1. Acknowledgements - Catholic Education Office - Diocese of Ballarat

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Review of S
e
rvices
to M
eet the
Health
,
Welfare
and Educational
Needs of Students in the Ballarat
Diocese
.


Report
prepared for
:


Catholic Education Office

(Diocese of Ballarat)






Centre for Health Research and Practice

University of Ballarat




Prepared by:


Associate Professor John McDonald

Telephone
:


(03) 5327 9818

Email
:

j.mcdonald@ballarat.edu.au


Ms Alison Ollerenshaw

Telephone
:

(03) 5327 9629

Email
:

a.ollerenshaw@ballarat.edu.au


Centre for Health Research and Practice

University of Ballarat


November

2005


CRICOS Provider Number 00103D





C
ONTENTS


1.


A
CKNOWLEDGEMENTS
………………………………………………………………

1


2.


E
XECUT
IVE
S
UMMARY
………………………………………………………………


2


3.


B
ACKGROUND AND

O
VERVIEW
……………………………………………………..


4


4.

A
IMS AND
M
ETHODOLOGY OF THE
R
EVIEW
………………………………………...


10


5.

A

R
EVIEW
OF
B
EST
P
RACTICE AND
C
URRENT
I
NITIATIVES
……………………
…...


11




Introduction
……………………………
……………………………………………………


11


The role of

s
chools
in addressing the health, welfare and education
al


needs of
students
……………………………………
…………………………………….



12


The characteristics of the current strategies and models to meet the health,
welfare
and education
al

nee
ds of
s
tudents…………………………………………….



13




Evidence
-
based practice and best practice in

s
chools
………………………………..


17


A r
eview of outsourcing as a model for the delivery of human s
ervices
……………
.


20


Framework for
Student Support Services

.
…………………………………………...


23


6.

R
ESULT
S
…………………………………………………………………………….


26




Expressed service needs
…………………………………………………………………


26



Key stakeholder consultation

……………...
…………………………………………….


40



Key themes:


Reported needs of students
……………………………………………………………….


41


Reported needs of parents and families
…………………………………………………..


43


Stresses in schools and among school staff
………………………………………………


44


Small, isolated rural communities
…………………………………………………………..


45





School
-
based structures and processes
……………………………………………
……..


46


Models of service delivery
…………………………………………………………………..


49


Framework for Student Support Services
…………………………………………………


52


Student Services
……………………………………………………………………………..


53


Referral, case allocation and data management systems
……………………………….


62


Inter
-
agency collaboration
…………………………………………………………………..


62


Outsourcing
…………………………………………………………………………………...


65


7.

C
ONCLUSION
S

AND
L
IST OF
R
ECOMMENDATION
S
………………………………..
..


66



8.

R
EFERENCES
………………………………………………………………………..



73



9.

A
PPENDI
CE
S
……………………
……………………………………………………



76





Appendix
A
…………………………………………………………………………………




76





Appendix
B
…………………………………………………………………………………


77





Appendix
C
…………………………………………………………………………………


79





Appendix
D
…………………………………………………………………………………


80





Appendix
E
………………………
…………………………………………………………


83





Appendix
F
…………………………………………………………………………………


85





Appendix
G
…………………………………………………………………………………


86




A
ppendix

H
…………………………………………………………………………………


87


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1.

Acknowledgements



The authors of this report would like to acknowledge

the support and assistance received
throughout this project from staff
at

the Catholic Education Office, Diocese of Ballarat

(CEOB)
.


This
project

would not have been possible had it not been for key individuals who contributed their
time and effort to t
his project.
Particular thanks are

extended to

Vin Dillon, Head of Educational
Services CEOB for his unwavering commitment, support and organisational skills throughout
this

project.
Thanks are extended to all members of the
reference group
for their input

and continued
support and assistance with th
e

project. Particular thanks also go to
all CEOB S
tudent
S
ervices
staff
for the

opportunity
they provided for open discussion and f
eedback
at key points during the
project.
Special thanks are

also extended to
Ci
ndy
Brown for her assistance with the database.


Finally
,
we would like to acknowledge the assistance received from
all interview and focus group
participants

for this review
. The feedback received from participants has ensured that a thorough
and informa
tive
review has
been possible
.


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2.

Executive Summary


The Centre for Health Research and Practice, University of Ballarat
,

was commissioned by the

Catholic Education Office (Diocese of Ballarat) to review the current model of
Student S
ervices to
meet the
health
,
welfare

and education
al

needs of
primary and secondary school students across
the Diocese. This review was largely instigated by a recommendation in the 2005 Action Plan to
review
S
tudent
S
ervices programs in light of the welfare needs of students
attending Catholic
Schools in Victoria.


Conducted over a four month period in 2005 (July


November
), the review

(a)

reviewed evidence

from

previously published reports, literature and
research
,
(b)
analys
ed

the
e
xtant database of
referrals to S
tudent
S
er
vices maintained by the Catholic Education
O
ffice (Diocese of Ballarat)
and

(c) consult
ed

with key stakeholders from the Catholic Education Office (including
S
tudent
S
ervices staff
, school principals, special needs coordinators,

secondary welfare coordinat
ors,

p
ersonnel from the
Catholic Education Office

Melbourne
)

and other service agencies
.



In summary, the

key findings

of this review are:


Across the Diocese of Ballarat,
there has been an escalation

in the number of students

requiring services, and a ma
rked rise in those

who are presenting with complex and
significant needs
.

These needs span across the health, welfare and educational domains.



Families
, too,
are under increasing pressure.

Many more are looking to schools


particularly primary schools


for assistance.


The number of referrals to Student Services continues to rise. Caseloads
are excessive,
and
staff are
working
inordinate
hours

to try to meet the demands across a
vast

territory.


School

are reporting high levels of stress among staff as
they struggle to cope with
burgeoning demands.


There are

some exemplary
practices, programs and structures
in place at individual
schools
. Student Services have been instrumental in helping to set these up.


However,

these
practices, programs and structur
es
are not informed by a Diocesan
-
wide,
systematic

approach to meeting students’

needs, or a shared understanding of the
respective roles of schools
, St
udent S
ervices
, Centacare and other agencies
.



Across the Diocese, t
he
predominant response

is

reactiv
e,
interventionist,
crisis
-
response
driven and
1:1
.


The current approa
ch is not appropriate

or sustainable.

It does not produce the best
outcomes for students.






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Consequently, t
he key thrusts of the recommendations in this report are to:




Adopt and app
ropriately resource an approach to meeting students’ needs that
works across the four levels of activity described in the
Framework for Student
Support Services
.




Place a greater emphasis
and shift of resources towards

primary prevention and
early interven
tion within a whole
-
school, holistic
, inclusive

approach to meeting
students’
educational, health and welfare
needs.




