Smarter Services

Policy Focus Areas

Smarter Services

How do we get more responsive, flexible and empowering services for people requiring social services?

Rarely does one person interact with a community service organisation or government program in isolation. Often engaging with multiple services, the complexity of the community service system is often confusing for people and does not provide an integrated plan to supporting people in need.

Services best developed with client input and outcomes that address the underlying issues that can place someone in the social services system.

With greater demand, and a reduction in resources, community service organisations also need to deliver a greater number of services with less. How they deliver these services and achieve better outcomes for their clients is an important consideration for future policy and governance decisions.

Working closely with the Community Services Sector, WACOSS is committed to the development of ‘Smarter Services.’ Smarter Services envisages a sector able to provide integrated, holistic services based on tailored outcomes for clients. It envisages organisations providing services that deliver life-long results and resilience to those at risk or at a disadvantage.


Co-Design Project

WACOSS has been working with the State Government to deliver a set of consistent principles for co-design in Western Australia. This ongoing project will provide Government with the guidelines and tools to work with service providers and vulnerable people in designing smarter services in Western Australia.

Download Co-Design Toolkit

Budget Submission 

Every year, WACOSS makes a Budget Submission to the WA State Government advocating for better investment in community services. This submission provides a way for WACOSS to take community concerns directly to the State Government. Split between strategic policy recommendations and budget priorities, the submission aims to reflect the emerging issues and priorities of front-line community services

The submission also provides a catalyst for WACOSS to engage directly with relevant Ministers and government departments on their future priorities and policies.

View Submissions

Outcomes Framework 

One of the most strategic pieces of work WACOSS has led is the development of the WA Outcomes Measurement Framework, in partnership with Department of Premier and Cabinet and with oversight from the Supporting Communities Forum Working Group. With a growing recognition that shared outcomes are vital to drive a unified vision for the wellbeing of all Western Australians, the Framework provides the scaffolding to support a transition to outcomes focused service delivery.

A culmination of conversations with over 1000 sector representatives, and an iterative process with key stakeholders, the Framework importantly also supports whole-of-government and a whole-of-sector integration and innovation. This is of the utmost importance given that traditional service models and siloed funding programs have repeatedly failed to make inroads to support those most vulnerable, who experience entrenched disadvantage.

The Framework has been endorsed by the Community Safety and Family Support Cabinet Sub Committee.

Download Outcomes Framework resources

Stronger Sector

A strong, independent and diverse community sector is crucial to a fair and inclusive society.

The Community Services Sector has long worked to improve the lives of vulnerable people or those facing disadvantage. In WA, the sector employs 7 per cent of the State’s population and contributes around $12.7 billion to the State’s economy. With over four thousand Charities or Not-for-profits in WA providing services for vulnerable or disadvantaged people, the Community Services Sector is one of the largest sectors in the State.

Significant reform has ensured that these organisations are able to provide ever improving services and delivering a collective impact for our community.

Although, this reform has resulted in a shifting operating environment for providers where existing organisational structures and contract and funding provisions are at odds with historical systems. A priority of the sector is to maintain the choice and flexibility for people accessing services while building sector capacity and maintaining sustainability.

A Stronger Sector is WACOSS’s commitment to supporting the development of a diverse and independent community services sector. Through A Stronger Sector, WACOSS advocates for formalised, formulated funding of community services and a dedicated plan to the development of the social services workforce.

Not-for-profit Landscape Report 

The Not-for-profit Landscape Report is the first of its kind, providing a snapshot of the size and contribution of the sector to the West Australian community and economy. It also highlights the challenges facing providers in a changing landscape. Through this report, WACOSS is able to demonstrate the opportunities and risks facing the WA Community Services Sector and advocate for policies that build its strength and resilience.

View Report

WA Peaks Forum

The WA Peaks Forum is an independent group of non-government human services sector peak bodies. The Forum encourages coordination and collaboration between sector peaks and works towards a common agenda. Its primary focus is to allow sector peaks to coordinate on multi-sector initiatives and provide a unified voice on shared priorities.

Download list of WA Peaks Network

Resilient Communities

Championing Social Wellbeing

How can we tackle inequality and reduce disadvantage?

In WA, there are numerous peaks and community sector organisations doing incredible work in their respective service areas. For different reasons, some service areas are in need of extra support to ensure services remain accessible, sustainable and responsive to the community need. WACOSS is available to fill the gaps and provide support as needed. For example, we are currently working with Early Years Networks to reduce inequality and disadvantage among children, young people and families.

