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Connecting government services to improve community outcomes Establishing Victorian state-wide area based governance architecture. Presentation to the VCOSS - YACVic Building the Scaffold Forum 23 October 2013.

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Connecting government services to improve community outcomes

Establishing Victorian state-wide area based governance architecture

Presentation to the VCOSS - YACVicBuilding the Scaffold Forum

23 October 2013


Government agencies are tasked with managing a complex mix of universal and targeted service systems for the purpose of achieving better social and economic outcomes for individuals, families and communities

Community wellbeing


Wicked problems: The case for change

Community needs are often complex and multifaceted, requiring multiple interventions

There is increasing awareness of areas of need or disadvantage that are specific to particular locations.

Instances of concentrated, entrenched disadvantage (often presenting as “wicked problems”) are generally attributable to multiple contributing factors, requiring tailored, coordinated responses.

There is also increasing awareness of the importance of local understanding and insight in the design and delivery of social services.

Harnessing available knowledge of particular communities can allow universal platforms and services to be

tailored to deliver

stronger outcomes

for families and communities

Single government agencies cannot tackle complex social challenges as effectively as agencies working together. Tailoring programs and supports for specific communities, drawing on the resources of multiple agencies and existing local insights, has emerged as the leading method for improving community outcomes and tackling entrenched disadvantage.


The shifting paradigm of service delivery

Modern enabling environment

Planned locally, supported centrally

Holistic, wrap-around approach to address multiple issues

Strengths-based approach

Place-based focus

To the client/service recipient

Choice, control and diversity to the service user

Focus on outcomes delivered (using the evidence base)

Old bureaucratic systems

Planned centrally, delivered locally

Addressing single symptoms/causes

Deficit-based approach

National or state-wide

To the centre

Single models of service offered to all

Compliance/contracted outputs

Locus of decision making

Service focus




Service delivery

Performance reporting

Greater opportunity for organic systems, focus on early-intervention/prevention and partnerships with community sector organisations

an area based governance architecture
An Area Based Governance Architecture

The Victorian Government is pursuing the design and establishment of an area-based governance architecture, initially targeting vulnerable children and at-risk young people and their families under the auspice of Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Strategy

17 area-based social service governing boards would be created (aligned with new DHS regional structure), drawing together senior regional officials from key social policy agencies from State, Commonwealth and local government.

The focus of the area-based governing bodies is intended to be on coordinated planning and collaboration, rather than the direct management of service delivery

  • Local problem identification and solutions
  • Appropriate balance between flexibility and accountability
  • Evidence-based through sharing of data
  • Inclusive and adapted
  • Integrated planning
  • Outcomes orientated
  • Create linkages from areas to centre
  • Shared vision
  • Clarity of roles and responsibilities
  • Formal commitment (including through joint planning)
  • Awareness of funding mechanisms
  • Access to appropriate senior decision-makers
  • Strong leadership at both central and local level
  • Dedicated resourcing and/or support

Critical success factors




Possible structure under consideration

High-level Coordination Board

Secretaries of social service departments

17 area-based governing boards aligned to DHS regional structure

Each area would identify 3-4 priority issues. Time-limited working groups would be established to progress actions to address each priority issues

Critical success factors


The purpose would be to drive the achievement of national, state-wide and local-level transformative initiatives though joint planning and priority setting at the area level; conduct of special projects; information sharing; improving service coordination; and performing program governance functions where there is multi-agency involvement

Purpose of reform and examples of projects/initiatives

  • Establishing collaborative approaches to supporting at risk children and vulnerable young people
  • Providing coordinated supports and services for people with disability

Examples of projects

that the

area-based social services governing bodies might

oversee at the

local level


  • Addressing high rates of unapproved absenteeism and youth disengagement
  • Development of social services in growth corridors
  • Establishing coordinated responses to support refugee settlement
  • Preparing early intervention strategies to address youth offending
  • Addressing specific, complex challenges, e.g. teen parents, family violence

Note that the focus of the area-based governing bodies would be on coordinated planning and collaboration, rather than the direct management of service delivery (i.e. establishment of collaborative case management mechanisms).


Some of the details of the model still to be worked through include:

  • Membership, including what role there may be for community sector organisations and how representation could work across 17 regions
  • Scope (initially targeting vulnerable children and at-risk young people, moving to life-course focus over time)
  • Integration with other structures/networks (at a range of levels and across tiers of government)
  • Decision-making authority (full decision-making powers, or networking/coordination function only)
  • Performance reporting and accountability (linked to scope and membership)
  • Opportunities for innovative funding models in future (e.g. pooled funding)
  • Stakeholder engagement (NFP sector, Commonwealth, local government, schools, etc)

Next steps:

  • Vulnerable Children Reform Unit:
    • Jointly funded unit, located in DHS, to coordinate, monitor and report on the Victorian Vulnerable Children Strategy.
    • Executive Director is being recruited at the moment.
    • DEECD, Justice and Health are recruiting staff for the unit at the moment.
    • DHS and DPC have provided staff to the unit.
  • RFQ on next stage:
    • Will work on the next phase of the development of the model
  • Victorian Children and Youth Implementation Group
    • Membership State Government, MAV, VCOSS
    • Oversee implementation of the Vulnerable Children’s Strategy through the VCRU including Area Based Governance
  • The next phase of the work will focus on further refining these details
  • … target is for implementation by first half of 2014

Challenges to Consider:

  • Existing Structures
    • What other governance structures focus on vulnerability, children and young people?
    • Would they duplicate or be complimentary?
  • Membership
    • What would representation in a local area look like?
    • If the area based governance groups pick up central functions of evaluation, procurement, funding how is conflict of interest of service providers managed?