A Service Agreement is a contract between a community service organisation and the government department who funds their programs. It details the terms and conditions that both parties must follow and includes reference to guidelines, laws and departmental policies.
VCOSS plays a critical role in negotiating the terms of the standard Funding and Service agreement (on which most service agreements are based) on behalf of the sector, in partnership with sector representatives.
Many community service organisation have told us that the requirements detailed in the Service Agreement and its associated documents are duplicative, difficult to interpret and unnecessarily burdensome. This burden is costly and can impact service delivery.
The current standard Service Agreement expires in June 2019 and VCOSS has commenced negotiations with government departments to seek an agreement on behalf of the sector that is fair, easy-to understand, recognises that organisations are independent entities in their own right and reflects the spirit of partnership between the government departments as funders and organisations who deliver services.
VCOSS and the non-government members of the Service Agreement Working Group (SAWG) are committed to ensuring the new service agreement is streamlined, modern and meets the needs of a growing and complex industry. VCOSS conducted consultations between February and April 2019, in order to make final recommendations to DHHS and DET about the changes that need to be made to the service agreement and the process that sit around the agreement. The report, A Fairer Funding and Service Agreement: VCOSS report to the Service Agreement Working Group (SAWG) and Human Services And Health Partnership Implementation Committee (HSHPIC) can be downloaded below.
Government funding provides around half of community services income. The rest is obtained through donations, grants, bequests and service fees.
Organisations have told us that funding indexation is not keeping up with the real cost of delivering services, whilst at the same time demand for community services is increasing, especially in light of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, and with almost 800,000 Victorians living in poverty.
VCOSS believes that, without adequate indexation, funding is actually decreasing in real terms, putting services to our most vulnerable community members at risk. The Premier, at the VCOSS summit, recognised this challenge and committed to increasing indexation. VCOSS welcomed this pledge and is currently seeking clarity on the implications of this commitment.
We want to hear from you
VCOSS held three regional consultations in Traralgon, Bendigo and Shepparton during February. If you missed out, you can email Laura Mondon for an overview of the consultation, or to have your say.