Home and Community Care (HACC) transition
On 16 September, the Victorian and Commonwealth governments signed a bi-lateral agreement on transitioning responsibilities for aged care and disability services in Victoria. The agreement includes the transfer of funding and administration of HACC services for older people to the Commonwealth Department of Social Services from 1 July 2016.
A key feature of the agreement is the commitment of both governments to ensure that the service system is stable for a minimum three-year period, with guaranteed funding, and there will be no re-tendering of services during this period. Following persistent advocacy by the State, strongly supported by the MAV, the three-year period is now confirmed as 1 July 2016 - 30 June 2019.
Components of the Victorian scheme will be retained within or alongside the national program, reflecting the joint commitment to retain the current strengths of the Victorian community care system. This includes recognition of the role of local government in Victoria, expressed as a schedule to the proposed agreement in a ‘Statement of Intent’.
The MAV will continue to negotiate on councils’ behalf, to see local government recognised and included in inter-government processes for implementing and managing the changes arising from the national aged and disability reforms. The Commonwealth has confirmed that a request for a senior level Joint Officials Committee will be established with the State and the MAV, to support ongoing input from local government. Australian Government funding for HACC services will continue to be paid to service providers (including all councils) in block funds based on unit prices – without competitive tendering for the currently distributed base funding.
Fact sheets on the bilateral agreements for the NDIS and HACC have been sent by the MAV to all councils. For further information, contact Clare Hargreaves.
MCH Data Management System now live
Following an initial pilot with Banyule City Council, four more councils have transitioned to a new Maternal and Child Health Data Management system. More than 200,000 client records have been successfully migrated into the Child Development Information System (CDIS) across the five councils, equating to approximately 3.5 per cent of the Victorian population.
The training and implementation of councils will continue throughout October and November as the system is rolled-out to the 59 councils and regional health services participating in the project.
The new system will increase the security of family data, provide a holistic picture of the needs of a child and its family, and offer more reliable and consistent information in support of service development and the targeting of programs.
The MAV would like to acknowledge the outstanding support provided by Banyule City Council in undertaking the role of pilot council in this challenging and exciting project. Councils who have chosen not to participate are reminded that they can join at any time.
For further information, contact Cameron Spence.
Education State: Early Childhood Paper
The State Government has released its third Education State Early Childhood Consultation Paper.
All Victorians are encouraged to have their say about the future of early childhood services. Consultation will be open for six weeks and will seek the views of professionals, parents, caregivers, academics, experts and community groups, and will be incorporated into the government’s reform agenda.
The MAV will be providing a response on behalf of local government by the end of October. We have already consulted with the Human Services Committee, and will shortly be consulting with the Early Years Strategy Group.
Responses from councils of key points to be raised by the MAV can be sent to Wendy Allan.
Patchwork: Endorsed by the Department of Education and Training
The MAV currently holds the statewide licence for Patchwork and has examined partnering with the State Government to make the tool available to all relevant public and private sector health and community services agencies across Victoria.
The Department of Education and Training (DET) has formally endorsed the use of Patchwork by early childhood practitioners working in Department-funded services. Information about Patchwork is now available on the Department’s website.
Patchwork promotes shared responsibility by agencies in working with families who are in complex and/or challenging situations, and assists in coordination between agencies. Lack of coordination is frequently criticised as a contributing factor in child death inquires. As Patchwork is web-based, it has the advantage of easily coordinating practitioners across program silos and geographic areas over time.
The MAV has recently trained all Enhanced Maternal and Child Health Nurses (MCH) from across the state to use Patchwork, and will be training school nurses shortly. While MCH nurses are enthusiastic about the benefits of using Patchwork to support their practice, as are their clients, the success of the tool relies on broad uptake by a range of agencies to provide maximum benefit to families. Patchwork is a complementary tool to support practice and does not replace the more detailed client record.
From the initial success achieved, the MAV and councils would like the Patchwork tool to be integrated into normal practice for collaboration, which would require a commitment to embed with all relevant agencies over an estimated three – five year period. The MAV is preparing submissions to both DET and the Department of Premier and Cabinet aimed at securing partnership funding for this important innovative project.
For further information, contact Clare Hargreaves.
Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Plan
The State Government has released a Victorian public health and wellbeing plan 2015–2019.
The Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 requires the Minister for Health to prepare a state public health and wellbeing plan every four years from September 2011. The Act also recognises local government as a major partner to the State Government in an effort to protect public health and wellbeing in Victoria. Each council is required to prepare a municipal public health and wellbeing plan every four years (following the council election). When preparing this plan, a council must have regard to the state public health and wellbeing plan.
This second plan outlines the government’s key priorities over the next four years to improve the health and wellbeing of all Victorians, particularly the most disadvantaged. The plan focused on healthier eating and active living, tobacco free living, reducing harmful alcohol and drug use, improving mental health, preventing violence and injury, and improving sexual and reproductive health.
