Open collaboration – Partnering for success

In this section:

As the WA public sector moves towards an approach of facilitating services, partnerships and contracting relationships across sectors and organisations are becoming more commonplace. By working with and through other organisations, public authorities are creating opportunities in remote communities through a higher level of flexibility, trialling different service solutions under different providers and delivering multiple services that are simultaneously enhanced.

As reported through organisational surveys, the community continues to be satisfied with public service delivery in key areas such as health, transport and training, and there are increasing opportunities for citizens to engage with the public sector around policy and design of services.

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Collaboration within the sector

Collaboration is a key priority of the WA Government's State planning strategy 2050, which highlights the need for partnerships, alliances and networks to encourage new ways of doing business and progress the state's growth and prosperity.22 One significant example of collaboration within the sector has been the 'Royalties for regions' program, as described in the following case study.

Reinventing the regions

Western Australia covers one-third of the Australian continent and is comparable in size to Western Europe. Given the state's vast expanse, the challenges and opportunities facing each of the nine regions varies immensely. While mining is a dominant industry for many regions, agriculture and tourism are vital sources of income for others.

The state government's multi-billion dollar 'Royalties for regions' program was implemented to build capacity and improve services in regional areas. It has been administered by the Department of Regional Development, in partnership with the Regional Development Commissions, Regional Development Council, and the WA Regional Development Trust, and through a collaborative approach across government, the private sector, and the community.

Since the program commenced in 2008, 'Royalties for regions' has delivered significant social and economic benefits to regional WA through the investment of more than $6.1 billion across more than 3600 projects and programs. 'Royalties for regions' has assisted to build vibrant regions with strong economies through investment in economic and social infrastructure, and services such as tourism, housing, health, education, culture and recreation.

The Committee for Economic Development Australia, in partnership with regional public authorities, has been conducting WA 'State of the regions' events across regional WA throughout the year. These events explore whether the investment has achieved its desired goals, what future developments and projects are being planned, and what the regions will look like in 20 years. It is anticipated that findings from the series will be released in 2016.

Over the past year, a cross-agency effort to improve remote service delivery, particularly in relation to Aboriginal communities, was launched to ensure Aboriginal people are increasingly able to contribute to and benefit from the development of regional opportunities. Proposed major reforms to the way infrastructure and human services are provided to Aboriginal communities in WA are being led by Mr Grahame Searle, former Director General of the Department of Housing.

In partnership with the state's nine Regional Development Commissions, the Department of Regional Development will continue to strengthen the business model of regional development to deliver greater integration, alignment and forward planning. Regional investment blueprints form a core component of the regional development planning architecture. They outline the long term vision for each region and provide a framework for communities to partner with industry, business and government to deliver initiatives and projects tailored to local needs. Each plan identifies strategies and priorities for industry and business development, transport, community services, health, education, tourism, land use planning and improving the amenity of towns.

Water for food initiative

The 'Water for food' initiative is a four-year, $40 million 'Royalties for regions' funded state government program, providing a boost to regional WA communities through the development and diversification of the agriculture and food sectors. The program is a good example of intra-sector collaboration, being led by the Department of Water in partnership with the Department of Regional Development, the Department of Lands and the Department of Agriculture and Food.

The innovative plan is directing state investment into crucial areas of agriculture, including market development, science, infrastructure and water investigations. It will create the potential for new irrigation precincts and the expansion of agricultural and pastoral opportunities in existing districts across WA.

The primary objective of the program is to identify water and land resources, as well as irrigation technologies that can enable WA's fresh food and animal protein production to increase its contribution to regional economies by at least 50% by 2025 and twofold by 2050.

The program extends from the Kimberley to Great Southern regions and is at the core of WA's strategic approach to increasing productivity in agriculture while building export supply chains and encouraging capital investment in regional industries.

The Joint Organised Crime Task Force, launched to tackle the high level of methamphetamine trade in the state, is another example of cross-sector collaboration. It is estimated that 60% of the most serious criminals in Australia are involved in the distribution of methamphetamine. The taskforce comprises WA Police, Australian Federal Police, the Australian Crime Commission, Australian Border Force and Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre. Between April and June 2015, the task force had already removed 15 kilograms of the drug from supply, with an estimated street value of $15 million.23

In 2015, the state government appointed WA's first Chief Information Officer. A key part of the role will be to guide information communication technology (ICT) reform and create opportunities to drive efficiency through collaboration and engagement across public sector entities, as highlighted in the following case study.

