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Community Affairs Legislation Committee
18/10/2012
Estimates
FAMILIES, HOUSING, COMMUNITY SERVICES AND INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO

FAMILIES, HOUSING, COMMUNITY SERVICES AND INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO

In Attendance

Senator McLucas, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Mr Finn Pratt, Secretary

Ms Liza Carroll, Deputy Secretary

Mr Michael Dillon, Deputy Secretary

Ms Felicity Hand, Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer

Ms Serena Wilson, Deputy Secretary

Cross Outcomes

Mr Michael Lye, Group Manager, Families

Ms Donna Moody, Group Manager, Operations Strategy and Performance

Ms Yvonne Korn, Branch Manager, Program Frameworks

Ms Flora Carapellucci, Branch Manager, Strategic Policy

Ms Michalina Stawyskyj, Branch Manager, Social Security Relationships and International

Mr Steve Jennaway, Group Manager, Business and Financial Services

Ms Kim Vella, Branch Manager, Budget Development

Dr Kamlesh Sharma, Branch Manager, Financial Accounting

Mr Scott Dilley, Branch Manager, Business Planning and Financial Governance

Mr Andrew Davitt, Branch Manager, Remote Jobs and Communities Program Taskforce

Ms Julia Burns, Group Manager, Corporate Support

Ms Tracey Carroll, Acting Branch Manager, Ministerial Parliamentary and Executive Support

Ms Lynette MacLean, Branch Manager, People

Ms Nerrilee Cuthbertson, Branch Manager, Property, Environment Procurement and Security

Mr Dave Agnew, Branch Manager, Network Strategy and Performance

Ms Tracey Bell, Branch Manager, Communication and Media

Ms Susan Parker, Deputy Branch Manager, Communication and Media

Mr Anthony Field, Group Manager, Legal and Compliance

Mr Simon Crowther, Acting Group Manager, Branch Manager, Compliance

Mr James Fletcher, Branch Manager, Public Law

Ms Marian Moss, Branch Manager, Commercial and Indigenous Law

Ms Cate McKenzie, Group Manager, Women, Children and Mental Health

Ms Jill Farrelly, Branch Manager Mental Health

Ms Jan Lawless, Branch Manager, Cross Portfolio and Information

Ms Chantelle Stratford, Branch Manager, Strategic Program Reform Taskforce

Mr Peter Qui, Chief Information Officer and Group Manager, Information and Technology

Mr Scott Glare, Branch Manager, Business Solutions

Mr Max Devereux, Branch Manager, Application Services

Ms Helen Duke, Acting Branch Manager, IT Operations

Mr Sebastian Hood, Branch Manager, Business Data and Analytics

Mr Andrew Lander, Branch Manager, Audit, Assurance and Risk

Outcome 1 Families and Children

Mr Andrew Whitecross, Branch Manager, Family Payments and Child Support

Ms Janet Stodulka, Branch Manager, Family Support Program

Ms Jane Dickenson, Acting Branch Manager, Parental Payments and Family Research

Ms Liz Hefren-Webb, Branch Manager, Welfare Payments Reform

Ms Leesa Croke, Branch Manager, Problem Gambling Taskforce

Mr Paul Hardcastle, Acting Branch Manager, SACS Taskforce

Ms Helen Bedford, Branch Manager, Childrens Policy

Outcome 2—Housing

Mr Sean Innis, Group Manager, Housing, Homelessness and Money Management

Ms Sharon Rose, Branch Manager, Housing Policy

Ms Arati Waldegrave, Acting Branch Manager, Homelessness Policy

Ms Kath Mandla, Branch Manager, Housing Affordability Programs

Ms Karen Pickering, Branch Manager, Commonwealth State Relations

Outcome 3 Community Capability and the Vulnerable

Mr Bryan Palmer, Group Manager, Community Engagement

Mrs Mary Laughlin, Acting Branch Manager Community Investment

Ms Deborah Winkler, Branch Manager, Money Management

Dr Judy Schneider, Branch Manager, Research and Analysis

Outcome 4—Seniors

Mr Paul McBride, Group Manager, Social Policy Group

Ms Alanna Foster, Branch Manager, Seniors and Means Test

Outcome 5—Disability and Carers

Mr David Bowen, Chief Executive Officer, National Disability Insurance Scheme Launch Transition Agency

Ms Susan Black, Group Manager, National Disability Insurance Scheme, Executive Coordination

Ms Margaret Carmody, Group Manager, National Disability Insurance Scheme Launch Implementation

Dr Nick Hartland, Group Manager, National Disability Insurance Scheme Design

Ms Jo-Ann Rose, Chief Financial Officer, National Disability Insurance Scheme Launch Transition Agency

Ms Jillian Moses, Branch Manager, National Disability Insurance Scheme Board Planning and Risk

Ms Alison Smith, Branch Manager National Disability Insurance Scheme Design

Mr Ray Jeffery, Acting Branch Manager, National Disability Insurance Scheme Engagement

Ms Allyson Essex, Acting Group Manager, Disability and Carers

Ms Leonie Corver, Acting Branch Manager, Disability and Carers

Mr John Riley, Branch Manager, Autism and Early Intervention

Ms Karen Wilson, Branch Manager, Disability and Carers Policy

Ms Laura Angus, Branch Manager, Disability and Carers Programs

Ms Ginevra Peisley, Branch Manager, Office of the Chief Information Officer

Outcome 6—Women

Ms Fiona Smart, Branch Manager, Safety Taskforce

Ms Mairi Steele, Branch Manager, Womens Branch

Social Security Appeals Tribunal

Ms Jane Macdonnell, Principal Member

Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace

Ms Helen Conway, Director

Committee met at 08:58

CHAIR ( Senator Moore ): Good morning, everyone. I declare open this hearing of the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee. The Senate has referred to the committee the particulars of proposed expenditure for 2012-13 and related documents for the Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs portfolio. The committee may also examine the annual reports of the departments and agencies appearing before it. I note that we have, Mr Pratt, your annual report, hot off the press.

Mr Pratt : Yes, Madam Chair.

CHAIR: The hearing today is supplementary to the budget estimates hearings held in May. The committee has before it a program listing agencies and outcomes relating to matters upon which senators have given notice. The committee has set Friday, 7 December 2012, as the date for the return of answers to questions on notice, and senators are reminded that any written questions on notice should be provided to the committee secretariat by close of business, Friday, 26 October 2012.

Officers and senators are familiar with the rules of the Senate governing estimates hearings and, if you need any assistance, the secretariat has copies of the rules. I particularly draw attention to the Senate order of 13 May 2009 specifying the process by which a claim of public interest immunity should be raised and which I now incorporate in Hansard.

The extract read as follows—

Public interest immunity claims

That the Senate—

(a)      notes that ministers and officers have continued to refuse to provide information to Senate committees without properly raising claims of public interest immunity as required by past resolutions of the Senate;

(b)      reaffirms the principles of past resolutions of the Senate by this order, to provide ministers and officers with guidance as to the proper process for raising public interest immunity claims and to consolidate those past resolutions of the Senate;

(c)      orders that the following operate as an order of continuing effect:

(1)      If:

      (a)   a Senate committee, or a senator in the course of proceedings of a committee, requests information or a document from a Commonwealth department or agency; and

      (b)   an officer of the department or agency to whom the request is directed believes that it may not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, the officer shall state to the committee the ground on which the officer believes that it may not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, and specify the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document.

(2)      If, after receiving the officer’s statement under paragraph (1), the committee or the senator requests the officer to refer the question of the disclosure of the information or document to a responsible minister, the officer shall refer that question to the minister.

(3)      If a minister, on a reference by an officer under paragraph (2), concludes that it would not be in the public interest to disclose the information or document to the committee, the minister shall provide to the committee a statement of the ground for that conclusion, specifying the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document.

(4)      A minister, in a statement under paragraph (3), shall indicate whether the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document to the committee could result only from the publication of the information or document by the committee, or could result, equally or in part, from the disclosure of the information or document to the committee as in camera evidence.

(5)      If, after considering a statement by a minister provided under paragraph (3), the committee concludes that the statement does not sufficiently justify the withholding of the information or document from the committee, the committee shall report the matter to the Senate.

(6)      A decision by a committee not to report a matter to the Senate under paragraph (5) does not prevent a senator from raising the matter in the Senate in accordance with other procedures of the Senate.

(7)      A statement that information or a document is not published, or is confidential, or consists of advice to, or internal deliberations of, government, in the absence of specification of the harm to the public interest that could result from the disclosure of the information or document, is not a statement that meets the requirements of paragraph (I) or (4).

(8)      If a minister concludes that a statement under paragraph (3) should more appropriately be made by the head of an agency, by reason of the independence of that agency from ministerial direction or control, the minister shall inform the committee of that conclusion and the reason for that conclusion, and shall refer the matter to the head of the agency, who shall then be required to provide a statement in accordance with paragraph (3).

(Extract, Senate Standing Orders, pp 124-125)

I welcome back Senator Jan McLucas—

Senator McLucas: Thank you, Chair.

CHAIR: the departmental secretary, Mr Finn Pratt, and officers of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Senator, do you wish to make an opening statement?

Senator McLucas: No, thank you, Chair.

CHAIR: Mr Pratt, do you wish to make an opening statement?

Mr Pratt : No thank you, Madam Chair.

CHAIR: The committee will begin today's proceedings with cross-portfolio corporate matters, as always, including the questions for the Social Security Appeals Tribunal, and then we will attempt to follow the order as set out, but we always try to be flexible to meet people's needs. We will start with questions on cross-portfolio corporate matters.

Senator FIFIELD: Good morning Senator; good morning Mr Pratt. I want to start with kitchens—the household assistance advertising campaign, where I understand that, in the second phase of that campaign, there was a change to the domestic arrangements portrayed in the ads. Correct me if I am wrong, but the first phase of advertising used a real kitchen, a pre-existing kitchen, while the second phase made use of a fake kitchen in a studio setting. Firstly, could you just tell me if that summation is correct.

Mr Pratt : I would not use the term 'fake', but a constructed kitchen.

Senator FIFIELD: It was not a real kitchen?

Mr Pratt : I do not believe it was a real kitchen.

Senator FIFIELD: It was not a kitchen that you could actually cook in?

Mr Pratt : I could not advise on that—it may be possible to cook in those constructed kitchens, but I do not know.

Senator FIFIELD: It was not a ridgy-didge kitchen; let us put it that way.

Mr Pratt : I think it is correct to say there was a difference between the original kitchen used and the kitchens used for the second part of the advertising campaign.

Senator FIFIELD: What was the reason there was felt to be a need to change the setting?

Ms Bell : As to the first kitchens used in phase 1 of the advertisements, there were three kitchens and they were in-situ kitchens.

Senator FIFIELD: 'In-situ kitchens'—that means a kitchen in a house?

Ms Bell : Yes. The second phase of advertisements used sets, and that was for technical reasons because, owing to the nature of the type of ad that was being shot, we needed to have a long zoom track for the cameras and that could not be done in kitchens within homes. There was no difference in cost associated with using a set kitchen and the three kitchens, because there was a certain amount to build the set but using the three kitchens for the first ads meant they actually had to take the production teams around to travel around to each of those three sets. So the costs ended up being roughly the same.

Senator FIFIELD: So, rather than changing the camera angle, it was decided to build a whole kitchen?

Ms Bell : There was a specific technique that was used between the two different advertisements. That could not be done within a kitchen space within an existing house.

Senator FIFIELD: You wanted to preserve the conceptual and artistic integrity of the ad?

Ms Bell : We needed to go with that particular creative execution and, as there was no difference in cost, it did not pose a problem for the budget.

Senator FIFIELD: If we could just go to your statement that there was no difference in cost, I assume when you have a kitchen in a real house there is no build cost in terms of the set that is there. The location is there; it pre-exists. So there is no cost in relation to that.

Ms Bell : No, but there are costs associated with bringing production teams to three different sets, with three different kitchens, across the locality of Sydney.

Senator FIFIELD: A production team is a camera, a camera operator, a sound recordist?

Ms Bell : It is considerably more than that. There are edit suites used at the time. There is edit work going on. It is quite a technical process. I do not actually have all the details here of all the people involved, but a set of that sort has a considerable number of people involved with it.

Senator FIFIELD: I am assuming it is a similar number of bodies, whether it is in a studio or whether it is on location.

Ms Bell : Yes.

Senator FIFIELD: Basically, the same equipment, pretty much. You do not set up whole editing suites on location. You do the filming and then you go back to the editing suite.

Ms Bell : There is a certain amount of editing equipment on site. I would have to talk to the creative agency about all the actual technical product that is brought in for a shoot. But there was no difference in cost between the two shoots.

Senator FIFIELD: Can you take me through the cost elements for the first phase versus the cost elements for the second phase?

Ms Bell : Production costs?

Senator FIFIELD: Yes.

Ms Bell : I do not actually have the breakdown of production costs across the two phases.

Senator FIFIELD: Therefore how can you tell me the cost was the same if you do not have the breakdown of the costs?

Ms Bell : I am aware, with our budgets, that we—

Senator FIFIELD: You may have had the same budgets for both, but that does not mean that the costs of actually filming and producing were the same. Just because you have the same budget does not mean the costs themselves were the same for both films.

Ms Bell : In the budget for our creative agency, both creative development and production delivery were the same.

Senator FIFIELD: I am not interested in the budgets; what I am interested in is the actual cost.

Ms Bell : I do not have the technical breakdown between the two different phases, the production and the build, but I can get that from the creative agency.

Senator FIFIELD: If you could. There have been assertions that the cost of building the set and other associated expenses for the second phase, for the kitchens, was about $100,000. Can you tell me if that is correct?

Ms Bell : I am not 100 per cent sure of the exact cost for the build of that kitchen. I would have to get the creative agency.

Senator FIFIELD: We are not certain what the cost of the build is. We are not certain what the relative expenditures were.

Senator McLucas: Yes, we are.

Senator FIFIELD: The officer at the table says, 'I can't actually tell you what any of the costs were, but they were the same.' I'm sorry: that is not adequate to convince me.

Ms Bell : We have a production cost. I do not have the breakdown of the production cost, but the creative agency assures us the production costs across the two shoots were the same. There was no difference between doing the two different types. But I can get from the creative agency a breakdown.

Senator FIFIELD: I'm sorry. I do not think anyone listening would believe for a second that it is cheaper to build a set of a kitchen in a studio than to use an existing real kitchen. I do not think anyone believes that that would be the case.

Senator McLucas: That is the evidence that you have been given by the officer. You are questioning the officer's integrity, and it is going close to it. I think you are being a bit critical.

Senator FIFIELD: I am not questioning the officer's integrity. What I am doing is applying some common sense here, which is that something that is already built, that already exists, that is already there, is going to be less expensive than actually building a set. You still have the crew who you need at either place, you still have the film equipment you need at either place, you still have the recording equipment you need at either place. Yes, there are editing suites. I assume the bulk of the editing is not done on site. To a layman, and I think to anyone listening, it sounds peculiar that the two things were the same.

The budgets may have been the same but there may be other elements unrelated to the actual physical location.

Ms Hand : We will provide you with detailed production costs. We will take that on notice. I would point out that in addition to taking crew and production people around Sydney to three different locations, you pay for use of those existing kitchens. You pay the people who let you use them. Plus—

Senator FIFIELD: Sorry to interrupt, but paying someone to use an existing kitchen would probably be a darn sight cheaper than what I know are the not inexpensive costs of hiring a studio.

CHAIR: Senator Fifield, the officer is trying to respond to your question.

Ms Hand : In addition to paying, whilst there is absolutely no decision at this stage, of course, the set that was established for phase 2 of this campaign can be reused, whether by us or by someone else. That is one thing we are currently looking at in terms of the potential third phase of this campaign.

Senator FIFIELD: I do not think the taxpayer is terribly concerned about whether the set can be used by someone else. The Commonwealth pays for a set, and that is terrific for the company that own the set and it is great that it can be used by other people, but that is not—

Mr Pratt : Senator, I think Ms Hand's point was that if the government took a decision to have another phase of the campaign the set would be able to be reused so the cost of the set could be amortised in that sense. If I can just go back to the original proposition, I think what Ms Bell was saying was that the production costs overall did not change between the first and the second campaign. Certainly the make-up of the costs might have been different. As you point out, it may be less expensive to, in the first instance, rent an existing kitchen. But there are other costs on top of that which may bring the total cost up to about the same amount as creating a set but not having to travel et cetera. I think the point is that the total costs were roughly in order.

Senator FIFIELD: I do not buy it. How many kitchens were actually built? There was not just one, was there?

Ms Bell : There were three kitchens built—not whole kitchens, just three different sides of a kitchen.

Senator FIFIELD: I appreciate that. There were three sets built. Whose studios did you use? Was it a crowd like Fox Studios?

Ms Bell : It was in Fox Studios.

Senator FIFIELD: It was Fox Studios. I do not know a heck of a lot about film production but I do know that Fox Studios would charge a darn sight more than an individual would charge for hiring their own kitchen. This just is not adding up.

Ms Hand : We have told you that we do not believe that is the case, and I think we should provide you with the detailed production costs on notice.

Senator FIFIELD: Given FaHCSIA is here until about 6:30 today, it should be possible to provide that information later today.

Mr Pratt : We will see what we can extract from the agency.

Senator FIFIELD: If you could. But I have to say I just do not buy that it is the same cost to build three kitchen sets and to hire Fox Studios as it is to use a pre-existing kitchen, in a house, and to change the camera angle. All of this, three kitchen sets and the hiring of Fox Studios, is done because the camera angle in situ did not quite work.

Senator McLucas: As you said, Senator, you are a layperson in this matter, and so are we, so we will provide you the information that will put your mind at rest.

Senator FIFIELD: I am a layperson, but it does not pass the sniff test and it does not add up to me. And I do not think anyone listening would think that the cost of building three sets and hiring Fox Studios would be the same as getting a crew into someone's existing kitchen. Someone from FaHCSIA could have said, 'Hey, you can use my kitchen, no charge.' Or the parliamentary secretary could have. There is one down the road at the Lodge. There are plenty of kitchens that I am sure could have been got at no expense.

Senator McLucas: Yes, you could have come to my place in Cairns and done it in my kitchen. I think that might have been a bit more costly.

