Changes to centre of FACS

In 2013 FACS re-structured its service delivery into 15 districts on the same boundaries as NSW Health.

From that point, FACS district directors have had responsibility for delivering disability, social housing and child protection services.

But the centre of FACS was still structured around three chief executives of housing, community services and disability. In effect the centre remained three departments.

This was wasteful and made it hard for the FACS districts to connect up services and do better work for the people they serve.

So since 2013, FACS has been working to re-design and shrink its central functions and to free up more resources for the frontline.

This is against a backdrop of government-wide Expenditure Review Committee savings, including $60M set for FACS, most of which was to come from employee related expenses.

In 2013-14, FACS set itself a target of achieving $70M in savings by July 2016, including $60M required by government and a $10M contingency.

Pie chart break-down of $70m in savings

Most is to come from the changes to FACS central functions and the balance from procurement.  

No savings are being made in the frontline.

The $70M saving includes $52M of employee-related costs (FACS staff and on-costs, unfilled positions and cost of contractors); this equates to about 30% of the employee costs of the central functions.

To date FACS has achieved around $35 million of these savings through a voluntary redundancy program in central areas and by shedding over 80 executive roles at an average saving of $240,000 each, deleting unfilled roles, removing contractors and achieving procurement savings.

FACS has also been appointing people to a range of non-executive roles. This should be finished by the end of the year.

There will be a small net reduction of these non-executive roles, but also a significant re-grading of the roles, with more at less senior levels.

These changes will deliver around $25 million in further savings, leaving up to $10 million to be found from other initiatives in 2015-16.

Again, the frontline is not affected by these savings. In fact, while the caseworker vacancy data for the December 2015 quarter the vacancy rate stable at 6%, the data is showing an increase in caseworker numbers, indicating that our continuing state-wide recruitment efforts are having an impact.

Graphical representation of quarterly FACS caseworkers data.

Some FACS Districts have achieved notable improvements, with Western Sydney, the Far West and Mid-North-Coast all meeting our caseworker target levels.

The 11th FACS Caseworker Dashboard also shows that more children are receiving face-to-face assessments from caseworkers, despite an increase in reports at risk-of-significant-harm, with over 1,240 more children seen than were seen the year before, and despite the increase in reports, the rate at which vulnerable children and young people have been receiving face-to-face assessments has been maintained.

This means that the work we are doing to improve our response rate is also delivering results.

The Caseworker Dashboard for the December 2015 quarter can be viewed here.

Consultation

FACS has consulted with unions and staff on the OneFACS program for nearly two years.

This included two forums in March 2015 attended by more than 2,000 people from affected functions.

An extensive and dedicated intranet portal is also available for all staff, with FAQs, a copy of every OneFACS message, timelines, change plans, staff participation and consultation frameworks, draft organisational designs and comprehensive guidance resources.