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Winners list: Commonwealth public sector’s night of nights

The Victorian Department of Human Services has taken home the coveted top gong at the 2014 Australian Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management in Canberra on Thursday night.

Public sector leaders gathered at the National Press Club where Employment and Public Service Minister Eric Abetz presented awards to five agencies for team projects demonstrating success and excellent management. The awards, hosted by IPAA’s ACT chapter, aims to encourage and recognise better practice and innovation in all levels of government in Australia and are designed to honour the achievements of public sector work groups, units and teams rather than individuals.

Terry Moran, national president of the Institute of Public Administration of Australia and editorial advisory board member of The Mandarin, said: “It is gratifying that Commonwealth, state and territory public sector organisations around Australia recognise the significance of these awards and are nominating areas of excellence, innovation and collaboration.”

Gold and Innovation Award winner

Victoria’s Human Service won the gold award for its Services Connect initiative, using a streamlining model to tailor services to the unique needs, goals and aspirations of each client and their family, with an emphasis on building their strengths and capabilities to move out of disadvantage.

“In 2011 the Department of Human Services published Human Services: the Case for Change which outlined the narrow focus on immediate problems and an inflexible system that cannot target effort where it is most needed. In response to these challenges, the department has been working to transform the service system to address client needs more appropriately, efficiently, effectively, and in areas where disadvantage is most pronounced.

“Services Connect — the new model for integrated human services in Victoria — aims to improve the way people access information and services; how a client’s range of needs is identified, how planning is undertaken with people to determine the services they require and the delivery of the service response. The client support model is at the heart of Services Connect and has been designed to deliver human services in a new way that supports people to achieve lasting positive change in their lives.

“The next phase is to draw on the non-government sector’s experience and expertise to continue to refine the Services Connect client support model. The department has called for submissions from groups of non-government service providers form Services Connect Partnerships to test, refine and further develop the model at eight sites across Victoria. These Partnerships between the Department and Community Service Organisations represent a new and innovative step towards a transformed service system. The focus is on achieving demonstrable benefits over the next two years and building evidence and momentum in support of enduring change.”

Silver and Collaboration Award winner

Two Commonwealth agencies took home silver awards. A silver and collaboration award went to the Commonwealth Department of Human Services for its myGov digital services project, the single login for government services currently involving seven service delivery agencies. It currently has 4.1 million active accounts linked to at least one member service with an average of 34,000 new accounts created each day.

“myGov provides a whole of government digital service framework designed to radically improve access to digital services in response to both the government’s digital agenda and the high demand from customers to make it easier for them to access government online services. myGov provides customers with convenient secure access to government services through a single account with one username and password. In this way, customers can access the services they need, when they need them, and without having to use alternative service channels, such as telephone and face-to-face. This whole-of-government response has developed the capability, including ongoing governance mechanisms, for a co-ordinated response to future changes and opportunities within the digital economy.

“Future changes will facilitate and embed wider usability and service options, continuing to support customers to make the shift to digital services and to add new services consistent with government priorities. The department is also working collaboratively with the ATO, the Department of Health and other member services to implement a tell us once functionality. This will enable people to notify multiple Commonwealth agencies simultaneously when they wish to change their personal details such as name, address or contact details.”

Silver Award winner

The Department of Industry was also honoured with a silver award for its Business Online Service initiative, an innovative approach to connecting businesses to government grants and advice, including “Smart Forms”. The initiative’s roots started with a 2006 Council of Australian Governments picking up a recommendation of the Rethinking Regulation Report that the Commonwealth should “work the states and territories to streamline business name, Australian business number and related licensing registration processes and report back to COAG; and improve information available to business about these obligations”.

“The result has been an integrated service that provides a seamless end to end business solution and has been heavily used by businesses across all states and territories. Both ABLIS and ABA are fully integrated into business.gov.au which receives over 3.5 million visits per month meaning that businesses and business start-ups can learn about and use the services that reflect their position in their business lifecycle.”

Commendation Award winners

The Western Australian North Metropolitan Health Service was awarded a commendation for its Graylands Hospital Acute Care Services initiatives, allowing people experiencing acute episodes of mental illnesses to receive contemporary care and treatment within the appropriate environment.

Also picking up a commendation was the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust for transforming historic former Defence lands on Sydney Harbour with significant environmental and heritage values into financially sustainable public parkland.

Author Bio

Harley Dennett

Harley Dennett is editor at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's held communications roles in the New South Wales public sector and Defence, and been a staff reporter for newspapers in Sydney and Washington DC.