Senator FIFIELD: Or at your Canberra residence maybe. It could have been closer.

Senator CASH: There was an article yesterday I understand in the Courier Mail in Brisbane entitled Political heat in the fake family kitchen. Have you seen that article or been briefed on that article?

Ms Hand : Yes I have.

Senator CASH: In the article a number of claims are made. One of them is sources involved in the project told the Courier Mail that they had seen the sets and new appliances dismantled and dumped at a landfill site in Sydney five weeks ago. Are you able to confirm or otherwise the veracity of that claim in the Courier Mail article?

Ms Hand : When we spoke about this matter yesterday I was informed that it is wrong. That is incorrect and the set has been kept in storage and it can be re-used.

Senator CASH: Was that the entire set? So has absolutely nothing at all been dumped in landfill in Sydney? I am assuming the Courier Mail will go back and follow this up to see what their source has to say.

CHAIR: You cannot be sure about that.

Ms Bell : Nothing has been dumped. Everything has been stored. The only things that would not have been stored were some products that were hired and brought in so they are obviously not sitting with the kitchen but the rest of the kitchen is still in storage, as Ms Hand indicated, in case we need to use it for further work.

Senator CASH: It also says FaHCSIA yesterday insisted the sets were still in storage after seeking reassurance from their ad agency, Clemenger BBDO, that they had not been taken to the tip. Was it always the understanding that these sets would be kept? Because, when I read that, there appears to be, potentially, the understanding that once the sets had been used, anything could have happened to them.

Ms Bell : No. Because there is the potential for a third phase of advertising for this campaign, so the kitchens were always going to be stored in case we needed them.

Senator FIFIELD: What if the kitchens looked a bit dated, would you go for a fourth one then?

Senator CASH: Would you give them a quick lick of paint?

Ms Bell : A dated kitchen actually suits a creative response for these ads.

Senator FIFIELD: It was tongue in cheek.

Mr Pratt : They might use a different camera angle.

Senator FIFIELD: Mr Pratt, you are not helping the Commonwealth's case there. Has FaHCSIA paid for any other sets it may just need at a future time?

Ms Bell : I am not aware of any.

Senator FIFIELD: Just kitchens at this stage.

Ms Bell : No.

Senator CASH: Who from the department directed the kitchen sets—what we have termed fake kitchen sets—in the studios to be built and when?

Ms Bell : I did not quite catch that.

Senator CASH: Who from the department directed that in this instance you would use what we have termed fake kitchen sets to be built in Fox Studios and when was that direction made?

Ms Bell : There was no direction. The creative agency provides an approach, which is then agreed. The approach is tested through focus groups. The technical advice is given by the creative agency around delivering that creative response and then that is agreed through the process. I do not have exact dates.

Senator CASH: Apart from all of that testing in focus groups to see whether or not that ad is going to be catchy enough, does the department actually sit down and go through the costs involved with the proposal to see whether or not it will be value for money to the taxpayer?

Ms Bell : The creative agency has a budget it has to stick to. Both these phases actually came in under budget.

Senator CASH: What was the budget for the first phase and the budget for the second phase?

Ms Bell : Both phases combined were $1.9 million.

Senator CASH: When we say $1.9 million, what exactly was that for?

Ms Bell : That was for creative ideas, creative development, production and everything required to finalise those ads ready for placement on media. It was $1.8 million as of 30 June 2012.

Senator CASH: Are there any further costs outstanding?

Ms Bell : No.

Senator CASH: Minister, was the minister's office aware of the decision to replace the hired kitchen with the fake kitchen sets for the second series of ads?

Senator McLucas: I can find out for you.

Senator CASH: When was the minister's office made aware? Who in the minister's office was made aware? Did anyone in the minister's office sign off on the decision and the expenditure in the building of the fake kitchens?

Senator McLucas: I will just get some information to respond to that question.

Mr Pratt : We will check all of that. I suspect the minister's office had nothing to do with the decisions around this. It was done by the advertising agency within its budget.

Ms Burns : We can confirm now that that neither the minister's office nor the minister were involved in making those decisions.

Senator CASH: Was the contract for these advertisements tendered?

Ms Bell : As part of the process we used the Commonwealth multi use list, which is held by the Department of Finance. It was a direct source due to time imperatives. That is also acceptable under the use of the CMUL.

Senator CASH: You went directly to them so was there any comparison with what another company may or may not have been able to do?

Ms Bell : No, except we have standard costings around creative development so we were aware whether or not the budget was going to be excessive. We also had Clemenger develop a number of concepts to ensure that we had value for money through the testing process.

Senator FIFIELD: We will come back to this area afterwards and that will give officers the chance to source information over the next 10 minutes.

Senator SIEWERT: Where is the department up to on its commitment to the community pay equity case? How many grants are in scope? How many community organisations that you provide funding to are in scope?

Mr Hardcastle : There are about 2,500 variations that we will be doing. I cannot give you the exact number of organisations at this moment. We are going through the process of checking all of the different activities line by line to make sure that people are in scope. That, as you can understand, is quite a detailed process.

Senator SIEWERT: You said there were about 2,500 variations. I asked about organisations and you have answered that. What is the value FaHCSIA has put on how much you have got in variations to cost?

Mr Hardcastle : We are going through that process and there are variations to that and we are also involved in negotiations with state governments. I do not have a final figure that would be remotely useful at this point.

Senator SIEWERT: Can I confirm that when the letter is going out that organisations will receive one letter from FaHCSIA with all its variations?

Mr Hardcastle : Absolutely. We will have one letter and that will go out in November.

Senator SIEWERT: As I understand it, the negotiations between state and territory governments are around where funding is delivered via the states through agreements. Is that correct?

Mr Hardcastle : Yes.

Senator SIEWERT: How many agreements does FaHCSIA have in that position?

Mr Hardcastle : We have the homelessness agreement, we have affordable housing and we have national disability.

Senator SIEWERT: Is the national disability one a bit different for Western Australia and Victoria? Is that correct?

Mr Hardcastle : I think you are talking about HACC. Is that correct? That is dealt with by the Department of Health and Ageing.

Senator SIEWERT: Is it the case that Treasury is negotiating on your behalf on those three?

Mr Hardcastle : And we are supporting Treasury, that is correct.

Senator SIEWERT: If people want to contest, is the process the same across all departments?

Mr Hardcastle : There are cross-government guidelines for this process. There is the same process for all of them. We have been providing regular updates on our website. Somewhere over the next month we will also have that detail on our website. In all the letters that go out there is also clear advice about what organisations need to do.

Senator SIEWERT: Are those cross-government guidelines publicly available yet?

Mr Hardcastle : They are not publicly available yet but most of the information is already up on the website.

Senator SIEWERT: Including those guidelines?

Mr Hardcastle : No, the information from the guidelines is on the website. We have tried to make it a bit easier for organisations to digest the information. Within the next month all of the pertinent information for organisations will be on the website.

Senator SIEWERT: I am not quite following you. On the one hand you said it is not publicly available and on the other hand you said it is on the website.

Mr Hardcastle : The document of the guidelines is not publicly available at the moment. But a whole range of the content is available on our website.

Senator SIEWERT: Are the guidelines about how you contest the assessment?

Mr Hardcastle : The guidelines are a manual for the departmental staff about how to go about producing the offers, how to calculate the offers, how to issue the offers, and guiding them on how to deal with the review process.

Ms Carroll : I will clarify the difference. Effectively, the guidelines Mr Hardcastle is referring to are the guidelines that within government we are making sure there is a consistent approach across all departments.

Senator SIEWERT: I was starting to pick that up. I am thinking more from a community organisation perspective.

Ms Carroll : It is about making sure we all line up and do the things you have been asking about—having a consistent way of dealing with non-government organisations. There is a lot of information on the website which gives the organisations guidance about what they can do, what the supplement will do and those sorts of things. Then there will be additional information if there are any specific things that go out in the letter from each agency. What each department is trying to do is make it simple for the service providers to align the process with the regular payment process with the funding agreements and then align, for example, the acquittals with the acquittal process that they do on a regular basis. So the website is the public face of the information and the guidelines Mr Hardcastle referred to are really about making sure we have a consistent approach across the Commonwealth government.

Senator SIEWERT: I am sorry, I must be thick this morning but I still do not get if the community know yet how they can appeal if your offer is not considered good enough?

Ms Carroll : The letter that will be going out in November will be a letter of offer and it will explain to the service provider what they need to do with that letter of offer.

Senator SIEWERT: The answer to my original question is: no, that information is not yet publicly available for organisations. What do they do if they get an offer that they are not happy with?

Ms Carroll : That will happen as the letters go out.

Senator SIEWERT: Will that process be the same for all agencies?

Ms Carroll : It is my understanding that all of the letters of offer are exactly that, a letter of offer. That gives an opportunity for agencies to come back.

Senator SIEWERT: There was a rumour going around a while ago that if I, as not-for-profit A, was not happy with the offer from FaHCSIA but was okay with the offer from DoHA or whatever and if I said 'I do not like your offer', that would stop all the other processes. Is that the case or not?

Mr Hardcastle : It is not the case that we would stop offers across agencies. In the whole review process what might happen is that the offer would continue but it might be that if somebody got too much from one department there would be a process of taking that back. But we would not freeze all offers.

Senator SIEWERT: So if I am not happy with the offer you give me around homelessness but I am running another program with DoHA—on alcohol and drugs—I could still proceed with that negotiation with DoHA while I—

Mr Hardcastle : Absolutely.

Senator SIEWERT: In terms of the state process, is that all being run by Treasury? So if I am an organisation that is involved in getting funding via the state from the Commonwealth, do I negotiate with the state, then, once the state has negotiated with the Commonwealth?

Ms Carroll : That is right, because the funding agreement that that organisation has is with the state government; it is not with the Commonwealth. So the Treasury negotiations are about them providing funding to the state governments. Say, for example, in homelessness the money that the service provider gets could well be half Commonwealth, half state. So the Treasury process will provide the supplementation for the Commonwealth amount of the funding. Then there is the amount that the states have to do. So that funding agreement is with the state government. The service provider would negotiate with the state government around those ones.

Senator SIEWERT: I have a series of questions around how that is going to roll out, particularly in Western Australia and Queensland but—

Ms Carroll : That is for Treasury.

Senator SIEWERT: I think that is for Treasury and I may then need to come back and put questions on notice specifically. But it is a bit pointless traversing that until I see them.

I just want to ask a couple of questions about red-tape reduction. I will put some on notice but I specifically wanted to know about risk assessment. You may or may not be aware that I have had a series of questions with PM&C and DoHA around risk assessment. I would quickly like to know where your agency is up to in terms of risk assessment and whether you are becoming part of that process that PM&C has been working on with the Not-for-Profit Sector Reform Council. DoHA seems to be making some progress and I am wondering what progress you are making.

Ms Carroll : Yes, we certainly have been part of the whole-of-Commonwealth process looking at red-tape reduction. We are looking at how we can do a range of things, including simplifying things through risk assessment and further simplification of funding agreements and those sorts of things to reduce red tape for the sector. I will perhaps hand over to Ms Moody to go through some of the very specific things that we have been doing within the department.

Ms Moody : We are involved in a series of whole-of-government exercises that you might group under red tape, including work associated with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, as well as with the Department of Finance and Deregulation. I know there were questions to the department of finance the other day about work they are doing on a low-risk funding agreement, as well as with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on issues associated with the not-for-profit work. So we have been quite heavily involved in a series of those things. We have risk assessment processes of our own in terms of our grant programs, and we are also currently going through an exercise to look at those and determine how more directly they relate to the reporting, for instance, that we request from agencies and the criteria that we would use for that.

Senator SIEWERT: I know that I have run out of time. I will put some more on notice, particularly around what matrix you use for risk assessment and whether it is different to DoHA's. But I will put that on notice.

Senator FIFIELD: I might just go back to the approval for the television ads. Officers at the table said that the minister's office was not involved in the approval. Campaign advertising ultimately is approved by a particular government committee. I am not sure what it is called these days; it used to be called MCGC, the Ministerial Committee on Government Communications. Is that still the case?

Ms Burns : It is the ICC, the Independent Committee of Communications.

Senator FIFIELD: Are there any ministers who are on that committee?

Ms Burns : No, it is chaired by Dr Allan Hawke, who was a previous departmental secretary and it has two other members, Anthea Tinney and Helen Williams.

Senator FIFIELD: So there is no ministerial-level approval at any stage for campaign advertising?

Ms Burns : Ministers agree to campaign advertising but they do not approve the creative execution, for example.

Senator FIFIELD: They approve the budgets but not the individual elements of the production.

Ms Bell : Ministers approve that the ads can go to air at the end of the process.

Senator FIFIELD: That is what I thought. I thought there had to be some ministerial sign-off before campaign ads could go to air.

Ms Bell : That is correct.

Senator FIFIELD: Who does the ministerial sign-off before the ads go to air?

Ms Burns : The portfolio minister, so in our case—

Senator FIFIELD: The portfolio minister; so that would be Minister Macklin. So Minister Macklin gave the sign-off for these ads to go to air.

Ms Bell : After approval through the ICC and certification by the secretary.

Senator FIFIELD: Sure. But the buck stops with her; she is the final point of approval.

Ms Bell : Before we go to air, yes.

Senator FIFIELD: How many ads were the three kitchen sets used in the production of?

Ms Bell : The built sets were used for the phase 2 advertisements.

Senator FIFIELD: Yes, and how many ads were there for the phase 2 television advertisements?

Ms Bell : There was only one ad.

Senator FIFIELD: One. So there were three kitchen sets built for the shooting of one ad.

Ms Bell : It was the style of the ad. The three different kitchens illustrated three different cohorts involved in the payments—or the main cohorts—and there was a segue across those.

Senator FIFIELD: Time constraints were mentioned before, I think, for getting the ads produced and on air. What were the time constraints?

Senator CASH: In particular the fact that the contracts did not go out to tender, and you went directly to them.

Ms Bell : We needed to be on air in time to coincide with the payments. There is obviously a very detailed process in building ads and getting them ready for air. In order to get the creative agency on board and started in time to meet our air time we needed to go directly to source.

Senator FIFIELD: In relation to the ads, is it the case that the scripts originally had words to the effect, 'To find out about your eligibility contact …' but that that was subsequently changed to, 'For more information contact …' Who made that change?

Ms Bell : That was as a result of focus group testing. We were in testing with the scripts to make sure they were resonating with all the recipients and non-recipients. The focus groups showed that the copy was working so well it gave them an idea of eligibility. Originally the testing showed that people's understanding of whether they were eligible or not was very low. The script at that point in testing gave them an understanding of their eligibility—

Senator FIFIELD: From those ads?

Ms Bell : from that copy—and whether or not their cohort was going to be considered as part of the household assistance package payments. They then felt—this was direct from the focus groups—that it would be overkill for us to use the line 'go to the website for eligibility'. They were actually looking for further information so it was a simple copy change.

Senator FIFIELD: That was a decision by whom?

Ms Bell : That was a decision within my team, as we were working with the creative agency. We got specific advice from the researcher based on the focus groups.

Senator FIFIELD: So, because the focus group said that people felt they had enough information from the ads, the decision was taken to not refer to eligibility but to further information?

Ms Bell : The copy as it stood gave them a sense of eligibility. If they wanted further information, the line directed them.

Senator FIFIELD: You say 'a sense of'. It must be a very general sense that people had.

Ms Bell : There is only so much information you can give in those ads. We are trying to drive them to the website so they can get as much information as possible.

Senator FIFIELD: It just strikes me as odd—changing the words from 'eligibility' to 'information'. 'Eligibility' might convey the message that not everyone would benefit. Anyway, it is peculiar. I want to now go to the BBDO Clemenger contract. The value of that increased from $2 million to $3 million. Is that right?

Ms Bell : That is right. That was an extension of the contract to cover potential development of a phase 3 campaign.

Senator FIFIELD: We have had only two phases thus far, and we may yet have a third phase?

Ms Bell : Possibly.

Senator FIFIELD: So the kitchens may well be deployed again.

Mr Pratt : That was my point earlier, Senator.

Senator FIFIELD: Following that rationale, the more advertising the government does the better it will be, because the cheaper the kitchens will be.

Mr Pratt : Certainly. The value for money will increase; that is true.

Senator FIFIELD: Interesting. So, the value of the contract has increased from $2 million to $3 million. Has expenditure increased as a result of the possibility of phase 3?

Ms Bell : We are only in the early stages of looking at a possible phase 3. We have not progressed to that; we have not expended any money as part of that extension.

Mr Pratt : There has been no government decision that there will be a phase 3.

Senator FIFIELD: I guess people heard it here first! Stay tuned: there could be a phase 3! If you did not feel you got enough information in the first and second phases, there might be a third phase to provide more. I just want to go back for a second to the eligibility issue. One cannot help reach the conclusion that the wording in the ad was changed because there was a desire to give the impression that everyone's a winner. If you start talking about eligibility in ads it makes it clear to people that not everyone is a winner.

Ms Burns : No, I do not think that is a fair assessment. In fact, we made sure in our brief to the research agency that they included people who would not be eligible, and they tested their understanding of eligibility, because it was important in getting clear messages through that we did not lead people to think they would be eligible when they would not.

Senator FIFIELD: So the focus groups told you that, from the limited information in the ads, most people in those focus groups knew that millions of people would miss out on any benefit from the Household Assistance Package.

Ms Burns : I am not sure that is exactly how they phrased it, but certainly there was a high level of understanding in those focus groups by the people who were not eligible that they were not, from the copy.

Senator FIFIELD: It strikes me as surprising indeed. In the ads themselves there were three kitchen sets. Can you advise how many seconds each one of the three kitchen sets were actually on the screen?

Ms Bell : I would have to take that on notice.

Senator FIFIELD: That would be good if you could. I would just be interested in how many seconds each kitchen set was on the screen, just so that when you come back with the breakdown of production costs—

Senator PRATT: How long was the ad?

Ms Bell : 45 seconds.

Senator PRATT: I think that would be about 15 seconds each, Senator Fifield.

Senator FIFIELD: Well, we will see. When we get the breakdown of the production costs it will give us an idea as to what the cost was per second.

Mr Pratt : I go back to your point, Senator, that the more ads that are shown the better the value. Of course, if you then look at how many times the ad was shown that gives an indication as well, doesn’t it?

