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                    [post_date] => 2017-05-23 11:05:39
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                    [post_content] => 

The Department of Health has said 22,000 home care packages have been released under the new system and it will release detailed data in July on how it’s performing.

Bonnie Carter says her 84-year-old mother has been waiting for a high-level home care package for more than 70 days.

Ms Carter says that since an Aged Care Assessment Team assessed her mother as needing the package, “nothing has happened.”

“There’s been no contact other than me calling My Aged Care several times to see where she is in the queue and how long she might have to wait,” Ms Carter says.

“Apparently no one can tell anyone anything about this mythical queue until the end of this year,” she adds.

Under the latest aged care reforms that came into force on 27 February, the Department of Health has created a new centralised process for allocating home care packages directly to consumers.

As part of the new system a “national prioritisation process” has been created: after a senior is assessed as needing a home care package they join a new national queue where they wait to be allocated a package.

How long a senior waits on the queue is based on various factors – such as their level of need, how long they’ve been waiting and how quickly a package at their level of need becomes available (the number of packages is increasing but remains capped by government).

It’s a complex new system and, in the absence of transparency around how it is working, confusion is mounting among providers and consumers.

Read more here.

This story first appeared in Australian Ageing Agenda. 
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                    [post_content] => 

 

Cumberland Council will press ahead with a controversial plan to outsource kerbside waste and recycling before September’s local government elections.

The Western Sydney suburbs council, born out of a forced merger between Holroyd and Auburn Councils and part of Parramatta in May 2016, has put the council’s waste and recycling services out to tender with a deadline of May 26.

Up for grabs are services include kerbside garbage; recyclables; organics and garden waste; council clean ups and picking up dumped rubbish and this covers around  70,000 housesholds.

This translates annually into dealing with around 60,000 tonnes of garbage; 14,000 tonnes of recycling and 5,500 tonnes of organic and green waste, as well as two to four council clean ups a year and collecting dumped rubbish within 24 hours of it being reported.

Government News understands that new contractors could take over from as early as August. They will manage the transition to a new service and begin a four-year contract from January 2019 with the option to extend this by three years.

Council Administrator Viv May commissioned reviews into council services, including garbage collection and council swimming pools, after taking over last year.

The waste review, written by council officers, showed a marked preference towards outsourcing services to the private sector and argued that the council could cut its costs by 20 per cent through bigger contracts and reduced operating costs.

Most of the council’s waste and recycling services are currently delivered by council garbos, apart from waste services in Woodville Ward, which used to come under Parramatta Council, and the recyclables collection in the former Holroyd Council area.

Mr May has copped flak from former Holroyd Mayor Greg Cummings, as well as resistance from the United Services Union (USU), which represents local government workers in NSW.

Mr Cummings said Mr May was ‘overstepping his responsibilities’ and driving changes through before the council went into caretaker mode in early August.

“This is done at break-neck speed to make sure it’s done before an elected council can review it,” Mr Cummings said.

“By all means collect the information and get a report but it should be there ready for the democratically elected council to review.”

Mr Cummings said Mr May was known to be an enthusiastic advocate of outsourcing and had a track record in that area.

Mr May spent 27 years as Mosman Council’s General Manager where he outsourced the council’s  outdoor work and reduced council employed outdoor workers from more than 100 to six.

Mr Cummings also criticised the council for omitting diversion to landfill in the tender. He said that the former Holroyd Council had managed to divert 62 per cent of green waste from landfill using UR-3R alternative waste treatment plant in Eastern Creek.

But Cumberland Council’s Group Manager, Roads and Waste Peter Fitzgerald defended the decision to go out to competitive tender.

He said the council’s review estimated it would yield more than $16 million in savings and ensure a more consistent service. It would also finally give Woodville ward residents a green waste bin so they would no longer have to trek to the council’s depot.

“Given that the existing contract for waste services in the Woodville ward expires in November this year council could not wait any longer to make a decision about the provision of waste services,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“Council must provide a consistent service to all residents irrespective of which part of the council area they live in.”

He said around 34 council staff would be affected by decision.

“All affected council staff have been assured that if they want a job with council they will still have a job with council, regardless of the decision to call tenders for these services,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

Mr May told Government News in October last year that Administrators had the same powers as mayors and councillors and would make decisions accordingly. 

The USU is not convinced and has come out against the outsourcing plans, arguing that service levels will drop and rates will rise. It led a public rally against Cumberland Council outsourcing in February.

The USU website says of the tender: “We all know that private waste collection companies don’t care about ratepayers or the local community, they only care about one thin: delivering profit margins to their shareholders.

“The contractors won’t have time to do missed services or go the extra mile by taking your bin in if you can’t. Yes, that’s what the hard working council garbos do for the community.”

But disentangling the legacy of three different councils’ waste and recycling services will not be easy.

The council will have to pay out staff redundancies and long service leave along with paying penalties on any contracts which are terminated early, some of which do not expire until 2020.

The United Services Union has been contacted for comment.

More to follow.
                    [post_title] => Merged NSW council outsources rubbish and recycling before councillors elected
                    [post_excerpt] => Union and ex-mayor enter fray.
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                    [post_date] => 2017-04-28 11:36:28
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                    [post_content] => 

 

By Charles Pauka

To misquote Mark Twain ‘reports of the death of developments in the international trade agenda have been greatly exaggerated’ with the recent announcement that Australia has successfully concluded negotiations with New Zealand and 12 Pacific Island countries in Brisbane to implement the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus).

