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Service Priority Review: Snapshot August

When regional services are outsourced, public sector capacity in regional areas is diminished. Any funding pressure or necessity to evolve the service creates a risk that the private provider cannot or will not provide the service.

As the former government cut costs for regional service delivery this laid the groundwork for the argument that the private sector could better and more efficiently deliver a service. With that groundwork laid, the next step is to outsource the service and the contract is then sent to tender. The cheapest option is often taken with small consideration given to the sustainability of that service.

In regional areas, the service is often contracted to small groups reliant on volunteers or more corporate non-government organisations with a minimal physical footprint in the regional town. The volunteer based groups struggle to provide the service on a shoestring budget while the corporate non-government organisations rely on casual, often untrained staff. This casual workforce is characterised by high staff turnover. Despite the best intentions of the people at the front line, the service is set up to fail irrespective of any needs-based changes to the service. The end result is that the service is at risk of ceasing or failing.

This will ultimately harm regional West Australians in the medium to long term, even resulting in safety issues in areas such as child protection where appropriate field resourcing in regional areas is key, and will cost the public sector more money later down the track to remedy the cost of the failed project.

Our original submission can be found here. 

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