Community services are being delivered in a rapidly changing mixed economy where the public, for-profit, not-for-profit and household sectors and their norms are converging.
This change is occurring amidst a broader convergence of trends, including: redefined roles of government and the market in public policy development and implementation; a narrative around the third sector; a shift from the concept of client to consumer; growing for-profit involvement in service delivery using government funds; increased focus on rights-based entitlements and service models; changes in fiscal relationships; increasing inequality; marketized funding arrangements (e.g. NDIS); changes in appetite for risk; and changing expectations of non-government organizations by government.
New ways of contracting for services, government funding constraints and the emergence of social impact investing are spurring the need for community service providers to reconsider the way in which they operate now and into the future.
Much greater emphasis will be placed on the outcomes being achieved from a given level of investment and providers will increasingly need to demonstrate how they are making a difference to the lives of the people and communities they work with.
The Community Services Industry is already a major provider of employment and economic contributor and growth across the industry is expected.
Across service areas where there is a high level of demand and unmet need for community services, industry growth has the potential to increase the capacity of services to deliver better outcomes for some of the most disadvantaged members of the community. It also provides the opportunity for the Community Services Industry itself to work strategically to influence the social and economic drivers of demand to better support vulnerable people.