Australia was a party to the original PACER for some time but the development of PACER Plus has taken longer than anticipated and most recently a prospective date for completion of negotiations of June 2016 did not come to fruition. However, these types of negotiations rarely run to an exact timetable and the announcement comes at a welcome time, even though the deal has been struck without Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Fiji who had earlier withdrawn from the negotiations due to their reservations on what economic benefits would actually be delivered to them. It is not clear whether the deal would allow for PNG and Fiji to join before the final agreement is entered into. Interestingly the absence of PNG and Fiji from the deal does not appear in the press release by our Trade Minister.

The specific details of the agreement have yet to be released ahead of signing in Tonga in June.  However, according to the press release from the Minister of Trade:

“PACER Plus is a landmark agreement covering goods, services and investment. It will remove barriers to trade, including tariffs, increasing the flow of goods and investment in the region, generating growth, jobs and raising living standards.  This agreement will drive economic growth and raise living standards in our region.”

Read more here.

This story first appeared in Transport and Logistics News. 
                    [post_title] => PACER Plus: a ray of sunshine in a gloomy trade world
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                    [post_content] =>  
Will Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce succeed in herding public servants out of Canberra?

 

The recent controversy surrounding the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) away from Canberra to Armidale and the National’s push to force government departments to justify why they should remain in Canberra has helped reignite debate around regional development.

So too has intensifying anxiety around house prices in Sydney and Melbourne and the rising despair of first home buyers and renters, which federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has indicated will be a cornerstone of his May Budget.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, whose New England electorate takes in Armidale, and National’s Deputy Leader Fiona Nash have led the charge to eject cadres of Canberra’s public servants into the regions, despite the APVMA relocation failing the government’s own cost-benefit analysis and being fiercely opposed by most of its workers and the National Farmers’ Federation.

More than 80 per cent of APVMA staff, many of whom are highly specialised scientists, have refused to up sticks for Armidale. APVMA’s chief Kareena Arthy quit the agricultural chemicals agency one week ago for a job as Deputy Director-General of Enterprise Canberra, rather than move.

But Nash and Joyce won’t let go.

Ms Nash has said that regional Australians “have just as much right to a government career as Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra residents”.

“The fact is most moves of government departments to the regions will save money on rent and rates. It’s also fact the vast majority of employees in government departments don’t need to visit the Minister’s office in Parliament House,” Ms Nash said. “Indeed two thirds of Australian government jobs are already outside Canberra, many of them in Melbourne and Sydney.”

Sydney University Emeritus Professor Frank Stilwell, a political economist who has written widely on regional development, says targeting public sector jobs in Canberra is a furphy when Sydney and Melbourne are the most overheated.

Prof Stilwell says Canberra’s creation back in the early 1900s as the nation’s independent capital city, was designed to decentralise economic activity away from Sydney and Melbourne.

“It was a counter magnet for the overdevelopment of the eastern seaboard. Frankly [moving jobs out of Canberra] just doesn’t make sense to me,” he says.

Creating Canberra was “socially legitimate and long-term and did not involve politicians pork barrelling for their own electorate”.

The critical mass of public servants in Canberra allows for interactions between agencies, knowledge clusters and greater staff mobility.

Australian National University Emeritus Professor of political science John Warhurst agrees that Canberra is the wrong target for decentralisation.

“It is actually the best Australian example of decentralisation to the bush that there is. It is a bush capital. The Nationals should be proud of this national achievement rather than try to undermine it,” he wrote, in a piece for Fairfax yesterday (Thursday).

“Furthermore, Canberra is still quite a small city, dependent on public service employment.”

Prof Stilwell says APVMA’s relocation looks especially ill-advised since it is not backed up by the Ernst and Young cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the government and foisting the move on staff was unlikely to be popular.

“It is very disruptive for anybody. Many people have already invested in homes and have kids in schools. Not that Armidale is a backwater. It’s great for education and affordable real estate prices that are much more attractive than our overstressed capital cities.

“If this [move] can’t work, maybe there is something wrong with the process. Shifting around the federal public service is just not really addressing the problem.”

Prof Stilwell says that what is needed is a coherent strategy backed by all three tiers of government with state government leading the way to address the overcentralisation in Sydney and Melbourne, “that’s where the action needs to be”, he says.

While he won’t be drawn on which state government departments or agencies should go bush, he says he would target relatively autonomous, footloose agencies that were not linked into a political cluster where staff needed to interact.

There has already been some decentralisation, such as moving the ATO to Gosford.

But he says it takes political will to plan decentralise jobs and growth and this kind of co-operation and nation building has not happened since Whitlam’s national regional strategy in the 1970s, which bit the bullet after three years when Malcolm Fraser was elected.

“It’s not pie in the sky, it just hasn’t happened for a long, long time in Australia. It needs to have cross-party support or it will get switched on and off when the government changes.”

He says this vision has never been reinstated, other than the Building Better Cities program under the Hawke government and led by Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe.

A national strategy would need to be underpinned by research to investigate long-term, sustainable policy options alongside a willingness to invest in rural and regional infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, public housing and roads.

“State governments have to be the leading agencies but they’re not going to do it unless there’s a national plan because otherwise they are in competition with each other.”

The government should also focus on enticing private businesses to the regions, not just the public sector.

For example by offering preferential payroll tax rates, developing industrial parks, building public housing and other infrastructure such as fast rail links between state capitals, with stops on the way to develop two or three regional centres in each state.

“It’s a complex process. They just need time to get everyone used to the idea, get everyone committed so that eventually it develops its own inevitable momentum. While it’s a [political] football and controversial it’s not going to tick any of the boxes of economic viability,” Prof Stilwell says.

Regional development has received further attention with the transplantation of the UK City Deals program to Australia, where capital investment is funnelled into particular regions around cities with targets for infrastructure and growth.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull known to be a fan of the project and early Australian cities deals have already been signed for Townsville, Launceston and Western Sydney.