Through championing social wellbeing, WACOSS works to improve outcomes for disadvantaged and vulnerable people who seldom have the opportunity to tell their own stories to those in power. WACOSS also speaks up on those issues that impact on the community right across our support system, like poverty and inequality. We advocate for more integrated, wrap around systems of support, for services that are person-centred and empower citizens to take charge of their own lives, and for greater investment in prevention and early intervention to reduce long term costs and provide life-long outcomes.

By advocating on behalf of those without a voice, WACOSS aims to improve the wellbeing of our communities and create a healthier society.


Connecting Early Years Portal 

This portal was purpose built for Early Years Networks, allowing them to collaborate, share tools and resources, and contribute to the shared learning for all Networks. With more than 45 Early Years Networks working around the state, the portal gives Networks a collaborative way to improve outcomes for children and families state-wide.

Access Portal


Children’s Policy Advisory Council

The Children’s Policy Advisory Council aims to bring a consistent and strategic approach to WACOSS policy development for children’s policy and services. Established in 2005, it contributes to key areas of work such as the WACOSS Pre-Budget Submission and influences future initiatives. Through these initiatives, WACOSS again aims to influence government policy and sector development to improve outcomes for those needing support services.

Equitable Support

Creating Equitable Communities

Inequality is the primary cause of disadvantage and many of the social issues experienced by the vulnerable in our community.

Systems and services that aim to tackle income inequality are vital to supporting healthy, resilient communities. Without adequate support, living costs can place significant pressure on a household’s financial sustainability, leaving them one crisis away from hardship.

Often people find themselves in crisis through no fault of their own due to external factors they cannot control. In these situations, people require support to get back on their feet.

With income inequality in Western Australia at the highest rate in the nation, and child poverty rates increasing over the last decade, the policy focus area of “Creating Equitable Communities” is WACOSS’s commitment to promoting and developing initiatives that reduce inequality and increase financial resilience, helping people in crisis improve their wellbeing.

Cost of Living Report 

Since 2007, WACOSS has produced an annual Cost of Living Report. Using consistent models and expert analysis, the report provides a snapshot of the emerging issues facing the Western Australian community. The report works to debunk myths surrounding people living on low wages by providing evidence based on data, rather than opinion.

View Reports


State Wage Case 

Every year, WACOSS makes a submission on the State Wage Case to the WA Industrial Relations Commission. It is an important mechanism protecting low-income workers from poverty and promoting fairer distribution of economic benefits for the good of our community. Through its submission, WACOSS promotes fair wages and conditions that reduce financial inequality and promote productivity.

View Submissions


Community Relief and Resilience Forum

The monthly Community Relief and Resilience Forum is an opportunity for representatives from the community and government sectors to network, share information and identify opportunities to enhance services delivered. Most meetings include a presentation to keep everyone up to date with trends and innovations in service delivery. Bringing together members from various backgrounds and agencies allows the sector to share current challenges and successes and work together to address emerging issues. The Forum is also an important support network for organisations providing emergency relief.  The work of the Forum is linked to the State Emergency Relief Committee.

Join Forum

State Emergency Relief Committee

This Western Australian strategic reference group was established to support the community relief and resilience sector. This support is provided in the form of policy development, planning and lobbying. Through this Committee, members have a unified voice to advocate for improved systems and services to those experiencing financial hardship and adversity.

Read More

Emerging Issues & Research

With the only constant in community services being change, WACOSS actively engages with social researchers and service providers to identify, advise on and respond to emerging issues.

The research and projects undertaken by WACOSS vary greatly depending on the needs of the WA community, the ability of service sectors to meet that demand, and the availability of resources. Every project aligns with WACOSS’s mission to achieve an inclusive, just and equitable society.

Not-for-profit Landscape Report

The Not-for-profit Landscape Report is the first of its kind, providing a snapshot of the size and contribution of the sector to the West Australian community and economy. It also highlights the challenges facing providers in a changing landscape. Through this report, WACOSS is able to demonstrate the opportunities and risks facing the WA Community Services Sector and advocate for policies that build its strength and resilience.

View Report

Emerging Issues Forum

The Community Sector Leaders Forum on Emerging Issues is WACOSS’s premier annual strategic event. It provides analysis to inform the service and strategic planning needs of the executives and Boards of community service providers into the future.

Delivered by independent experts and senior WACOSS staff, the Emerging Issues Forum informs the sector of important emerging trends and issues affecting both services, and the people they serve.

Past Presentations