Senator FIFIELD: I am not sure we want to go down that path, because the logical extension of that is that the government should advertise more to make production costs relatively cheaper. I am not sure—

Senator PRATT: You do not want to know how good the advertisement—

Senator FIFIELD: Not at all; I am actually trying to save the government further embarrassment by taking that thought to its logical conclusion.

Senator McLucas: I can't help but laugh.

Senator FIFIELD: Sorry?

Senator McLucas: The line of questioning is bizarre. If you are going to divide the cost of the set by the number of seconds that it showed—

Senator PRATT: We could find out how many television sets around the country it was shown on!

Senator McLucas: I would suggest that could be a very funny number but it would mean absolutely nothing. I go back to your earlier point when you suggested that you are a layperson in this business. We all are. That is why we contract competent agencies to do the work—in this case, to ensure that the community is aware of the assistance that they are going to receive through the Household Assistance Package.

Senator FIFIELD: When it comes to advertising I am a layperson, but so are the bulk of the Australian people, and it is on behalf of the bulk of the Australian people who are laypeople, who are not experts, that I am asking these questions. The majority of Australians would think that this does not pass the common sense test, that this does not pass the sniff test, that this does not add up. The purpose of these committees—

Senator McLucas: That is the argument you are constructing.

Senator FIFIELD: The purpose of these committees is for senators, who are not necessarily production experts, to ask questions about issues such as government advertising. In relation to the issue of how often ads are run, yes, I am very happy to have that information. The point I was making was that that therefore should not lead to an argument that there should be a third phase of advertising to amortise the costs of the production, because that would be a perverse argument.

Senator McLucas: Be assured that that is not going to be any motivation to run a series of ads. They will be run if required.

Mr Pratt : Senator, can I suggest that there is actually a much better measure that we might use, and that is the efficacy of the advertising campaign. I might ask Ms Hand to tell us the outcomes of it.

Ms Hand : We have obviously done benchmarking and research on how both sets of ads went post going to air. Prior to advertising, unprompted awareness of the Household Assistance Package and its elements was 14 per cent. After advertising, at the end of phase 2, it was 79 per cent. So I think you can see that this was a very successful campaign.

Senator FIFIELD: I am sure that it increased the awareness of individuals of the existence of the Household Assistance Package but I am not sure that it necessarily increased their awareness as to whether they themselves would be eligible.

Ms Hand : I think you have heard from both Ms Burns and Ms Bell that there was very clear evidence and feedback from the focus groups that the people who were not eligible in those groups were clear on their lack of eligibility, and there was clear feedback from both eligible and non-eligible people that what they wanted was further information on the details of the package, where they could go, and that information was of course available on the website and in other supporting materials.

Senator FIFIELD: If the level of awareness is as high as you say—if the penetration is so strong—then there will be absolutely no need to spend another dollar on a phase 3 campaign.

Ms Hand : As we said, no decision has been made yet, so we cannot really comment. We are looking at that as we speak.

Senator FIFIELD: Senator McLucas, you would agree that if the awareness is 79 per cent there will be no need for a third phase campaign.

Senator McLucas: I could not make that judgement. What I can say is that, when we lived through the Work Choices campaign advertising, and when, I would suggest, there was 100 per cent penetration and knowledge of what that would do to the community, those ads continued to run, at a total cost of $121 million. Let's start comparing apples with apples.

Senator FIFIELD: Minister, you have been in government for five years, and your party said that you do so much better than the previous government, so I am looking to see if that commitment is being met here.

Senator McLucas: We will find out when we get the production costs of the Work Choices ad. Or let's find out what the production costs were of the ads for the GST. Then we can start comparing what is real.

Senator PRATT: They were very well produced ads. They contextualised the ads as far as—

Senator FIFIELD: Chair, is this a chat show or is it a Senate estimates hearing?

Senator PRATT: You are turning it into a chat show, Senator Fifield.

CHAIR: Senator, the question has been asked. The minister made a response. Either of you have the call.

Senator CASH: I just have one question. Is it common to have this sort of expenditure on set construction for a government advertisement?

Ms Burns : The production budget for these ads was a standard level of budget. As you may be aware, it is very common industry practice to create sets for ads.

Senator CASH: In the government context, as opposed to, say, the industry going out and doing it in a non-government context?

Ms Burns : As I said, the budget and the expenditure was in line with the normal spend on a government campaign.

Senator FIFIELD: If no decision has been taken that there should be a third phase of the campaign then why was a decision taken to extend the value of the contract from $2 million to $3 million?

Ms Burns : The campaign was always considered in three phases, and the intention was to consider at each stage whether the next one was needed. So, as you would be aware, that first phase of ads was around the up-front payment. The second phase was about the new tax-free threshold. Then, early to mid next year the supplement payments in a regular ongoing sense will go forward. So there have been three distinct parts of the actual package, and that is why there has been consideration about whether you need to publicise or do a campaign for each of those stages. The decision about the third phases—those actual payments roll in through March to May—is yet to be locked in.

Senator FIFIELD: Who took the decision to extend or increase the value of the contract from $2 million to $3 million?

Ms Bell : It is a department decision.

Senator FIFIELD: So not a ministerial decision or a ministerial directive but a department decision?

Ms Bell : That is correct.

Senator FIFIELD: Despite the fact that no decision had been taken as to a third phase. Has any research been commissioned in relation to the possibility of a third phase?

Ms Bell : We are currently working with researchers to determine whether or not we need to do a third phase.

Senator FIFIELD: Is that within the scope of the original $2 million contract?

Ms Burns : It is separate. Clemenger do the creative. But they are separate contracts, as you would be aware.

Senator FIFIELD: Who does the research?

Ms Bell : The researcher for creative testing is TNS.

Senator FIFIELD: So was that decision, in relation to research, within the original contract value for research?

Ms Bell : There has been an extension to the TNS contract for further research if required.

Senator FIFIELD: What was the original contract and what has it been extended to?

Mr Pratt : I will be corrected if I am wrong here, but expenditure to the end of the 2011-12 financial year was $788,000, and there has not been any expenditure yet this financial year.

Senator FIFIELD: That is in relation to research?

Mr Pratt : Yes.

Senator FIFIELD: The additional research, though, that has been requested—is that in addition to the original contract value?

Ms Hand : As Ms Bell said, yes, but that money has not yet been expended.

Ms Bell : That paperwork is still underway.

Senator FIFIELD: But what is the additional—

Ms Bell : We do not have the paperwork finalised with the quotes from the research agency as yet.

Mr Pratt : If the research is still underway, we probably do not know exactly what the expenditure will be.

Senator FIFIELD: What has been the total spend on the Household Assistance Package campaign—all elements?

Ms Bell : The total spend as of 31 August—

Senator FIFIELD: That is the $1.8 million, is it? That is on the creative. We would be talking about something in the order of $30 million plus, wouldn't we?

Ms Hand : At the end of last financial year, the total spend was $13,743,000.

CHAIR: Could we have that itemised?

Mr Pratt : Yes, we can break down that $13.7 million.

Senator FIFIELD: And is that for all elements of the Household Assistance Package?

Ms Hand : That includes concept test, benchmarking, creative, public relations, advertising and other associated below-the-line expenses.

Senator FIFIELD: Going back to the original research for a moment, did anyone in those focus groups query why the words 'carbon tax' were not in the ads?

Ms Bell : I do not have all of the research report in front of me. However, the focus groups did not talk about the carbon price, because the focus of the groups was around the payment and the eligibility, and that was what the researcher was driving around.

Senator FIFIELD: Of course it was.

Senator CASH: I have some questions in relation to staffing figures. How many staff does FaHCSIA presently employ? And can you break this down by classification and role?

Ms Hand : I will let Ms Burns answer in detail, but we currently have 2,831 FTE, as at 31 August 2012—which, in total staff numbers, is 3,175, which of course incorporates part-time and the like.

Ms Burns : Senator, did you want it by every APS classification?

Senator CASH: Yes, I do. Depending on how much information there is, is it better to take that one on notice?

Mr Pratt : Perhaps in the first instance—and I am happy to supplement this if we can be helpful—if we go to page 370 of the annual report, appendix B has quite a significant breakdown of classification numbers for the 2011-12 financial year.

Senator CASH: Could I get you to take on notice to provide whether there have been any changes in those numbers to date?

Mr Pratt : Perhaps I could suggest that we do it at the classification level rather than the entire breakdown that is in the annual report.

Senator CASH: No, that would be appreciated.

Ms Burns : We can to that now, quickly, if you like.

Ms MacLean : At 31 August, there were 26 APS1, 31 APS2, 90 APS3, 233 APS4, 370 APS5, 772 APS6, 948 EL1, 465 EL2, 133 SES and 107 in the 'professional and other' category, and that adds up to 3,175.

Senator CASH: Has FaHCSIA acquired any new assets in the form of properties since 1 July 2011?

Ms Hand : Yes, we have. I would also add that we have actually had a strategy in the last 12 to 18 months to rationalise a lot of our property, and we have actually consolidated a lot of our people into a lesser number of buildings.

Ms Burns : Acquisitions would be in the area of staff housing as opposed to office buildings.

Senator CASH: What have you acquired by way of staff housing?

Ms Burns : We would have to take all of the detail on notice. Were there any in particular that you wanted?

Mr Pratt : To give you an indication we might, for example, acquire a new facility for a government business manager in a remote Indigenous community. It would be something of that sort.

Senator CASH: If you could provide on notice what new assets, in the form of property, including staff housing, have been acquired, and where, since 1 July 2011? Ms Hand, in regard to your comment that there has been a consolidation, could I also ask you to provide on notice where the consolidation has occurred.

Ms Burns : Yes.

Senator CASH: How much did FaHCSIA spend on staff travel in 2011-12, and to date, and can you provide a breakdown on this by the type of travel and the class of travel?

CHAIR: What do you mean by type of travel?

Senator CASH: The purpose of the travel.

Mr Jennaway : As at 31 August this year our total expenditure on travel was $2.16 million.

Senator CASH: When you say at 31 August, from when? Is that the financial year to date?

Mr Jennaway : The financial year to date.

Senator CASH: Do you have a figure for the full financial year 2011-12?

Mr Jennaway : Our total on travel for the 2011-12 financial year was $14,792,000.

Senator CASH: Could you provide the details of the purpose and the class of travel on notice to the committee?

Mr Jennaway : We could, in general terms. I am not sure what level of breakdown we go down to in our system. We will do our best to answer that.

Senator CASH: Could I now to the Australian Institute of Family Studies?

Mr Pratt : I do not think they were asked to be here today.

Senator CASH: You might be able to provide the information. Does the office lease or own the office out of which it operates? If it is owned, what is its value? If it is leased, how much rent is paid?

Mr Pratt : They would have to answer that.

Senator CASH: I will place on notice all further questions for corporate and cross-portfolio.

Senator FIFIELD: Getting back to kitchens, can I again ask the officers at the table to provide the answers in relation to the production cost breakdowns before FaHCSIA concludes, early this evening?

Mr Pratt : We will undertake our best endeavours to get the breakup you are looking for from the advertising agent, Clemengers.

CHAIR: Thank you for your evidence.

Mr Pratt : Will SSAT be required?

CHAIR: Someone asked for the Social Security Appeals Tribunal to appear, but it looks like there are no questions. On behalf of the committee I apologise to the officers from the SSAT. I deeply apologise that you were called.

Proceedings suspended from 10 : 06 to 10 : 22

CHAIR: We will reconvene and we are going into outcome 1 families and children.

Senator SMITH: I am keen to ask some questions in regard to the family support program for Rural and Regional Family Support Services, which was a pilot program under the WA drought relief package, of which the Commonwealth and the Western Australian state government were partners. Are the suitable officials available? Excellent. My understanding is that the pilot program ceased on 30 June and I am keen to understand what has happened as a result of that. I understand that ministers have made some comments in regard to the development of a future drought relief program, of which a program like the family support program for Rural and Regional Family Support Services is expected to be incorporated, but I am particularly concerned about the fact that the pilot program ceased on 30 June, there are none of these particular outreach services now being provided to the communities around Esperance, which is an area that I have a strong interest in. I am keen to understand what was the outcome of the pilot program and can we expect to see this program reinstated in the near future around those Esperance communities? I will come to the significance of that shortly.

Mr Pratt : We will try and cover off those issues. I would make the point, though, that we cannot pre-empt any future government decisions, of course.

Ms Stodulka : Senator Smith, you are correct that the drought pilot, which was a joint activity between the WA government and the Commonwealth government, did cease on 30 June 2012, and that was after an announcement by the government that Australia was now drought-free and that there were no exceptional circumstance declared areas remaining in Australia.

I am aware of Centrecare Esperance's concerns about the ability to provide outreach and continue their services. It was an expectation given to services when they were funded that the drought pilot, which was a pilot, would complete on 30 June. Centrecare were advised to put transition processes in place to ensure that clients of the service were transitioned to other Family Support Program funded services and other state and Commonwealth funded services in the area. I am aware that on 28 September my colleagues in the WA state and territory office did meet with Centrecare and that they have expressed no concerns about unmet need at the moment, and that Centrecare Esperance is still being funded to deliver family relationship services, regional family dispute resolution services, specialist family violence services and also has received $13 million from the WA government to provide suicide prevention programs in the area. So Centrecare is still very active, and I have been given no advice that we did not achieve a successful transition of remaining clients in the service to other services in the area.

Senator SMITH: Is my understanding also correct that the services that were provided under the pilot program were outreach but that the existing services that you talk about require families or whoever to come in to a service? Is that distinction accurate?

Ms Stodulka : Certainly the services were outreach under the drought pilot, but all our services are required to be very active in their outreach. One of the priorities for the Family Support Program is that it targets vulnerable and disadvantaged families, and we know from the research that those who are most vulnerable and disadvantaged tend not to actively approach services and that there needs to be quite a deliberate effort to go out and reach those clients. With the launch of the new Family Support Program on 1 July 2011, a key initiative that was brought into the new Family Support Program was the development of vulnerable and disadvantaged client access strategies, and that is all about supporting services and encouraging our services to collaborate to outreach and make sure that their services are designed for those who are most vulnerable and disadvantaged.

Senator SMITH: My concern, Secretary, is that this particular area of Western Australia is recording its third driest July on record, and, while I think it is accurate that other areas of the country are not drought affected anymore, I do not think that particular classification applies to this area. On top of that, this area has quite high rates of suicide and, historically, in Western Australia, and compared to the national statistics, the suicide rate, particularly of men, is of concern. So my issue is this. On 30 June the pilot program ceased. Clearly, the pilot program was providing different sorts of services from those that were already there, because I do not think we would have a pilot program to replicate services. We now have a gap. This is the third driest July in an area that has a high propensity for suicide, and I am concerned that this gap is now wide open. I have written to the minister, twice; I have met with the minister's chief of staff; I still do not have an outcome to take back to the communities around Esperance, and it is causing me some concern.

Ms Carroll : I think, as Ms Stodulka has explained, there has been a transition process, especially for the clients that were accessing the pilot program, and so what the department has been really focusing on with that service provider is looking at ensuring that those clients are able to access other services in the area. There has been, as far as we understand it, quite a successful transition of those client groups, and we are continuing as a department to meet with the service provider and service providers in the area and work with them about any future issues.

Senator SMITH: When you say 'client groups', can we talk about them in terms of people or families? How many people are we talking about, or how many families are we talking about when we use the term 'client groups'? I have a statistic here which talks about the uptake of the RRFSS in phase 1 as being 2,293 clients and in the uptake of the RRFSS in phase 2 being 3,200 clients or thereabouts. They are figures from the department of agriculture—I appreciate that. I am just trying to understand, from your perspective, when we are talking about 'client groups', how many people or families are we referring to?

While you get that information, I might just continue. My understanding is that when the review of the pilot program was done a report was handed to the federal government, in September. That report made the following recommendation with regard to future drought policy platform initiatives: that the permanent presence of social support services delivered via outreach to people in rural communities was a worthy feature of the program.

Mr Lye : Ms Stodulka will help you with the client numbers, but, in relation to the report, that was obviously handed to the department of agriculture and so they have responsibility for that. The question is probably best directed to them.

Senator SMITH: That is very consistent with a message I got from the minister's office as well. So the alignment is working perfectly, but it is a bit hard to translate that. I am keen to know. We had a pilot program. We clearly had an assessment. There is clearly some work being undertaken to understand where that will end up. I want to know—it is past 30 June and time is passing; we are about to move into another harvest—what is the pathway to a solution around these sorts of services? Am I correct in saying that these are outreach services? While, yes, officials are required to do a whole range of things, obviously the sorts of services that were being provided under the pilot program are different to those that were there previously or that are there currently, because we would not have had a pilot program.

Ms Stodulka : The sorts of services that were in place were outreach, as you said, and providing crisis support and counselling services. Centrecare still is being funded under the Family Support Program to deliver those services. As you said, I think in recognition of the fact of risks around suicide, and particularly with men, the Western Australia government has injected funding, as I understand it, of $13 million to Centrecare to ensure that it is able to provide outreach, education, counselling and support in relation to suicide.

Senator SMITH: Let's reiterate the point that in all the suicide reports it clearly shows that rural areas are found to have higher suicide rates than capital city areas statistically. In addition to that, Western Australia is the only state where the suicide rate has increased over the last five years. So, Secretary and Senator, perhaps we could have a discussion or a briefing in the next week specifically around this issue.

Senator McLucas: I would be happy to sit down with you and talk it through. Coming from Queensland, and particularly regional Queensland, we have similar issues. I think the point that has been made is that the state has some responsibility in this as well.

Senator SMITH: I accept that.

Senator McLucas: It is about making sure that those services are connected up and that people are connected up with the services that are existing there.

Senator SMITH: Thank you.

Senator CASH: I would like to turn to program 1.1, Family support. With respect to program 1.1, what is the breakdown of subprograms and their respective administered and departmental costs? Following on from that, while you are looking for information, can you provide a list of organisations that received grants under the Family Support Program?

Ms Carroll : Just before we get started, in terms of the departmental costs we certainly will be able to break down 1.1 in terms of the administered costs, but the departmental costs are done in the back of the annual report across the subprogram 1.1. Because staff work across different components, we would not break them down into the subcomponents in the same way. I could take you to the page in the annual report if you have not got that, but also we can certainly do the administered costs for you.