Regional development must be addressed because the consequences of not pursuing it are high: unequal distribution of jobs, wealth and growth and loss of social connection in regional areas on the one hand; congestion, inflated house prices and environmental degradation for city dwellers on the other.

“It’s a win-win, when it is done well,” Prof Stilwell adds.

The Productivity Commission’s initial report Transitioning Regional Economies says that regional development should be pursued in the light of the end of the mining boom, the slow growth of agriculture jobs due to technology and rising productivity and manufacturing sector shrinkage to make regional areas and their people more resilient.
                    [post_title] => Target Sydney and Melbourne public sector jobs, not Canberra
                    [post_excerpt] => APVMA debate rages on.
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                    [post_date] => 2017-04-27 16:35:24
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                    [post_content] => 
Can Health exorcise the ghosts of failed past government IT projects?

 

 

There is a graveyard bigger than Rookwood Cemetery filled with the cadavers of failed government IT projects and haunted by the ghosts of scope creep, budget blowouts, frustrating delays and second rate outcomes.

It is a fate the Department of Health (DOH) will be dearly hoping it can avoid as it pushes ahead to completely reimagine its 30-year-old IT payments system, a system which underpins Medicare, aged care and veterans’ payments and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The project is still in its early stages. The Request for Information (RFI) went out in March this year as the government gathers as many ideas as it can from tech companies of varying sizes to design, deliver and integrate its digital payments platform, a project that will have multiple phases over the next five years, while keeping its procurement options open.

Vendors are likely to be salivating at the chance to score a lucrative, long-running contract which has about the highest public profile there is for a federal government IT project, perhaps surpassed only by the Department of Human Services’ $1 billion, seven-year Welfare Payments Infrastructure Transformation (WPIT), due for completion by 2022.

But it will not be easy money. It is not a straight forward task to disentangle the current system, which has over 200 applications and 90 databases and supports more than 600 million payments worth approximately $50 billion every year.

The Health Department cannot afford to slip up because if it does it will do so very publicly. The multi-million dollar transformation is an endeavour that will affect around 99 per cent of Australians who use the digital payments platform in one way or another.

CEO of business management company Holocentric, Bruce Nixon, who has worked with government clients such as the ATO, NSW Transport Management Centre, Sydney Water and IP Australia, says now is the right time to do it, before the labyrinthine system gets even more complicated.

“It’s pretty exciting and it is long overdue. It’s a good time to be doing it with new technology available,” Mr Nixon says.

“It is very difficult to integrate everything into the application so there are more and more layers on top and they become more and more complex and unwieldy.

“There does come a time where it makes sense to overhaul the system and replace it with something more modern that allows changes.”

Time is also limited so DOH has little choice but to act. Gary Sterrenberg, CIO of the Department of Human Services, which manages health payments for DOH, has said in the past that the current system has only about three years left before it is totally cactus.

There is no doubt that DOH needs to get on with it but it needs to do it well. 

Critical to the project’s success, says Mr Nixon, is building expertise and loyalty in-house, rather than shifting the burden and responsibility onto systems integrators, although he says external contractors will be needed and they will bring in fresh ideas.

“You should bet on your own people. Open their knowledge. Bring them into the project as early as possible and keep them involved all the way through,” he says.

“Be upfront about how it’s going to work in the future, the ramifications. It de-risks the project.”

Doing this helps prevent cost overruns and scope creep, as well as skilling up staff, and ensures that the people who know and understand the processes the system is built for are more involved in the project.

It makes it more likely that the system can incorporate any necessary changes to payments further down the track too.

“There are always going to be policy changes and political influences. Transformation is ongoing and it is hard to change if you don’t have in-house skills and knowledge,” Mr Nixon says.

It is the people at the coalface processing payments - not systems integrators - who have this knowledge.

“You need to leverage these skills and engage these staff in the process, rather than relying on systems integrators,” he adds.

Integrating the technical into the operational demands a thorough knowledge of current processes and assessing desirable outcomes, along with building in the flexibility to adjust systems to reflect future changes.

It requires drilling down and looking at how payments are made, defining the tasks workers must do, the rules and obligations they are working under, and thinking about how these integrate into the IT system.

Mr Nixon says it is important to examine what can be done better and the expectations Australians have of the system, for example, of being able to make mobile payments.

“The Department should make sure it takes control of the whole transformation initiative. This is a very complex system that has been around for a long time with a huge amount of transactions that are very important to get right.

“You need to start change management from the early days, not at the end, identify current processes, system capabilities and your future vision."

He suggests building a model to simulate the processes and how things will work, “sort of like a business GPS”.

Mr Nixon says there are lessons to be learned from other IT disasters, whether from Australia or overseas, cautionary tales worth heeding by governments before they blow billions and incur the wrath of ordinary Australians when the systems they rely upon seize up.

“It’s worth being wary of past failures,” he says.

Probably one of the most spectacular domestic IT failures occurred when Queensland Health set out to replace its ailing payroll system in 2006. When the system eventually went live in 2010 thousands of workers were underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all and Queensland taxpayers were left with a $1.2 billion bill for a project that was initially supposed to be a $6 million contract.

The meltdown was primarily due to the organisation’s failure to clearly set out its business requirements or to spell out how it should be delivered and what outcomes were expected. Unrealistic deadlines exacerbated the sloppy planning.

All this set the scene for massive scope creep and proved to be a headache for contractor IBM, which had to deal with multiple requests for changes.

Another epic fail was the Victorian MyKi public transport smartcard, where costs ballooned to $1.5 billion and dragged on an extra seven years, taking nine years instead of two. The ensuing storm of complaints from the public over charges and refunds only amplified the damage done.