Develop a shared understanding
of the respective roles of Student Services and
schools which further empowers and builds capacity within s
chools to address the
needs of students.




Articulate a vision for Catholic education in the Diocese, with particular reference to
the mandate of schools
in relation to student wellbeing and family welfare, and
which includes a

clear statement about the d
ut
y and limits of pastoral care.




Allocate
additional
funding
to, and build s
ystems of
support

for
,

Special Needs Co
-
ordinators /
Student Wellbeing Coordinators within schools or clusters of schools.




E
nhance

the
professional
support

for
Student Services
s
taff, introduce a
cap

on
caseloads
,
and
decentralise the referral and file management system
s
.




Revise
the functions and responsibilities of
Student Services staff to decrease the
time consumed with routine assessments and travel, and increase their capaci
ty to
work across the four levels of activity

described in the
Framework for Student
Support Services
.




Designate an officer in Stu
dent Services to promote a student
-
centred approach to
whole school well
-
being.





Build collaborative and innovative models o
f school
-
based service delivery with
Centacare and other health and welfare agencies, and invest in establishing cross
-
sectoral networks.















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3.

Background
and

Overview


Background to the Review


The Catholic Eduction Office (Diocese of Ballarat


to be henceforth referred to as
CEOB
) initiated
this project in response to the Action Plan 2005 “Review of Student Services Programs, in light of
the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria (CECV)
2004
report into
The Welfare Needs of
Victorian Cathol
ic Schools
.”


The CECV report (
Cahill, Wyn & Smith,
2004)
investigated the nature, extent and impact of
student welfare issues by surveying principals and undertaking school ‘case studies.’
In summary
,

the report found that schools were responding to a va
st array of welfare problems, with the most
frequently cited issues (classified by the researchers as high in frequency and impact and low in
resourcing) being:



Learning problems (particularly literacy and numeracy);



Student mental health issues;



Family pr
oblems (family break down and family mental health problems);



Social health (prevalence of unsociable classroom behaviours)

and



Staff wellbeing (staff burnout)
.


Socio
-
economic disadvantage is a powerful explanatory factor: school
s with a high proportion o
f
families
receiving the Education Maintenance Allowance
were burdened
with a higher level of
impact on

a range of health and welfare problems.
Because s
tudent wellbeing and pastoral care
are integral to the ethos
and mission of Catholic schools, the repor
t recommended

that strategic
responses should focus on:




Collaborative, school
-
community partnerships and inter
-
sectoral approaches to the
delivery of health and welfare services;



Utilising best practice approaches to service delivery;



Providing additional

access to counsellors and psychologists, as well as enhancing
teachers’ skills in student welfare;



Adopting locality
-
specific measures such as community strengthening programs in
disadvantaged areas; and,



The need to reconceptualize funding models.


The f
requency and complexity of these welfare problems for Victorian Catholic schools provides
some of the background t
o this current review, and will

provide some comparison of the changing
welfare needs
of
primary and secondary students in the Diocese of Ball
arat
.

This project will also
review the
health
and
(
specialist
)

educational
needs of
student
s
.


In response to the

CECV report (2004)

and the Action Plan 2005
,

a d
etailed review of the
effectiveness of the current approaches to the provision of
S
tudent
S
er
vi
ces in the Diocese of
Bal
larat has been commissioned. This

review
comprise
s

a search of the relevant

literature,
analysis of extant data
,

and comprehensive consultation with key stakeholders.




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Overview of Student Support Services
,

Catholic Education Of
fice
(Diocese of Ballarat)



The Diocese of Ballarat


Located in regional Victoria, the
CEOB

covers a
vast
geographic area
from the north west of
Victoria

through to the south w
estern region.
The map (see page 8
) shows the Diocese of
Ballarat.
The
CEOB

ha
s
6
5

schools under its jurisdiction. Of these,

54 are primary schools and
1
1

are s
econdary
s
chools
.
A total of 15,806 students attend Catholic schools in the Ballarat Diocese.
Of these, 8446 students attend primary schools and 7360 students attend secondar
y schools.
Approximately
half (
n

= 32) the schools in the
CEOB

have a student population of over
200, of
which 10

(8
are
s
econdary
s
chools) have

a population of over 500, and 21
schools
(all primary
schools)

have

a
student
population of less than 100

stu
dents
.



In addition, an alternative program “Changing Places” has been established by the Central Region
Catholic primary schools. It provides a program for primary school children experiencing
difficulties in establishing appropriate and satisfying peer
and adult relationships. The program is
administered by a management committee comprising representatives from Catholic primary
schools, the Catholic Education Office, Centacare, the Australian Catholic University and the
Sisters of Mercy. The program oper
ates from the Bungaree Parish Centre for groups of six to
eight children, and runs for one day per week for ten weeks each school term. Changing Places
draws heavily on the Confident Kids program from Vic Parenting.



The
staffing structure of S
tudent
S
e
rvices


The Educational Consultant is responsible for providing support for all school communities within
the Diocese. These responsibilities include:



Catholic identity



Support for principals



Provision of advice and service



Co
-
ordination of the delivery of

services.


The Diocese of Ballarat has been divided into five regions for the delivery of services to primary
schools:



River Region



Central Region



North Central Region



Western Region



Coastal Region.

These regions
are presented in
a map on page 9

and in
t
he table in Appendix A.
Stud
ent
S
upport
S
ervices

personnel are based at

four locations across the
CEOB
; o
ffices are located
at
Ballarat
,
Horsham, Red Cliffs and W
arrnambool.



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The
positions and staffing com
plement
of Student S
ervices are
:



Psychologists

(3

equivalent full
-
time)



Speech p
athologists

(3 equivalent full
-
time)



S
pecial

education advisor
s (3 equivalent full
-
time)



Visiting t
eachers (hearing impaired, vision impaired, and

physical/chronic health impaired

each have part
-
time staffing to cover the who
le Diocese
)



Youth s
ervices
/student welfare

o
fficer

(1 full
-
time

for the whole Diocese
)



Indigenous education a
dvisor

(1 full
-
time

for the whole Diocese
)
.


The equivalent of one full
-
time psychologist, one full
-
time speech pathologist, and one full
-
time
spec
ial education advisor are
no
tionally
allocated to each of the
three former regions

in the
Diocese
.




These Student S
ervices staff also provide support to the eleven secondary schools.
The speech
pathology service is outsourced for St. Joseph’s in Mildura
and St. Mary’s

in Swan Hill
.


All Student S
ervices staff report to the
Head of Educational Services
.


The referral process

for individual student needs


Requests for
Student Services
are made via a confidential student request form. Request forms
are fille
d out by
a member of the
school

staff
, and
co
-
signed by the parent/guardian, special
needs co
-
ordinator and the principal.