Senator CASH: Will you take that on notice, or can you provide it now?

Ms Carroll : We would not be able to provide the departmental breakdown but we will provide the administered—

Senator CASH: But you can provide the subprograms—thank you.

Ms Stodulka : The Family Support Program in 2012-13 attracted funding of $118.259 million. The total appropriation for family support was $141.651 million because it includes some services delivered by our women's and children's program.

Senator CASH: Which women's and children's program was that?

Ms Stodulka : There are services under the Indigenous Family Safety Agenda, SNAICC, the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children and Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory.

Senator CASH: Thank you.

Ms Stodulka : Would you like me to go line by line?

Senator CASH: Yes, if you could.

Ms Stodulka : Certainly. Within the appropriation, $0.9 million was allocated to SACS supplementation; $18.342 million was provided to CfC direct services; $27.012 million was provided to Communities for Children Facilitating Partners services; $16.61 million was provided to CfC Indigenous Parenting Services; $435,969 was provided to early childhood services in the Northern Territory; $1.148 million was provided for intensive playgroups in the Northern Territory: $3.296 was provided for community playgroups—

Senator CASH: Across all states?

Ms Stodulka : Yes.

Senator CASH: And the ACT?

Ms Stodulka : Yes. To go on, $32.989 million was provided for family and relationship services; $4.523 million was provided for specialist services, which include family relationship services for humanitarian entrants, Kids in Focus and specialised family violence services; $396,546 was provided for family and children capacity building, which includes sponsorships, advertising and support for peak bodies; $600,000 was provided to ARACY, the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth; $397,000 was provided for child support advocacy groups; $968,000 was provided to AIFS for its clearing houses; $6.683 million was provided for Find and Connect services; $6.4 million remains unallocated; and the remaining $23.391 million sits within women's and children's services.

Senator CASH: Can I get you to take it on notice to provide me with a breakdown of the $23.391 million in relation to women and children? In relation to the $6.4 million that remains unallocated, how are you going to allocate that? Are there any thoughts around that?

Ms Stodulka : The funding is committed but it is not yet out the door for this financial year.

Senator CASH: And in terms of the commitment, what was that?

Ms Stodulka : There are a number of projects that sit under there and those commitments are in various stages and will be fully committed.

Senator CASH: Could I get you to provide on notice in relation to the $6.4 million how it is actually going to be allocated?

Ms Stodulka : Okay.

Senator CASH: Are you able to provide a list of organisations that received grants under the Family Support Program?

Ms Stodulka : I could certainly take that on notice. There are about 354 organisations. It is also on the website and on Family Relationships Online.

Senator CASH: That is on the FaHCSIA website?

Ms Stodulka : Yes.

Senator CASH: I will get you to provide the list on notice. That would be appreciated.

Ms Carroll : In relation to the departmental costs, the page in the annual report is page 356. If you can see there, the top part of that table goes to the administered dollars and then at the bottom part of the table in the second part it talks about departmental expenses. That goes for the actual expenses in 2011-12 of around $56 million, but that is for all of 1.1. The way these tables are made up it also includes the corporate costs, the other costs across the department. So that would not be just staff involved directly in the administration of those programs. It would also include the other staff across the department that might be in HR or financial services or whatever.

Senator CASH: Thank you for that. If I require any further breakdown, I will just put it on notice to you. I will have a look at that and if I require anything further I will get back to you. Have any of the grants administered under the Family Support Program been frozen?

Ms Carroll : In terms of the grants pause, across the whole department just under 90 per cent of the grants are not affected because they have already been contracted. The contracts are in place. We do not have the specific numbers with us for the Family Support Program but we could take that on notice. Only about 10 per cent of the total grants funding across the department were impacted by the grants pause.

Senator CASH: Okay, so 10 per cent across the total grants funding was impacted and you can provide on notice those that related specifically to the Family Support Program that have been frozen.

Ms Carroll : We could go to that appropriation, yes.

Senator CASH: Can you also provide details regarding which organisations were to receive the grants and the amount in question in terms of that 10 per cent that have been frozen?

Mr Lye : Senator, just a clarification. Our understanding is that no programs in the Family Support Program are affected by the grants pause.

Senator CASH: Could I get you to confirm that then, but in relation to the 10 per cent that Ms Carroll has referred, can I get you to at least then provide what is that 10 per cent regardless of where they are actually sitting?

Ms Carroll : That is 10 per cent of funding. So in terms of the way the grants pause has operated, if something is already under a funding agreement, it is not impacted at all. So the 90 per cent of funding that I talked are things that have already been contracted and are in place, et cetera. We can take on notice looking across each of the areas what the 10 per cent of funding is.

Senator CASH: And what it would have affected.

Ms Carroll : And reinforcing that it did not affect anything that was already in contract.

Senator CASH: This is particularly a question for family support in program 1.1, in the event that a grant has been frozen, who directed that the particular grant be frozen?

Ms Stodulka : I can confirm that no grants have been affected by the pause under the Family Support Program.

Senator CASH: Thank you. Could I still get the 10 per cent allocation of funding and what would have been affected, that would be appreciated, and any relation to who directed that particular grants be frozen. Of the total appropriation for the Family Support Program, how much of this comprises grant funding which is yet to be expended? Is that the $6.4 million that you referred to previously?

Ms Stodulka : Yes.

Senator CASH: But it has been allocated, just not expended.

Ms Stodulka : Yes.

Senator CASH: With respect to the Communities for Children program, and the $42.5 million additional funding allocated under the Building Australia's Future Workforce package in the 2011-12 budget, how much of this $42.5 million in funding has been expended to date?

Ms Stodulka : The $42.5 million was a commitment over four years for Communities for Children to support the objectives of the Building Australia's Future Workforce trial.

Senator CASH: So in terms of the expenditure to date of the $42.5 million—

Mr Lye : I am not sure we have that breakdown with us. We might have a breakdown for the whole—

Senator CASH: Maybe someone is able to get that you for while we go through, because I have a number of questions associated with the $42.5 million.

Mr Lye : That money has been allocated to some CFCs in the BAFW trial sites—the 10 trial sites-- but it has also been allocated to CFCs across the country as part of their normal expenditure.

CHAIR: That follows into the my next question. Can you please provide details of this expenditure by program component, sub-program or service.

Ms Stodulka : Under BAFW for the $42.5 million?

Senator CASH: In terms of whatever has been expended to date.

Mr Lye : I think that probably the level you are looking for is at the CFC level, because it is a sub-component of the Family Support Program. We could do that.

CHAIR: Mr Lye, can you go as far as individual service in terms of keeping documentation?

Senator CASH: If you can, that is exactly what I am looking for.

CHAIR: That was the question. There were three parts there.

Senator CASH: Program component, subprogram or service.

Mr Lye : I think we can give you subprogram.

Ms Stodulka : I have just found my notes on the funding: $7.133 and $0.975 million in $2012-13 are allocated to the 10 trial sites.

Senator CASH: So that figure is allocated in 2012-13.

Ms Stodulka : In 2012-13, yes. I apologise, I do not have the expenditure on the broader support across the 52 CFC facilitating partners to support the BAFW trial.

Senator CASH: Is that something you can take on notice, to provide the committee?

Ms Stodulka : Yes.

Senator CASH: Thank you. Are you able to provide figures on how many additional services have been created or provided under this particular initiative?

Ms Stodulka : New services have been provided and existing services have been strengthened. For example, all of our Communities for Children-facilitating partners in the 10 trial sites are now very actively engaged with Centrelink. They are attending workshops with jobless families and young parents. They are attending participation interviews. They were already providing some supports, of course, to young parents and jobless families as part of their normal cohort and they have expanded existing services as well as designed new services, particularly in consultation with young parents and with jobless families about what their needs are. So it would be a little difficult to pull out individual services.

Senator CASH: You are saying there are new services. I am assuming that if they are new services you are able to point to a new service—

Ms Stodulka : When I say 'service' I am talking perhaps about, for example—

Ms Carroll : Perhaps what you are asking is where have we created a brand new service?

Senator CASH: Correct.

Ms Carroll : For example, in Rockhampton we now have a Communities for Children service, which we did not have before.

Senator CASH: Okay.

Ms Carroll : We can certainly get for you figures for Rockhampton, Bankstown and, for example, Logan, which already had a Communities for Children service but has had additional funding given to that existing service.

I think what Ms Stodulka was explaining was that, with that additional funding, this particular service provider has been able to work on additional activities and service provision.

Senator CASH: Could I get on notice the new services that have been created and where. In terms of the existing services that have been strengthened by additional funding, which ones are they and how much extra funding was allocated to them?

Mr Lye : The answer to the first part is that there are three new services—Shepparton, Rockhampton and Bankstown. We can probably give you a figure for the additional funds that have gone to the 52 CFCs across the country under the measure.

Senator CASH: Do you need to take that on notice?

Ms Stodulka : I do across the 52 but, as I mentioned before, $7.133 million has been invested in the 10 services this financial year. These are Shepparton, Rockhampton and Bankstown, as Mr Lye mentioned, and the other services which were existing CFC services that were enhanced to support the BAFW trial—Playford, Shellharbour, Burnie, Kwinana, Wyong, Logan and Broadmeadows.

Ms Carroll : The new services were set up last financial year so there was also an amount of funding that was provided from last financial year. We can certainly take it on notice to give you the trajectory of what has been spent last financial year as well as this financial year.

Senator CASH: Thank you. Was any of that funding from last financial year within the $42.5 million?

Mr Lye : Yes.

Senator CASH: Are you able to provide figures on how many people have accessed services under the Communities for Children in Targeted Locations initiative and provide a breakdown by location?

Ms Stodulka : I would need to take it on notice to provide a breakdown by location. On 1 January this year only the Helping Young Parents measure commenced—the Jobless Families initiative commenced on 1 July. In the first three months of the operation of the program we had some difficulties with our data collection.

Senator CASH: Why was that?

Ms Stodulka : It was because we collected data on all young parents, not just young parents in the trial. But I can give you the figure for the second quarter—22 per cent of the 214 parents referred by Centrelink to family support type services were referred to CFC facilitating partner services. As a result of those referrals, young parents were engaged in a number of activities that are enabled through that facilitator partner funding. Those activities include things like intensive playgroups. I just visited a CFC in Kwinana where we are operating the site. They have partnered with an employment service that runs a five-hour program with young parents on one day and on the next day an intensive five-hour supported programs for the young parents in the trial with their children. Those are the sorts of services that can result based on the needs of the young parents.

Senator CASH: I want to go back to the issue that was unfortunately encountered in relation to the collation of data. How did that occur? Was the wrong instructions given to somebody? Was a mistake made in terms of the brief—

Ms Stodulka : I think it was a misunderstanding around accounting because, as I said, CFCs also support the young parents who were not in the trial. So all were counted, whereas—

Senator CASH: Are you able to go back and extract the relevant data that you actually required from the data that was collated?

Ms Stodulka : We can extract how many referrals we know were made through Centrelink, but referrals are made through other sources as well. So, whilst I have given you the number of Centrelink referrals, we know that doctors will refer young parents to CFCs and we know that maternal child health nurses will refer. So it is not only through the Centrelink channel that we will achieve those referrals, but we obviously do not have reporting from those other sources that are not in the partnership under the BAFW program.

Senator CASH: How was the issue in relation to the data collection actually picked up?

Ms Stodulka : It was identified when we got the February report and we had more young parents being supported than had been referred from DHS. That signalled a problem to us.

Senator CASH: Was it rectified immediately?

Mr Lye : There has been an ongoing process to rectify it. To clarify the nature of the issue: it is not that the services are not seeing the right population or that they are not seeing the right number of people; it is really around our ability to measure. One of the objectives of the trial is to measure how many are coming through the gate as a result of an interview with Centrelink. So that is the nature of what we are clarifying. These services have an existing process of data capture and we have got no concerns about their service performance; it is more around how we get a process that extracts that information to give us an idea about how the trial is going.

Senator CASH: As you have stated, one of the trial objectives was to measure who is receiving the services et cetera. How has this misunderstanding in relation to the collection of data actually impacted on the trial objectives?

Ms Stodulka : I do not think it has impacted on the trial objectives, because we were able to rectify it quickly—and that is why I was able to give you the second quarter data. In reality, when we are talking about very vulnerable and disadvantaged clients, the services will tell you that it takes some time to engage with them and build a trusting relationship to then be able to work with them around the objectives that we have around the trial, which are around good, stable family functioning; ensuring that children are connected with early childhood services and are well-positioned to transition to school; and that parents are engaged with education and training in preparation for returning to work.

Senator CASH: Are you able to guarantee the integrity of the data that has been collected going forward from, say, February this year?

Ms Stodulka : Yes, I can guarantee the integrity of the data. We have now moved to an electronic system that is very simple, that the services are all operating with and that is better lined up with Centrelink. I think it has been a bit of a learning process; that is the nature of it, being a trial. As Mr Lye said, I think we are very confident in the active engagement of our services and the fact that they are reaching the right clients. It was just about the ability to segregate trial participants when we first reported on it.

Ms Carroll : As Ms Stodulka said, we only started the teen parent measure on 1 January and that was when Centrelink, the Department of Human Services, started its interviews with young parents. So, in the scheme of things, we recognised the problem with the data collection quite early. In terms of the overall impact, it will have no impact over the longer term. But it just means that we did actually realise it and work with service providers quite quickly.

Senator CASH: Are the Communities for Children services that have been established in Bankstown, Shepparton and Rockhampton up and running?

Ms Stodulka : Yes. As Ms Carroll mentioned before, there was funding provided to them in 2011-12 to get established, and they have been delivering services under BAFW since 1 January.

Senator CASH: Are you able to detail how much has been spent on establishing those three services by individual service and provide figures on how many people have accessed these services since 1 January?

Ms Stodulka : I can advise you that each of those three services, in 2011-12, was allocated $0.4 million to established as a CFC facilitating partner. I can certainly get you the breakdown of numbers in terms of the trial participants. But I would say that, whilst those CFC facilitating partners in Shepparton, Bankstown and Rockhampton have a strong focus on BAFW and the participation trials, they are also providing broader CFC services. They do not close their door to people who are not in the trials; they service more broadly and comprehensively across their community. The trigger for the establishment of the services was through the trial, but they service more broadly than that.

Senator CASH: I want to ask you about the extra $19.1 million in funding to support vulnerable families, including parenting payment receipts affected by payment eligibility changes. Can you provide details of the services being provided under this initiative and a breakdown of these by location?

Mr Lye : I think that goes back to the question you asked before about how the $42 million is being spent. In broad terms, that $19 million has been spread across the CFC services across the country. So it will be an enhancement to an existing allocation. I am sure we can provide you with that detail.

Senator CASH: How many funding agreements are in place under this program?

Ms Stodulka : Three new funding agreements were established for the three new sites but there variations to existing funding agreements for 49 sites. So there is a total of 52 Communities for Children facilitating partner organisations that are engaged in the trial. Three of those agreements were new, and the enhancement funding was done through a variation of the existing funding agreements.

Senator CASH: How many of the organisations that receive funding under the Family Support Program have met their obligations?

Ms Stodulka : Across the board?

Senator CASH: Yes.

Ms Stodulka : We have two organisations who have not received their July 2012 payment due to compliance issues. One was in relation to a failure to provide a performance report and a satisfactory Vulnerable And Disadvantaged Client Access Strategy. The other was due to some renegotiations because they had an underspend in 2011-12.

Senator CASH: Do you work through those issues with those two organisations?

Ms Stodulka : Yes, our state and territory office colleagues manage the funding agreements directly with the providers. Where a risk like this occurs they obviously work more intensively with those providers to assist them to meet their obligations.

Senator CASH: You said those providers have not received their July 2012 payment. So what is their status? Are they still able to provide services?

Ms Stodulka : They are still providing services and we are still working with them to ensure that they meet the requirements and then we will make the payment. But we have not made their payment pending them meeting those requirements.

Senator CASH: When do you expect that they will meet those requirements?

Ms Stodulka : I do not have a date, but I know from feedback from my colleagues in the state office that they are working with those two organisations to ensure that they can deliver a satisfactory Vulnerable and Disadvantaged Client Access Strategy. We always work in partnership with our organisations. It is not just a matter of issuing a directive and taking our hands off; it is not just pass or fail. Some of these organisations require more support to deliver on those requirements. So it is very much seen as a partnership, and I would expect that that will be resolved in the near future.

Senator CASH: What impact does not receiving their July 2012 payment have on their ability to provide the services?

Ms Stodulka : My understanding is that both are still providing their services and they are working to achieve the requirements of their funding agreements so that they can achieve that payment.

CHAIR: Are your payments quarterly?

Ms Stodulka : We pay twice a year—in July and January.

CHAIR: Okay. So they are not waiting for another payment yet?

Ms Stodulka : No.

Ms Carroll : One reason that an organisation might have difficulty in meeting the requirements is that they are not able to employ the required staff. I think part of where you are going is: how can they keep providing services if they have not actually received the payment? There is also a balance. Obviously we are working closely with the service and watching what is going on with the service; but, in some cases, they are not actually spending money because, for example, they may not have been able to employ the right staff and that is impacting on their service delivery. There would be a range of things that might be contributing, and we have obviously been working very closely with the service provider around each of those components.

Senator CASH: In terms of the department's role of ensuring that the clients of the service are not impacted, do you monitor it very, very carefully to ensure that someone who is accessing the service is getting what they need despite the fact that the payment has not been made to the service provider?

Mr Lye : Yes.

Senator CASH: And you have not noticed to date that any people have been impacted in relation to the provision of services?

Ms Stodulka : No. I have had no complaints. And I can confirm, as Ms Carroll just mentioned, that the underspend by one organisation was due to its inability to recruit staff at that time. I know that my state and territory office colleagues work closely with any organisation that is experiencing any difficulties or risk.

Senator CASH: Other than the two services that you have referred to, have all the other organisations that receive funding under the Family Support Program met their obligations?

Ms Stodulka : Yes.

Senator SIEWERT: I want to ask questions generally and then I want to ask something specific about Find and Connect. Have all the states, including Western Australia, now got services? Has the tender process finished for all of the states now?

Ms Stodulka : Western Australia is the only contract that has not been finalised. However, we are providing support for WA Forgotten Australians and former child migrants both through the Child Migrants Trust and through the provider in South Australia. We are diverting Western Australian callers to the 1800 telephone number to South Australia.

