Benchmarking community services

The preliminary outcomes of a national project on benchmarking and best practice in Community Services and Community Development will be presented to the National Conference of the Local Government Community Services Association of Australia (LGCSAA) to be held in Sydney in October.

Funded by the National Office of Local Government and coordinated by LGCSAA, the project aims to address the unique position of community services when it comes to issues of competition and benchmarking.

The project's Position Paper recognises that, in a climate of global change in the delivery of Government services, benchmarking can be a means of reconciling internal performance with external best practice to achieve the most effective delivery of services. However, the document asserts that it is important for benchmarking to recognise both quantitative and qualitative performance standards.

The challenge, it states, is to develop measures that are valid, rewarding, integral with every day activities, useful, sensible and locally relevant. The LGCSAA believes that benchmarking is an important tool for continuous improvement.

It is also part of a process that encourages dialogue with citizens, informs relations with funding bodies, improves relations with local community groups, helps build social capital and enhances citizenship.

However, it believes the approach to benchmarking is critical. As Councils grapple with implementation and maintain relations with stakeholders, the key is to decide 'how we measure, what we measure and why we measure'.

A copy of the Position Paper has been sent to every Council in Australia. During a workshop at the National Conference, this Paper will be presented and discussed. Following this input, a final report is expected to be released in November.

For further information contact Frank Hornby, National President LGCSAA, telephone (07) 4771 4439.