The then Victorian Labor government underestimated the project’s complexity and failed to monitor the contract properly.

DOH will be fervently praying that it does not enter the annals of similarly disastrous IT projects and instead gets it right. 
                    [post_title] => Health confronts ghosts of failed govt IT projects in Medicare payments rebuild
                    [post_excerpt] => Engage staff early, integrate process with systems. 
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                    [post_content] => 
UNSW-EC0, built by UNSW’s Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research and one of the three Australian satellites launched overnight.

 

 

By Anthony Wallace

Australia is back in the space race, following the launch of three miniature satellites. At 1am Sydney time on Tuesday 19 April 2017, three Australian research cubesats blasted off for space as part of a NASA mission to resupply the International Space Station.

The event marked the first launch of an Australian-built satellite for 15 years. It is also the nation’s first foray into cubesats for a host of new applications, from scientific discovery to remote sensing and satellite navigation.


The Atlas 5 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Tuesday night.  Photo: NASA

The trio of Australian cubesats is part of the international QB50 mission, consisting of 36 small satellites known as ‘cubesats’. Each instrument weighs about 1.3 kg each and is about the size of a shoebox. The combined effort will carry out the most extensive measurements ever undertaken of the little-understood thermosphere, a region between 200-380 km above Earth. This usually inaccessible zone helps shield Earth from cosmic rays and solar radiation, and is vital for communications and weather formation. Twenty-eight of the QB50 satellites, including the three Australian cubesats, were aboard the Atlas 5 rocket when it launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida overnight. The three Australian cubesats are UNSW-EC0, built by UNSW’s Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER); INSPIRE-2, by the University of Sydney, UNSW and the Australian National University; and SuSAT, by the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia. Read more here. This story first appeared in Spatial Source.  [post_title] => Launched: first Australian satellites in 15 years [post_excerpt] => Oz is back in the space race. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => satellite [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-21 13:41:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-21 03:41:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26963 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26899 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-12 15:11:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-12 05:11:22 [post_content] =>     The 35-year lease to run the NSW's profitable  land titles registry has been sold to a consortium led by First State Super and Hastings Fund Management for $2.6 billion, in a move heralded by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian as a ‘massive infrastructure boost’ and by almost everyone else as a bad idea. The only profitable part of the state’s Land and Property Information (LPI), the land titles registry, which currently makes about $130 million in net profit annually, was bought by Australian Registry Investments (ARI), a consortium made up of 80 per cent Australian institutional investors. Investors include First State Super, investment funds from Hastings Funds Management and a 20 per cent stake held by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group’s pension fund, also managed by Hastings. The winners beat off competition from three other consortiums: Borealis and Computershare; the Carlyle Group and Macquarie’s MIRA and Link Group. The NSW government called it a 'phenomenal result' for NSW. “Once again today's result has significantly exceeded expectations,” Ms Berejiklian said. “It means even more funding for the schools, hospitals, public transport and roads that people depend on every day.” The government will drop $1 billion of the sale proceeds on upgrading Parramatta and ANZ Stadiums and refurbishing Allianz Stadium, while the remaining $1.6 billion will be invested into other infrastructure projects under its Restart NSW fund, which often funds roads and public transport projects. The Premier has promised that at least 30 per cent of the total proceeds will be spent in regional NSW. But while the government has argued that selling the lease to operate the land titles registry to the private sector would spur ICT investment and speed up the system, scores of real estate agents, surveyors, lawyers, unions and community groups have slammed the sell-off and called it a disaster. They have argued that it will imperil the quality and reliability of the service, make it more expensive for ordinary people and push skilled staff out the door.  Opposition to the sell-off spilled over into a public rally in Sydney’s CBD in March. Land titles  defines the legal ownership and boundaries of land parcels and is integral to buying and selling property, as well as taking out and paying off mortgages, leasing and inheriting property. Despite the majority of people being blissfully unaware of the system until they need it, land titles underpins billions of dollars spent in the NSW economy and a $1.2 trillion real estate market.  The Public Service Association (PSA) called it a 'a recipe for disaster for millions of property owners across NSW'. “It is hands down, the most appalling fire sale decision yet by a Government with a strong track record in that area”, said PSA General Secretary, Stewart Little. “The government trumpets its efforts on ‘life-changing projects’ but what could be more life changing for millions of people across NSW than to lose the security on their own property? “Just as the PSA feared all along, ultimately the personal property records of the people in NSW will be held offshore given a portion of the successful consortium is based in London.” But NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet defended the lease arrangement and said it had ‘rigorous legislative and contractual safeguards’ in place to ensure the continued security of property rights and data. He said any increases in price were capped at CPI for the entire length of the lease and the government would continue to guarantee title, with the Torrens Assurance Fund compensating landowners who lost out due to fraud or error on the register, as happens now. A new external regulator has been established – the Registrar General – to monitor ARI’s performance and resume control, if necessary. Mr Perrottet praised ARI and said the company had prepared ‘a technology roadmap’ as part of its bid, helped by Advara, the private company that runs Western Australia’s land titles service. He said Advara had introduced ‘world-leading titling and registry technology’ to WA and added that the Registrar General would review and approve any major changes to LPI’s IT system in NSW. “This is an industry on the cusp of huge technological advances, and today we have partnered with some of Australia’s most reputable investors who will make sure the people of NSW get the benefit of those advances,” Mr Perrottet said. “Combined with the tight regulatory framework we have established, the investment, innovation and experience ARI will bring mean citizens can expect a better experience.” He said the ARI consortium had received approval from Commonwealth regulators including the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Foreign Investment Review Board and the transition to the new operator was likely to be finalised over the coming months. LPI staff have a four-year job guarantee as they transition to the new operator. More to come.   [post_title] => NSW land titles lease sold to consortium for $2.6 billion [post_excerpt] => Massive infrastructure boost or recipe for disaster? