Sector forum information

Future Communities Sector Forum

A sector forum to ‘kick start’ reform in family services, out of home care and disability services was held on August 20 -21.The forum was attended by a diverse group of 180 people representing community organisations, staff within human services and members of stakeholder groups. The forum was facilitated by Liz Forsyth from KPMG.

The presentations given at the forum and documents discussed by participants are available on the Department’s website.

They include a presentation from the Secretary, Dave Roberts, on the critical role of partnerships in the reform program and an overview of Human Services reform agenda from the Deputy Secretary, Alison Jacob. Alison provided a description of the proposed integrated organisational structure for Human Services.

The role of the newly developed Office for Community Sector was described by its Director, Des Graham. Des outlined the major projects being undertaken including development of an over-arching plan; review of contract management processes; and a new quality and safety framework.

An over-view of the child protection and family services reforms and the disability reforms was provided so that all participants were brought up to speed on the relevant reviews that have been undertaken, their major findings and the progress so far.

Aileen Ashford, the newly appointed director who will have responsibility for implementing the reforms, presented a personal snapshot of her experiences of similar reform in Victoria. Aileen emphasised the importance of community organisations developing trust between themselves and learning to work together. She acknowledged that this takes time to achieve. Aileen also stressed the casework approach to helping families in need of support and the need for a flexible and sometimes, long term, response.

Liz Forsyth presented the integrated implementation plan that KPMG has developed to bring together the activities and timelines necessary to achieve the reform across disability services, family services and out of home care. This draft plan was comprehensively discussed by participants who made suggestions for modifications, additions, and changes to priorities and timelines. KPMG will use this feedback to update the draft and provide a final plan as soon as possible. This plan will be provided on the DHHS website so that members of the public can be clear about the projects and processes that are involved in the reform and when they are likely to be completed.

Participants discussed many of the issues involved in the reform process including the concept of regional access points and the coordination of non government services through the appointment of a lead agency. The potential issues, challenges and risks for these crucial aspects of the reform were debated at length. Participants agreed that while there was some frustration in the lack of clarity about the range of possible models, there was also a real opportunity to contribute to a variety of options that might suit the Tasmania context.

The final session of the forum invited participants to nominate key principles that might underpin the partnership between government and the community sector to give effect to the reform agenda and the mechanisms and processes that should be used to guide the roll out of the agenda over the next three years.

As a first step it was proposed that a small group of representatives from the community sector and DHHS work on the underpinning principles using material generated during the forum.