Senator SIEWERT: Why hasn't the Western Australian one not been finalised?

Ms Stodulka : The funding agreement has not been finalised. On Monday the applicants to the selection process were advised whether they were successful or not. On Tuesday the unsuccessful applicant advised the department of its intention to appeal, to make a complaint. We have advised that organisations that we have referred their complaint to the department's complaints area and that we would not progress with finalising the funding agreement pending the findings of that complaint.

Senator SIEWERT: How many applicants did you have for West Australia?

Ms Stodulka : Two.

Senator SIEWERT: You have made a decision?

Ms Stodulka : Yes.

Senator SIEWERT: Have they been informed of that?

Ms Stodulka : Yes, they were informed on Monday as well. They were informed that a complaint has been lodged and that we will not be negotiating a funding agreement with the provider pending the investigation of the complaint.

Senator SIEWERT: How long will the investigation of that complaint take?

Ms Carroll : We will be trying to expedite that, but obviously we want to make sure that all due process is done in that process. So we would not be able to tell you an exact time, but we would obviously be doing it as quickly as we could, noting that we need to make sure it is done properly.

Senator SIEWERT: Are you able to tell me, therefore, who you had appointed?

Ms Stodulka : I am unable to advise you of that, because the contract is not finalised.

Senator SIEWERT: Are we talking about before the end of the year?

Ms Carroll : We would anticipate that, yes.

Senator SIEWERT: Is the provider who has been appointed someone who has been working in this space in Western Australia in the past?

Mr Pratt : We cannot go into any details of the providers of the state.

Senator SIEWERT: Was the decision made in association with the advisory reference group?

Ms Stodulka : No. The national consultative forum was not party to the selection process and is not a delegate with decision making.

Senator SIEWERT: Have they been involved in providing advice on any of the applicants across Australia?

Ms Stodulka : No.

Senator SIEWERT: They have not been engaged in the process of looking at applications or advising on who are—

Ms Stodulka : The national consultative forum, no. They are not involved in any of the selections of the services nationally. In some of the selections we had a care leaver representative, which is our usual practice. In the most recent selection process for WA we did not have a care leave representative; we had another independent person.

Senator SIEWERT: This is the second round for WA, isn't it?

Ms Stodulka : Yes.

Senator SIEWERT: Was that because you did not find someone in the first place?

Ms Stodulka : The second round was an open tender.

Senator SIEWERT: You went through a preferred tender approach previously, didn't you?

Ms Stodulka : We went through a direct selection process.

Senator SIEWERT: Did you go to an open tender round for any other states?

Ms Stodulka : No.

Senator SIEWERT: Just in Western Australia?

Ms Stodulka : Yes.

Senator SIEWERT: And why was that?

Ms Stodulka : As a result of the first direct selection approach that we made, the panel found the applicant unsuitable for funding. The applicant lodged a complaint. Whilst the complaint was not upheld, it surfaced a lot of interest in WA from providers who had experience and expertise in delivering services to Forgotten Australians and former child migrants as a result of the WA redress scheme and the WA government's funding of a number of organisations to deliver like services or comparative services with that client group. We did not have that experience in the other states and territories, but we did have it in WA. So the minister took a decision to run an open selection tender process to ensure equity and to ensure that any organisations with an interest and with expertise had the capacity to apply under this process.

Senator SIEWERT: So two applied?

Ms Stodulka : There were two applicants.

Senator SIEWERT: One of which has now appealed?

Ms Stodulka : One has lodged a complaint.

Senator SIEWERT: All the other states were direct tender?

Ms Stodulka : A direct selection process was conducted and the applicant was found suitable and funded.

Senator SIEWERT: Wouldn't you have the same situation in the other states, then, that you have now found in Western Australia, where there are a number of providers that may have been interested in providing services in the other states?

Ms Stodulka : We have not found that. I think the WA redress scheme, whereby the WA government funded a number of providers to deliver services to Forgotten Australians and former child migrants, perhaps enhanced the pool of services that had experience in this area.

Senator SIEWERT: I recollect from when we had a previous discussion about this that not all the services in all the other states had been decided. Can you provide us now with a list of who has got the services for the other states and territories?

Ms Stodulka : Would you like me to do that now?

Senator SIEWERT: Yes, if that is possible.

Ms Stodulka : In Queensland, Lotus Place is the provider; in New South Wales, Wattle Place; in Victoria, Open Place; and in Northern Territory, Tasmania and South Australia it is Relationships Australia. In New South Wales, Wattle Place also services the ACT. Western Australia is yet to be finalised.

Senator CASH: Have additional services been provided in South Australia to cover the diversion of the telephone number from Western Australia to South Australia?

Ms Stodulka : The service has identified three Forgotten Australians and former child migrants that they are supporting from Western Australia at the moment. They also have some brokerage funds and are able to broker specialist counselling services for those clients in Western Australia pending the establishment of the Find and Connect service in Western Australia. We have also founded the Child Migrants Trust, which has a strong presence in Western Australia in supporting former child migrants.

Senator CASH: So if somebody in Western Australia is identified by South Australia as needing a service, is that service able to be provided regardless of the fact that the funding agreement has not yet been finalised?

Ms Stodulka : Yes, because that service is not being provided through applicants to that process. Telephone counselling support is being provided. The capacity to broker specialist counselling for a client is available to South Australia to assist us through this period. We also have a strong presence, a long-term presence, at the Child Migrants Trust in Western Australia providing services to former child migrants.

Senator CASH: Are you able to provide a breakdown of the initiatives of this program by sub program and their respective administered and departmental costs?

Ms Stodulka : I can.

Senator CASH: How many people used the Find and Connect service in 2011-12 and to date? Can you provide a breakdown of this use? For example, the percentage or number of users for telephone service versus the internet service?

Ms Stodulka : The Find and Connect service was launched by the minister in August but, other than in Western Australia, it commenced in July. I cannot give you figures for last year. I can give you figures from July this year. I can advise you that 660 sessions have been conducted with clients since 1 July. Of those, 158 have been counselling sessions; 122 have been specialist record searching sessions; there have been 12 sessions for supported records release; there have been five family restoration activities; 124 intake assessments; 193 occasions of information and referral—not an intensive service; and 42 social support activities. They are face-to-face engagements. For the 1800 number, there have been 499 calls to date. For online, with the Find and Connect web resource, there have been 35,378 unique clients and a total of 47,530 visits. The Child Migrants Trust, since 1 July, has had 1,450 clients on its books but it is a well established service hence the numbers are significantly higher than the total of the other services.

Senator CASH: Are you able to break down the initial figures, commencing with the 660 sessions, by state?

Ms Stodulka : Yes, I am able to do that.

Do you want me to give you each of the activities under the ACT or just the total of services?

Senator CASH: Is it easier perhaps to just provide the committee with that, as opposed to reading them out, in the interests of time?

Ms Stodulka : Yes.

Senator CASH: Thank you. That is all the questions I have for that particular service. With regard to the Family Relationship Services for Humanitarian Entrants program component, in relation to program 1.1, how much funding does this program component receive, and how many people accessed the program in 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012 to date?

Ms Stodulka : I have 2011-12 and I have 2012-13 to date.

Senator CASH: Thank you, and then 2010-11—if you could provide that on notice.

Ms Stodulka : I am sorry; I cannot actually provide you with 2011-12 figures. I can provide you with 2012-13 figures to date, which is 1,919 clients.

Senator CASH: How much does this program component receive by way of funding?

Ms Stodulka : $0.725 million.

Senator CASH: Was that for 2012-13?

Ms Stodulka : Yes.

Senator CASH: Can I get a comparison with the previous financial year?

Ms Stodulka : Could I take that on notice.

Senator CASH: As to contract managers employed under program 1.1, how many are currently employed, and how many were employed in 2010-11? What are the primary and secondary responsibilities of these contract managers? What are their KPIs?

Mr Lye : I think that question was asked last time, if I remember correctly, and taken on notice. I am not sure of the degree to which our state and territory network can disaggregate the resources that are applied to contract management as distinct from the other functions that the offices provide. We are happy to come back to you—

Senator CASH: I have a number of other questions, so if you could come back that would be appreciated. I now turn to the community playgroups program component. How much funding does this program component receive? And are you able to provide a breakdown of how that funding is actually expended?

Ms Stodulka : For 2012-13, the community playgroups activity receives $3.296 million. That funding is spread across nine organisations. There is a national playgroups association and then a state or territory based playgroup association.

Senator CASH: And so each state and territory would receive a component of that funding?

Ms Stodulka : Yes. I cannot give you exact figures at the moment.

Senator CASH: Can I get you to take on notice the breakdown by state and territory of the funding please.

Ms Stodulka : Certainly. In the year to date they have supported 189,435 clients within the community playgroups program.

Senator CASH: As to how the funding itself is expended, from your perspective is it merely allocated to the nine organisations and then it is up to the nine organisations as to how they further expend it?

Ms Stodulka : Yes, because Community Playgroups are really about trying to build self-managed playgroups in the community. So the role of the association is both to promote the benefits of participating in playgroups and to provide resources and some support with start-up. But they then become self-managing playgroups managed by parents and carers.

Mr Lye : The associations deliver approximately 8,000 playgroups.

Senator CASH: That segues very nicely into my next question. Can you provide details of organisations that have received funding under this initiative and the locations of these playgroups?

Ms Stodulka : The organisations that have received the funding are the Community Playgroups associations and the national association. They do not then fund organisations to deliver community playgroups, because they are parents or carers who get together in the park or in people's homes. So they are not funded to run.

Senator CASH: You can provide the known organisations but do you have a record of the locations of the playgroups et cetera?

Ms Carroll : The associations give us the number of playgroups they are supporting in their state or territory—

Senator CASH: Could I get that information—

Ms Carroll : which goes to that number that Mr Lye was giving. We can obviously give that. We can look at it by state and territory, but obviously those playgroups come and go. There might be one in one suburb for a few months and then it moves. We do not collect information down to that level.

Senator CASH: In regard to the breakdown of how many people have accessed these services by location, it is 189,435 clients. Are you able to break that information down further on a state-by-state basis?

Ms Stodulka : I think we can.

Senator CASH: Thank you. Does the program component have KPIs?

Ms Stodulka : All of the organisations that are funded under the Family Support Program are required to meet KPIs, both in terms of striving for clients to achieve immediate outcomes in terms of their parenting, child safety and wellbeing, and also in terms of intermediate outcomes around family functioning, community engagement, economic participation et cetera.

Senator CASH: Can you table for the committee the KPIs for that program component? What information does FaHCSIA require from service providers regarding whether the program component is meeting its objectives? How do you know if they are achieving their KPIs?

Ms Stodulka : We have two particular ways of doing that. For Family Law Services and some of our specialist services they input data within 28 days of an engagement with a client. That data is about the type of service, the demographics of the client et cetera. For our more community based programs, like Communities for Children Facilitating Partners and the Community Playgroups, we ask them to report six monthly. In that six-monthly report they are also required to run a period of four weeks where they are engaging with clients and asking for specific feedback about services. Those are the two elements of the program.

We also have organisations that are required to prepare a vulnerable and disadvantaged client access strategy that contains Indigenous access client targets within that strategy. The strategy commenced on 1 July 2012. We have had a period of working with providers in the development of their strategies and we will review performance against those VADCAS, as we call them, each July when the performance report or annual report is submitted.

We do an analysis of the client admin data and the service data and an analysis of the performance reports. We also have an evaluation led by DEEWR regarding the BAFW program. We have a specialist program called Intensive Family Support Services, which has an ongoing evaluation component, and Find and Connect also has its own specialist evaluation component.

Because of the importance of collaboration and better integration of services under the Family Support Program we also have a partner organisation survey, which we have just recently conducted to understand how well the Family Support Program is integrating with other services and complementing and strengthening the existing service system. The Attorney-General's Department is also conducting its own review of Family Law Services at the moment. And we have the longitudinal study of families in Australia. We have Waves in the field at the moment that particularly assesses wellbeing of families in Communities for Children sites versus comparative families in communities without Communities for Children services.

So we have quite a comprehensive approach to ensuring that the program is running well and that we can identify opportunities to improve the program through evidence provided by both the service providers and through independent evaluation work.

Senator CASH: Turning to family tax benefit. Are you able to provide a breakdown of how many people currently receive family tax benefit A by rate of payment and the number of children, and a similar question in relation to family tax benefit B? Also, how many people receive both FTB part A and part B? And can you provide a breakdown of the number of people who receive FTB part A and part B who are holders of temporary visas, by number of children and by ATI?

CHAIR: This will have to be the last question.

Mr Lye : There is a breakdown in terms of numbers in the FaHCSIA annual report.

Senator CASH: Is there another way that you can provide the breakdown?

Mr Lye : On page 45.

Ms Carroll : You will see there that for 2009-10 for family tax benefit part A it was 1.95 million customers.

Senator CASH: Yes. Do you have 2011-12?

Mr Whitecross : On page 45 there is a breakdown by number of families for 2011-12 who are receiving instalments.

Senator CASH: Can you do it by rate of payment and number of children?

Mr Whitecross : That is showing how many get the maximum rate, how many get a maintenance reduced rate or a base rate or a tapered base rate.

Senator CASH: Can you do it by the number of children, or is that not how it is calculated?

Mr Whitecross : We pay payments to customers, which is what that breakdown is. It may be possible to say how many children are in those families.

Senator CASH: That is for 2011-12, is it? Administrative outlays of $13.81 billion in 2011-12?

Mr Whitecross : That is instalment customers.

Ms Carroll : The reason the total numbers go back to 2009-10 is that, as Mr Whitecross is explaining, people have to be reconciled at the end of the financial year. When you put in your tax return some people get their payments and do not take instalments throughout the year. They wait until the end of the financial year and we then get, kind of, final numbers as all of those tax returns come in and we understand what the total number is. When Mr Whitecross refers to instalment customers they are the ones who have taken it during the year, so we can calculate those for 2011-12. But we will not know the ones that were waiting until the end of the financial year.

Mr Whitecross : They may or may not have received payments, but they have applied, and some of these people will be found not to be eligible. But it gives you an indication. There are usually around about 100,000 extra people as a result of—

Senator CASH: At the end of the financial year?

Mr Whitecross : Yes.

Senator CASH: Are you able to provide information on the number of holders of temporary visas who receive FTB part A and part B?

Mr Whitecross : Senator Bernardi asked me a question at the previous estimates—question No. 41—where we provided that information.

Senator CASH: Do you have that on you?

Mr Whitecross : Yes.

Senator CASH: Do you have the complete figure for 2011-12, because that would have been an incomplete figure?

Mr Whitecross : It would not have been an incomplete figure; it would have been a point in time figure. The point in time figure will be more or less the same at any point in time. We just take a snapshot. That was a snapshot at 31 March and we would not expect it to be particularly different at 30 June.

Senator CASH: Is it possible to get a snapshot at, say, 30 September?

Mr Whitecross : Yes, I am sure it is possible.

Senator CASH: I have a number of other questions but I will place them on notice.

CHAIR: Thank you to the officers from outcome 1, which is now concluded.

[11:36]

CHAIR: We will move to outcome 2, which is housing.

Ms Carroll : Would like to give us an idea of the areas you are covering as we have a range of officials covering different areas?

Senator PAYNE: To start with I want to ask a few questions about a ministerial press release of 3 July from Minister O'Connor.

Ms Carroll : On?

Senator PAYNE: That is an interesting question. It could be on the BBRC or it could be on general housing. It is a very broad joint release with Minister Crean.

CHAIR: We will provide a copy of the ministerial release to the officer?

Senator PAYNE: The first question I want to ask relates to that statement and to public statements that Minister O'Connor has made on several occasions. In that release, which is largely around BBRC funding, it also indicates that the government says that it has expended $20 billion since 2008 on housing and homelessness. Can you detail for the committee an outline of that $20 billion? Also, how much of it has been and is forecast to be spent in each of the financial years since 2008?

Mr Innis : I know we have produced those figures in the past for the committee—or at least I recall producing them in the past. They have not popped up immediately in my folder, but Ms Pickering has just provided them for me.

The $20 billion is made up of the Social Housing Initiative, which was the stimulus spending—that was over four years, and that was $5.6 billion; the national affordable housing specific-purpose payment, which is the Treasury-administered payment to the states—that is over five years—and that is a total of $6.2 billion; the national partnership agreement on remote Indigenous housing, which is over 10 years, and that is $5.5 billion; the national partnership agreement on social housing, which was associated with the new national affordable housing agreement—a two-year agreement—and that was $400 million; the National Rental Affordability Scheme, which is over a longer period of around 20 years and which was $4½ billion; the Housing Affordability Fund, which was over five years and was $400 million; and Commonwealth rent assistance, which was a one-year figure for 2012-13—we update each year, obviously—which was $3.4 billion. The total of the numbers I have just provided is $26 billion.

Senator PAYNE: The Housing Affordability Fund money, which I think you said was $5 billion over five years—

Mr Innis : That was $400 million.

Senator PAYNE: That was initially $500 million, wasn't it, but then changed because of the Queensland floods?

Mr Innis : That is correct.

CHAIR: Could we have that document you have read from tabled?

Ms Carroll : We may not be able to table that exact document, but we could give you those figures on notice.

CHAIR: It would be very useful just in case something happens in transcription. I would just like to be able to read them.

Senator PAYNE: Just so I can clarify my mental arithmetic: is the national partnership agreement on remote Indigenous housing spending, for example—the $5.5 billion over 10 years—and the NRAS spending—the $4.5 billion over 20 years—included in the $20 billion total that Minister O'Connor uses?

Mr Innis : It would be included in that $20 billion. As I said, the programs I have read out total $26 billion over their lives.

Senator PAYNE: So, even if it is into the forward estimates, it is included in the claim of current spending?

Mr Innis : Yes. And I think the statement generally relates to the commitment of the government to spend.

Senator PAYNE: Hmmm. I'm not sure that is how the press release reads! But I will take your word for that. The NPA you have not mentioned there is the NPA on homelessness. Is that not included in that total?

Mr Innis : It is not included.

Senator PAYNE: Why not?

Mr Innis : It could be included, but generally speaking the reference is to housing programs specifically.