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => land-titles-lease-sold-consortium-2-6-billion [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-18 11:05:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-18 01:05:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26899 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26894 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-12 12:19:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-12 02:19:26 [post_content] =>   Trains in NSW will struggle to arrive on time and be blighted by overcrowding unless the capacity of the rail network is ‘increased significantly’ by 2019, says a report by the NSW Auditor-General. The audit of passenger rail services and rail punctuality in Sydney and regional areas, services overseen by Transport for NSW and contracted out to Sydney Trains and NSW Trains, found that the rail agencies were ‘well placed’ to manage the forecasted increase in passengers up to 2019 but would battle to stay on time beyond this date. But Auditor-General Margaret Crawford warned that this needed to be tackled. “Based on forecast patronage increases, the rail agencies will find it hard to maintain punctuality after 2019 unless the capacity of the network to carry trains and people is increased significantly,” Ms Crawford said. “If recent higher than forecast patronage growth continues, the network may struggle to maintain punctuality before 2019.” The NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan predicts there will be a 26 per cent increase in passengers between 2012 and 2031 and that passenger numbers may well overtake this figure. Forecasts have underestimated passenger numbers in the past, particularly in the morning peak. There has been an annual growth of 6.6 per cent since May 2014, twice as much as was predicted by the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan. More passengers usually mean more delays as trains wait longer at stations for passengers to get on and off. Ms Crawford said Transport or NSW had been making progress but was not close to submitting a costed plan to the government to address these challenges. “If patronage continues to increase at a faster rate than forecast, particularly during the morning peak, the network will struggle to cope before 2019," she said. “There is a significant risk that investments will not be made soon enough to handle future patronage levels. Ideally planning and investment decisions should have been made already.” While the audit found that system-wide punctuality was good overall, it pinpointed poor punctuality in some areas of the network. Problem areas
  • Snarl ups around North Sydney affecting afternoon peak services out to Western Sydney and Hornsby via Strathfield
  • East Hills express trains in the afternoon peak performed ‘well below target’
  • Intercity trains were less punctual than suburban trains with declining punctuality between 2011 and 2014
But the Auditor-General was relatively sanguine about how these problems were being tackled, noting that Transport for NSW and Sydney Trains were ‘well advanced’ with strategies to address the North Sydney blockage with improved infrastructure, more staff training, new timetables  and fewer speed restrictions. Train timetable changes should correct the East Hills delays within three years, she said. Replacing old intercity trains and ensuring good staff training would ease intercity delays but MS Crawford said improvements to contracts would also help, given that Sydney Trains was responsible for train, track and signal maintenance and managing trains on the rail network. She said that Transport for NSW, Sydney Trains and NSW Trains were now working collaboratively to make improvements to the contracts. Recommendations
  • Transport for NSW should submit plans to address passenger growth over the next five to ten years to the government as soon as possible
  • Sydney Trains and Transport for NSW should: a) oversee and resource all plans to address passenger increases b) adjust strategies for any patronage growth above projections
  • Sydney Trains, NSW Trains and Transport for NSW should publish customer delay results by June 2018
  • Transport for NSW, Sydney Trains and NSW Trains should agree by December 2017: a) specific performance targets for intercity train, track and signal availability and reliability b) guidelines for train priorities during disruptions and indicators of control centre performance when implementing these guidelines
  • Sydney Trains, NSW Trains and Transport for NSW should by June 2018: a) improve the accuracy of measuring passenger numbers and develop a better understanding of growth trends b) address small errors in the adjustment factors used to determine a train’s punctuality c) improve their understanding of the factors impacting on intercity punctuality
  • Transport for NSW should, commencing June 2017, explore the potential to use behavioural insights to encourage more passengers to travel outside the height of the morning peak between 8 am and 9 am
Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter. [post_title] => NSW trains will struggle with delays and overcrowding by 2019, says audit   [post_excerpt] => Problem areas of network revealed. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26894 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-18 11:05:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-18 01:05:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26894 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26817 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-04-05 11:15:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-05 01:15:57 [post_content] =>
  By Claire Hibbit
Spotless has secured several long-term extensions in healthcare including a five-year deal with the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne and a four-year extension with Healthscope. Spotless said the contracts represented a combined revenue of around $210 million over five years, and brings the total value of key strategic contracts awarded (including new wins) during March 2017 to more than $330 million. Spotless has been providing cleaning, food, ancillary, ward support, grounds and gardens maintenance, pest control, hygiene services and security services at The Alfred Hospital for more than 12 years (the contract commenced May, 2004). The more than 580-bed hospital houses one of Australia’s busiest emergency and trauma centres, Victoria’s largest intensive care unit, and the only adult burns centre in Victoria and Tasmania. Spotless’ executive general manager, health and PPP’s Stephen McIntyre said: “We are delighted to continue our long-standing relationship with The Alfred to deliver consistently high quality non-clinical services that meet the 24/7 requirements of one of Australia’s most significant health facilities”.
Read more here.   This story first appeared in INCLEAN. [post_title] => Spotless renews major health contracts [post_excerpt] => Major hospital deal in Melbourne. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => spotless-renews-major-health-contracts [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-05 11:15:57 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-05 01:15:57 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26817 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26755 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-04-04 11:18:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-04 01:18:19 [post_content] =>

                    By Anthony Wallace As Australasia’s biggest annual spatial event, the Locate Conference and Digital Earth Symposium (Locate17 and ISDE), can be an intimidating affair. Not only does it combine two events, it spans four days, features eight separate subject streams, offers four free workshops, features an awards night, networking functions and exclusive international assemblies. It’s safe to say that you won’t be able to experience everything that Locate17 and Digital Earth has to offer, but you can at least learn something new, find a few opportunity, or perhaps create some lasting connections with fellow attendees. Here’s your simplified guide to making the most of Locate17 and Digital Earth Symposium.

