Clever and collaborative – opportunities for win-wins in regional service delivery
The Australian Government’s Commission of Audit provides a unique opportunity to set the Commonwealth on a pathway towards a more effective and efficient role in the economic and social future of regional Australia.
Despite the commonly held view that regions are a State responsibility – the Commonwealth is a significant investor in regional Australia. This investment spans a range of policies and portfolios well beyond those traditionally associated with regions such as the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. Social services, education and industry are large investors in regional Australia that have significant influence over regional outcomes.
A number of recent policy initiatives have recognised these regional parallels and implemented integrated approaches. These include reforms for the development of Health and Hospital Networks and Medicare Locals.
In addition to these initiatives, the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) sees that there are many more opportunities for policy to be more innovative, more efficient and more effective.
Policy should consider the appropriateness of applying metro service delivery paradigms to regional Australia. Policy models based on highly concentrated populations are unlikely to prove fruitful for regional citizens or efficient for government.
Policy needs to make the most of available technology in service delivery and the growing appetite for greater freedom and flexibility within regions. Solutions such as making services more widely accessible using technology can be more effective in regions and provide greater outcomes on both sides of the balance sheet.
Pursuing such policy strategy will firstly require clarification over the extent and costs of policy and service delivery in different regions and portfolios. It will also need to consider the models suited to regional Australia and more disperse populations.
Considering the likely effectiveness of reform proposals through a regional lens as part of the process for analysis will ensure the Commonwealth Government’s Commission of Audit builds the strongest possible case for reform.
The RAI’s full submission to the Commonwealth Government’s Commission of Audit can be downloaded here.