New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has set 14 new social priorities that aim to address community challenges and improve quality of life for all citizens.
Berejiklian said they “focus on some of the most challenging emerging social issues of our generation” from breaking the cycle of domestic violence to fostering a “world class” public service, among others.
Such a focus on quality of life is reminiscent of the New Zealand government’s recent Wellbeing Budget.
“I am a firm believer that what gets measured, gets done and I will be watching closely how we track against these new Priorities,” Berejiklian said.
The Premier’s Priorities are:
- Bumping up education results for children: Increase the proportion of public school students in the top two NAPLAN bands (or equivalent) for literacy and numeracy by 15% by 2023, including through a state-wide rollout of Bump it Up.
- Increase the number of Aboriginal young people reaching their learning potential: Increase the proportion of Aboriginal students attaining Year 12 by 50% by 2023, while maintaining their cultural identity.
- Protecting our most vulnerable children: Decrease the proportion of children and young people re-reported at risk of significant harm by 20% by 2023.
- Increasing permanency for children in out-of-home care: Double the number of children in safe and permanent homes by 2023 for children in, or at risk of entering, out-of-home care.
- Reducing domestic violence reoffending: Reduce the number of domestic violence reoffenders by 25% by 2023.
- Reducing recidivism in the prison population: Reduce adult reoffending following release from prison by 5% by 2023.
- Reducing homelessness: Reduce street homelessness across NSW by 50% by 2025.
- Improving service levels in hospitals: 100% of all triage category 1, 95% of triage category 2 and 85% of triage category 3 patients commencing treatment on time by 2023.
- Improving outpatient and community care: Reduce preventable hospital visits by 5% through to 2023 by caring for people in the community.
- Towards zero suicides: Reduce the rate of suicide deaths in NSW by 20% by 2023.
- Greener public spaces: Increase the proportion of homes in urban areas within 10 minutes’ walk of quality green, open and public space by 10% by 2023.
- Greening our city: Increase the tree canopy and green cover across Greater Sydney by planting 1 million trees by 2022.
- Government made easy: Increase the number of government services where the citizens of NSW only need to “Tell Us Once” by 2023.
- World class public service: Implement best practice productivity and digital capability in the NSW public sector; and drive public sector diversity through:
- 50% of senior leadership roles held by women.
- Increase the number of Aboriginal people in senior leadership roles.
- 5.6% of government sector roles held by people with a disability by 2025.
READ MORE: NSW Treasury begins outcome budgeting
Beyond these priorities, the NSW government has 18 official State Priorities and 46 State Outcomes, which have been explicitly linked to elements in the state budget since that of 2017-18.
Each of the 46 State Outcomes are assigned with Outcome Indicators to track their progress.
Outcome budgeting “puts the needs of the people at the centre of investment decision making” by approaching budgeting from a citizen’s perspective, according to the NSW Treasury.
It intends to transform the public sector by encouraging collaboration between public sector agencies and service providers “so that resources are optimally pooled and programs appropriately targeted to inclusively service the needs of everyone across NSW’s communities”.
Measuring outcomes rather than outputs entails reorganisation, process changes and cross-functional teamwork.
However, applying this framework to complex areas such as education is dangerous, according to The Conversation, as it exacerbates an audit culture, bogging down teachers and negatively impacting the most vulnerable students.
“There is no question improved educational outcomes are important. As is a plan for how we get there,” Kellie Bousfield wrote.
“But how we set about achieving this requires careful consideration and reflection rather than a one-size-fits-all approach across disparate areas of government.”
The previous Premier’s Priorities, made by then-premier Mike Baird after the 2015 state election, faced a similar problem. They aimed to deal with issues including public sector diversity, job creation and childhood obesity.
But the Audit Office of NSW argued the targets had “known limitations”, like vague data and unclear solutions for actually solving the issues at hand.
Successfully delivering on bold outcomes requires a lot of thought about what is actually being measured and how it might impact the government, stakeholders and the people that it aims to help in the first place.