Governments across Australia are looking at what is called ‘commissioning for outcomes’ – a strategic approach to designing, resourcing and delivering effective and efficient services. It focuses on clearly defined outcomes and ensuring that services respond to community and individual’s needs.
In many places this starts with conversations about defining outcomes – the outcomes framework has become a centerpiece for starting commissioning approaches. Measures are leading the change.
In reality however, what this means is that measures don’t actually change anything, they just tell us how much things have changed. Starting with measures is a bit like drawing a map without ever stepping into the territory.
What we have now is a situation where government buys a vehicle and the petrol, and specifies how many places the vehicle needs to visit, but does not specify a destination. So we have lots of contracted services driving around all over the place, but we don’t know if many or any, are ever reaching the destinations.
A driving metaphor is one thing, but when we are talking about whether contracts are actually making a difference in the lives of Australians who are doing it tough, then we need to take a stance and put forward a bold idea that can challenge this orthodoxy.