In response to the significant changes in the restructuring of Human Services involving the merging of Centrelink, Medicare and the Children Support Agency, the CRS team unit is proposing a change in service delivery for job seekers. Feeling the pressure from recent changes including; shortage of staff due to relocation to Centrelink, external pressures from funding bodies and competition with private providers of employment support services, the team believes that the proposed change, a group program, will be an efficient and a proactive approach in providing services to job seekers. Considering the quality of the team and the facilities, the CRS office team is very confident that this change will be implemented successfully. Background
From the 1st July 2011, four large government organisations, Centrelink, Medicare, the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Services and the Child Support Agency, merged into the Department of Human Services. These services were integrated under The Human Services Legislation Amendment Act 2011. The Department of Human Services has been redesigned in order to achieve greater collaboration in providing services to the Australian community. The underpinning ideology of rehabilitation services is grounded in feminist and structural social theory, which suggests the importance of rehabilitation and employment to regain an individual’s power and social status (CRS History, 2011). The vision of rehabilitation services has not changed significantly, even though the delivery of the services has changed, and is continuing to change. The focus is now on the supported employment services rather than the rehabilitation services. The Australian Government’s social inclusion agenda was intended to provide services so that every citizen has an opportunity to participate in the workforce and the community, with given responsibility to shape their own lives (Audit Report 2010).To conceptualise the stance of this rehabilitation service on a local (office) level it is important to map the internal and external environment influencing the service in supra organisational arenas which are foundational for human services (Jones & May 1992) The sample of ‘nested boxes’ described by Perrow (1986) is applicable to the CRS office as it is the smallest box within the District, Regional, State and the Commonwealth organisation. At the same time it is also one of the boxes in the Department of Human Services. Therefore any changes made concerning government initiative, policy or budget change that occurs at federal level directly or indirectly affects ground service delivery in the CRS offices across Australia. When simplified, this means that the CRS office and its staff members need to be very flexible to be able to adapt to above forced changes (Schmid 2008), at the same time keeping the quality of the service delivery to their clients as an open system, retaining competiveness within the industry of employment support services (Bronfenbrenner 1989, Walonick 1993). When we add the ‘boxes’ from the external environment such as; the Department of Education Employment and Work Relations (DEEWR), Department of Families and Community Services as funding bodies, competitors in the market such as other private Employment and Disability Management Providers, the political arena and advanced Information Technology, it becomes evident that it is a difficult task to remain in equilibrium. Contingency theorists such as Volberda and Mintzenberg suggest that the flexibility of an organisation has to match the changes in its environment, through the management’s capacity to adapt to changes (Gazendam 1996). The service delivery focus has evolved throughout the last few decades from medical, centre-based model to community based model, which goes in line with the change of focus in the provision of disability services (Disability Services Act 1993). For a long time the CRS has been the only provider of Disability...
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