All referrals are then posted to the Warrnambool office. Staff
at the Warrnambool office enter

details of the referral on to the data
base. The referral, together
with the student’s file, is then despatched to the appropriate

Student Services
staff member at the
appropriate office. The student is added to the caseload of the
S
tudent
S
ervices staff member.
When the staff member has comple
ted his/her work, the case is “closed”, the student is taken off
the caseload, and the file is returned to the Warrnambool office.


Other functions undertaken by
Student Services


Student S
ervices staff also undertake a range of other important roles inclu
ding:



Professional development

for teachers, parents, special education co
-
ordinators, school
support personnel



Consultancy, support and advice

to teachers, and welfare and special education co
-
ordinators



Participation in the establishment and support of s
chool student welfare / wellbeing team
meetings



Development and delivery of programs

and policies

(such as transition programs,
behaviour and drug education
)



Agency liaison

and networking

(such as with School Focused Youth Service Co
-
ordinators
and Primary

Care Partnerships)



Membership of reference groups and committees

(such as the CAST program, Achieving
Together, Strengthening Generations, Changing Places)
.



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Building capacity
in schools


The Catholic Education Commission Victoria (CECV), working collab
oratively with the University
of Melbourne, has sponsored over 500 teachers in leadership roles in Catholic primary and
secondary
schools to undertake the Graduate Diplo
ma in Education (Student Welfare
)
.
This has
been an important initiative in the Diocese

of Ballarat, and has been keenly taken up by school
staff.
Freeman et al. (2003) conducted an evaluation of the impact of this course on teacher
-
participants and found that overall, participants were positive
about

the course. According to this
research,
course participants found the opportunity for valuable professional renewal and the
initiatives included in the course (which could be used by teachers within their schools) to be
highly satisfactory. However, teacher participants felt there was little opp
ortunity to make
differences in their school setting if they were not in leadership ro
les, and many

felt they were not
given sufficient opportunity to share their knowledge with other staff.



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Figure 1:
Map of the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat


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0
50
100
kilometres
Victoria
New South Wales
Merbein
Mildura
Red Cliffs
Robinvale
Warracknabeal
Swan Hill
Sea Lake
Hopetoun
Ouyen
St Arnaud
Donald
Charlton
Creswick
Ballan
Gordon
Sebastopol
Daylesford
Ballarat
Maryborough
Casterton
Coleraine
Ararat
Stawell
Horsham
Murtoa
Nhill
Edenhope
Port Fairy
Portland
Warrnambool
Terang
Koroit
Purnim
Mortlake
Camperdown
Penshurst
Coragulac
Colac
Hamilton
LEGEND
Region
Central
River
North Central
Western
Coastal
Highways
South
Australia


Figur
e 2:
Map of the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat

showing the principal towns
and school
locations
in each of the five regions


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4.

Aims
and

Methodology of the Review



The aims of this review are three
-
fold
: (1)

identifica
tion and review of the current S
tuden
t
S
ervices
program for the
CEOB
,
(2)
gauging the current demands for
S
tudent
S
ervices (including the
expressed needs of the service program from stakeholders) and
(3
) providing

informative,
appropriate and practical recommendations

to address the
health
,
w
elfare
and education
al

needs
of students attending Catholic primary and secondary schools within the Ballarat Diocese
.


The research design chosen for this review
is

descriptive and non
-
experimental.
A combination of
qualitative and quantitative methods of

data collection was

used

to
:


1.

Conduct a brief literature review on best practice pertaining to the health
,

w
elfare
and
(
special
)

education
al

needs of school students;

2.

Collate and analyse extant data on student service referrals in the Diocese which is
currently maintained on a database by the
CEOB
;

3.

Consult with and
collect data from key stakeholders, including:



Semi
-
structure
d

interview
s

with
the
Head of Education Servi
ces and

the
CEOB

o
ffice
L
eadership
G
roup
;



Two focus g
roup meeting
s

with
S
tudent
S
ervi
ces staff
;



Focus group meetings with region specific principal
s
,
the
youth service office
r,

in
digenous education office
r and
the
secondary welfare coordinators
;



Interview
s

with key personnel from the central office of the Catholic Ed
ucation
Office in Melbo
urne
;



Interviews with the Director of Centacare, and representatives of the regional
office of Department of Education and Training; and,

4.

Review current program documents/strategies and initiatives in other health and


w
elfare agencies.


Ethics approval w
as obtained from the Human Research Ethics Committee at the University of
Ballarat to undertake this project

on
22 July 2005 (Project Number A05
-
093)
.


The scope of the r
esearch and the work plan were

clarified by a meeting between the research
team and th
e Reference group. Members of the reference group were:




Mr. Vin Dillon



Head of Educational Services (Chair)



Ms Dianne We
stbrook

Educational Consultant



Dr Loretta Giorcelli


Consultant



Mr David Huggins


Assistant Director, Student Services



Ms Susan Ramp
ling


Curriculum Adviser, Special Education



Dr Peter Casey


Headmaster, St. Patrick’s College



Mr Tony Perkins


Principal, St. Mary’s Primary School



Mr Michael McCrickard

Student Welfare Coordinator



Ms Louise Chesterfield

Special Education Coordinator
.


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5.

A Review of Best Practice
and

Current
Initiatives



Introduction


In recent decades, there has been a significant decline in the statu
s of the health and welfare of

children and adolescents (Suicide Prevention Task Force, 1997) with research and other
po
pulation indicators showing an increased prevalence in anti
-
social behaviour, depressive
symptoms, homelessness, self
-
harm and suicide (Bond et al., 2000) in younger people. These
trends are not restricted to adolescents. Even younger children aged betwee
n four and twelve
years are showing an increased prevalence to mental health problems
,

with one recent Australian
study proposing that as many as 15% of children have a designated mental illness (Sawyer et al.,
2000 as cited in Al
-
Yaman, Bryant & Sargeant
, 2002)
. Furthermore,

a
US study
proposed that
between
5
% and
9% of students have severe emotional disturbances (Bu
rn
s
&

Hoagwood, 2002
and
Hoagwood
, 2001
,

as cited in

Walker, 2004).

These problems, together with significant
social
change
(ie.,
alterations

to the family unit such as
divorce, lone
-
parents, fewer sibling,
unemployment, income inequality, weaker family ties, increased reports of disruptive behaviour,
crime and violence)

are associated with a deterioration in the health and welfare indicators o
f
children and adolescents (Vimpani, Patton & Hayes,
2001
).