Senator PAYNE: The minister's press release says, 'invested more than $20 billion in housing and homelessness since coming to office in 2008'.

Mr Innis : The homelessness national partnership is $1.1 billion over four years.

Senator PAYNE: Yes, I know what it is; I was just trying to understand why you would not have included it in that summary.

Mr Innis : I suspect that the summary I have relates to a question we have received in the past.

Senator PAYNE: The minister has also said, both publicly and in the parliament, that the government has made a direct financial contribution to one in 20 homes built in Australia since 2008. Are you able to give the committee the figures on the number of homes the government has made a direct contribution to, which is broken down by the funding program that provided the money, and the number of houses built during that time by program? And if you cannot do it now, is it possible to do that on notice?

Ms Carroll : I think we would want to take that one on notice, because it will be contribution across a range of programs—the ones we have talked about here, but I am sure that it probably also relates to some of the things that would sit with the Department of the Treasury. We would take that on notice and coordinate that.

Senator PAYNE: Okay. I want to go back to the summary you gave me, Mr Innis, in relation to the CRA funding—the $3.4 billion in financial year 2012-13. As I have read and have been reading your FaHCSIA budget papers—and there is obviously a mention of the CRA—I understand that it is the Department of Human Services and in certain cases the Department of Veterans' Affairs that administer the CRA payments. Is that correct?

Ms Carroll : Yes.

Senator PAYNE: It is a line item, as it were, in your budget statements. But what actually is your department's role in the administration of the CRA, the funding of the CRA? Does it come out of your budget? Isn't it out of the Treasury budget?

Mr Innis : There are a couple of things about CRA. There is not a separate appropriation for CRA; it is subsumed into the primary payments.

Senator PAYNE: In human services?

Mr Innis : In FaHCSIA and DEEWR primarily. For example, people on Newstart receiving rent assistance are recorded against the Newstart expenditure. That is the first thing. The second thing is that, like all income support payments, we have policy responsibility for the design of the payment. We have responsibility, obviously, to this committee and others about the accountability around it, but the administration on a day-to-day basis is by the Department of Human Services.

Senator PAYNE: In terms of the structure of the CRA, the design of the payment, as you would put it, the accountability for that matter and the amounts, there has been quite a bit of discussion in the sector in recent years about the adequacy of payments and eligibility for payments. Is there any work being done within the department on those issues at the moment?

Mr Innis : We are always looking at the design of payments and providing advice to government, and we continue to do so on a range of housing issues.

Senator PAYNE: Which would include CRA.

Mr Innis : Yes.

Senator PAYNE: In terms of what administration is done within your department with respect to the policy responsibility for, the accountability for and the design of the payment, can you indicate for us the staffing breakdown that is allocated to that? If you need to take that on notice I understand.

Mr Innis : I think the department answered a question on notice, which I think was from you, which gave the structure of the group.

Senator PAYNE: Yes.

Mr Innis : There is a section within that structure that looks after CRA.

Senator PAYNE: Thank you very much. In terms of the total spend that we are talking about across the housing and homelessness portfolio I wanted to ask a question about the NPA on Homelessness, which, as you know, did not have any indication of further funding in the last budget papers. Can you advise the committee of what developments have been made in terms of the renegotiation or extension of the NPA at this stage?

Mr Innis : That matter is still before government—

Senator PAYNE: The Commonwealth government?

Mr Innis : All governments will need to make a contribution to any new agreement. The current agreement was a 50-50 funding share between the Commonwealth and the states. I gave you the $1.1 billion figure earlier. The Commonwealth contribution to that was $550 million. So there would be funding decisions, assuming that it continued on the same basis, by all jurisdictions. There was a preliminary conversation at the last Commonwealth-state ministers meeting, but the issue is before government.

Senator PAYNE: But surely the leadership on the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness—and given the level of priority which was attached to this by a former Prime Minister, who I believe called it an 'obscenity' and indicated that the $1.1 billion was a down payment in terms of addressing homelessness—comes from the Commonwealth, not from the states.

Ms Carroll : It is, as Mr Innis has said, very clear that the Commonwealth is very aware that the national partnership finishes in the middle of next year. The government is going through the normal processes of considering this particular issue and is very alive to, and aware of, the issues that the sector might be raising. There have been preliminary discussions, as Mr Innis said, with state and territory ministers, and it will be a decision for government going forward.

Senator PAYNE: How do you explain to participants in the sector, particularly those participants who rely entirely, or largely, on the funding that has been directed from the NPA on Homelessness, that the normal processes may cause them to have to shut their doors because they do not have any funding certainty?

Ms Carroll : We are not in that position yet.

Senator PAYNE: They are!

Ms Carroll : The government is aware of the timing and we are not in a position to add any additional information. It is a decision for government.

Senator PAYNE: So you are not able to provide the committee with any ballpark advice as to the timing on any renegotiation of the NPA on homelessness or the future of the NPA on homelessness and whether there will be any future funding in relation to it?

Mr Pratt : These are all matters for government—

Senator PAYNE: Perhaps the minister can help.

Mr Pratt : The office has identified these issues which are being considered by government presently, and we would not like to speculate about where the government may choose to go on this.

Senator PAYNE: Perhaps the minister can help.

Senator McLucas: As Ms Carroll said, the government is very aware that the NPA finishes at the end of this financial year. As a government, we have been very mindful of being able to give community organisations, in particular, notice, and good timely notice, of replacement type programs when these sorts of events occur.

Senator PAYNE: So are you saying that there will be a replacement type program, Minister?

Senator McLucas: I will seek advice from the minister and hopefully come back to the committee in a very timely way.

Senator PAYNE: Let me just clarify: you said, 'replacement type program—

Senator McLucas: I was talking in the general, Senator; I think you know that.

Senator PAYNE: So you are not indicating that the government expects there to be a replacement type program?

Senator McLucas: I will get some very clear advice for you from the minister's office, and hopefully in a short period of time.

Senator PAYNE: Thank you very much, Minister. There was an answer provided to question on notice No. 42 from the 2011-12 budget estimates which contained a table of homelessness initiatives since 2008. It indicated that over half of the $5.6 billion to be spent on the Social Housing Initiative, which Mr Innis was referring to earlier, in that table, would be allocated to those Australians who were homeless or at risk of homelessness. Can you give the committee the actual figures for those Social Housing Initiative dwellings that went to individuals or families who were homeless or at risk of homelessness—the actual figures?

Mr Innis : Yes we can. While we are getting the precise figures, 54 per cent of the properties tenanted thus far have gone to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Ms Pickering might be quicker than me to get the precise figure.

Ms Pickering : Fifty-four per cent is the correct figure.

Senator PAYNE: Now can I have numbers, over and above percentages, by jurisdiction?

Ms Waldegrave : At 31 August 2012, 9,157 dwellings were tenanted by people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness, in the SHI.

Senator PAYNE: Can you break those down by jurisdiction?

Ms Waldegrave : I do not have that information with me.

Mr Innis : But I do. The numbers are: for New South Wales, 2,822; for Victoria, 1,799; for Queensland, 2,022; for Western Australia, 1,441; for South Australia, 726; for Tasmania, 154; for the ACT, 100; for the Northern Territory, 93; and those figures are as of 31 August this year.

Senator PAYNE: On notice, can you please provide the committee with a postcode breakdown for the jurisdictions of where those dwellings are?

Mr Innis : For the tenants? I am happy to take that on notice. I am not certain that we will have postcode-based information.

Senator PAYNE: I was thinking that might be easiest. If that is not easiest—if there is another geographical breakdown that you can provide us with—

Mr Innis : I am very happy to look into it but I am not sure that that geographic data is collected beyond the state level. So I do not know that we have information at a more granular level than by state for the tenants.

Senator PAYNE: For the construction of the dwellings, though, surely you know where—

Mr Innis : We know where the dwellings are.

Senator PAYNE: Well, that is all I want.

Mr Innis : We have photographs of many of them.

Senator PAYNE: Excellent. I want to know where they are, too. So how do I find out the locations across the states, if not postcodes?

Mr Innis : We can get you information about where the dwellings are but not necessarily who is in what dwelling.

Senator PAYNE: No, I do not want to know who; I have absolutely no intention of wanting to know who!

Mr Innis : I apologise.

Senator PAYNE: I am a keen observer of my constituents but not that keen! As to the $5 billion in homelessness expenditure that the government speaks about, in toto: I have, as you know, asked questions on notice and questions here around the number of people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness who are now no longer in those circumstances due to this expenditure. I have received answers in relation to that. I refer to an answer to a question on notice, which was number 24: can you give me a breakdown, under each of the spending categories that the department provided in its answer to that question, of, for example, how many houses were provided to the cohort, or how many accommodation places were assisted, whatever your definition is, to make it an allocation for homelessness rather than just social housing or something else? I understand you would have to take that on notice.

Then I want to go to that answer, which totals $5,019.44 million—so $5.02 billion, approximately—which is the total that began to come into popular usage with Minister Arbib and continues to be the number used by the government. When I look at that, I see the breakdown for the NPAs: the NPA on homelessness, A Place to Call Home, the NPA on social housing, the SHI from the stimulus, the NPA on remote Indigenous housing—all of which you have detailed—and the East Kimberley development project. In relation to the aged care capital, that would be one which I would appreciate being broken down more specifically. As to the community legal centres, can you indicate what that $2.24 million of community legal centres money is directed towards, that has it included in this category? Can you do that now, if possible?

Mr Innis : I think we would need to take that on notice.

Senator PAYNE: The same with Personal Helpers and Mentors, which is $10 million, and the same with the Jobs Fund Get Communities Working—$8 million.

Then the next category in your response to me you titled, 'Other initiatives with "positive impact" for reducing homelessness'. Let me ask you first about the $86.1 million that is included in that category under the heading 'National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-22'. If I go to your website, which details the $86 million of spending since 2009 under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, it lists 12 items relating to those initiatives which include: Respectful Relationships Education projects; the Line, which is a social marketing campaign encouraging young people to develop healthy respect for relationships; a grants program to local community action to prevent violence against women; money for a 1800 number: 1800RESPECT; a telephone support operation for frontline workers; counselling services for male victims of violence through MensLine; improved services for victims through the reform projects; research into perpetrator interventions and an incentive reward payment to the states and territories for promoting best practice perpetrator interventions; an evaluation of a court reform; a national centre of excellence for research into sexual assault and family and domestic violence; $14.5 million to repeat the Personal Safety Survey and the National Community Attitudes Survey; and the development of a media code of practice on the reporting of sexual assault and domestic violence.

I do not want anyone to misunderstand me for a second. There is absolutely no question in my mind that these are important policy interventions by government. There is no questioning that, and I do not want anyone to presume that I am questioning those priorities. However, in relation to the $86.1 million which is included in your over $5 billion total, in those descriptions there is no mention of homelessness and I am interested to know how you would allocate that total $86.1 million as a line item in the $5 billion in your homelessness funding.

Mr Innes : One thing that is worth noting is that domestic violence is a key contributor to homelessness, and the statistics for the specialist homelessness services suggest that around 33 per cent of women who are seeking support from those homelessness services have experience domestic violence, and it is a primary reason for seeking support. I think what the government is saying is that all its efforts that are devoted to reducing the incidence of violence in our community have a flow-on benefit to homelessness. I do not think it is intended to suggested—that is why it was in a separate part of the table—that those specific initiatives are having a one-on-one relationship with individual human beings in terms of their experience.

Senator PAYNE: Mr Innes, you might say that but the government makes a claim of close to $100 million—$86 million—of spending, and have wrapped that into a $5 billion claim specifically in relation to homelessness, and there is not even a mention in the fine detail of the $86 million of spending that directly relates to homelessness. I absolutely understand the acute relationship between domestic violence and homelessness but I really do not think it is fair to Australians to expect them to believe that if you throw that $86.1 million into your $5 billion total that you are being fair and upfront about your actual total of spending on homelessness. I do not think that is fair. And I think that the same goes for headspace—$114.7 million. I am not sure whether that is FaHCSIA funding or elsewhere.

Mr Innes : It is health.

Senator PAYNE: It is health funding. I thought so. The same goes for that. The same goes to the almost $100 million for emergency relief and Commonwealth financial counselling, some of which does go to crisis accommodation and some of which goes to part-payment of an outstanding account for rent and accommodation. But to throw those totals into figures of $5 billion is, quite frankly, an unfair representation of the total spending on homelessness, and I think it is outrageous.

I know that is a comment not a question, but I really want to put that on the record, because this government has made a great deal of noise about its spending in the area of social housing and social housing initiative spending in terms of assisting those who are at risk of homelessness or are homeless. The 9,157 dwellings that you indicated, I think, in your earlier response is a meritorious achievement. It is very important, but to dilute that with a misrepresentations, in my view, of actual funding in this area is supremely disappointing.

CHAIR: I am happy for the response there. I do not want to break into your question.

Senator PAYNE: I understand.

CHAIR: At the end of this question is it possible to go to Senator Ludlam?

Senator PAYNE: Sure.

CHAIR: I am happy for a response. I just did not want to break your train.

Senator PAYNE: I understand.

Senator McLucas: I do acknowledge that our government has significantly invested not only in bricks and mortar but also in the important structural cross-portfolio response to the issue of homelessness. It is not just about bricks and mortar; it is about ensuring that people do get the appropriate DV support and it is about ensuring that mental health issues are addressed. I think that what that document shows you is that not only is this about bricks and mortar and putting roofs over people's heads, it is also about the avoiding of homelessness. And that is why you do need to have a range of programs that will work together and will work in a synchronised way. I do thank you for acknowledging that our government, with a housing minister, has delivered significantly.

Senator PAYNE: Several actually.

Senator McLucas: At least we have one.

Senator PAYNE: So do we.

Senator McLucas: You used to.

Senator PAYNE: You are looking at her. The spending in relation to headspace, which obviously others of my colleagues have been interested in for an extended period of time as well, is also something that I would like to see broken down. My concern is that it is a very significant claim; it is great to be able to say $5 billion, but let us be more genuine.

Mr Innis : Just on headspace, I can inform the committee that there have been several discussions between headspace and the Prime Minister's Council on Homelessness specifically directed towards ensuring that headspace has as much impact on homelessness as it can. Those discussions have been ongoing for some time and I would expect them to continue.

Senator PAYNE: I think they are very important discussions. Some providers, though, would say to me that they feel like they are victims of a double count. They are told that they are the recipients of all of this funding for homelessness services because there is in excess of $5 billion being spent in that space, but then they will find they have mental health roles as well, and they find that the money which they were told they would receive over here they also receive in the mental health space, and they think they are the victim of a double count and I do not blame them.

Mr Pratt : Could I just jump in; I am not sure whether or not we have taken a question there on headspace.

Senator PAYNE: In terms of the breakdown, I believe that you did.

Mr Pratt : Sorry—what was the question about headspace?

Senator PAYNE: Mr Innis provided some information in relation to the consultations between the Prime Minister's Council on Homelessness and headspace, but if there is any further specific funding under headspace which related directly to homelessness I would be interested to know.

Mr Pratt : Okay.

Ms Carroll : We can obviously take on notice to go away and have a look at that, but as, Senator McLucas said, the key here is this: when we are thinking about homelessness—and we have been very working hard at a Commonwealth level to be thinking about all the factors that contribute to making someone vulnerable to being at risk of homelessness or actually homeless—obviously two very big factors are mental health, and domestic and family violence. So one of the things that we have been working on across government is to make sure we are leveraging all of those other initiatives that are going on to ensure that they are thinking about the particular vulnerable group of people that are at risk of homelessness, and thinking about that kind of early intervention/prevention aspect. So we can certainly take on notice any more specific information we can give you, but it is about how the whole system comes together and works in tandem to prevent and avoid homelessness.

Senator PAYNE: I absolutely understand that. My concern is that, when you double up the figures—so the same figures are used to make a claim in relation to spending in mental health as are used to make a claim in relation to spending in homelessness, as are used to make a claim in relation to spending in domestic violence and support—there are stakeholders in those policy areas who, in theory, should be flush with money because they should be receiving it from three different directions. But it is triple counted in some cases, double counted in some cases, and then—and I do not want to reopen that discussion—if you are a recipient of funding under the NPA on homelessness, you are still waiting to see whether you are going to be able to open your doors next year. It is extremely frustrating for participants in the sector. And it is generally frustrating for people who are trying to work out what the funding breakdown is.

Senator LUDLAM: While we are on homelessness, can you tell us when we are going to see a bill and whether it is intended that the bill be debated and passed this year?

Ms Waldegrave : The timing of the bill is a matter for the minister. He is currently considering the submissions on the exposure draft.

Senator LUDLAM: So you have no visibility at all as to whether we are going to be debating that this year or not?

Ms Waldegrave : That is a matter for the government.

Senator LUDLAM: You would be aware that all this bill is, is a definition; it does not actually do anything. It is a definition—saying, 'We understand what homelessness is.' Just for the record, imagine if we had spent four years waiting for a climate change bill and then the bill arrived and all it was was a definition of what we think climate is. I think it is a remarkable opportunity missed.

Mr Innis : Senator—

Senator LUDLAM: Sorry, Mr Innis; it has just been flipped to the government, that is all. Minister, can you tell us whether this is going to be debated and passed this year or not?

Senator McLucas: I will seek some advice from the minister.

Senator LUDLAM: Thank you. Mr Innis?

Mr Innis : I can inform the committee that since the last estimates we have released an exposure draft of the bill on 5 June. Submissions closed on 3 August. Fifty-five submissions were received, and obviously the department has done an analysis of those submissions for the minister, looking at what the suggestions for change were in the bill and providing some advice on that. The minister has considered that and we are in the process of providing drafting instructions for the Office of Parliamentary Counsel to do the final drafting of a bill. The timing of introduction is something that we cannot specifically comment on.

Senator LUDLAM: I understand that that is out of your hands. We will have to come back to this later but you can hear the frustration. Depending on how complex the answer is to my next question you can take it on notice, because I have quite a bit that I would like to traverse. What is the impact of the efficiency dividend on the housing assistance, homelessness and affordability units of FaHCSIA?

Ms Carroll : The efficiency dividend obviously applies across the departmental funding and the department has gone through a process of working through how we find efficiencies and apply that efficiency dividend. I would not be able to give you specifics but the application has been more general across the department, and where there is particular priority needs then we are looking at how we move our resources around within the department to address those priority needs for the government.

