Appendix A: Outcomes co-design process
Outcomes Co-Design Project: Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) and Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services, 2015
QCOSS has undertaken this work on a co-design basis to set an expectation and process for community based organisations being engaged in policy change earlier in the design process than usually experienced, and to build capacity in government to accommodate input from the sector. It is one of a range of mechanisms QCOSS is currently trialing to better connect its members to policy decision making and ensure people who use services remain at the centre of our work.
The Outcomes Co-design Group brought together a diverse mix of government and non-government organisations to have input into the definition of outcome measures being used as part of new funding agreements from July 1st 2015 (phase 1) and the tool(s) to be used to systematically capture evidence of outcome against those measures (phase 2). The outcome measures initially included in the new investment specifications for community services (2014), were defined with input from workshop participants and have recently been finalised. This work applies to organisations that have transitioned to a new service agreement since 1 October 2014. Organisations with older service agreements will not be required to report on outcome measures until they enter into a new agreement.
A series of 10 monthly workshops were held in 2015, with four of these in regional Queensland. These workshops were co-facilitated by QCOSS and the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services and built on an initial session at QCOSS’ 2014 conference.
The co-design process also included the establishment of a steering group of government and large and small community based organisations which meets in between each of the ten workshops. The purpose of the steering group was to reflect on feedback from each workshop, agree on changes to outcomes, and plan the next workshop.
The scope of this work covers the following program areas within DCCSDS:
- Child Protection (Support Services)
- Child Protection (Placement Services)
- Domestic and Family Violence
- Young people
- Older people
- Service System Support and Development
Observation of Phase I Co-design process (QCOSS) September 2015
Overall, the co-design process has been positive. As expected, there has been significant angst amongst service providers with regard to unnecessary duplication of reporting requirements where there are multiple funding sources, lack of opportunity to influence investment specifications, and frustration over results from recent competitive tendering processes, particularly in regional Queensland.
Attribution of outcome and the need to resource community based organisations to establish outcome measurement systems and train staff have emerged as key issues for further consideration.
As anticipated the practice of engaging community based organisations effectively, earlier in the review and redesign of funding arrangements has its challenges. The experience to date with the co-design process, however, indicates that not only does the process yield positive results but is clear proof that community based organisations are ready for a stronger role in decision-making and design of our social service system.