In addition
, strong

links
have now been made between p
overty and education. For example, the
work of Dr Ruby Payne suggests that
personal poverty produces differences in the thoughts and
actions

of an individual
that are often
exa
cerb
ated in an educational setting
by

middle class
teachers

and classroom settings. Such differences produce added

challenges to
the
teaching and
learning
experiences of
both the
student
,

who
is

poor
,

and the teacher
,

wh
o
may
not understand
the reasons why the student is presenting with problem behaviours

(Payne, 2001).
Indeed, while
Australia is still classified as one of the world’s ‘richer’ nations (ranked 15 out of 23 of the world’s
richer countries), there is still a

high

rate of poverty in
Australian
children with approximately 12%
of children living in households where the family income is less than half the national median
income rate

(Stanley, 2001)
.


Th
e

decline in the health and welfare status of children and ad
olescents



and an increase
in
alternative special education practices


has
prompted a call for

reform across a range of
institutions and environments to better service and assist young people. There has been strong
commitment by schools, educational inst
itutions, government departments and health
organisations within Australia and overseas to foster and improve the health
,

welfare
and special
educational
needs of all primary and seconda
ry school students. This move

towards
r
eform has
led to an increase in

the number
,

and range
,

of school
-
based initiatives designed to

address the
rising health and welfare
need
s of children.
These

programs
have sought to ad
dress
problems
such a
s

student mental health (Royal Children’s Hospital: Communities that Care Program


Centre for Adolescent Health; VicHealth’s Educational Programs), suicide prevention (Mind
Matters), school violence (Smith, Kahn & Borowsky, 1999), emotion
al wellbeing (Gatehouse
Project)
, inclusive learning practices
(Martain, 2005)

and the physical hea
lth of students, with
health services
being
established

on school campuses
(Schlozman, 2003).



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This literature review will identify and briefly discuss some of the current models and strategies
used within schools to address the health
,

welfare
and educat
ional
needs
of students and
examine

evidenced
-
based approaches and how they have been implemented within the
educational
field
.

A number of literature search parameters were employed for this review and
are listed as follows:




Search Terms:

A number of se
arch terms were used interchangeably throughout to
ensure a broader, more inclusive search of the literature. These terms included some of
the following: ‘health and well
-
being of school students’, ‘student welfare and best
practice’
, ‘evidence
-
based pract
ice and schools’,
‘inclusive learning
/educational

practices’,
‘special education’
and ‘student welfare services’.

The recent literature on outsourcing was
also reviewed.



Publication year
:

The search was focused on all
literature;

however research or litera
ture
that was published in the last 10 years was of particular relevance for this review.



Databases Searched:

A number of databases were searched using the EBSCO
Academic Research Database Host and include health, education (ERIC), psychological,
sociolog
ical, Australian and New Zealand Reference Centre, and Professional
Development databases. The focus of the search was on literature from Australia and
overseas. Not all research was available for download on the internet or through the
University of Balla
rat library. In these instances, the relevant abstracts are included in this
review.



Internet Search:

A search of
relevant internet sites (Australian and interna
tional) was
undertaken, however

given the large amounts
of un
referenced literature this search

was
restricted.



The Role of
School
s
in Addressing the Health, Welfare and Educational

N
eeds of Students


There is a current and w
ell
-
founded perception that s
chools
provide

a
broader range of services



in addition to the teaching task


that address th
e health and welfare (social and physical
)
needs
of the
ir

students, their families and the community. There is a growing recognition of the
important, multi
-
faceted role that schools now assume, as evidenced by the establishment in 1995
of the World Healt
h Organisation’s (WHO) global school health initiative to improve the health of
students and members within the school community and beyond (WHO, 2005). The prime
objective of this program is to mobilise awareness in schools of their approach

and capacity
to
foster healthy living, learning and working

environments. This initiative


which has a strong health
promotion focus


is significant as it acknowledges the important and ‘holistic’ role that schools
now have in
promoting the
physical and
psychological

health and welfare

of its students
.


Recognition of the role that schools have in addressing the health and welfare needs of students
is, in part, due to
the significant amount of time


160 or more days per year


(
Sugai, 2003) that
students spend in sch
ool during their formative years, as well as the uniqueness of the
relationships that students form between their peers and teachers in both structured and
unstructured situations (Gr
esham, 2004). According to
Walker (2004), schools are now acting as
surro
gate parents for students and as such schools

are

in a unique and important position to help
solve many of the complex health
,

welfare

and educational

problems
of

students.



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The Characteristics of the Current Strategies and Models
to m
eet the
Health
, Welf
are and Educational

Needs of
Students


T
he increasi
ngly important role of

s
chools in addressing the health
,
welfare

and
educational

needs of its students
has seen a
surge in service delivery programs to address specific
school/student
problems and
issues
.

A number of these school
-
based programs (which were
briefly referred to in the introduction) have been developed in response to either global trends
within the student population, or to specific school
-
based problems and concerns within the
student popula
tion. Despite the differing reasons
and
applications of these programs, all share a
common objective of improving the health and welfare of students.

However, there are also other
commonalities between many of these programs


not only evidenced in the Aus
tralian research
and literature but also that from the US and UK


pertaining

to the strategies and approaches that
are being widely used within schools. The characteristic approaches and strategies that are
frequently being used and referred to are (a) pr
imary prevention and early intervention, (b) whole
school approaches, (c) school
-
community
-
family collaborations, and (d) connections between
schools and local agencies. Each of these will be discussed in further detail
below.


Primary Prevention and Early

Intervention


One of the most c
ommon approaches or strategies

used
in

many school
-
based programs
to
address the
health,
welfare
and educational
needs
of
students

is intervention and prevention.
Intervention and prevention
share similarities
to the four

le
vels of activity for student
-
centred
approaches which is outlined in the draft document for the Catholic Education Office (Ballarat
Diocese) and adapted from
the
F
ramework for Student Support Services for the Department of
Education
, Victoria
.


From a US p
erspective, Gresham (2004) speculates that the move towards intervention and
prevention
w
ithin educational setting
s

has arisen
because of major incidents

that have

occurred

in
schools, such as mass levels of school violence. Reactions to such incidents hav
e impelled non
-
educational bodies to call for a reduction of school
-
based violence using preventative strategies,
including prevention and intervention based programs. Prior to this,
many welfare programs within
schools were simply reactive
.
Consequently,

intervention and prevention
models are now
gaining
greater
momentum and acceptance

within the educational field
.


In his article exploring models for promoting mental health in children, Power (2003) emphasised
the need for reform in addressing the menta
l health needs of school aged children. Providing well
researched and developed strategies for dealing with these problems is necessary. Power
suggests that part of this reform requires

a

preventative approach to dealing with the issues, as
opposed one whi
ch is reactive to the problems that are already occurring.


