Discussion paper

This paper was commissioned by the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Premier and Cabinet, as part of the National Disability Data Asset to better understand how service mapping can support decision-making related to human services but focussed on services accessed by people with disability. The NDDA team engaged the Australian and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) to work with the Centre for Mental Health Research, Australian National University (ANU) and the Centre for Social Impact, University of New South Wales (UNSW) to outline the current state of play and potential use of service mapping for people with disability in Australia.

This paper assists in enabling decision-makers to consider new and better ways to ensure people get the services they need, bearing in mind resource constraints. It is worth noting at the outset that service mapping is difficult, particularly in areas of human service like disability. However, it also has significant potential to support decision-making by providing information about service gaps, thereby reduce uncertainty, improve planning and end user experiences as well as enabling governments to address issues such as inequity in service access or quality. There is huge variability in the conceptualisation and definition of “service mapping”, ranging from simple geospatial location of service directories to highly advanced decision support systems for efficiency-informed and value-driven planning as well as for improving the health and social support service navigation experience of consumers.

This paper highlights the value and potential of service mapping, provides an overview on the current ‘state of play’ in relation to service mapping and the factors influencing service mapping quality and utility. We argue that a formalised multistep, building blocks strategy should be adopted to develop a workable and useful toolkit instead of a single tool fit for all. This is because no single mapping tool can answer all decision, provider or user questions. We put forward a ‘mapping toolkit’ containing seven tools for mapping, visualisation and supporting decision making and planning for the National Disability Data Asset (NDDA).

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