Human Services: The Case for Change
Urgent Need for System-Wide Change, say Ministers (Link)
in their super smoke and mirrors address
All Victorians should be able to access the care and support they need, when they need it. This is particularly important for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our community, their carers and their families.
The Victorian human services system largely works in rigid silos where case managers are often unable to link individuals and families to the full range of services they require. This results in poor outcomes for the clients and the Victorian taxpayer.
The Coalition Government has pledged to change this and provide better leadership and coordination of community services via holistic case management.
This document, 'Human Services: The case for change' outlines the urgent need for system-wide change.
It explains how we can, and should be, building on the strengths of the existing system to make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable Victorians and their families.
Elements of the current system work very well and community sector agencies have helped governments to provide a range of vital supports over many years, improving quality of life for Victoria's most excluded families and individuals.
But despite our common purpose of supporting people out of disadvantage, major improvements can still be made to connect individual efforts and achieve better life outcomes for vulnerable people.
The structural challenges highlighted in this document show the need for a 'joinedup' service model, where there are no wrong doors for clients and any entry point ensures that individuals and families are efficiently and effectively assisted to access whatever range of services and support they need. This is the Victorian Coalition Government's vision for human services in Victoria.
From early 2012, the Department of Human Services will begin reforming case management in two lead sites, Dandenong and Geelong/South West Coast.
The capabilities and dedication of our staff and partners will be embraced and client pathways wilt be streamlined. Workforce participation, skills acquisition andcommunity connectedness will be placed squarely in service planning alongside traditional person supports.
In a similar time frame, we will be reorganising the internal workings of the Department of Human Services to remove service silos while retaining specialisation.
Longer-term, this new system, characterised by personalised, holistic, familycentred approaches, could be used to connect with more and more State Government services. The reforms are much needed and exciting.
We commend the following 'case for change 'to the community and look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders towards a system that delivers better outcomes for vulnerable Victorians and their families, said Minister Wooldridge and Minister Lovel.
There are many dedicated and highly skilled people and organisations within the human services system in Victoria, and many examples of their good practice. The challenge ahead is to make these examples the general rule, not the exception.
The frustration for many DHS staff and service partners is the inability to turn successful trials and pilots into mainstream practice.
Existing pockets of great practice provide a model for the improvements needed system-wide. The key question is how this can be done: what would a more effective and efficient human services system look like?
DHS will be talking with staff and the sector in future months about how to take innovation to scale. This is critical and will require broad buy-in.
The starting point for future discussions is five core principles that will guide our approach.
The Government has begun to put these core principles into practice through the Families Statement and the DHS Client Charter, as well as area-specific policy reforms like the Homelessness Action Plan and the Victorian Government's commitment to a National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Five principles for an integrated human services system:
LISA Comment: The 'case for change' document provides little indication of government intention to maintain its direct care services - its supported accommodation services for people with intellectual or multiple disabilities.
- People are at the centre of everything we do. We take all of our clients' life circumstances into account, and work with individuals and families to improve their outcomes. We recognise the diversity of our clients and are guided by their needs and choices.
- People in need should have access to the right support, provided in cost-effective way. Supporting clients to lead independent and meaningful lives by building their capabilities is the long-term goal.
- All parts of the human services system should work together. By aligning and integrating the human services system we can reduce duplication and focus on shared outcomes for our clients.
- A skilled workforce is key to a more integrated system and to better client outcomes. Our workforce should have the skills, tools and the right accountabilities to support clients to improve their lives.
- Victorians who access our services will be valued, respected and treated fairly at all times.
People with disabilities, their carers and their families have heard similar wonderful words, principles and intentions, as contained in this document, time after time after time. Such good intentions are not generally the forte of the traditional public service.
The traditional public service, especially the Department of Human Services, Victoria, is a captive market service with reactive management, staff lore, no reason for customers or customer service, no one has, or accepts direct responsibility for any aspect of service delivery and consumers who dare to complain are treated with contempt and told the problems they perceive are just their opinion.
With such a restrictive-practice culture, both direct and indirect services are adversely affected.
This government department is everything to everybody - it funds, regulates or owns some aspect of almost all services for people with intellectual or multiple disabilities throughout the State of Victoria. No one breathes without permission of this out-ofcontrol juggernaut!
There is certainly an overwhelming case for change. The million dollar question is - "Has this Liberal Government got what it takes, to take-on the out-of-control juggernaut, or is their 'case for change' just traditional government smoke and mirrors?"