Empowering service users

Until recently, Council was managing a range of Community services and facilities. Since 1995, it has been working with service users and staff introducing an innovative self management process.

"It was not that Council was washing its hands of these vital community resources, but we believed they could be better managed by those most aware of specific needs, the service users themselves," said Pat Littler, Director Economic and Community Enterprises.

Initially parents and staff at the Child Care Centres opposed the concept. However, Council explained the benefits that could result if the Centres were operated by a community based, non profit company. Once support was obtained, the community based company became responsible for the management and staffing of the centre.

"Our three key aims were for the Centres to be non profit, community based and that the service not be disadvantaged in any way," Pat Littler explained. Following this success, Council has since extended this self management model to youth services and home and community care services, such as meals on wheels, respite and adult day care.

In each case, Council paid for the initial setting up costs to make transition easier, and has also underwritten the first two years of operation. Its two full time Community Workers liaise closely with all management committees assisting with information and advice, long term planning, submissions and seeking out available revenue sources.

The Community Workers now have more time to focus on identifying needs, and lobbying the other spheres of government for new services or to expand existing ones. Some 60 staff have been transferred from Council to be reporting directly to their community based committees.

This model for outsourcing community services has been achieved without the job losses experienced elsewhere with contracting out. Through these community based committees, Council has successfully tapped into an enormous community resource, while committee members have also been able to develop and enhance their skills.

For further information contact Pat Littler, telephone (02) 6648 4000.