Office of the Government Chief Information Officer – Collaborating to drive efficiencies through ICT reform

In September 2015, Mr Giles Nunis was appointed as the state's first Chief Information Officer after acting in the role since April. The Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) will provide leadership for WA government ICT, with the aim of improving coordination, consolidation and prioritisation of ICT resources.

Given that $1 to 2 billion is spent on ICT across the public sector, Mr Nunis estimates a broad, collaborative approach to ICT reform is expected to result in significant savings to government. Currently, most agencies purchase ICT infrastructure individually and so by optimising the procurement and use of resources across government, there are opportunities to cut duplication and waste, expand our technological platform and therefore drive innovative solutions across the sector, ultimately delivering better services to the community.

The OGCIO played a key role in launching the WA Whole of government open data policy, and in supporting the 2015 GovHack competition, a national initiative where developers create innovative applications and computer solutions using government data sets.

In early 2016, drawing on the sector's expertise, the OGCIO will publish a whole of government ICT strategy to provide the framework to public sector agencies in the management, provision and use of ICT, including an action plan to transition from the current environment into world's best practice.

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Partnering with the not-for-profit and private sectors

The WA Government continues to move towards facilitating services, though partnering with the not-for-profit (NFP) and private sectors to contract the delivery of services. This approach is facilitated by, and in accordance with, the Government's Delivering community services in partnership (DCSP) policy, which guides the funding and contracting of services.

As of 2014, there were 529 NFP organisations with 1586 service agreements with the WA government for the provision of community services. The total estimated value of these contracts was $1428 million in 2014/15, and funded organisations are estimated to employ over 11 000 staff and 8000 volunteers.24

Partnering for effective service delivery

In 2014, the Department of Treasury commissioned Curtin University to evaluate the 'Sustainable funding and contracting with the not-for-profit sector' initiative and the DCSP policy reforms.25 The evaluation found that one-third of NFP organisations believe the reforms have resulted in improved services for clients, with just over one-third reporting no change (and one-quarter reporting 'do not know').

Through working with NFPs and the private sector, the WA Government is supporting families with young children through 'Child and Parent Centres', a collaboration between the Departments of Education, Health, Local Government and Communities and Child Protection and Family Support, and the Department of the Premier and Cabinet. The following case study highlights the initiative to build 21 centres by 2016.

Department of Education – 'Child and Parent Centres' supporting early childhood development

'Child and Parent Centres' are being set up at schools in communities with high needs, to support child development and learning. Families will have easy access to advice, programs and services, and schools will gain the opportunity to work with families from the time children are born through to entering the school system.

Each centre has been purpose built or modified and provides a range of facilities including a child health clinic room, offices and rooms for special consultants, as well as undercover play areas, fenced outdoor areas, and group rooms with kitchen facilities. Activities can include nutrition programs, parenting information and community playgroups. The centres provide services and support through the delivery of maternal and child health services, early learning programs, playgroups, parenting and family support and referrals to other services.

Each 'Child and Parent Centre' is operated by a non-government organisation in partnership with the Departments of Education, Health, Local Government and Communities, and Child Protection and Family Support. They employ a coordinator and community workers who engage with parents, schools and the local community to identify the services that best support families in an area. The non-government organisations who operate the 'Child and Parent Centres' have expertise in providing services to families with young children.

The Housing Authority also recently partnered with government, private sector and NFP organisations to deliver a new solution to homelessness in WA.

The 'Foyer' project – A best practice facility to combat youth homelessness

The Housing Authority partnered with the Foyer Oxford consortium and a range of other stakeholders to build the world class Foyer Oxford facility in Leederville, completed in 2014. The 98 unit complex provides secure accommodation and services designed to transition young people who have faced difficult circumstances in life into fully independent living arrangements. The 'Foyer' project delivers a holistic response to youth homelessness.

The 'Foyer' provides self-contained, subsidised accommodation to young people between the ages of 16 and 25 for up to two years while helping them find a job and a permanent home. Foundation Housing manages the facility while Anglicare WA delivers the 'Foyer' program, a proven best practice model providing wrap around support. With the 'Foyer' co-located on the Central Institute of Technology campus, the Institute delivers a 'Jumpstart' course to residents specifically to meet their needs.