The plan focuses on high-level strategic directions, and will be accompanied by a more detailed action plan to be developed along with an outcomes framework.
New app to support women experiencing violence
Councils are encouraged to promote a new app aimed at supporting women who are experiencing the impacts of sexual assault, domestic and family violence.
The updated Daisy app was launched earlier this month with new features including translated information across 28 language groups, text-to-voice functionality for women with a vision impairment or low literacy, and an SMS function for women living in rural or remote areas.
The app – developed with input from all state and territory governments and funded by the Australian Government – has been downloaded approximately 100 times each week since its launch in March. In total, there have been more than 2000 downloads nationally.
Understanding Violence Against Women with Disabilities
Interested council staff are invited to participate in a free webinar: Understanding Violence Against Women with Disabilities on 1 October.
The webinar will include an overview of the scope and prevalence of violence against women with disability, violence against women with disability in a human rights framework, barriers to addressing violence for women with disability, and how we can best address the issues around gendered disability violence.
Presenter Samantha Connor is a woman with a disability and a passionate advocate for the rights of women with disability.
Registrations can be made online.
New and Emerging Community Women’s Leadership Program
The New and Emerging Community Leaders Program (NECLP) is an Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship initiative delivered by Leadership Victoria and supported by the MAV.
Organisers are seeking applications from women newly arrived in Australia, who want to develop or increase their impact in community roles. This exciting program covers topics including leadership across cultures, empowerment, capacity building, and resilience, and will include workshops on difficult conversations and communication skills.
It will be held in Melbourne from 17 November to 2 December. No prior leadership experience or qualifications are required.
For further information, contact Saya Lorback at Leadership Victoria on 9651 6504.
Syrian refugee crisis
On 9 September the Australian Government announced that they will offer permanent protection to 12,000 Syrian refugees. The MAV understands that the government aims to process 500 people a week; that 200 have been identified for urgent resettlement, and that Victoria may accept up to 4,000 refugees. The government’s offer does not include Syrian refugees already in Australia or in immigration detention.
Several councils have approached the MAV expressing interest in the process for assisting their arrival, or in making a public show of support. Action groups in some areas have conducted vigils such as one in the City of Greater Geelong. The MAV is awaiting details from the State Government on the arrival of refugees and available support, as well as their decision on Victoria’s participation in the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) program that is of interest to regional councils. The MAV will advise councils of more information as it comes to hand, and supports those who have expressed interest.
Draft Social Cohesion and Community Resilience Strategy
The State Government has asked the MAV to seek comment from councils on their draft Social Cohesion and Community Resilience Strategy. Responses have been received, and the MAV is in the process of compiling these for submission.
In May, the State announced a commitment of $25 million over four years to facilitate collective action across government, community and academia to strengthen social cohesion and community resilience, and prevent violent extremism.
The funds will be administered by a taskforce supported by a Community Resilience Unit within the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
Overall, the MAV and councils support the high-level draft strategy. Key to our submission is requesting the provision of greater detail and clarity on the strategy’s implementation; highlighting the need to ensure local government involvement; drawing on existing work and approaches already being done at a local level; and using positive language.
While the strategy focuses on young people, the MAV recommends that the government acknowledge that social cohesion is a responsibility shared by all members of society, and that while social cohesion can be a means to prevent violent extremism, it is also presented as a means to build community health and wellbeing. As one council succinctly put it, extremism is a symptom of holes in the social fabric; not a source.
Join the MAV and embrace diversity
On 17 September the MAV became a supporter of the Victorian Government’s Embrace Diversity Campaign.
The MAV encourages Victorian councils to join the campaign, which celebrates Australia’s strength as one of the most multicultural and diverse societies on earth.
The campaign calls on Victorians not to take this strength for granted, especially as other parts of the world show us how precious and fragile harmony can be.
Further information is available online.
No Jab No Play
The Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (No Jab, No Play) Bill has entered parliament. Minister Hennessy tabled the second reading speech in the Legislative Assembly on 16 September and requested that debate on the Bill be adjourned for two weeks.
A copy of the Bill and the second reading speech are available online.
Information and facts sheets are also available.
Applications open to deliver Nanny Pilot Programme
Applications are now open for service providers to deliver the Australian Government’s new Nanny Pilot Programme. This $246 million initiative will support around 10,000 children across the country.
The pilot will subsidise the cost of nannies for families who struggle to access mainstream child care services. Service providers have until 2pm on 22 October to apply to deliver the pilot.
The two-year pilot will formally commence in early 2016 when service providers begin matching nannies to participating families. The start date for a nanny will depend on a family’s requirements and when a suitable nanny is available. We expect that the take up of the pilot will grow over time as more nannies and families are progressively matched and care commences.
The pilot will help the government to develop future policy for care provided in the family home. Service providers will be selected by the Department of Social Services through an open competitive selection process assessing their capacity, experience and competency.
The Nanny Pilot Programme guidelines outline the application and assessment processes, and confirm funding arrangements, roles and responsibilities.