Commissioning & contracting for better mental health outcomes report

Mental Health Australia engaged Rooftop Social to examine a range of ways in which commissioning and contracting arrangements might be improved to achieve a more effective and efficient Australian mental health system. The study involved a review of published and unpublished literature in Australia and elsewhere, guided by consultation with relevant practitioners and specialists. 

The report’s findings have relevance for several areas of national reform, including the White Paper on the Reform of the Federation, the finalisation of arrangements for full rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the establishment of Primary Health Networks.

Some of the report’s more significant and pressing recommendations include:

  • developing clear policies acknowledging that NFPs represent an essential supply chain for the delivery of human services and that governments have a responsibility to help maintain that supply chain in a healthy and productive state
  • taking action on the 2010 Productivity Commission recommendations relating to changes in NFP commissioning and contracting arrangements, including the recommendation that the Department of Finance develops a suitable set of guidelines for the contracting of human services
  • based on experiences with Western Australia’s Delivering Community Services in Partnership policy, adopting mechanisms to improve government/NFP relationships such as longer‐term contracts, indexation of payments, equitable contract provisions and mutually respectful, collaborative approaches
  • exploring options for promoting cross‐portfolio approaches to mental health services, for example through the use of pooled funding and other innovative approaches to financing
  • examining the feasibility and implications of moving away from activity or input requirements towards outcome‐based contracting, while exercising appropriate caution in considering any introduction of payments related to the achievement of outcomes.


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