The Housing Authority Acting Chief Executive Officer Paul Whyte, said the 'Foyer' is a truly innovative project that aims to strengthen families and communities. 'While having tangible benefits for the community, the project also demonstrates what can be achieved with strong and productive collaboration between government, corporate and NFP organisations.'

One year in, and the 'Foyer' is already seeing young people move on to appropriate independent accommodation, with potentially thousands more to follow over its lifetime.

The Housing Authority, in partnership with Foundation Housing, Central Institute of Technology and Anglicare WA, received the overall 2015 Premier's Award for the program.

From left to right: Ruth Charles, A/Director Housing Programs, Housing Authority; Neil Fernandes, Managing Director, Central Institute of Technology; Jethro Sercombe, Manager Foyer Oxford; Kathleen Gregory, CEO Foundation Housing; the Premier; Paul Whyte, A/CEO, Housing Authority.

Partnering with the private sector

Public-private partnerships (PPP) are increasingly being leveraged to provide better value for money.26

Currently, there are several major PPP projects in WA, including the Midland Public Hospital Project, QEII Medical Centre Car Parking Project, Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison Redevelopment Project and the Perth Stadium (which will be the largest stadium globally to ever be delivered via a PPP).27 The Government is also seeking to partner with the private sector to design, build, finance and maintain eight new schools by 2023, with no government expenditure required until the schools are complete.28

Partnerships to deliver services and develop infrastructure can be particularly beneficial in regional areas because local providers may be able to better engage with the community regarding service delivery needs. One example of an effective partnership is described in the following case study.

East Pilbara Arts Centre – Collaboration improving Aboriginal outcomes

Developed through a collaboration between the Martumili Artists, Shire of East Pilbara, Pilbara Development Commission, BHP Billiton Iron Ore and Lotterywest, the East Pilbara Arts Centre and Martumili Gallery in Newman is a contemporary, flexible gallery and working space that provides opportunities for artists to work, display their projects and educate the community. In addition to art exhibitions, the Centre is designed to be used for events such as concerts, movie screenings and markets.

The Centre was developed in close collaboration with, and is governed by, the Martu community. It is expected that local artists throughout the region will work from the new space, opening their artworks to new audiences, and that the Centre will revitalise Newman as a destination for art lovers as they travel through WA.

Through a unique collaboration, students in both regional and metropolitan locations have been provided with opportunities to contribute to conservation in the state, as highlighted in the following case study.

'Rio Tinto Earth Assist' – Department of Parks and Wildlife, Department of Education, Conservation Volunteers Australia and Rio Tinto – Cross sector collaboration in conservation

'Rio Tinto Earth Assist' (RTEA) is an award-winning environmental education and student volunteering program, engaging thousands of primary and secondary students across WA.

RTEA connects students to their natural surrounds to learn, explore, enhance and take action for a sustainable future. Students undertake activities such as habitat restoration, flora and fauna surveys, seed collection, dune restoration, and water and air monitoring as part of the program.

The program engages youth, students with special needs, those in remote communities and those interested in a career in environmental management. Since its launch in 2009, RTEA has directly benefited over 103 schools, filling 8500 student placements and contributing more than 40 000 volunteer hours on priority conservation projects.

The Director General of the Department of Parks and Wildlife, Jim Sharp, said the program was an excellent example of how effective collaboration with industry and community can produce extraordinary outcomes for the sustainability of the State.

'We hope this program will help pioneer Australia's next generation of environmental scientists, rangers and volunteers who will continue conservation efforts long into the future.'

Department of Parks and Wildlife, in partnership with Department of Education, Rio Tinto and Conservation Volunteers Australia, was the winner of the 2015 Premier's Award for 'Managing the environment' for the program.

In 2014, all levels of government and the private sector worked collaboratively to deliver innovative and commemorative infrastructure within the town of Albany, as described in the following case study.

City of Albany - ANZAC Albany

On 1 November 1914, the first of two ship convoys carrying more than 41 000 Australian and New Zealand troops left Albany, on the south coast of WA, bound for the battlefields of the First World War. For many of the first ANZACs, Albany was their last sight of Australia.

The 100th anniversary of this significant event was marked in Albany with a largescale capital works program and four days of major events between 30 October and 2 November 2014. The event attracted over 20 000 national and international tourists and dignitaries to the region.