Senator LUDLAM: That really gives us nothing at all to go on. Has it cost you any full-time employees, for example, through redundancies, natural attrition or whatever, in the housing area?

Mr Pratt : It is not possible to answer that question, for the reasons Ms Carroll has just run through. The efficiency dividend is not applied specifically to a particular group, branch or section. It is applied across the department and, as a matter of course throughout the year, we move money around to resource priorities. It is not possible to answer that question.

Senator LUDLAM: That is remarkable. If I go and ask anybody else they will say the same thing! So these savings are being found magically, as though you just had people sitting around.

Mr Pratt : Certainly the savings have not been found magically. We have put a lot of effort into finding efficiencies around IT, travel, videoconferencing, producing publications—it goes on.

Senator LUDLAM: Mr Innes, during the last estimates session you mentioned that you had provided some departmental advice to the minister on our convert-to-rent model. Are you familiar with that? I think I have tabled it three or four times; I can table it again if that is helpful. Can you provide us with a copy of that advice or tell us what its general nature was.

Mr Innis : As a matter of course we do not provide our advice to government.

Senator LUDLAM: It never hurts to ask though, does it? Was it positive?

Mr Innis : As matter of course—

Senator LUDLAM: Are you aware of whether or not that model has been progressed at a departmental level? Is that going anywhere? Have you received any feedback, for example?

Mr Innis : My answer would be the same—

Senator LUDLAM: I can legitimately ask you whether the department is working on anything along those lines—an incentive to get vacant commercial or residential space back onto the market. I can ask you that.

Ms Carroll : You can. The department is always working on a range of different policy initiatives—

Senator LUDLAM: Yes.

Ms Carroll : and policy directions.

Senator LUDLAM: I asked you specifically about this one.

Ms Carroll : I would not be able to give you a specific answer on that particular initiative but we are always looking at what policy initiatives are there and providing advice to government.

Senator LUDLAM: I get that, as a general description of what you do, and I am very supportive of what you do. Is the department currently working on an incentive scheme for getting empty, vacant space back onto the affordable housing market?

Mr Pratt : That would fall under the category of the nature and content of our advice to government—

Senator LUDLAM: No. I am not asking—

Mr Pratt : I cannot tell you one way or another.

Senator LUDLAM: Yes, you can. I am not asking you whether you have advised the government. I am asking if anybody is working on it. That is an entirely legitimate question to put to you. If the answer is no, that is fine; I will move on.

Mr Pratt : Without wanting to get into a complex debate around this, if hypothetically we were working on such a thing right now and the government planned to make an announcement on it in the near future and we were to tell you that, yes we are working on that, we might pre-empt the government's decision. You can rest assured that we are looking at all aspects of these areas, and we provide advice to government across the board.

Senator LUDLAM: I want to touch on two quick issues relating to the supply gap, which is real and acknowledged right across the board, and real vacancy rates. Have you done an analysis based on the last ABS data between 2006 and 2011 on what I guess is actually a contradiction: that we are seeing a severe supply gap opening up at the same time as vacancy rates appear to be going up as well. Have you noted or done any analysis on that trend?

Mr Innis : Supply issues are the responsibility of the Treasury portfolio, and that question would be best directed towards Treasury.

Senator LUDLAM: Okay, but is the vacancy issue not within your domain either? I think I have commented before on how silly that is.

Mr Innis : I participate in the National Housing Supply Council. We do connect very strongly with Treasury on the issues, and we analyse what they mean for our responsibilities. But, in terms of providing information to you as a senator, the question would be better directed towards Treasury.

Senator LUDLAM: I will do that. Coming to the figures: I actually found it quite useful that Senator Payne traversed the broadbrush portfolio allocations that fall within housing and homelessness, but I am interested to know the degree to which you are able to keep track of what the state housing authorities are doing. For example—and I can table this if you like—the recent census data identifies that, between 2006 and 2011 in the electorate of Melbourne, as a sample, the total number of dwellings owned by state housing authorities decreased from 7,291 to 7,172, a net decrease of 119. The Commonwealth is pumping money into affordable housing. We do not think it is enough and we think it could be better deployed, but it is there and it was not there before. How do we stop the state housing authorities simply drawing funding out at the same time as you are topping it up?

Mr Innis : I am not aware of the specifics of the example you give.

Senator LUDLAM: We can come back to it if you like. I can table these if you would like to see a copy.

Mr Innis : That is always helpful.

Senator LUDLAM: Through the chair: what I have here are two extracts from the census on public housing, tenure and landlord type by dwelling structure, and it identifies that state and territory housing authorities' property has actually declined between the two censuses; could I get that provided to the officers and we can come back to it.

CHAIR: Yes.

Mr Innis : As a general response, though, the management of social housing stock is a matter for the states—

Senator LUDLAM: Yes, it is.

Mr Innis : and clearly so under the relevant Commonwealth-state agreement.

Senator LUDLAM: I understand that, and that is actually precisely the point that I am getting to, so—

Mr Innis : But it is a concern to government that the investments are adding to stock.

Senator LUDLAM: Yes, certainly, but do we know whether they actually are? If the state housing authorities are selling stock down faster than the Commonwealth can top it up, that is a shell game going on. That is extremely unfortunate. It is not increasing supply. An example from my home state of Western Australia: the state housing authority there has sold 6,000 properties over a decade at the same time as the Commonwealth is trying to prop it up.

Ms Carroll : At a broader level—and Mr Innis can go into further detail—I know we have traversed in this committee before the way the way the intergovernmental agreements are written and the information that is required from states and territories in terms of reporting on the NAHA. Going to the kinds of questions that you are asking—'Does the state government provide us with reporting on stock numbers, transfer numbers and those sorts of things?'—under the National Affordable Housing Agreement they are not required to give us that detailed information. We, as a department and for the government, certainly try to look at the available information that we can get through public sources and those other sorts of things.

Senator LUDLAM: You are right; we have traversed this before. The NAHA is being renegotiated, so we are told. Is that something that can be fixed? It is remarkable that you would have to resort to open-source data about what the public housing authorities are doing around the country in order to work out whether there is actually a net increase occurring or not.

Mr Innis : Thank you very much for the table; it was very helpful. One of the things that is occurring in the broader social housing environment is a move towards community housing. As I read these figures, they relate to public housing specifically—so, state-owned housing. I can inform the committee that between 2007 and 2011 community housing dwelling stock increased from 34,707 to 59,777.

Senator LUDLAM: Would the census pick that up or would it still be listed as public housing?

Mr Innis : On the table that you have provided it is not listed separately, and I suspect state owned housing means state owned housing, not the broader social housing system. I just wanted to say that there are a couple of dynamics that need to be considered in making an assessment on the availability of social housing.

Senator LUDLAM: I am going to have to speed things up a little because I have to go, but could you check for us, on notice, whether, the way the ABS is reporting, community housing would be rolled into the public housing or whether it has been disaggregated and is somewhere else.

Mr Innis : On the details of a census can I suggest—

Senator LUDLAM: I would have to talk to the ABS. Okay. Treasury is doing a technical review of the NAHA. I will put this to Treasury but are you aware of whether or not reporting obligations are going to be part of the next—

Mr Innis : They are not part of the technical review, which is focused on the performance framework, rather than the reporting framework.

Senator LUDLAM: The thing is, if the NAHA gets renegotiated and this giant data gap is a part of it, it is going to make a lot of us pretty cranky to come in here and have you say, 'We can't tell you; we don't know.' This is the opportunity to make sure that that information exchange is part of it. Just for the record, the figure that I gave you of 6,000 in WA was strictly sell-offs to the private market. Were you quoting me numbers from Melbourne or Victoria?

Mr Innis : No, that was across the country in the housing sector.

Senator LUDLAM: All right. The COAG Reform Council's evaluation of the NAHA through their housing affordability report was pretty damning. I do not expect you to comment on my editorialising but they basically failed the agreement. They have said that it is just not working, and against the major indicators or outcomes that the NAHA was meant to deliver, despite the $20 billion in funding, give or take, that you have identified for us this morning, we are actually going backwards. I will just quote: 'No indication of progress towards the outcomes; nationally no indication housing affordability has improved; rental affordability has worsened—especially for those on the lowest incomes; and homes are less affordable for buyers.' So that is everybody. Homelessness has increased over that period as well, although that is not a quote.

Your response to me might be, 'Well, imagine how bad it would have been if we hadn't spent the $20 billion,' but what are we doing in the renegotiation of the NAHA to deliver the outcomes that we set for ourselves? How would the next five years be any different?

Mr Innis : I do not have the detail of the report in front of me but my recollection is that the COAG reform council was looking at two things. Where it had data it was pointing to what that data was telling us, and I think the rental affordability example you gave is a clear case where there is data.

Senator LUDLAM: Yes.

Mr Innis : There are other instances in the report where the reform council is expressing concern that we do not have the data to measure accurately where we are up to. I just want to say that two things came out of that report, for me. You made the obvious point about, in the absence of the funding from government, what the situation would be. In our advice to government we are always looking at ways to ensure that the whole housing market is better responding to the needs of Australians.

Senator LUDLAM: Okay, but it is not a particularly glowing evaluation of the last couple of years, which tells me that we cannot just keep doing the same thing.

I have a couple of quick questions on NRAS and then I will pass you back to the chair. It appears that there is still a major squeeze in the approval process—that NRAS is not staffed to the degree that it needs to be. I have had investors tell me that when they are putting together the deals they have to leave NRAS out because it takes too long. You cannot include NRAS as a fundamental part of your business model because you do not know if you are going to get the incentives, and it takes too long anyhow. So ultimately it ends up being icing on the cake for some of the people that I have been talking to. If they eventually get some incentives that is all to the good, but to me that defeats the purpose of what the scheme is really for. These are places that would be built anyhow. In terms of the approval process, is it speeding up? What is being done to do so?

Ms Mandla : Just to clarify your question, when you talk about the approval process, what approval process?

Mr Innis : I might start by observing that NRAS incentives are released by way of rounds.

Senator LUDLAM: Yes.

Mr Innis : There have been four rounds to date, and that gives the opportunity for someone to gain an incentive. There was a set of approval processes and decision-making processes around those rounds. We would acknowledge that round 4 did not go as quickly as possible. In any future round we are looking very closely at how to make sure our decision-making processes are speedy and appropriate. When someone has been allocated an incentive, then there are other decision-making processes that come into play if they want to vary their delivery. So it just depends a bit on where in the process your concern most lies.

Senator LUDLAM: You say you are looking closely at it, though. I would hope that for any future round, and round 5, it would get more staff time. It just looks to me as though it needs more staff time; it needs more people working for Ms Mandla to get them out the door faster.

Mr Innis : I am sure Ms Mandla is happy to hear that!

Senator LUDLAM: There I am, advocating for getting the incentives out the door! It may be that Senator Payne is about to beat you up for how slow these incentives are getting out the door; I will leave that to her! This is a scheme that works, and I have had almost uniformly positive feedback from the sector. It is doing what it was intended to do.

Senator PAYNE: But it is has problems.

Senator LUDLAM: It has some problems. I will leave you in Senator Payne's capable hands.

Senator PAYNE: I want to finish on a couple of homelessness questions. I want to come back to the funding for Reconnect, which is also a well-regarded program. That program is funded for 2012-13. Is there any funding commitment for subsequent years?

Ms Carroll : The funding for Reconnect is ongoing funding; what you are referring to is the funding agreements as they currently stand. We normally do a three-year funding agreement, and the funding agreement would be kind of finishing at that point. So, it would be the point at which the funding agreement is finishing rather than the funding being available into the future.

Senator PAYNE: So they are triennial funding agreements, are they?

Ms Carroll : I was just using that as an example.

Ms Pickering : They are annual agreements.

Senator PAYNE: Okay, but thinking about previous budget papers—and I just have a mental picture in my head, so this might be in error—I thought I saw Reconnect funded into the forward estimates previously, but it was not this year. So, what is its status—for example, in the financial year after 2012-13? Do you expect Reconnect to continue?

Mr Innis : Page 56 of our portfolio budget statements—

Senator PAYNE: I do not think I have 56 with me—but I have 57 and 55!

Mr Innis : I would be happy to lend you my copy of page 56. Page 56 records the appropriation for program 2.1, which is housing assistance and homelessness prevention. Reconnect is a component of that program, and the funding for that program includes an allowance for Reconnect.

Senator PAYNE: I will have a look at that, and if I need to ask anything further I will put it on notice. I do want to ask one quick question about the homelessness bill, and that is the restriction on the length of submissions to stakeholders. Why was it limited to two pages?

Ms Waldegrave : That was before my time, but I can take that question.

Ms Carroll : We would normally limit the feedback to try to encourage participants who are giving us feedback to actually focus on the key issues within the legislation rather than traversing all components of the legislation, and to make it more manageable when there are a lot of submissions coming in, which there were.

Senator PAYNE: How many submissions did you receive?

Mr Innis : Fifty-five.

Senator PAYNE: Fifty-five is not very many.

Mr Innis : Ms Waldegrave might correct me, but I recall reading at least one submission that was longer than two pages.

Senator PAYNE: Outrageous! How was that allowed?

Mr Innis : I am not convinced that the strictures were well adhered to. And we certainly did not stop reading.

Senator PAYNE: 'Honoured in the breach', you are saying!

Mr Innis : We did not stop reading at the end of page 2 in considering them.

Senator PAYNE: That is a relief for submitters, I guess. Do you end up with many standard-form submissions as a result of restricting it to that length—for example, repeated copies of the same thing? We do, as senators and members.

Ms Waldegrave : No, we did get quite different submissions.

Senator PAYNE: That is great. Thank you. A Place to Call Home is allocated $49 million in 2012-13. That is more than double the money it was allocated in the previous financial year. Can you indicate why that allocation was doubled for this financial year?

Mr Innis : The allocations would have reflected the delivery program.

Senator PAYNE: Can you update us on the program delivery?

Ms Pickering : Do you want that by jurisdiction?

Senator PAYNE: Yes, jurisdiction for commencement and completed construction, please. Basically, Mr Innis, you are saying you are spending more money in this financial year because more houses are coming online?

Ms Pickering : A Place to Call Home is done over the time period of the national partnership agreements, so it is done progressively as they come online. As at 30 June this year we had 468 completed. In New South Wales the overall target was 155 and they have 87 completed. In Victoria the target was 118 and they have currently completed 108. In Queensland the target was 143 and they have currently completed 118. In Western Australia the overall target was 68 and they have completed 34. In South Australia the target was 100 and they have completed 57. In Tasmania the target was 25 and they have completed all of those. In the Northern Territory the target was 32 and they have completed 21. And in the Australian Capital Territory the target was 20 and they have completed 18. That was at 30 June this year.

Senator PAYNE: I have a question about tenant profiles. A Place to Call Home is targeted to homeless individuals and families and aims to halve the number of homeless shelters each year. What number of people do we think we have brought into housing in that process? I understand they would be tenanted to both singles and families.

Ms Waldegrave : I have a headline figure for the initiative up to June 2012. A Place to Call Home has housed 877 homeless individuals.

Senator PAYNE: In relation to the NAHA, I want to go slightly further than some of the questions Senator Ludlam was asking. We also have concerns or interest in the reporting obligations structure of the agreement and what information states and territories are currently providing and required to provide, because I think there is a data gap; I agree with Senator Ludlam in that space. We have states and territories around the Commonwealth complaining of straightened circumstances of their own, in terms of their own budgets—and we have seen evidence of that in state and territory budgets since we last spoke in relation to housing. Say a state or a territory decides they will not spend in public housing—for example, on repairs and maintenance. Given that the NAHA funding is meant to be allocated in that space—that is what they are supposed to do with it, in large part—does the Commonwealth have any way of addressing that with the state or the territory that may not be spending in that space? Or does the money just go into state and territory consolidated revenue?

Mr Innis : The NAHA is one of the agreements under the federal financial relations framework, and states are required to provide an assurance to the Treasurer that the funding is being spent in the areas—

Senator PAYNE: An 'assurance'?

Mr Innis : covered by the agreement. But the allocation of those moneys between priorities is a matter for the states.

Senator PAYNE: Mr Innis, what level of detail does an 'assurance' provide?

Mr Innis : Senator, I suggest you direct that question towards Treasury.

Senator PAYNE: Okay. In the circumstances in which a state or a territory does not provide the funding which is says it was going to under the assurance, and the allocation between priorities—which is for housing—is not spent in that space, what happens to those funds? Do they still go to the state?

Mr Innis : Because the payment is actually administered by Treasury rather than FaHCSIA, I would suggest you direct that question there.

Senator PAYNE: Okay, I will; thank you.

CHAIR: Senator, if you could have five more minutes, Senator Furner has a question at the end, if you could work around that.

Senator PAYNE: Yep. Just a quick question in relation to Building Better Regional Cities: I received some correspondence from Minister O'Connor yesterday in relation to approved projects, indicating that three of the 16 councils that have been awarded projects do not yet have contracts for BBRC funds. Which are those councils?

Ms Mandla : I can take that one. We have three councils that do not yet have funding agreements: Maitland, Wagga Wagga and Wyong, all in New South Wales.

Senator PAYNE: What is the delay with that?

Ms Mandla : As you may be aware, Senator, we had the New South Wales council elections recently—

Senator PAYNE: We sure did!

Ms Mandla : That had an impact on the ability of councils to make decisions and to meet to have their relevant decision-making forums.

Senator PAYNE: When do you expect the contracts to be signed?

Ms Mandla : We are working to have them signed as soon as reasonably possible. We have negotiations in-train for all three.

Senator PAYNE: There is now $112.1 million in the BBRC, which is an increase of just over $12 million. Where did the extra $12 million above the budget expense come from?

Ms Mandla : It came from the Housing Affordability Program.

Senator PAYNE: Okay. Do all of the project approvals under the BBRC correspond to the department's recommendations?

Mr Innis : I recall a question on notice that went to the approvals process.

Ms Mandla : Yes, we did have a question on notice, Senator. I think it was No. 254.

Senator PAYNE: I just wanted to know whether there was any ministerial discretion used in relation to the projects.

Mr Innis : The guidelines gave the minister the ultimate decision-making power; our role was to advise the minister. So the program is a ministerial-decision program.