Locate17 and ISDE Must do’s:

  1. Learn something new: It’s highly unlikely you’re familiarised with each of the multiple program streams on offer, so why not learn about Virtual Globes, Crowd-sorting or Data lakes?
  2. Find out how ‘real’ reality modelling is: Speak to the likes of Nearmap, Spookfish, PSMA Australia, AEROMetrex to discover the amazing things being done with spatial data.
  3. Watch out for ministers: Big-wigs of Australian parliament have been known to attend Locate. In 2015, we saw Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (then minister for communications) and last year Assistant Minister Angus Young appeared ahead of launching the Smart cities initiative. Who might it be this year?
  Read more here. This story first appeared in Spatial Source.  [post_title] => Your Survival Guide to Locate17 and ISDE [post_excerpt] => Australasia’s biggest annual spatial event. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => survival-guide-locate17-isde [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-04 11:18:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-04 01:18:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26755 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26655 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-03-24 16:30:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-24 05:30:36 [post_content] =>   Queensland’s licensed industrial cannabis growers and researchers can now legally supply cannabis seeds to the budding Australian medicinal cannabis market, hopefully making the drug cheaper for patients. The Palaszczuk government has changed the state’s Drugs Misuse Act 1986 so that Queensland’s industrial cannabis growers will be allowed to sell the seeds to companies further up the supply chain in what is set to be a growth industry since the federal government greenlighted medicinal cannabis to treat some conditions such as epilepsy, cancer and HIV. Queensland Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Bill Byrne said that the Queensland industrial cannabis industry had developed valuable cannabis seed lines for which it held plant breeder rights. Industry players and patients had pushed for the amendment at public roundtable meetings held across the state last year. “We listened to what industry had to say, and took the matter to Canberra, who are now allowing seed to be sourced from legal Australian breeders,” Mr Byrne said. He said the changes meant Queensland’s industrial cannabis growers could compete with growers in other states to supply seed to licensed medicinal cannabis growers and scientific researchers. “This creates new opportunities for Queenslanders. The changes will be mutually beneficial for licensed industrial cannabis growers and those Queensland businesses interested in being part of the emerging medicinal cannabis industry in Australia,” he said. The Federal Government will maintain a strictly controlled licensing system and the new laws would not allow just anyone to grow their own cannabis for medicinal purposes, Mr Byrne emphasised. But Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick said the affordability of medicinal cannabis remained an issue for many sick Australians, despite recent changes approving the importation of medicinal cannabis and the first license to cultivate medicinal cannabis being issued in Australia. Mr Dick said medicinal cannabis could be made more affordable by placing it on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. “Unfortunately, (Federal Health) Minister Greg Hunt rejected the Palaszczuk government’s request to subsidise medicinal cannabis,” Mr Dick said. “However we would urge Minister Hunt to reconsider his decision. As a government, we’ve put in place the most robust scheme in Australia to allow appropriate patients access to medicinal cannabis. We want it to be as affordable as possible, but that ball is now in the Commonwealth’s court.” Meanwhile more and more medicinal cannabis companies - both Australian and international - are listing on the ASX in what has been described as the 'pot stock' boom. Read more here.    Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter. [post_title] => QLD growers get the ok to sell cannabis seeds [post_excerpt] => Cannabis on the PBS? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26655 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-27 09:37:01 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-26 22:37:01 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26655 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26578 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-03-20 17:55:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-20 06:55:36 [post_content] =>   DIBP Secretary Michael Pezzullo. Pic: YouTube.     Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) Secretary Michael Pezzullo has faced a barrage of questions at a public hearing over the $257 million fit-out of his department’s new Canberran headquarters. The department currently leases more than 100,000sqm of office space spread across 12 buildings and four suburbs in Canberra and leases are due to end progressively between 2017 and 2020. The aim is to consolidate staff across five buildings and two suburbs, while also reducing the amount of office space leased by 14,600sqm. The reorganisation was sparked by the July 2015 integration of the Department of Immigration and Customs and the need to quickly mount sensitive joint operations securely. Mr Pezzullo faced The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works today (Monday) after senators questioned the project’s quarter of a billion dollar tab. Many of the toughest questions came from senators asked him to justify relocating 2,000 staff to an office building at Molonglo Drive, near Canberra Airport. The plan also includes retaining about 4,000 staff across three locations in Belconnen to avoid a negative impact on local businesses if there was a wholesale move out of the suburb. But Labor Senator Alex Gallacher said he did not understand the department’s fascination with the Molonglo Drive site.   “You’re paying the maximum rate that you would pay for a lease in Canberra, in an area where the building is eight years old and there is allegedly somewhere between a 20 per cent and 40 per cent occupancy rate. In a less tightly held area, why do you pay the top rate?” But Mr Pezzullo defended the Headquarters Project which the department has said will save $236 million over 30 years, mostly through cutting the amount of office space leased, competitive procurement processes and more efficient whole of life costs. “The Commissioner and I don’t drive around Canberra saying “well that would be a nice place to live in or work in or whatever,” Mr Pezzullo said. “It’s not about its attraction. It’s what came through the process as representing the best fit for the operational requirements ... the best value for money in terms of what the market had come back with in terms of fit-out costs and lease incentives and through the tender evaluation process. Its superiority relative to other market bids that had come back.” He said there was “a massive net benefit to the Commonwealth” but this would have been even larger had the department been allowed to consolidate even more aggressively.” The Department’s First Assistant Secretary of Corporate Services, Ben Wright, told the inquiry: “They gave us a good deal. It’s not just the rent rate, it’s also the lease incentive provided. They provided a rebate as well. “When you take all that into consideration on a per square metre basis, it actually works out quite attractive.” Mr Wright said the department had looked at sites in Civic, Airport, Belconnen and Lowden but the airport building was the best value for money and tender bid. The department said in its submission to the inquiry that the modern, purpose-built fit-out would enable it to co-locate and integrate staff, particularly those involved with border monitoring and control operations. It would be flexible enough to quickly establish task forces and sensitive joint operations and operate them continuously and securely. “The proposed new office accommodation will be of modern design with large efficient floor plates to support future flexibility and provide an open office environment to promote collaboration and positive cultural renewal which has been highlighted as being a critical success factor for the Department’s accommodation objective,” the department’s submission said.   Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter. [post_title] => Pezzullo grilled over $250 million Immigration reno [post_excerpt] => Canberra Airport site questioned. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => pezzullo-grilled-250-million-department-immigration-office-fit [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-21 10:52:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-20 23:52:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26578 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26551 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-03-15 15:57:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-15 04:57:18 [post_content] =>     By Mace Hartley, executive director, Australasian Fleet Management Association (AFMA) Australia takes its time adapting to change. Electric vehicle benefits remain unrealised, so what more can we do? Impressively, 2016 was a record year for new vehicle sales driven largely by business and rental markets with private sales delivering the worst result since 2013. For the first time since 2013 non-private sales exceeded half of total new vehicle sales (excluding heavy vehicles). The Paris Agreement in November 2015 saw over 190 countries - including Australia, US, India and China - sign an agreement to limit global warming to well below 2.0 degrees Celsius, aiming for 1.5 degrees. The agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016 and was ratified by Australia on 9 November 2016. Australia set ambitious targets to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, which builds on the 2020 target of reducing emissions by five per cent below 2000 levels. Further, Australia committed to contributing towards the global goal of reaching net zero emissions by the second half of this century. Transport represents 18 per cent of Australia’s total emissions. Within this, road transport accounts for 85 per cent with the largest impact being cars and light commercial vehicles at 72 per cent. Given vehicles represent a huge portion of Australia’s emissions you would think sales of alternative fueled vehicles would increase. Whilst diesel has made inroads, electric vehicles (EVs) had their worst result since 2013 with step declines from 2014 and 2015, and LPG-only vehicles continue to decline as they are no longer available in Australia. (Table 1) So, what’s stopping the uptake of EVs? There are many factors, with high vehicle price, lack of suitable vehicles and charging infrastructure topping the list. Wealthy private buyers with higher disposable cash are purchasing Teslas and BMW i3s with few other options available, whilst non-private fleets struggle to find a vehicle fit-for-purpose at reasonable pricing with Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi iMEV no longer available. What’s going to change? The government has recently released two draft Regulation Impact Statements for discussion and feedback. They’re called “Improving the Efficiency of New Light Vehicles” which considers the introduction of mandatory fuel efficiency standards which 80 per cent of the global light vehicle market already has in place in the US, EU, Canada, China, South Korea and India (amongst others), and “Vehicle Emissions Standards for Cleaner Air”, which considers the introduction of more stringent noxious emissions standards for light and heavy road vehicles which again already exists in most developed countries. How will “improving the efficiency of new light vehicles” drive an increase in EV sales? The term efficiency in this case relates to the grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometer a vehicle produces. In 2015 the average efficiency of new light vehicles sold in the EU was 120g/km whilst Australia was 184g/km. There is a range of ways to introduce targets; an example from overseas, manufacturers must meet average efficiency targets across their entire vehicle portfolio. This means they can still offer higher emission vehicles but need to sell more low emissions vehicles such as EVs to reduce their overall emissions. In December, the government released its emissions projections for 2016 which includes a range of assumptions including that EVs will represent 0.5 per cent of new vehicle sales in 2020 and 15 per cent in 2030. For 2020 that’s an increase of 5,672 vehicles or 2,589 per cent over the 219 vehicles sold in 2016 and by 2030, an increase of over 176,000 vehicles or 80,594 per cent. There’s clearly much to be done. Mandatory emission targets may increase the number of EVs on offer but simply increasing availability won’t necessarily increase demand. Both state and federal governments will need to consider incentives to drive private and non-private demand. State government levers could include reductions in stamp duty, lower registration costs, dedicated road lanes and preference parking. The federal government already provides some incentive as EVs don’t pay fuel excise and other options could include removing FBT or lowering the luxury car tax for EVs. Whilst each of these measures will help, more is needed to reduce the purchase price of EVs in the short term before they reach price parity as the technology and demand matures. It’s true the cost of EVs is reducing, driven primarily by the falling cost of battery packs, which can account for about a third of the cost of the entire vehicle. In 2015, battery prices fell by 35 per cent and continuing reductions in battery prices are projected to bring the total cost of ownership of EVs below that for conventional-fuel vehicles by 2025, eight years from now! There is no doubt alternative fuel vehicles are important to Australia’s emissions targets but it’s unclear what’s going to jump start an increase in sales. There are many stakeholders working to support the uptake of low emissions vehicles, including the EV Council which has been established by industry to advise, advocate for and co-ordinate activities to support the uptake of electric vehicles, and the government continues to work through their options with the Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions. Stay tuned!   Table 1: New Vehicle Sales (excl Heavy Vehicles)
  2013 2014 2015 2016
All Categories Total 1,104,531 1,081,899 1,123,224 1,145,024
Diesel 340,552 331,270 334,052 363,007
Electric 292 1,135 1,108 219
Hybrid 11,949 11,950 12,138 12,625
LPG 4,704 2,932 2,061 612
Petrol 747,034 734,612 773,865 768,561
         
