Human Services Needs Major Overhaul: Report

By Andrew Heaton

(image via Meoloma Crowd)

Human service provision was largely failing Australians and needs a major overhaul, a ground-breaking report has found.

Releasing its draft report into competition and choice in respect of human services, the Productivity Commission has found that current human service provision is lagging in multiple respects.

In particular, the report found that:

  • Each year, tens of thousands of people approaching the end of their lives are forced to die in hospitals or residential aged care because their end-of-life care news were not being met.
  • The social housing system was broken, with the current two-tiered system of financial assistance for people who live in social housing or the private rental market being inequitable, and limiting the choice of tenants with respect to the home in which they prefer to live.
  • The system with regard to family and community services is designed primarily to suit the needs of government as opposed to meeting the needs of those experiencing hardship.
  • Human services were failing to make the contribution which they should to improving the wellbeing of indigenous people in remote communities.
  • Public dental patrons have little choice in terms of who provides their care, with services being predominately focused around urgent needs.

The report made a number of recommendations, including that more community based palliative care services be provided and end-of-life care in residential aged care be better resourced, a single model of social and financial assistance should be applied across social and private housing, longer contract lengths for human service providers along with better planning, greater control for patients over the pathway leading to public hospital admissions and a new payment and care model for dental health.

In its report, the Commission acknowledged that greater levels of choice were not always possible, but said the emphasis should be on greater choice and control unless there are clear reasons why this should not be the case.

Greater control, the Commission said, has intrinsic value by providing people with a greater sense of empowerment over their lives, enables people to make decisions which best match their preferences and can generate incentives for providers to better respond to people’s needs.

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