefine the way they engage in the planning, design and delivery of community services. Above all, the DCSP Policy is designed to improve outcomes for all Western Australians by:
- rebalancing the nature of the relationship between the public and not-for-profit community sectors;
- focusing on the achievement of outcomes and improving services and support for vulnerable and disadvantaged Western Australians;
- reducing the administrative burden imposed on not-for-profit community organisations when contracting with government agencies; and
- ensuring the correct application of the available funding and contracting options is used and that government funding and contracting services are fair, transparent, consistent and have correctly categorised grants and service agreements.
Communities has made considerable headway in implementing the spirit and intent of the DCSP Policy in close consultation with partners in the community services sector. Communities is transitioning seven program areas: Aboriginal Early Years ; Parenting ; Volunteering ; Youth ; Sector Support ; Family Centres ) and Family and Community Support . We have adopted an incremental approach, by program area, focusing on the joint development of outcome-based service requirements and longer-term service agreements (typically up to five years) as well as on streamlining reporting requirements (annual progress reports, annual income and expenditure financial statements).
While Communities is at different stages in the implementation of these reforms in each of the program areas, the approach is uniform and includes the following five stages:
Stage 1 – Preferred Service Provider status
A consolidated report is developed for each program area, which includes an overall assessment against each service (and service provider) to determine Preferred Service Provider eligibility. The process includes assessments based on progress reports, the information provided by Communities' Program and Funding managers, and data summary reporting.
To date, Communities has completed the identification of Preferred Service Provider eligibility in the following program areas: Aboriginal Early Years, Parenting, Volunteering, Youth, representing a total of 54 services.
Communities is also working in partnership with Linkwest, as the peak agency to roll-out the procurement reforms to our Family Centres and Family and Community Support services. Communities was successful in its application for support under the Department of Finance’s Fostering Partnership Program to partner with Linkwest for this part of the process. As agencies funded these program areas will know, this work has already commenced with Linkwest holding training and other on-line forums.
Stage 2 – Consultation Process (by program area and individual)
The consultation process for each program involves a workshop (or more, as required) with representatives from Communities' funded services in each program area. Communities provides an overview of the DCSP Policy requirements and related documentation, and explains Communities’ procurement process (that is, the Preferred Service Provider process). The draft service requirements are also discussed and input sought from service providers.
The workshop is then followed by one-on-one discussions between Communities' Program and Funding manager and the community sector organisation. These consultations may be face-to-face meetings or teleconference (or a combination of both). Communities provides intensive one-on-one support to assist community sector organisations in answering any questions they may have in relation to the service requirements and in developing their service model. While Communities cannot advise partner organisations in relation to the sustainable costing of their proposed service delivery model, we have developed detailed guides for each program area to assist community sector organisations in this process.
To date, Communities has held workshops with services in the following program areas: Aboriginal Early Years, Parenting, Volunteering, Youth, Sector Support, and Family Centres, representing a total of 88 services.
We have also held one-on-one consultations with services in the following program areas: Aboriginal Early Years, Parenting, Volunteering, and Youth.
Communities has commenced individual consultations with services in our Sector Support program area.
Communities is working in partnership with Linkwest to undertake workshops with Family and Community Support services and Family Centres. These consultations have now commenced and will continue through till November 2012. Note: Stages 1 and 2 are not necessarily undertaken in chronological order.
Stage 3 – Procurement – Request for Service and Offer Process
Eligible Preferred Service Providers are invited to tender an Offer for the relevant service through the issue of a Request for Service document. Community sector organisations have at least eight weeks to submit an Offer. Community sector organisations are encouraged to seek advice and assistance from their peak body or equivalent to develop their pricing model. Communities cannot provide assistance or advice in relation to the price of the Offer, as this would create a conflict of interest.
Communities is highlighting the need for service providers to base their pricing on actual costs to deliver programs/activities to meet the service requirements and to ensure this represents a sustainable pricing model for a five-year period. In certain circumstances, service providers will be able to negotiate variations in pricing during the period of the contract.
To date, Communities has invited Offers from the following program areas: Aboriginal Early Years, Parenting, Sector Support, Volunteering; and Youth, covering a total of 54 services.
Communities anticipates it will invite eligible Preferred Service Providers in our Family Centres and Family and Community Support program areas in November 2012.
Stage 4 – Evaluation Process
An assessment panel consisting of Communities' staff and external technical experts (as appropriate) will assess Offers against the selection criteria outlined in the Request for Service document, including the proposed service model and the price of the service requirements outlined in the Request. As Communities must work within its budget allocation, in some instances further discussion may be required with organisations to negotiate the proposed model.
Communities then presents a recommendation report to the Hon. Robyn McSweeney, MLC, Minister for Community Services; Child Protection; Seniors and Volunteering; Women's Interests; Youth.
To date, Communities has received Offers from the following program areas: Aboriginal Early Years, Parenting, Volunteering, and Youth, covering a total of 54 services.
Communities will be receiving Offers from our partners in the Sector Support program area in July 2012.
Communities will receive Offers from our partners in our Family Centres and Family and Community Support program areas in February 2013.
Stage 5 – Finalisation of service agreements
Once the Minister has approved the purchase of services, Communities will confirm and finalise the service agreements through a final Letter of Acceptance to our partners in the community services sector. This may involve further negotiation of the service model to ensure Communities has the financial capacity to enable community sector organisations to deliver the agreed services on a sustainable basis.
Sustainable funding - next stage
A key aspect of the DCSP Policy, and the associated procurement reforms, is the mandated application of the Non-Government Human Services Sector (NGHSS) Indexation Policy for service agreements with not-for-profit organisations.
In July 2013, a second component of funding, equivalent to an average 10% increase on all eligible contracts, will become available. This funding will be made available as not-for-profit community service contracts are reviewed and will be linked to the roll out of contracting reforms. Government agencies are required to engage with the not-for-profit community sector, review their contracts with not-for-profit organisations and to progress to the implementation of the DCSP Policy and associated procurement reforms. To access this funding, government agency submissions need to cover the following two broad criteria:
- Readiness: government agencies to develop Agency Implementation Plans in partnership with not-for-profit community sector and be subject to independent review prior to submissions as the basis for demonstrating readiness to implement the DCSP Policy and receive funding.
- Financial implications: financial implications of contract reviews and the roll out of contracting reforms.
Communities will seek additional funding to address those areas of greatest need identified during the 2010 review of all services, together with empirical data collected since the review, including the current round of consultations.
For more information
Contact your Program and Funding Officer at the
Department for Communities, Community Funding Unit on (08) 6551 8700
Updated: August 2012