All Categories Total 100% 100% 100% 100%
Diesel 30.83% 30.62% 29.74% 31.70%
Electric 0.03% 0.10% 0.10% 0.02%
Hybrid 1.08% 1.10% 1.08% 1.10%
LPG 0.43% 0.27% 0.18% 0.05%
Petrol 67.63% 67.90% 68.90% 67.12%
Table Note: This tables excludes Tesla vehicle sales as they choose not to contribute their data to VFACTS.   Stay ahead of the curve, don’t miss the 2017 Australasian Fleet Conference & Exhibition, May 11-12. Book Tickets: http://afma.net.au/conference2017/ Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter. [post_title] => Electric vehicles – How can we do more? [post_excerpt] => Jump starting an increase in sales. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => electric-vehicles-can [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-17 10:08:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-16 23:08:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26551 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 4 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26486 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-03-10 09:30:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-09 22:30:44 [post_content] =>   Medicare The Department of Health (DOH) is brainstorming the overhaul of its ancient IT systems which together deliver more than 600 million health, aged care and veterans’ payments annually to 99 per cent of Australians. Health issued a Request for Information (RFI) earlier this week asking companies, including small and medium-sized ones, for their input and advice on designing and delivering the new Digital Payments Platform to replace the current one, which has evolved over 30 years. The current system is incredibly complex and supports a huge range of payments including the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Medicare, aged care and related veterans’ payments, totalling around $50 billion. “The Medicare systems alone comprise over 200 applications and 90 databases, many of which are ageing and based on obsolete technology,” say the RFI documents. The government is under no illusions that the current system is broken and needs replacing. “The current systems have become increasingly complex with a tightly coupled and inflexible architecture," says the RFI.  “The systems are no longer fit for purpose. They are unable to support the level of flexibility and service innovation that users – individuals and providers – and the government expect.” There are a number of bespoke applications, all with different authentication processes for consumers and providers. "Just as Australian families have upgraded their computers since the 1980s, the time has come for the government's health payments systems to do the same," the government said. "The RFI provides an opportunity for respondents, including small and medium enterprises, to shape the future design of the new system which the Australian government will continue to own, operate, and deliver." Reforming the payments system is a touchy subject after the attention it received during the 2016 federal election. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten seized upon the possibility of Medicare payments being outsourced to run his ‘Mediscare’ campaign during the 2016 federal election, suggesting it was a Trojan horse to privatise Medicare itself. The Department is at pains to point out that the federal government will continue ‘to own, operate and deliver’ the payments as its asks for outside input. “For the avoidance of doubt, the government is not seeking proposals for outsourcing,” it states.   Content of the RFI In the RFI respondents are asked to estimate the cost of designing and building the new system and implementation and transition costs over five years; as well as how much it will cost to run. The RFI is stage one of the project, stage two is the procurement phase of the Digital Payments Platform. The RFI will not be used to shortlist any suppliers for stage two procurement. The DOH will be sizing up potential partners to get an idea of the level of interest, capability and capacity in the market and different procurement options. The project will involve multiple phases over several years and will need to be able to adapt and grow to new payments and legislation. The RFI mentions that interested parties should be able to demonstrate how ‘progress could be achieved by early 2019’. “The vision for the program is to deliver a new Digital Payments Platform that supports a digital-first (or digitally enabled) service delivery business model and simpler, faster, easier services for users,” it said. DOH said it designed the RFI in consultation with users, health and aged care providers and other stakeholders. The deadline for respondents is April 4 and a procurement phase for the new digital payments platform will start in mid-2017. Meanwhile, the new multi-billion dollar DHS payments system, Welfare Payments Infrastructure Transformation (WPIT), responsible for processing more than $100 billion Centrelink payments annually, including payments like Austudy and Youth Allowance, is also being radically reimagined over the course of the next seven years.    Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter. [post_title] => Health brainstorms new IT system for Medicare and aged care payments [post_excerpt] => Digital Payments Platform. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => health-brainstorms-new-system-medicare-aged-care-payments [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-14 12:31:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-14 01:31:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26486 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27187 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-23 11:05:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-23 01:05:39 [post_content] => The Department of Health has said 22,000 home care packages have been released under the new system and it will release detailed data in July on how it’s performing. Bonnie Carter says her 84-year-old mother has been waiting for a high-level home care package for more than 70 days. Ms Carter says that since an Aged Care Assessment Team assessed her mother as needing the package, “nothing has happened.” “There’s been no contact other than me calling My Aged Care several times to see where she is in the queue and how long she might have to wait,” Ms Carter says. “Apparently no one can tell anyone anything about this mythical queue until the end of this year,” she adds. Under the latest aged care reforms that came into force on 27 February, the Department of Health has created a new centralised process for allocating home care packages directly to consumers. As part of the new system a “national prioritisation process” has been created: after a senior is assessed as needing a home care package they join a new national queue where they wait to be allocated a package. How long a senior waits on the queue is based on various factors – such as their level of need, how long they’ve been waiting and how quickly a package at their level of need becomes available (the number of packages is increasing but remains capped by government). It’s a complex new system and, in the absence of transparency around how it is working, confusion is mounting among providers and consumers. Read more here. This story first appeared in Australian Ageing Agenda.  [post_title] => Confusion reigns over Health's new aged care queue [post_excerpt] => My Aged Care under fire. 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Procurement