The Anzac Albany project included the revitalisation of the central business district, the construction of the National Anzac Centre and the establishment of the Albany Heritage Park as a hub of cultural, military and natural history. The project significantly exceeded expectations and facilitated extraordinary economic, environmental, social and cultural outcomes for Albany, the Great Southern region and the broader Australian community.

Anzac Albany advanced the capacity of the region through enduring government and private sector partnerships, sustained the local architectural, building and community sectors and enhanced economic and cultural opportunities.

Anzac Albany enriched community awareness and understanding of the Anzac story and preserved its legacy and traditions.

The Commonwealth Government (led by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs), State Government agencies (led by the Department of the Premier and Cabinet), local governments (led by the City of Albany) and a number of corporate partners all played a significant role. The City of Albany was the winner of the 2015 Premier’s Award for ‘Revitalising the regions’ for Anzac Albany.

The ANZAC spirit was also commemorated earlier this year, when the Department of Culture and the Arts, Lotterywest and Tourism WA collaborated to bring 'The Giants' to Perth to open the Perth International Arts Festival in February. It is estimated that 1.4 million people came to Perth over three days to watch the giant puppets wander the city and engage with the audience.

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Delivering high quality services

There are increasing public expectations of public service delivery and in response, the sector is maintaining and improving the quality and availability of its services. Employees continue to report their colleagues provide high quality service, with 90% of frontline service respondents to the 2015 employee perception survey (EPS) reporting the people in their workgroup are committed to providing excellent customer service and making a positive difference to the community.

Contestability reviews are helping improve sector service delivery. As one example, the WA Energy Minister recently announced efficiency changes that affect the way the state's energy provider, Synergy, provides services. The changes will remove the Government subsidy on power costs, and Synergy's current monopoly on power provision, to move to full retail contestability, where Synergy will compete for business and create opportunities for other providers in the marketplace. This will reduce government expenditure on power price subsidies and provide a better service and lower prices for consumers. This approach was also taken for domestic gas supply in 2013, allowing competition to enter the market with state-owned Alinta Gas.29

Advancements in technology also provide opportunities to innovate and improve the efficiency of service delivery. In many public sector entities, technology is being increasingly embraced, with 62% of respondents to the 2015 EPS reporting their entity uses technological advances to improve service design and delivery to clients. However, it is noted this figure varied across entities from 30% to 79%.

Satisfaction with service delivery

Generally, the level of satisfaction with WA government services is high. For example:

  • Respondents to the Department of Health's 'Patient satisfaction of health services' survey reported high satisfaction with the time and attention paid to their care (87%), the level of information and communication they were provided (82%), and how well their needs were met (82%).30
  • 92% of customers on Transperth trains were satisfied overall in 2015, up from 84% in 2013, and 86% were satisfied with bus services (up from 81% in 2013).31 Passengers on Perth trains were most satisfied of all Australian commuters, according to separate research conducted by Canstar Blue.32
  • The Department of Training and Workforce Development reported that 87% of students enrolled in vocational education and training are satisfied with their training, and Aboriginal students have a particularly high level of satisfaction (94%).33
  • Community confidence in services provided by WA Police was high (85%), and most people were satisfied with the service they received during their most recent contact with police (82%).34

Engaging with the community to design services

In responding to the needs of individuals and the community, the sector is exploring new ways of engaging with citizens to design and deliver services that are of most benefit to client groups.

For example, the Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI) recently conducted consultations in Kalgoorlie-Boulder to identify issues affected people from culturally diverse backgrounds, and explore possible solutions. As part of the consultations, staff met with community groups and private organisations, attended community events, hosted a funding forum to help community groups identify sources of funding, and hosted a workshop to empower culturally diverse citizens to increase their participation in the social and civic life of the community. These avenues enabled OMI to identify several key issues specific to the Kalgoorlie-Boulder residents and will inform policy and programs.

The following case study shows the City of Greater Geraldton is also achieving better outcomes through engaging with the community to prioritise local government spending.

City of Greater Geraldton – Engaging with the community for better services

The City of Greater Geraldton is facing budget challenges associated with reduced funding, escalating costs and greater community expectations of service delivery. The City is using a process of 'participatory budgeting' to prioritise capital works and review services, in order to develop a collaborative governance structure to guide the City's operations.