According to Power (20
03) preventative programs where
by

issues are addressed when students
are healthy, and before they exhibit signs of problems, can be suitably incorporated within schools
bec
ause the majority of children attend formalised schooling. Power

(2003)

cites the Institute of
Medicine’s three differing levels of program prevention namely universal, selected and
i
ndicated.
The ‘universal’ level refers to the development of preventative

programs and promoting good
mental health for the whole population. The ‘selective’ level of prevention provides a more
targeted approach to sub groups of the population for which there is an increased likelihood of
them presenting with problems. The fina
l level entitled ‘indicated’ focuses specifically of those
children who are already presenting with problems but which may benefit from a preventative

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program which reduces the chances of more serious problems occurring (Power, 2003). This
preventative pro
gram is one component of the ‘strength orientated model’ (as opposed to the
flawed, ‘deficit
-
orientated model’) which empowers children with strength and competence through
the development of models that have a preventative focus.


The three levels of prev
ention identified by the Institute of Medicine (1994, as cited in Power,
2003) are analogous to the “Primary Prevention”, “Early Intervention” and “Intervention” levels of
activity that the Catholic Education Office has adopted in its draft of student cent
red approaches
model. This further attests to the value of this proposed model and the benefits it should provide
to students, their school and the community.



Furthering our
understanding of

intervention

techniques
, Gresham (2004) suggests that an extra

‘layer’ should be implemented to any behaviour intervention program for
school

children
in order
to “maintain, mod
ify, intensify, or withdraw

an

intervention” (p. 330). Gresham suggests that a
student’s Response To Intervention (RTI) helps determine the
way in which an intervention is
maintained, modified, intensified or implemented and provides a stronger and more effective
intervention framework.


Preventative, school
-
based programs that aim to reduce negative behaviours and risks within the
school envi
ronment was the focus of a meta
-
analysis by Wilson et al. (2000, cited in Prior & Paris,
2005).
They found

that the effectiveness of these preventative programs ar
e closely linked to the
‘focus’ or approach of

such programs. Specifically, cognitive behavio
ur programs were found to
me most
effective

in reducing anti
-
social behaviour and delinquency (Paris & Prior, 2005, p. 25).
Another noticeable feature of these successful, preventative programs was the importance
attributed t
o the school environment and sc
hool

management
,

both of which provide
d

an
important

model
f
or

consisten
cy
,

and the promotion of

‘pro
-
social values’.



Whole School

Approaches: Health and

Welfare

and

Inclusive Educational Practices


The importance of the whole school approach is mention
ed frequently in the literature and is
highlighted by Hawkins et al. (1992, p2, as cited in Crow et al., 2004) who conducted a review of
longitudinal research and found a link between risk factors for children and the developmen
t of
problem behaviours. R
is
k
and protective factors can be identified in the

family, the community
,

the individual
,

and the school. Successful school interventions therefore
should be tied closely to
the students, their comm
unity, family, school and so on
. This

‘holistic’ approach
formed the basis
of a British interventionist programme in the 1990’s. This program
,

entitled Communities that
Care, focused on children from communities that traditionally developed social problems. The
program was established in recognition of the import
ance that the wider community has over
children
. A process of community change was
therefore implemented within

the child’s immediate
community and
environment includ
ing their

school, famil
y
, community and

other related

services.


Similarly
,

schools are no
w adopting a ‘whole school approach’ in conjunction
with programs

and
initiatives that embrace intervention and prevention strategies. Sugui’s (2003) commentary on
primary prevention suggests that prevention is focused on ‘whole school cultures’ in which s
ocial
behaviours and teaching are a priority within schools.





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Specific programs and project
s

previously discussed in this review have adopted a whole school
approach to problems associated with the health and welfare of students. The Health Promoting
Sch
ool Program developed by the WHO has a strong ‘whole school focus’ which incorporates
school staff
, family and community members, while the MindMatters program also had a strong
‘whole school’ focus.


Aspects of the whole school approach
appear to be
analo
gous with inclusive learning
. The
philosophy behind inclusive
educational practice

is that students


such as those who are gifted,
or have a
disab
ility
, or who spe
a
k English as a second language


learn more effectively in
conventional
classrooms
rather
t
han

being

isolated in special classes (Martain, 2005).

In a ‘
case
study’ approach in which the practice of inclusive learning was examined in one London school,
Corbett (2001) identified that effective, inclusive learning

in

schools comprised
some of

the
following f
eatures
:

the
school
staff ha
ve

a shared vision
, there is

commitment to the leadership of
the school
,

appropriate levels of resourcing
are available
,

and
the

school
is open
to attaining new
skills and trying different strategies.
This is supporte
d by Doyle (2002, as cited in Giangreco,
2003) who suggests that effective, inclusive learning for students wit
h a disability

can only occur
when a clear effort has been made and collaboration is facilitated between teachers, special
educators, families an
d administrators. Many of
the
‘positive’
elements
for fostering inclusive
educational practice

could

also be adopted
to
produce
change across the ‘
whole school

.


Indeed, i
nclusive educational practice

has

become stronger and more firmly entrenched within
schools, with teaching staff seeking “appropriate strategies for ensuring that students with
disabilities receive the support within the general
education
classroom” (
Klinger et al.,
1998,

p. 1
56
).

Tomlinson (2004) argues

however

that in many school stud
ents who differ from the

norm


are single
d

out and set apart from other students and placed in alternative programs.
It is
suggested that t
his process of ‘segregation’, (whether for gifted children, remedial learners or
students from different cultural
ba
ckgrounds
) may not be
curriculum
-
appropriate, efficacious or
beneficial to these students. Instead
Tomlinson

(2004)
suggest
s

that educator
s

embrace and
respond
accordingly
to learner differences
rather than expecting the child to adjust

to the learning
env
ironment,
particularly given the increasing number ‘diverse’ student needs (Tomlinson, 2004,
p. 519 & 520). Tomlinson suggests that educators need to carefully consider the impact on
students, scho
ols and the broader community when

segregating students.


Z
igmond (2001), who has observed a shift in thinking towards s
pecial education in the last
few
years
, reinforces the unique status of special education in schools by stating that its primary goal
is to focus on indivi
dual needs. As such, it is goal
-
driven,
intensive and requires strategic
planning. In addition,
Zigmond (2001) suggests
it should be grounded in research and practice
(this links closely with one of the key premises of
e
vidence
-
based practice, see below), has
specific goals for individual
studen
ts

that entails a constant monitoring and cha
nging (where
necessary) of the student
’s goals.

As Zigmond (2001)

summarises, “it means providing students
who have learning and behavioural disorders with something truly special” (p. 75).

In a more
recent art
icle, Zigmond (2003) critique
s

the literature and research
about

where students with
disabilities should be educated
and
suggest
s
that the “setting” of the program should be
considered equally


and
in conjunction


with the teaching strategies an
d

approac
hes
for special
education.


