National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH) funding
NPAH is a joint funding agreement between the states and the federal government regarding investment in services that address the problem of homelessness. The Victorian Government announced on the 26th June 2014 that the NPAH has now been officially signed off by both Commonwealth and Victorian Governments. The Commonwealth has committed a year’s funding of $22.8 million to Victoria to assist in maintaining the current level of service delivery funding.
I have had enquiries from a few services concerned that the NPAH funding for 2014-15 is yet to appear in their service agreements. Informal advice from DHS ahead of this announcement suggested that should now appear in the service agreements following the formalisation.
Services Connect and Sector Reform
Services Connect is the Victorian Government’s new model for delivering human services. The Department of Human Services (DHS) has started a series of Sector Reform Dialogues with the first being held on 29th May, where the discussion focused on learning from the mental health and drug and alcohol reform processes.
The second forum focussed on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) with a particular focus on the experience of providers in the Barwon launch site. There’s a consensus that the NDIS is more comfortable dealing individuals rather than families, and with physical and intellectual disability. We will need to be vigilant that the NDIS does come to grips with mental health, alcohol and drug and other more complex disabilities. The NDIS concept of permanent and enduring disability is somewhat at odds with the concept of recovery embedded in national mental health policy and central to many other models of care.
There has been an allocation of $500m nationally to support housing within the NDIS but details about what this will mean are not yet available. A mud map of the NDIS implementation process has been developed by Psychiatric Disability Services of Victoria (VICSERV).
Minister Wooldridge made a commitment at the Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS) Summit on 30th May that there would be no further recommissioning of DHS services until we know of the impact and any unforeseen consequences of the mental health and drug and alcohol retendering processes. The Sector reform council has been asked to review the recommissioning process with a focus on whether the process has improved outcomes for consumers. A statement from the Co-Chairs of the Community Sector Reform Council has been released.
DHS recently consulted around the state about trialling (testing, refining and developing) the Services Connect model within the community sector.
DHS has also undergone a further restructure. A new group, headed by Director of Housing Arthur Rogers, now focuses on social housing and NDIS reforms. Katy Haire is now leading the Service Design and Implementation section.
Service agreements are the agreements between DHS and the organisations they contract to deliver services, for example homelessness services. DHS is looking to provide Minister Wooldridge with the next Service Agreement format in March 2015. VCOSS, is consulting with the community sector to establish priorities for improvement in this agreement. So far they include reflecting the purchaser/provider relationship, ownership of records, conditions for termination of contract, superannuation and indexation, deeming, leasing and assets in relation to borrowing. If you’d like to get involved please contact me.
Service Delivery Tracking
DHS is currently implementing new additional reporting requirements to track service activity across funding lines, which will be done in three stages. Stage 2 included all homelessness service providers and stage 3 will take place in August. DHS is running demonstrations in regions and advise that funded agencies have been invited to attend. CHP has pointed out that this is an additional reporting burden, and DHS has indicated its willingness to explore solutions but has advised that all DHS funded agencies, including disability and family services, have similar reporting requirements.
Victorian Homelessness Action Plan (VHAP)
The original VHAP framework was expected in June 2014. We understand from DHS that the VHAP Framework is now expected in December .
VAGO report on Accessibility of Mainstream Services for Aboriginal Victorians
The Victorian Auditor General has recently released a report into the accessibility of services delivered by Department of Premier and Cabinet , Department of Education and Early Childhood Development , Department of Health and Department of Human Services for Aboriginal Victorians. The findings identified a lack of effective leadership, lack of effective consultation and incomplete and unreliable data. Each department will be developing an action plan with annual monitoring.