The City has engaged two community participatory budgeting panels, consisting of citizens randomly selected from the community. One panel was formed to recommend how the 10 Year Capital Works Plan should be prioritised (including the review of 116 capital works projects) and the second to recommend the range and level of services the City provides which included meetings with all managers in the City and engaging with the broader community to determine priorities. The resulting reports and recommendations from the panels have been fully adopted by the City.

In another example of community engagement, between 2010 and 2013, more than 3500 members of the community contributed to the '2029 and Beyond' project, conducted in collaboration with the Curtin University, to form a vision for the future of the City and a range of long-term planning strategies in areas such as parks and recreation, residential development, youth engagement, commercial activities, and arts and culture. Citizens were engaged through face-to-face engagement activities such as workshops, forums and summits, and through online portals and social media.

Both these approaches have helped to ensure community interests and needs are represented, community expectations are managed and there is a greater level of transparency in budgeting processes.

The City has won several awards for community engagement from the International Association for Public Participation, including the 2015 'Smart Budget' award, the 2014 'Research' and 'Planning' awards, and the overall 2014 Australasian 'Project of the Year' for the above initiatives. In 2011, the '2029 and Beyond' project was awarded the 'World winner for community participation and engagement' at the United Nations International Liveable Communities Awards.

The public sector will increasingly engage with social media and other digital platforms to collaborate with citizens and stakeholders on policy and service design. To benefit from the opportunities provided by new technologies, organisations will need innovative approaches by staff, digital literacy and risk management for the digital divide in the community, to ensure there is capacity for all to engage.

For example, the Department of Health has an online consultation hub that provides an avenue for the community to provide feedback in the areas of public health and clinical services. The consultation hub has recently been used to seek feedback on cancer management policy, the WA mental health, alcohol and other drug services plan 2015-2025, and the draft WA disability health framework.

The City of Canning is utilising a similar online community engagement space to seek feedback on the City's projects. The City recently sought feedback through the online forum regarding the establishment of advisory groups comprised of members of the community, to provide recommendations to the City on their proposals and assist in the development of policies and programs.

Harnessing the power of 'big data'

Government departments hold an ever-increasing wealth of both structured and unstructured data, and developments in technology and analysis methods create opportunities for new ways of using this information in the design of policy and service delivery.

A Whole of government open data policy has been released this year. Under the policy, data collected by public authorities is to be made available online by default, in easily discoverable and usable ways, where possible to do so. It is envisaged that the policy will provide opportunities for WA entrepreneurs and stakeholders to use the data to create new products, services and business.35

This year, events were held at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in April as part of 'Big Data Week', to educate, inform and inspire people about big data, including workshops about data visualisation technology, and how big data is being harnessed around the globe. The Centre is a joint venture between Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and WA universities, and is supported by the WA government. The Department of the Premier and Cabinet hosted an event 'Maximising opportunities with government data' to showcase the wealth of WA government data available publically for use by data scientists.

The state's researchers are beginning to exploit the large datasets collected in WA organisations, and the landmark Telethon Institute for Child Health Research 'Developmental pathways' project is an example where several de-identified population-based datasets have been linked to provide new research insights. Health, education and child protection datasets have been used to research links between family and community factors and health, education and justice outcomes; to examine the effectiveness of current government programs; and to improve the utilisation of government data with regards to policy development.

The sector continues to explore new ways of using information to support policy development and review program delivery.

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22 WA Planning Commission 2014, State planning strategy 2050

23 Minister for Police 2015, 'New taskforce tackles methamphetamine scourge'

24 Curtin University 2015, Sustainable funding and contracting with the not-for-profit sector initiative and associated procurement reforms

25 Ibid.

26 Infrastructure Australia 2008, National public private partnership policy framework

27 Department of Treasury WA 2015, 'Public private partnerships'

28 Department of Treasury WA 2015, 'WA schools PPP project'

29 Treasurer; Minister for Energy; Citizenship and Multicultural Interests 2015, 'Government energised for electricity reform'

30 Department of Health 2015, Department of Health annual report 2014-15

31 Public Transport Authority 2015, 'Nine in 10 passengers happy with Transperth'

32 Canstar Blue 2015, 'City trains reviewed'

33 Department of Training and Workforce Development 2015, Department of Training and Workforce Development annual report 2014-15

34 WA Police 2015, WA Police annual report 2015

35 Premier; Minister for State Development; Science 2015, 'Open data policy delivers new WA opportunities'

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Page last updated 18 November 2015