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Response to Productivity Commission Reforms to Human Services

The Salvation Army welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Productivity Commission’s draft report Introducing Competition and Informed User Choice into Human Services: Reforms to Human Services, which was released for comment by the Commission on 2 June 2017. 

The release of the draft report is part of the second stage of the inquiry and provides the Commission’s draft recommendations for each of the six services that were identified as best suited to reforms to introduce greater user choice, competition or contestability. 

As a major national provider of human services that are central to the proposed reforms, namely family and community services, aged care and social housing, The Salvation Army commends the Commission on its work to date in articulating and representing the complex views and circumstances of the many stakeholders, who have contributed to the inquiry and in the framing of much needed recommendations arising from these findings. 

While implementation of many of the recommendations would represent vast improvements in equity, access and choice by placing clients at the heart of service provision, The Salvation Army maintains a number of overarching and specific concerns relating to disadvantaged people who are supported on a daily basis. 

People who are vulnerable and disadvantaged do not have equity of access in consumer choice based systems 

The Salvation Army notes the Commission’s finding that “The characteristics of family and community services do not lend themselves to the introduction of greater user choice at this time.” 

However, the report appears to assume that the introduction of consumer choice models through a competitive and contestable process will enhance service access and performance for all clients. As a very significant national provider of services identified for reform that are mostly accessed by people experiencing complex and high levels of vulnerability and disadvantage, The Salvation Army draws attention more generally to the significant difficulties in relation to access and delivery of services.   This situation is further compounded when services are not coordinated, and as a result does not meet the individual’s need in a complete or holistic manner.