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Reform of Australian Government Administration needs to address the community sector

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“While the Discussion Paper frequently emphasises the relationship between government and business in Australia, it does not consider the relationship with the community sector to the same extent,” ACOSS claims in their submission.

Much of the Paper focuses on the internal challenges for the Australian Public Service (APS), however ACOSS is more interested in the relationship between the public service and community organisations and their clients.

“While government relies upon the community sector, there is a sense that this reliance is often unacknowledged.

“This is despite the acknowledgment in other parts of the Discussion Paper of the increasing importance of the community sector in the delivery of primary services for government.”

The ACOSS submission addresses the following areas:

Challenges facing government administration

ACOSS agrees with the Discussion Paper, that “the APS needs to be more agile and adept at dealing with those out of government as well as within it. This is something that ACOSS and its members have long advocated.”

Recruitment challenges

ACOSS claims that the drift of staff to government employment after they have been trained and developed by the not-for-profit sector is a significant challenge to community sector’s development and sustainability.

“Governmental recruitment processes can have considerable consequences for community organisations when they target the same pool of labour.

“Governments have some responsibility for ensuring that their actions do not disadvantage the not-for-profit community sector, whether by ensuring adequate funding to cover comparable wages, or ensuring recruitment strategies are mindful of their wider impacts.”

A high performing public service

“Public servants often have highly technical and specialised knowledge about a particular program. They may have very little knowledge or experience of how that program fits within broader social policy or service delivery.

“The broad contribution of the not-for-profit sector is vital in this regard. The value of the skill and expertise of the community sector can benefit government through meaningful consultation.”

Strategic policy hubs

ACOSS is highly supportive of the Discussion Paper’s proposal for strategic policy hubs.

“These hubs should incorporate the community sector, both through the representative value of peak bodies and with frontline services and local initiatives.

“Improving relationships between government and the non-government sector and reducing barriers like red tape and inadequate funding can yield direct benefits.”

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