Discussion Paper - Commissioning and contracting for mental health outcomes

Throughout 2014, Mental Health Australia undertook substantial consultation with its members to identify the barriers to, and potential enablers of, a more effective and efficient Australian mental health system.  One of the key issues identified through those consultations is the way in which funding arrangements can either help or hinder the delivery of services to support better mental health outcomes for clients. This is reflected under our priority to ‘Get the incentives right to drive better outcomes’ as part of our Blueprint for Action on Mental Health.

Conditions placed on funding have implications that flow through to services and to consumer and carer experiences.  Many current approaches are inefficient, misaligned and increase red-tape for providers, restricting innovation, flexibility and coordination in the delivery of front line services. Further, mental health services are frequently subject to funding uncertainty, with negative impacts on service continuity for clients as well as operational and staffing costs associated with workforce instability and turnover.

In response, Mental Health Australia has commissioned a study to explore different approaches to the commissioning and contracting of mental health services. As part of this work, a discussion paper has been developed, canvassing the following areas for consideration:

  • Contracting for outcomes rather than for inputs/outputs
  • Devolution of responsibilities to a third party
  • Cross-portfolio and cross-jurisdictional approaches
  • Service partnerships and collaboration
  • Relational or ‘high-trust’ contracting
  • Competition and contestability

Mental Health Australia anticipates that the findings of this research will be immediately relevant to how government responds to important policy processes, including the National Review of Mental Health Services and Programmes, the Competition Policy Review, and the White Paper on the Reform of the Federation. 

Any comments or feedback on the questions and issues raised in the Discussion Paper can be emailed to emily.clay@mhaustralia.org by Friday 22 May 2015. 

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