One option for the delivery of inclusive learning practice
s

is co
-
teaching as it support
s

students
with a disabili
ty within the general classroom
. This approach has bee
n used within the secondary
schools
(
Rice & Zigmond, 2000).
Co
-
teaching (or cooperative teaching) is defined as an approach

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in which generalist and specialist educators work in collaboration to teach groups of students
(including s
pecial needs students) within the

same, integrated educational setting (Bauwens,
Hour
cade, & Friend, 1989)
.
Rice and Zigmond (2000) investigated co
-
teaching approaches in a
selection of Australian and US secondary schools. While a number of different themes were
identified followi
ng interviews with the teachers

and
during
observations with
in

the co
-
teaching
classrooms, co
-
teaching was viewed favourably as an “effective support option” (p. 190) to
provide inclusive learning in secondary schools. One of the important features that contributed to
the success of co
-
teaching was the commitment o
f schools and staff to the program. It was
proposed that the program was often restricted by the negative attitudes of staff towards inclusion
and co
-
teaching principles (Rice & Zigmond, 2000). This latter comment further supports the
importance that a who
le school approach has in the implementation of new programs, and in this
instance, inclusive educational practice.


Pre
-
service courses are an important strategy for promoting inclusive practice.
Carroll (2003)
examined

the e
ffect of a special education p
reservice short
-
course (10 weeks) on the attitudes of
student teachers towards disability. The study found that the short course (the content of which
included “the contextual framework of special education; individuals first; inclusion as an
educational p
ractice; and, classroom practice for students with special needs”,
p. 4) had a positive
e
ffect on the student
-
teacher’s attitudes towards disability (they felt “less ignorant”; more
competent in dealing with students with a disability) and the incorporatio
n of students with a
disability in the classroom. In concluding, Carroll proposes that many of the features of this course
are imperative when developing courses to support students with a disability in an inclusive
educational environment. Some of these f
eatures include the sharing of common coursework and
experiences during teacher training, providing opportunities for collaboration, consultation and
problem
-
solving within the educational environment, developing behaviour
-
management skills,
producing effe
ctive learning experiences and managing inclusive curriculum for students (Carroll,
2003).


The whole school a
pproach


and
many aspects of
inclusive educational practice


also shares
some similarities with two of the four levels of activity implemented i
n the Catholic Education
Office
’s s
tudent
-
centre
d

approach, namely th
e “Restoring Relationships and W
ell
-
B
eing” and
“Primary Prevention” level. The former has a broader focus on community and school following a
critical incident, while the latter seeks to
embrace the whole community in
its development

of
“supportive relationships and sense of belonging” (p. 2).


School
-
Community
-
Family Collaborations


Closely linked to the ‘whole school’ approach is the emphasis on collaborations between schools,
their c
ommunity and parents/family. Indeed building stronger relationships between key
stakeholders is gaining momentum in

the community and family studies

literature

where it is
recognised
as an

e
ffective
means of change that incorporate
s

broad commitment and
co
llaboration with significant others.


The significance of school, family and community relationships should not be underestimated.
This is highlighted by Sanson (200
2
) who referred to a recent West

Australian study into child
health and temperament and fou
nd that the social, community, family factors have

been linked
with pathways to disease are also inextricably important to educational, psychosocial and
behavioural outcomes (Sanson, 2002
, p. 11).



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Power (2003)
also

advocates

the community
-
partnership appr
oach and suggests that

this
approach

is imperative

in order to make i
mprovements to mental health programs for children. In
particular, he suggests that the development and success of mental health services within the US

i
s contingent on involvement from a

range of stakeholders including caregivers, children,
educators, community leaders and soon. Furthermore, Power suggests that collaboration between
stakeholders should occur at all stages of a program’s development as it contributes a sense of
empowerment

within the community that can facilitate positive program outcomes.


In re
cent years a number of programs


particularly
targeted at secondary school students


have been established that have a strong emphasis on building relationships between the schoo
l
and the families of students. These collaborations have been used as the basis for preventative
school
-
based programs. One such Australian project, which has a strong collaborative foundation,
is the
Resilient

Families program which is currently being
tr
ialled

in Victoria. Specifically designed
to foster and improve wellbeing within early secondary school students, the program relies heavily
on building strong, positive relationships between the students, their parents and other adults. As
a preventative
program
, it
build
s

a stronger bond between parents and children facilitated by and
at school in order to reduce health
-
compromising behaviours in children and for the development
of a stronger bond between students and si
gnificant adults in their lives. Th
is
,

in turn
,

act
s

as a
basis for any interventionist
-
ther
apy that may be required in later
years (Shortt & Toumbourou,
2005).This program has only recently been trialled within scho
ols and therefore the short

and long
term impact of this program
are yet to

be determined.


Connections between Schools and Local Agencies


The
connections between

schools and agencies are

closely linked to relationship building
between students and their community and the impact this can have on student health and well
-
being. Th
e importance of community on the health and welfare of children has been researched
and referred to previously as

hav
ing

a significant impact on a child’s wellbeing. For example,
communities that
l
ack connectivity, or are associated with higher rates of cr
ime, or poor part
i
al
supervision have been found to have higher rates of child maltreatment (Vinson et al., 1996, as
cit
ed in Vimpani et al., 2001
). New program initiative
s

that focus on prevention and intervention
are starting to focus more closely on the

important role of
community as

exhibited in the
C
ommunities that
C
are programs that have been developed in recent years in the UK (
i.e.
,
Hawkins, 1999; France & Crowe, 2001
,

as cited Prior & Paris, 2005)
.




Evidence
-
B
ased Practice and Best Practice
in Sc
hools


What is
E
vidence
-
B
ased
P
ractice?


Evidence
-
based practice (EBP) refers broadly to “a body of scientific knowledge about treatments,
prevention
-
intervention approaches, or service practices” (Hoagwood 2003
-
04, as cited in Walker,
p. 2). Interest in,
and use of evidence
-
based practice, or best practice, within the education setting
has increased considerab
ly over the last ten years (Walker
, 2004). Prior to this, there was a void
between the availability of evidence
-
based practice and its transference i
n the school setting
(Walker &
Gresham, 2003, as cited in
Walker, 2004
). In a recent commentary,
Walker (2004) cites
a number of studies that have highlighted the failure of schools to adopt and encourage evidence
-
based practices within the field. However,

since the US adopted its No Child Left Behind Act in


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which was

aimed at
improv
ing

primary and secondary school performance and
to
ensure
that no child is left behind in a “failing school” (US Department of Education)
,

educators
in the US
are now e
mbracing elements of evidence
-
based practices, such as in
tervention and prevention
(
Walker, 2004).


