The community services industry is large and diverse. It is also an industry undergoing seismic change. This industry is responding to ever increasing demand for services whilst adapting to new service models such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), consumer directed care and sweeping changes in the family violence sector in Victoria.
Leaders and workers in this industry are also engaging in critical examinations of services through a series of Royal Commissions and managing the implementation of wide ranging reforms that have ensued. The Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) and Department of Health and Human Services partnered to develop a 10 year plan for the community services industry. The plan was informed by extensive industry consultation and by the latest research and evidence on the industry’s priority areas.
In early 2018 FSSI completed an evidence review to inform the development of the Community Services Industry Plan as an edited collection, with contributions from academic experts in each of the ten areas of priority identified by the community sector. The resultant edited collection covered the following chapters:
- Flexible person-centred funding models;
- Place-based services and systems;
- Person-centred services;
- Workforce of the future for Community Services Industry Plan;
- Strengthening outcomes;
- Information sharing and technological innovation;
- Regulatory frameworks;
- Governance and leadership;
- Organisational and industry readiness; and
- Embedding evidence.
Amongst key overarching findings from the review were that: demand driven services, individualised and marketized services, new regulatory environments and transformations in management practice and leadership, made for unparalleled change in the sector; based on the evidence reviews, the sector might be characterised as being ‘research poor’ with particular issues around transferability of findings and difficulties in collecting data from ‘hard to reach’ groups; evidence around flexible person centred funding indicated “[b]etter outcomes are produced with sufficient funding, where information and support for decisions is available and where there are services and workers to convert funding into outcomes”; and that sector outcomes, regulatory processes, governance and leadership were changing fast and had the potential to undermine the values and mission of the community sector, without additional evidence to inform and support the growth and transformation of the social service sector.