Three Year Funding Agreement for ACCHOs

The discussions around the proposed 2014-2017 Standard Funding Agreement (SFA) terms and conditions and Supplementary Conditions commenced in July 2013 where the Department of Health (DoH) engaged with NACCHO and State Affiliates. Since this time there has been great debate over proposed changes which significantly re-wrote the 3-year SFA that was due to expire on 30 June 2015. The newly proposed SFA was re-writing the funding administration landscape for ACCHOs and Primary Health Networks (which came into existence on 1 July 2015). The Terms and Conditions of the SFA together with the Supplementary Conditions seemed to be a contradiction to the message that DoH and the Commonwealth Government were conveying during 2012-2015 which was the reduction of “Red Tape”, and the removal of “Micro-Management” and the “Burden of Reporting” as identified in the many Government reviews/reports at the time.

The new SFA Terms and Conditions and Supplementary Conditions in fact increased the burden of reporting and micro-management of all NGOs that were funded under this one Agreement. There has been a great deal of correspondence and discussion by the ACCHO Sector led by NACCHO and the jurisdictional Affiliates which prompted the Commonwealth to finally take action after 2 years of debate.

In late May 2015, the DoH attempted to push through the new SFA Terms and Conditions and Supplementary Conditions providing the funded NGOs with little choice but to agree to these Terms and Conditions and Supplementary Conditions if they wanted to secure funding for the 2015-2016 year and beyond.

NACCHO and the jurisdictional Affiliates then undertook a series of reviews and analysis of these SFA Terms and Conditions and Supplementary Conditions in comparison to the current Agreement in place. Each analysis was essentially independent of each other but resoundingly identified the same issues and highlighted serious concerns that resulted in NACCHO negotiating a stay of execution for the implementation of the new SFA. This culminated in and was confirmed at a meeting held in Adelaide on 9 June 2015. DoH was heavily represented by all Branches and Assistant Secretaries demonstrating that the concerns of NACCHO and the jurisdictional Affiliates had been taken seriously to prompt a full review at the Department level of the SFA. DoH also con rmed that the newly formed Primary Health Networks had also identified and raised the same concerns. The DoH agreed to withdraw the proposed SFA for a period of 12 months to enable the process for review and negotiation to take place and instead provided a variation to the 2012-2015 SFA which extended this until 30 June 2016.

The outcome of the 9 June 2015 meeting in Adelaide was that DoH would review and respond to the full collective of concerns and issues as identi ed by NACCHO and the jurisdictional Affiliates. This response was to be coordinated through NACCHO via Jason Dalton as an independent consultant to ensure quality control and efficiencies as a single point of contact for the ACCHO Sector. His role is to work with NACCHO and the jurisdictional Affiliates to ensure that all information is communicated and the position of the Sector is effectively represented to DoH during this process.

A specific agreement at the 9 June 2015 meeting was that DoH would prepare a written response to NACCHO and the jurisdictional Affiliates in time for the NACCHO Strategy Workshop, scheduled to be held in Adelaide on 5 August 2015. This would be nearly 2 months after the meeting in June. At the date of the Annual Report publication responses from DoH had been received and have been incorporated into a National Analysis and Comparison Paper. This paper has been further expanded to include a draft ACCHO Sector response and recommendations for next steps aligned to the contents of both of the DoH responses.

The intention is for the National Analysis and Comparison Paper to be the authoritative “Working Document” which tracks all ongoing inputs and responses from both the DoH and the ACCHO Sector until a resolution and agreement can be reached resulting in a new draft SFA Terms and Conditions to be considered by the ACCHO Sector. It is expected that a newly drafted Standard Funding Agreement and Interpretive Guide are available for review by the sector early in 2016.