This inquiry is about finding ways to put the people who use human services, such as health care, social housing and family and community services, at the heart of service provision. This matters because everyone will access human services in their lifetime and change is needed to enable and support people and their families to have a stronger voice in shaping the services they receive, and who provides them.
Human services are essential for the wellbeing of individuals and their families, and underpin economic and social participation. Ensuring that everyone, regardless of their means or circumstances, has access to a minimum level of high‑quality human services promotes equity and social cohesion, which in turn contributes to the welfare of the community as a whole.
Public and private expenditure on human services is significant — over $300 billion in 2014‑15 — with demand for services projected to grow as more people live longer, incomes grow and technological advances increase the types of services that can improve a person’s quality of life. The number of services provided each year in Australia is considerable — for example, there were more than 10 million admissions to public and private hospitals in 2015. Other services, such as homelessness services and social housing, are each used by hundreds of thousands of people every year.
The Commission has been asked by the Australian Government to recommend reforms to improve the effectiveness of human services using the policy ‘tools’ set out in the inquiry terms of reference — the introduction of greater user choice, competition and contestability. The Commission’s study report identified six services where these tools could put users at the centre of service provision. The six services that were identified are end‑of‑life care services; social housing; government‑commissioned family and community services; services in remote Indigenous communities; public hospitals; and public dental services. This draft report seeks feedback from inquiry participants on reform proposals for these six services. Details about how to participate in this inquiry are in box 1.
Submissions for the draft report are due by Friday 14 July 2017.