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Response to the Commission of Audit's Final Report

by PeakCare Qld on 2nd May 2013

Home -> Articles -> 2013 -> May -> Response to the Commission of Audit's Final Report

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On 1st May, the Newman Government tabled in Parliament the Commission of Audit’s Final Report and the Government’s response to the report’s 155 recommendations.

We will need to wait however for news about what is being planned for child protection. As recommended in the Commission of Audit’s Report, the Government has elected to await the recommendations of the current Child Protection Inquiry being led by Commissioner Tim Carmody SC.

Recommendation 100 however encourages the Carmody Inquiry to consider, in addition to service quality, the cost effectiveness of various policy options for the delivery of child protection services in Queensland.

Deferring decisions to be made about child protection until the Carmody Inquiry’s recommendations are released is, of course, a sensible and responsible way for the Government to proceed. In considering the Government’s response to the Commission of Audit’s recommendations about other human services such health, disability services and corrections, some themes emerge that may provide an indication of the approaches that will be adopted by the Government to child protection service delivery. In particular, these include the Government’s commitment to ‘small government’ and the notion of ‘contestability’ (ie. ‘testing of the market’ to gain indications about whether some government-delivered services can be more cost-effectively provided by the private sector).

PeakCare’s view is that it is legitimate for the Government to seek improvements in the cost-efficiency of service delivery and much has been said during the course of the Carmody Inquiry about whether some aspects of child protection service delivery are better and more efficiently provided by the non-government sector than the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services. This has special relevance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and PeakCare is strongly supportive of initiatives that will allow for community-controlled and led organisations being given far greater scope to exercise self-determination in the design, management and delivery of service responses that best meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities.

If ‘testing of the market’ is to occur however, it must not be driven by a single-minded imperative by the Government to reduce the cost of child protection service delivery. If this happens, we – the government, non-government organisations and most importantly, children and families – will pay the price in other ways. Beyond looking at the costs of service delivery, it is incumbent upon us all to fully consider other factors that should come into play if the market is to be tested. Any outsourcing of government service delivery must be motivated by the ways in which this will lead to better quality service provision and improved outcomes for children and families. The most important question to consider should not be whether this will lead to cheaper services, it is whether this will lead to improved services. It is this question that we trust the Carmody Inquiry will be answering.