To ensure the effective development of EBP within the school setting,
Walker

(2004) suggests
that

three areas are integral to the continued development of i
ntervention and prevention
approaches. The first of these is the construction of appropriate treatment protocols to ensure the
validity of scientific studies. Secondly, valid practices or approaches need to be developed
for use

within the field, and finall
y, the program needs to address the perspectives of all
stakeholders,
including parents and

families in order to assess the effectiveness of new practices. These three
stages help to lessen the gap between research and practice.


Kratochwill and Shernoff
(2004) examined some of the limitations that
s
chool
p
sychologists have
identified when implement
ing

sustainable EBPs within the school setting. The most notable of
these was the lack of integration between evidence
-
based practice and its implementation by

the
psychologist, and the
lack of
training in best practice
principles of many psychologists
. To address
these issues Kratochwill and Shernoff (2004) proposed five stages to help foster EBP, including
(a) establishing practice
-
based research, (b) encourag
ing EBP methodologies within the field, (c)
developing guidelines for
p
ractitioners when using EBP, (d) providing opportunities or knowledge
attainment and development with reference to EBP, and (e) partnering with other professional
groups who have adopte
d EBP.


Best Practice in Acti
on: Programs Meeting the Health,
Welfare

and Educational

Needs of
Students

The Campbell Collaboration

(C2)
is a non
-
profit organization that aims to help people make well
-
informed decisions about the effects
of interventions in

the social,
behav
ioral and educational
arenas.
C2's objectives are to prepare, maintain and disseminate systematic revi
ews of studies of
interventions
. C2 builds summaries and electronic brochures of reviews and reports of trials for
policy makers, practi
tioners, researchers and the public.

C2 is providing

an increasingly rich resource of evidence
-
based practice. Examples of relevant
reviews and protocols prepared by C2 are:

Families and Schools Together (FAST) for improving social, psychological and educa
tional
outcomes in children aged 4
-
13 and their families

http://

www.campbellcollaboration.org/doc
-
pdf/soydanFASTprot.pdf


Multi
-
systemic therapy for social, emotio
nal and behavioural problems in children and
adolescents aged 10
-
17

http://

www.campbellcollaboration.org/doc
-
pdf/Mst_Littell_Review.pdf


Effects of school
-
base
d social information processing interventions on aggressive
behaviour

http://

www.campbellcollaboration.org/doc
-
pdf/agbhprt.pdf



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Effectiveness of parental involvement of a
cademic performance of elementary school
children


http://

www.campbellcollaboration.org/doc
-
pdf/parentinvprot_nye.pdf


Speech and language therapy interventions

for children with primary speech and language
delay or disorder

http://

www.campbellcollaboration.org/doc
-
pdf/spchther.pdf


Despite some of the hurdles to adopting EBP s
uccessfully within the school environment, there
have been a number of studies from Australia and overseas which have adopted EBP to address
the health and welfare needs
of school students. Within
Australia
,

a
number of EBP programs

to
improve aspects of
student well
-
being have focused on
problems such as bullying and
harassment.
For example
, Soutter and McKenzie (2000
)

adopted best
-
practices to address
bullying and harassment in primary and secondary schools. The strategies used included the
promotion of
a ‘whole school approach’ to student welfare (p. 97), with staff, parents and students
working together to adopt appropriate school
-
based bullying programs. The outcomes of this
research

emphasise the necessity of the class room teacher to act as the model

for children by
exhibiting appropriate, respectful relationships and encouraging effective conflict resolution within
the whole school community (Soutter & McKenzie, 2000). This approach recognises the
importance placed on teachers in the role of social m
odelling and further supports the previous
claims that schools provide a range of services other than those with an educational basis.


Larger, state
-
wide projects promoted through recognised institut
ions (eg
.,
the Royal Children’s
Hospital)
are developing

programs that promote or address the health and welfare issues for
Australian children and adolescents. These programs have a strong EBP
approach
. One of these
programs is the Gatehouse project, des
igned in the late 1990
s to promote the emotional well
bei
ng of students in secondary schools. The program, which is run by the Centre for Adolescent
Health auspiced jointly by the Royal Children’s Hospital and Murdoch Children’s Research Centre,
encourages participating schools to build capacity in adolescent me
ntal health. This pr
ogram

provides a 5
-
step evidence
-
based process for undertaking the program. Specifically, the
framework for building capacity is based on strong teacher
-
student relationships and a
comprehensive, ‘whole
-
school’ approach to implementing
individual and environ
mental supports
to promote

emotional well
-
being. Participating schools work through a multi
-
staged evidence
-
based process which provides for further development of the program, reviewing past data and
research, implementing planning o
f the program, training staff to implement the program and
finally monitoring and evaluating the program (Gatehouse, 2002)


On a national scale, the MindMatters program has strong EBP components. This program has
been designed to promote better mental hea
lth and wellbeing and strengthen the role of schools
and teachers through this process (Wyn et al., 2000).
As one of its
strengths
, this program is built
upon a
framework for promoting mental healt
h, which
has a strong grounding in EBP. For
example, the pr
ogram was developed in collaboration with a range of health and education
al
professions and drew upon
‘exemplary practice’ in education. This framework provides the basis
for tangible, informative and current curriculum materials for students, and the deve
lopment of
informative resources for teachers. In addition, the program was piloted, professional
development opportunities were provided to school staff and evaluations of the program were
undertaken.





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At a local level,
the
University of Melbourne’s Po
stgraduate Diploma in Educational Studies
(Student Welfare) helps provide

some of

the foundation for
EBP

for teachers. This course is
offered to

teachers

and

provides them with

the opportunity to increase their professional

development
and to

take
the
lead

in
promoting better m
ental health within their schools

(Freeman,
Strong, Cahill, Wyn & Shaw, 2003)
. This course acknowledges the important role that schools
play in meeting

the social and emotional welfare

needs

of students
.




A Review of Outsourcing as

a Model for the Delivery of Human Services


A

brief literature review was also conducted of outsourcing as a model for the delivery of human
services. Most of the literature contra
sts publicly
-
funded, in
-
house

services with competitively
-
tendered outsourc
ed services.

The general conclusion from the research is that the benefits of
competitive tendering and contracting out have been overestimated, and that this funding model
can actually reduce welfare, rather than enhance it (Quiggin, 2002). Concerns about

the negative
impact of competitive tendering is indicated in the decision of some government departments to
maintain long
-
established funding relationships in the interests of stability of service provision, and
to protect capital investments in infrastru
cture (Commonwealth Department of Health and Family
Services, 1998).

However, when applied under certain circumstances and when used to
complement
public
services
, outsourcing
can be an effective and appropriate strategy.


