Community Sector Reform

The ACT community sector provides valuable support to Canberrans.  This support ranges from assisting individuals in times of crisis to building community involvement and participation.   

The sector includes a wide range of not-for-profit community organisations, self-help groups, community associations and consumer advocacy groups.  Almost 4000 employees work within the sector.

Today, its work is being carried out in a climate of unprecedented change. This has been brought about by a range of factors, including:

  • Rising salaries as a result of the 2012 Equal Remuneration Order;
  • Putting resource decisions in the hands of clients through the National Disability Insurance Scheme and a broader increased desire for consumer-centered models of service;
  • A greater focus by funding agencies on achieving and measuring outcomes;
  • Increasing reliance on new technologies;
  • The introduction of government initiatives such as the Human Services Blueprint and A Step Up for Our Kids (Out of Home Care Strategy 2015-2020); and
  • A continued focus to achieve benefits through joined-up service delivery.

These and other changes have implications for how organisations are resourced, what clients expect, and what type of capabilities organisations require.  They also present new challenges for organisations to remain viable, responsive and sustainable into the future.

The Community Sector Reform Program

The ACT Government Community Sector Reform Program aims to support the community sector to respond to these changes.  It is funded by the co-contribution levy, a pooled resource that was first announced in July 2012 and extended for a further two years in July 2015, and from financial and other resources provided by the ACT Government.

Components of the Program include:

  • Red tape reductions.  Already more than $2.6 million of red-tape savings in time and administrative effort for community organisations have been achieved through changes to procurement, contracting and reporting.  The red-tape reform is ongoing, with upcoming initiatives in 2015-16 including the results of a review of the prequalification system and a new, simpler funding agreement template developed in consultation with the sector.  Specific red tape reforms to date include:
    • amendments to audit requirements under the Associations Incorporations ACT to reduce the cost of audits to incorporated associations in the ACT;
    • reduced financial reporting requirements under Service Funding Agreements to only once a year;
    • extension of the maximum term of Service Funding Agreements from three to up to five years, based on an assessment of appropriateness and risk;
    • the development of a simpler recurrent grant arrangement and the transferral of 47 low risk Service Funding Agreements that did not represent the clear purchase of services to recurrent grants; and
    • the introduction of a single relationship manager for community organisations funded by the Community Services Directorate, to reduce the number of people funded organisations have to deal with.
  • The Sector Development Program, designed to build the skills of sector leaders.  This program has included capacity building initiatives focusing on areas including governance, financial management, working with government, organisational sustainability, tendering and procurement, and strategic risk management.   About 350 leaders of sector organisations have participated in the program. Upcoming components of the Sector Development Program will focus on building sector capability around business collaboration and strategic alliances.
  • The Governance and Financial Management Initiative, which provided packages of consulting time worth $20,000 from a panel of consultants to more than 40 organisations.
  • The ACT Community Services Industry Strategy 2016-2016 sets out a 10 year vision for forward planning of the Community Services Industry, which is critical to the economic and social wellbeing of Canberra.

    The Strategy has been developed by the Joint Community Government Reference Group (JCGRG), a consultative forum that enables an open and transparent relationship between the ACT Government and community sector. A working group of the JCGRG will oversee the development and implementation of the first action plan, to give effect to the vision of the Strategy.

    The Strategy identifies priority areas to be addressed as well as desired outcomes to be achieved. The priority areas are:

    • Industry capability
    • Research, planning and evaluation
    • Governance and leadership
    • Sustainability.

    The Strategy is the result of an extensive period of consultation with the community sector by consultants KPMG and work with the sector will continue to inform its implementation.

Community Services Industry Plan - Scoping Paper [PDF 803KB] [Word 40KB]

The ACT is also investing $12.5 million over three years from the Commonwealth’s Sector Development for sector readiness activities related to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The services and supports purchased through this tender are one component of a range of resources provided through the Sector Development Fund and other sources to develop a contestable, high quality, choice-based disability service market in the ACT. They also support the investment that community organisations have made in their preparation for the NDIS.

For more information about the Community Sector Reform Program please contact

Service Agreement

Service Funding Agreement Template - Overview Presentation [PDF 2MB] [PowerPoint 2.2MB]


Community Services Directorate May 2016 update [PDF 689KB] [Word 589KB]

Community Services Directorate March 2016 update [PDF 840KB] [Word 505KB]

Community Services Directorate February 2016 update [PDF 541KB] [Word 518KB]