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Community Services Industry Planning

Who is the community services sector?
Why is industry planning being undertaken?
What will community services industry planning achieve?
Who is involved in the development of the community services industry plan?
What will planning include?
What’s happened so far?
What was said during consultation?
Evidence review
Read the discussion paper

Who is the community services sector?

Victoria’s community sector charities work to support and connect people, strengthen communities and advocate for a fair and just society.

The industry is comprised of around 4,500 organisations of varying size and scope and is comprised of around 150,000 people.  It employs more people than other key industries such as mining, electricity, gas, water and waste services, wholesale trade, information, media and telecommunications and more. It is similar in size to transport, postal and warehousing and public administration and safety.

The health care and social assistance industry (which includes most community services) currently employs around 412,000 people in Victoria and is the largest sector by employment in this state.  It has had the fastest growth in employment in Victoria.

Why is industry planning being undertaken?

Change has been constant for community sector organisations with dramatic shifts in the way services are delivered. There has been the onset of major trends and reforms such as the move to person-centred funding approaches which require services to be more responsive to service users, increasing demand for services, greater competition between providers, funding uncertainty and governments wanting to see the outcomes from the funding they provide.

There is also increasing recognition that not one service type or sector is able to meet the holistic needs of people facing vulnerability, poverty and disadvantage. Traditionally there have been disjointed policy settings which have led to a fragmented and poorly coordinated service system, with services that do not ‘join up’ cohesively to deliver positive outcomes for people.

The sector and government now have a real opportunity to work together to create a whole of Community Sector Industry Plan that articulates the vision and steps needed over the next 10 years.

This long-term planning is being complemented by the development of tailored transition plans that will address short-to-medium term reform implications for specific industry sectors, including child and family services, homelessness, social housing and family violence.

The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (CECFW), Community Housing Industry Association Victoria (CHIA Vic, formerly Community Housing Federation of Victoria) and the Council to Homeless Persons are developing four year plans for the child and family, community housing and specialist homelessness sectors respectively, and have been commissioned to implement these plans over the four year period.

What will community services industry planning achieve?

Industry planning over the next 10 years will:

  • set a vision for the community services of the future
  • take account of the seismic economic, technological and social shifts that will impact on service delivery in the future
  • move the current fragmented system towards a co-ordinated, person-centred experience of community services
  • provide a unifying, longer term plan to support the industry.

Who is involved in the development of the community services industry plan?

VCOSS is working in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services and the community sector to develop a 10-year plan for the industry. This includes:

  • targeted regional consultations
  • online public consultation
  • a second Industry Planning Symposium (building on the first event held on 17 March 2017)
  • an Australian and international evidence and policy review
  • state data analysis.

What will planning include?

Industry planning will address the intersections, interdependencies and transition points across Victoria’s various sectors . It will provide a “helicopter” view of the major trends and strategies that will impact on all sectors and guide planning for the future of community services.

Key priority areas for community services industry planning will include:

  1. Emphasising person-centred services
  2. Emphasising place-based systems and services
  3. A focus on strengthening outcomes
  4. A focus on embedding evidence-based approaches
  5. Funding to support flexible, person-centred service delivery
  6. Ensuring we have the workforce of the future
  7. New information-sharing provisions and digital technologies
  8. A focus on best practice regulatory frameworks
  9. Good governance and leadership
  10. Supporting organisational and industry readiness

What’s happened so far?

In early 2017, around 100 community services representatives attended the The Social Service Sector of Tomorrow Industry Planning Symposium. You can download the post-event communique which summarises the event and outlines the top ideas which came from discussions.

Consultation on the discussion paper was open for survey responses and/or written submissions in 2017, and is now closed.

Throughout October 2017, VCOSS and DHHS continued consultation with four regional events in Bendigo, Traralgon, Benalla and Wyndham.

“Our sector has breadth and depth that is very difficult to comprehensively capture. This forum gave a voice to those that are sometimes drowned out.” – Wyndham consultation participant

What was said during consultation?

VCOSS and DHHS produced a comprehensive discussion paper to guide consultation about the content and direction of the 10-year Community Services Industry Plan.

The discussion paper was based on the 10 key priority focus areas developed through the planning symposium and subsequent feedback. It provided information about why each priority area was important, provided updates on work underway and progress to date, and ideas about future reforms. It also contained a list of questions to help guide consultation discussions and ensure the information gathered was relevant and targeted.

This report captures the main discussions that emerged from those consultations, particularly looking at key priorities for consumers, carers, service providers and organisations, and what is currently working well, plus the challenges and opportunities to be addressed in the plan.

PDFDownload the Community Services Industry Plan Consultation Report 2018

Evidence review

The Future Social Service Institute (FSSI) was commissioned by the Community Service Industry Plan Working Group to write evidence reviews in 10 areas identified by the community sector as priorities. The reviews would be designed to inform the Industry Plan and to gauge the future research needs of the community sector.

PDF Download Community services of the future: An evidence review


Read the discussion paper

The discussion paper is available below in PDF. Please contact VCOSS on 9235 1000 if you require a word accessible version.

PDFDownload discussion paper (1.90MB PDF)


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