A Summary of the Impacts of Com
petitive Tendering

and Outsourcing



Research on the impact of competitive tendering
and outsourcing
of community services can be
analysed at six levels:



service users;



individual agencies;



the government as purchaser;



the service system;



local and region
al communities; and,



civil society.

Drawing principally upon data from interviews with service purchasers and providers (Adams
&

Hess, 2000; Ernst et al.
,

1997;
Hoatson
&

Egan, 2001;
Nevile
,

1999; Nevile
,

2000; Smyth, 1997),
anal
ysis of economic data (Pi
nch &

Paterson, 2000), reviews of the research literature (Hodge,
1996; Quiggin 1996), and submissions by a range of people and organisations to government
inquiries (Administrative Review Council, 1998; House of Representatives Standing Committee on
Famil
y and Community Affairs 1998; Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services
1998; National Competition Council, 1999; Parliament of Victoria, 2000; Parliament of Victoria,
2002; Productivity Commission, 1998;
National Competition Council, 1999;
Pro
ductivity
Commission 1999; Productivity Commission, 2000), the results at each level are synthesised
below.


Service Users

Service users experience poorer access to welfare services, together with a loss of choice as a
result of the defunding of some agenc
ies. Tightened eligibility criteria have excluded some service
users, and others report that they are increasingly required to subsidise costs of the service.
Concerns have been expressed about compromises to the continuity of care following the transfer
o
f contracts from one agency to another. This is a particular concern for people with long
-
term or
chronic conditions where outcomes may be enhanced if there is continuity of service provider.

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Consumer advocacy groups report disenfranchisement because there

is less opportunity to
provide input into service planning, and fewer mechanisms for genuine consultation with larger
funded agencies. Competitive tendering may also induce some providers (particularly for
-
profit
agencies) to treat only those clients who
are easy or cheap to serve (known as ‘cream skinning’).
Both formal and informal strategies can be used to encourage some clients and exclude others.


Individual Agencies

Individual agencies say that competitive tendering increases administrative costs
, both in
preparing tenders (whether successful or not) and in meeting the onerous reporting requirements
of a contract. This has forced many small agencies to divert their resources away from direct
service provision. There are concerns about the impact o
f competitive tendering on service
quality. Agencies have reduced autonomy to develop innovative programs to meet local needs.
Competitive neutrality can not always be achieved where services are supported by volunteers
and donors. While winning a tender c
an enhance morale and bring economies of scale for an
organisation, small agencies may be forced to close if they aren’t successful. Competitive
tendering may also erode the employment conditions: experienced staff may be lost and short
-
term contracts may
not appeal to high calibre recruits. Competitive tendering has also forced not
-
for
-
profit agencies to become more like for
-
profit organizations. Many have had to progressively
adopt organizational structures and management approaches to compete


for some
this is at the
expense of their mission and values.


The Government as Purchaser

In shifting from a planning or submission model to competitive tendering, governments demand a
different range of skills from its employees. These skills include specificati
on, contract negotiation,
risk and contract management, and performance monitoring and evaluation. Empirical research
has also revealed a distancing


even distrust and suspicion


between purchasers and service
providers. Relationships between the purchas
er and its providers have deteriorated. Because of
the high transaction costs of competitive tendering, government can come to be seen as
inefficient and bureaucratic. Pearson (2003) has reviewed the government’s increasing
marketisation of the community s
ector. In Western Australia, this has involved a shift from a
submission
-
based funding model to a purchaser
-
provider model. Pearson cites the Auditor
General’s report of June 2000, which found that the relationship between not
-
for
-
profit
organisations and
government was being disrupted by: a high turnover of contract managers,
tensions, contracts that stressed penalties but not rewards, and high administrative workloads and
costs for not
-
for
-
profit organizations without a commensurate increase in government

funding.


The Service System

The service system has been greatly affected by competitive tendering processes. Staff report a
fragmentation of services. Because competitive tendering rewards individual strategy over
collaboration, agencies become more sec
retive and less trusting as they attempt to protect their
competitive advantage. It is often beyond the capacity of centralised government planning
processes to effectively determine the type, level, mix and location of services on a regional or
local basi
s. Many smaller, community
-
based agencies have been amalgamated or wound up
because they cannot compete with larger service providers. One of the consequences of this has
been a reduction in the level of volunteerism. Other agencies have amalgamated and ha
ve
reported greater infrastructure and cost savings, but some distortion of mission.





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Local and Regional Communities

Local communities have also been disadvantaged. Local governments report that competitive
tendering has increased economic disparity, co
ntributed to the closure of industries, and has
hastened population decline. Insofar as public services play an important role in the health and
stability of regional economies, compulsory competitive tendering has seriously weakened their
capacity to infl
uence regional stability and growth. Local government ‘is being “hollowed out” by
the transfer of functions, power and resources to the centre’ (Pinch
&

Paterson, 2000
, p.

272).


Civil Society

Competitive tendering can reduce the level of public accounta
bility, and weaken community
service obligations. Government becomes more remote from its citizens: avenues of
accountability can become closed off on the basis of being “commercial
-
in
-
confidence.” The
greater reliance on the contracting of services has pr
ivatised the relationship between service
providers and members of the public, and may erode the protection that administrative law offers
to citizens. Because competitive tendering ties funding to direct service provision, the political
voice of the commu
nity services sector is silenced. The community sector agencies “increasingly
represent the state (to the community) rather than represent the community (to the state)” (Kerr
&

Savelsberg, 2001
, p.

22).


Contestability Frameworks for Assessing the Appropr
iateness of
Outsourcing and
Competitive Tendering


There is now quite widespread recognition that competitive tendering is a rather blunt and
ineffective instrument for achieving improvements in efficiency and quality. It is not universally
appropriate or
applicable; clearly, there needs to be a more judicious and comprehensive
approach to assessing how different services, conditions, circumstances, and costs and desired
outcomes might influence the decision to use a competitive tendering model. As Smyth (1
997
, p.

21) argues “There are particular difficulties in using market approaches in health and social
services which demonstrate significant consequences for the provision of essential services for
those in need and for democratic accountability.”


The c
ompetitive tendering of not
-
for
-
profit community services should be preceded by an
assessment of the appropriateness of this funding model. The concept of contestability refers to
"mechanisms for assessing the suitability and desirability of exposing welfa
re services to
competitive pressures in the first place" (House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family
and Community Affairs 1998, p. 63). A key recommendation of the inquiry by the above Standing
Committee was that no further contracting out of w
elfare services take place until a continuum of
contestability framework is developed.


Some of the key indicators in assessing contestability are described in the report:

Contestability should be considered where potential providers have the expertise to

meet the tender specifications, the amount of money involved is large, the
purchasing power of customers is high, the support needs of customers is low, and
where there are no regulatory barriers to entry on ‘public interest’ ground. Where a