Community services

Community services and community support services are provided directly to the community by the council (or by others contracted by council) and are primarily aimed at supporting local communities, including vulnerable populations (often grants income funded and ‘welfare’ focused).

Services may include: long day child care, out of school hours care, residential care, retirement villages, home based care for older people and people with disability, youth outreach, arts and culture, and community transport.

Merging councils will need to identify all the community services currently provided, review/audit service types and locations for accessible, efficient and effective delivery, and establish a suitable spread of quality support services to the community of the council. They should also aim for continuous improvement in the quality and cost effectiveness of service provision and ensure that services meet the needs and expectations of customers.

Councils will need to advise funding agencies (eg NSW FACS, Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing) of boundary changes. This might require revision of contracts, funding agreements and work plans for the new council area. The new legal entity that is formed as an outcome of a merger will likely need to enter into a new funding agreement with, for example, FACS. The pre-existing funding agreements with the constituent organisations that have been merged may need to be terminated. See the Changes to Organisational and Legal Structures Policy (PDF 118KB) and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme – information for amalgamating councils (PDF, 105KB) document for more information. Councils should prepare by contacting their contract managers to discuss changes in funding agreements in case of pending amalgamations.

Community development teams within council often carry differing roles, operate under different definitions and manage a mix of often diverse services. Acknowledging this diversity in transition planning will be important in order to reflect the uniqueness of communities.

Currently councils are required to have their Disability Inclusion Action Plan completed by June 2017. The OLG has not yet communicated any changes to these timelines that might arise as a result of council mergers.

Additional information and useful materials can be found on the Resources page.

Stage 1 - Review

Service Delivery Model

  • Establish a community development working group within the project management framework. Critical paths and/or timelines to be established. While in the review stage, you may want to consider the questions contained in the Checklist Community Services and Community Support Services (PDF, 165KB) document.
  • Establish a baseline assessment model and data. For example, audit all community services and identify arrangements with funding agencies and external contractors. Councils may also map the coverage of services across the new local government area and identify areas of over an undersupply of services. The 'Resources' list provides guidance on Considerations when reviewing the Service Delivery Model (PDF, 336KB).
  • Document method and impact of service delivery.
  • Prepare inventory of technology and staff requirements.
  • Review asset, plant and equipment requirements.
  • Review reporting requirements – statutory, strategic, and operational (for example development of Disability Inclusion Action Plan).
  • Review legal / contractual obligations and insurance requirements.
  • Review and develop revised Operational Plans to inform budget and facilities planning.
  • Collate and prepare a synopsis of all supporting information, data, systems, policy and reporting etc. in preparation for mapping and analysis and establishing future requirements. You may want to consider the needs and aspirations of the community through the Checklist Community Capacity Building (PDF, 163KB).

Levels of Service and Functionality

  • Document existing types of service levels. This will likely be multiple types.
  • Define key drivers, including population characteristics and demographics, timeframes for government contracts, and upcoming developments in community services such as the roll out of the NDIS.
  • Document baseline position and performance of current service.
  • Reassurance should be given to community groups that existing programs will continue and any review will be part of normal assessment process. For example, grants programs may need to be merged but will likely continue - see Checklist Community Grants programs (PDF, 162KB) for supplementary information.

Events Management

  • Identify all events ‘owned’ by the council.
  • Identify funding models and event management model.

Stage 2 - Plan

Service Delivery Model

  • Commence preparation of a consolidated service delivery model that ensures services are maintained during the transitional stages and allows for further growth/changes. For an example audit for in-house service delivery, consider the Service Delivery Model Audit Checklist (PDF, 171KB).
  • Collate and prepare merging councils’ community development activities and functions, staffing structure and resources. Establish a baseline assessment model.
  • Establish comparable data – benchmark.
  • Define services and functions to be provided, and define method and impact of service delivery. Using libraries as a case study community service, consider the Regional Library Management Models Summary Paper (PDF, 987KB) to compare models of service provision. 
  • Define all leasing/property management and asset management requirements and actions.
  • Improve process, streamline and customer orientate.
  • Consider compliance requirements, pricing, equity and access. Contact with funding bodies to advise of changes and seek revised funding agreements
  • Address governance issues and policy.
  • Undertake a risk assessment and prepare a Risk Management Plan.
  • Develop a Commencement Day plan, noting actions that will need to be completed for day 1 of the new council and those which can be implemented over a period of time.

Levels of Service and Functionality

  • Collate and compare current service standards from merging councils.
  • Review fees and charges schedule.
  • Collate and review performance measures and key performance indicators and reporting mechanisms / requirements (including statutory).
  • Develop interim service and operational plans, processes and systems to support continuity of service provision.

Events Management

  • Develop a systemised and structured Events Management protocol for the new entity. See the resource: Event Management Tasks and Considerations (PDF, 116KB) for more information.
  • Establish a calendar of events.
  • Explore opportunities to consolidate events.
  • Consult with community/stakeholders when required.
  • Compare event management policy, process, fees and charges etc. Identify better practice opportunities.
  • Develop a risk management plan and insurance schedule.

Stage 3 - Mobilise

Service Delivery Model

  • Develop interim service and operational plans, processes and systems to support continuity of service provision. To assist with the continuation of service for library services, for example, the State Library of NSW is refining a checklist of issues that will need to be addressed to ensure effective transition.
  • Develop a premises/facilities plan (if required) to support the revised service delivery model (includes depot, administration, co-located services). Confirm cost implications.
  • Ensure all human resource and industrial relations matters are addressed. Develop and implement induction, training and development program.

Levels of service and functionality

  • In consultation with stakeholders, develop new levels of service and a revised services and facilities pricing schedule.
  • Establish new performance measures and key performance indicators and reporting mechanisms including statutory, operational and strategic requirements.
  • Document and communicate new process and changes.
  • Undertake staff and user training where required.

Events management

  • Continue to develop a systemised and structured events management protocol for the new entity.
  • Prepare an inventory and calendar of events for the new entity.
  • Review staffing requirements.
  • Maintain communications / consultation with stakeholders.
  • Prepare draft events management plan and policy for adoption.
  • Prepare new procedures and undertake staff training. Outline insurance requirements.
  • Develop an events management pack for customers.

Stage 4 - Implement

Service Delivery Model

  • Mobilise and rationalise all resources, systems and staff in line with implementation plan.
  • Implement the interim service delivery systems and logistical changes, including:
    • Revised operational plans and budgets.
    • Risk management plan to mitigate interruption to service provision.
    • Premises/facilities plan to support the revised service delivery model.
    • Asset management strategies.
    • Commencement Day plan.
  • Adopt policy(s) if applicable.
  • Continue to ensure all human resource and industrial relations processes are implemented, and implement induction, training and development program.
  • Commence tracking of costs/savings for reporting and planning purposes.

Levels of service and functionality

  • Establish new performance measures, key performance indicators and reporting mechanisms including statutory.
  • Implement operational processes and systems to support continuity of service provision.
  • Develop and implement a customer satisfaction survey for continuous improvement purposes.
  • Identify training needs and implement accordingly.
  • Ensure employee induction programs are developed and implemented.

Events management

  • Implement and adopt the Events Management protocol for the new entity.
  • Endorse and implement new events management plan.
  • Implement the customer events management pack.
  • Implement new procedures and training.