Senator PAYNE: You recall the Auditor-General has explored issues like this in relation to the department before. Were there any decisions that were made by the minister that did not accord with the advice received from the department.

Ms Mandla : All the successful projects announced by the minister met the requirements of the program guidelines. I think we provided this response in question on notice 254, in that they all brought forward the provision of housing lots within the area and provided support for low- to moderate-income earners in being able to either purchase or rent those lots and dwellings.

Senator PAYNE: That is not an answer to the question I just asked you.

Mr Innis : Senator, the minister, in his—

Senator PAYNE: Although it was very helpful at the time, Ms Mandla!

Mr Innis : decision making, prioritised low-SEIFA-index areas; and also felt that only one project from a shire should be funded, rather than having several projects from one shire. Those considerations resulted in him not agreeing to three projects that we had put in the top category of approval. But all of the projects came from the categories that the department assessed as fully meeting the criteria.

Senator PAYNE: Thank you. Are you able to identify the three projects which the minister did not support?

Ms Mandla : Senator, there were two councils that were successful, and had their preferred project put up, but they did not get their second project; and there was a third project where the SEIFA score was greater than 1,000. While I think we can provide that information, if you would be so kind we would like to consult with the councils beforehand so they know.

Senator PAYNE: That is fine. You were discussing the NRAS with Senator Ludlam, and he raised the challenges of the approvals process. But I want to go to the other end of the process—that is, the pace of implementation, if you like; the number of incentives that are allocated that are not complete. I have had this raised with me literally from one side of Australia to the other, at some very senior levels, where there are concerns raised by stakeholders that progress is very slow because allocations are made and then the construction is not commenced. Can you comment on that.

Mr Innis : I have a couple of observations. The first is that progress in getting buildings on the ground has been slower than the government would have liked. We have seen a significant acceleration of delivery in recent times. For example, on average, in the year to date, 555 new homes are being delivered each month, which is more than double the average for 2011 of 273. We have just passed the 10,000th home delivered. As at the end of September we are up to 10,112.

Ms Mandla : And, as of this morning, 10,449.

Senator PAYNE: So the participant-reported delivery for April 2013 is 24,393. You will have to be building a truckload more than 555 a month. How confident can you be of meeting that?

Ms Mandla : In table 4 in the August monthly report, which should be on our website—

Senator PAYNE: Yes, I have it in front of me.

Ms Mandla : We rely on information by NRAS approved participants. They are currently telling us that they will build over 31,000 to April 2014; and in the pipeline we know there are over 37,000 by 30 June 2014—knowing that some of those projects will drop off.

Senator PAYNE: Okay. I will put a question on notice in relation to April 2013, because I do not think that answers my question. But I do want to also ask you to take on notice concerns that have been raised by me about continual delays, which have some people at the point of believing that incentives should be withdrawn and reallocated rather than just leaving them on the books and nothing happening, and therefore the construction not occurring.

Mr Innis : And that certainly is an option.

Senator PAYNE: Is it? Have you withdrawn any?

Mr Innis : Yes.

Ms Mandla : Yes.

Senator PAYNE: Recently?

Ms Mandla : Yes.

Senator PAYNE: Okay, I will ask you about that on notice. Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you, Senator. Senator Furner, you had a quick question?

Senator FURNER: Thanks, Chair. Is this the right outcome to ask a question concerning the Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service?

Mr Innis : Yes, Senator.

Senator FURNER: Okay. At the end of this month we will see 29 providers in Queensland close their doors as a result of an announcement by the Liberal-National Party. Some 33 per cent of Queenslanders are living in rental accommodation. This announcement will no doubt result in increased stress and homelessness in Queensland, and certainly add to demands on public housing. Has the department stepped in and provided any assistance to those 29 providers in Queensland at all?

Mr Innis : Senator, you may be aware that the minister has announced that the government will provide $3.3 million to fund those providers into next year, as a temporary measure to ensure continuity of service. We are currently working to implement that decision.

Senator FURNER: Has the department had any dialogue with the Queensland government in relation to beyond that—whether there is a commitment to reinstate their funding to support the most vulnerable people in our community?

Mr Innis : The minister's announcement made it clear that he felt any future homelessness money should it be available would have a condition for Queensland that service continuity occurred for these providers.

Senator FURNER: Okay, thanks.

CHAIR: Senator McLucas, you have something to say?

Senator McLucas: I have an answer to Senator Payne's questions around the National Partnership on Homelessness. Our government understands the sector's need for certainty and we are working with the states and territories on what governments will do from 1 July next year. Minister O'Connor has called on the states to tell the Commonwealth what ongoing commitment they are prepared to make on homelessness. The National Partnership on Homelessness is a partnership, and the Gillard government expects states and territories to commit to this important area of social policy.

Senator PAYNE: Are you saying, or is the minister advising you, that the Commonwealth will not take the leadership on this until the states and territories indicate what their commitments across all their jurisdictions will be?

Senator McLucas: I think our government has shown significant leadership in the area of homelessness. But, as I have indicated, it is a partnership; and without people coming to the table in good faith to commit funds and commit effort to ensure that we do everything that we can, across all parts of our governments, to ensure that people's homelessness status is fixed but also that we do the work to prevent homelessness. What we are indicating is that we are asking the states and territories to come to the table, in good faith, and tell us what they are going to commit to removing homelessness.

Senator PAYNE: Is there any indication of poor faith on the part of the states or the territories to date?

Senator McLucas: I can't speak on that.

Senator PAYNE: Would you take that on notice please?

Senator McLucas: We are in negotiations, Senator, and you know that when you are in negotiations you do not go around bagging people; you try to encourage—

Senator PAYNE: You’re the one who just said—

Senator Fifield interjecting

Senator PAYNE: Exactly! You are the one who just said you expect them to come in good faith. I want to know whether there is a question about there being a lack of good faith.

Senator McLucas: I said we expect them to come in good faith, and I mean it.

Senator PAYNE: Well, they expect the same of the Commonwealth.

Senator McLucas: I think we have done significant work in the area of homelessness, and the lives of—

Senator PAYNE: Unfortunately, there is nothing funded forward.

CHAIR: Thank you. That ends—

Senator FIFIELD: Chair, if I may, just before you suspend for lunch: I remain hopeful and optimistic that, after lunchtime, we may have some further answers in relation to kitchens.

CHAIR: Well, your hope will have to extend to 6.30 I would have thought.

Senator FIFIELD: I know, but I hope that expectations may be exceeded!

Senator PAYNE: Hope springs eternal!

CHAIR: That ends this session on outcome 2. Thank you to the officers. Mr Pratt, we will move to outcome 3 following lunch.

Proceedings suspended from 12:48 to 13:48

CHAIR: I welcome officers from outcome 3, community capability and the vulnerable.

Senator SIEWERT: Can I start on income management. Thank you for the figures. That is a great start and it saves a whole lot of time, but I actually want some further figures if that is possible. In terms of the number of place based income management, there are 96 people. Are you able to give me a breakdown into the trial areas for that?

Ms Hefren-Webb : I think the reason that we have not broken it down across the five areas is that we will get down to numbers that we cannot reveal. They get a bit low—

Mr Lye : Lower than 20.

Ms Hefren-Webb : lower than 20 in some specific locations. So we certainly anticipate that quite soon that would not occur, but we can take on notice what we can give you.

Senator SIEWERT: If you could that would be appreciated; thank you. Can you also take on notice the reasons why they have been income managed—their vulnerability indicators—whether they are child protection, housing—

Ms Hefren-Webb : I can tell you that, of that 96, 93 are volunteers and three have been assessed as vulnerable.

Senator SIEWERT: On what basis is their vulnerability?

Ms Hefren-Webb : I do not have the detail of the specific vulnerability criteria. We do not receive from DHS the full assessment. We just are advised that they have been through the assessment process and they have been determined to be vulnerable.

Senator SIEWERT: Would I be better off asking DHS that question?

Ms Hefren-Webb : Yes.

Senator SIEWERT: I will ask them that. I will come back to some more details about the people on place based income management in minute; I just want to go through the figures first. In terms of those income managed on APY lands, are they all voluntary? I presume that they are.

Ms Hefren-Webb : Yes, at this stage, that is correct.

Senator SIEWERT: When you say 'at this stage'—

Ms Hefren-Webb : For the APY lands it only commenced on 1 October so it is only a couple of weeks old, but they are all voluntary.

Senator SIEWERT: What other process do you intend using in the APY lands?

Ms Hefren-Webb : It has the same criteria for income management as the other place based sites. A Centrelink social worker can assess someone as vulnerable under the vulnerability instrument guidelines in the APY lands. Some people might come on to income management through that path; we are also anticipating referrals from child protection in South Australia. But we have not yet reached final agreement with the South Australian government on the process in the APY lands.

Senator SIEWERT: So in other words you are going to be using the new legislation to enable states to make decisions?

Ms Hefren-Webb : No, the legislation we would be using for the APY lands at this stage would be the child protection referral power that has been in the legislation since 2007.

Senator SIEWERT: So you are just using that.

Ms Hefren-Webb : At this stage, yes, along with the vulnerability assessments that have been there since 2010.

Senator SIEWERT: That Centrelink will do?

Ms Hefren-Webb : Yes.

Senator SIEWERT: So all of the 86 at this stage are voluntary.

Ms Hefren-Webb : Correct.

Senator SIEWERT: How have you been extending the message to those areas?

Ms Hefren-Webb : You will remember that we did quite an extensive consultation process, and then the minister made an announcement on 7 September. Following that announcement DHS put out some information advising when they would be in the community and available for people who were interested to volunteer for income management. They have a visiting schedule. They have not yet been to all the communities but they have distributed fliers and put up notices, so people have made their way to come and see them to sign up.

Senator SIEWERT: Is this on the basis that they have to stay on it for three months?

Ms Hefren-Webb : Yes.

Senator SIEWERT: You have not assessed anybody under the vulnerability criteria yet.

Ms Hefren-Webb : Not yet.

Senator SIEWERT: Can I go to the income management reviews and appeals data you have given me. All the ones that you list are around income management. Is that correct?

Ms Hefren-Webb : Correct.

Senator SIEWERT: In terms of the number of people on voluntary income management, how many people have come off after the three months?

Mr Lye : Senator, do you mean in the Northern Territory?

Senator SIEWERT: I was going to break that down into Northern Territory and then Western Australia.

Ms Hefren-Webb : I do not have that information to hand.

Senator SIEWERT: Can you take it on notice?

Ms Hefren-Webb : We can take that on notice, yes.

Senator SIEWERT: In terms of the place based trials on the five trial sites, presumably you have now established what the criteria for referral are under the different vulnerability criteria. Are you able to table those criteria?

Ms Hefren-Webb : Yes. Do you want me to provide that on notice or do you want me to read this?

Senator SIEWERT: I think it is probably better, because I am aware of the time, for you to table all of the criteria you are using for the different indicators.

Ms Hefren-Webb : For child protection and for housing, the referral criteria that the departments are using?

Senator SIEWERT: Yes.

Ms Hefren-Webb : I would just comment that obviously those criteria are part of their policy framework. They have each individually been quite open about what the criteria are but we will just go back and check—

Senator SIEWERT: Each of the states, do you mean?

Ms Hefren-Webb : That is right. We will provide that for you subject to their agreement about the form of words et cetera.

Senator SIEWERT: So they are not all the same. They are all different, presumably, given that there are five. Or two will be the same.

Ms Hefren-Webb : There are four jurisdictions. They are slightly different. They are broadly similar but they all have their own systems and different points at which they thought this tool might be most useful.

Senator SIEWERT: And they have not been applied yet, anyway, have they, except child protection.

Ms Hefren-Webb : No child protection referrals have come through as yet.

Senator SIEWERT: Three had been assessed as vulnerable; I beg your pardon. I am taking to DHS what the criteria were for those three. Have any of the states or the jurisdictions come back to you saying that they wanted to use any other vulnerability indicators beyond child protection and housing?

Ms Hefren-Webb : Over the course of a year and a half of discussions and working with them, at various points some target groups or cohorts that might benefit from income management have been discussed in general terms, but I would not say that they have come forward with a formal proposal around a particular group.

Senator SIEWERT: I am looking at the new mechanisms that are available under the act. No jurisdictions have formally approach you.

Ms Hefren-Webb : No.

Mr Lye : It was more in the form of information-seeking from various states around various issues. In Tasmania I think the Ombudsman or the Commissioner for Children suggested that they examine income management as a tool. They talked to us but it went no further than that. It was a sort of information-seeking exercise.

Senator SIEWERT: The states beyond the trial sites—Tasmania is beyond the trial sites—have come to you. Is that correct?

Mr Lye : At various times a number of jurisdictions have asked questions about how it works and whether it can be applied to another target group, but I would not characterise those things as wanting to talk seriously about proposals. It has more been in the nature of information-sharing and understanding how it works.

Senator SIEWERT: Okay. In terms of the progression of the mechanism for the NT Alcohol and Other Drugs Tribunal process, has that started yet?

Ms Hefren-Webb : The process has started in the sense that we have an agreement with the tribunal and we have agreed on some processes. DHS have put in place a system for them to make referrals. My understanding is that one referral has either been made or is about to be made. So we are expecting that to start to come through in the next few weeks. It only commenced on 1 October.

Senator SIEWERT: Yes, I appreciate this. I thought it might have been held up with the change of processes and the change of government.

Ms Hefren-Webb : At this stage, no.

Senator SIEWERT: Can I ask about the longitudinal studies? Should I be asking about that here?

Ms Hefren-Webb : We have our colleagues here from research and analysis.

Senator SCULLION: Chair, I wonder, while these people are at the table if I could further explore the roll-out of the voluntary take-up in the APY lands, if I could.

CHAIR: Yes.

Senator SCULLION: Good afternoon Mr Pratt. Good afternoon, Minister. I understand that it is somewhat different in terms of the roll-out of income management than we have done before. This is not across the territory as it was before. It is now, I understand, voluntary. We are dealing with the vulnerable so the answer to my question may be a little different. I would like to know, how have you budgeted for an amount to roll-out the BasicsCard availability? Have you got an approximate number of people that you think will be in it? How have you approximated that number? Is it from the trial sites?

Ms Carroll : For each of the measures, we have worked on an approximate number of participants and then the funding is associated with those. So for the five BAFW trial sites it is looking at a kind of particular number of participants, and the same in the APY lands et cetera. So it is getting an assessment of an approximate number and then, obviously, over time, when we look at what the take-up is we will be able to continue to review that—

Senator SCULLION: Okay. What approximate number do you have for the APY lands?

Ms Hefren-Webb : Our estimate was 500 people.

Senator SCULLION: About 500 people. For 500 people what have you estimated is the cost of rolling that out?

Ms Hefren-Webb : The cost is $4.4 million over two years, and that cost has been fully absorbed by DHS and FaHCSIA.

Senator SCULLION: So that is not an additional cost; you have found savings within the organisation. I can take it to be fully absorbed.

Ms Hefren-Webb : Correct.

Senator SCULLION: Does that include the provision within a retail outlet for the physical apparatus of the thing that reads the BasicsCard and does all those sorts of things? Is that included in that?

Ms Hefren-Webb : Yes, it is included in that cost. I might just comment that I think seven of the nine community stores in the APY lands had already applied for and been approved for a BasicsCard prior to any kind of consideration of income management, just because of the mobility of people. So in that sense we are a bit ahead of the game. But there is still work to be done with those stores about whether they will take direct one-off allocations. We are installing telephones in those stores so people can check their balances. So there are some costs associated with the stores.

Senator SCULLION: I am making some comparison with the original roll-out. Some of the issues about whether you were able to get a BasicsCard was conditional on the sort of level of amenity provided by the store—the sorts of things they sold and those sorts of issues. Alcohol is not going to be one of the challenges now, but there was tobacco and other issues. Are you having the same approach in terms of whether you roll out a BasicsCard? Has it been the same as it was originally?

Ms Hefren-Webb : We have something called a merchant approval policy for the BasicsCard. There are certain criteria around selling predominantly priority goods and services, not having more than 50 per cent of your turnover comprised of excluded goods and services. So the same criteria apply nationally. The difference, I suppose, with the NT—as you would know, Senator—is that in the NT there is a stores licensing regime. That does not exist in the same form in the APY lands, so some of the original criteria around BasicsCard was that if you were subject to a licensing regime you had to have a license. That is not a consideration of—

Senator SCULLION: I guess I was alluding to the natural leverage you have. If you do not have the provision for a BasicsCard often you do not have the opportunity to have a catchment of people who wish to spend money on the BasicsCard at your store. So the natural leverage is to say, 'If you want to have the BasicsCard, you can have these things.' We do not need a licensing process to do that. But you seem to have confirmed that that is the general approach.

Ms Hefren-Webb : It is, and you might want to raise this tomorrow. There has been a substantial amount of work occurring in terms of working with the stores in the APY lands on general issues around consumer practices, the quality of their goods et cetera.

Senator SCULLION: I have one last question on the same matter. The difficulty is that I am not sure whether it is a tomorrow question or for today. I would like to ask it today. This has always been a policy question for me. I will give you an anecdotal example. There is a petrol station in Tennant Creek that I visited lately. He wanted to have a bit of chat to me because he could not get the BasicsCard because he has an area that is a 'death by fat and dialysis area'. I said, 'Well, if it is a death by fat area, mate, you cannot have that on the BasicsCard.'

But I was in Wadeye literally a couple of weeks ago, and they have a very large 'death by dialysis' area that supports their 'Basics Card Here' sign. I have a difficulty, which perhaps you will be able to take on notice and explain tomorrow. I have had this challenge over some time about how the policy works. It does not seem to quite have the nonsubjectivity. Both of them sell lots of salad and fruit and all the things we would normally expect out of a store that the Basics Card would support. In fact, I would say Tennant Creek is well in front. They have a major array of salads, and they sell all sorts of revoltingly health things. But I am still a bit miffed about how that decision is actually made. There is a significant difference, particularly somewhere like Tennant Creek, which does not have access to the Basics Card. It has a significant financial impact on that store owner, yet there is absolutely no difference in the level of amenity between his store and the store in Wadeye in terms of the provision of a range of goods. I know I am looking for an opinion, but perhaps Mr Pratt will be able to answer that tomorrow. I am happy for him to take that on notice.

Mr Lye : I think we can answer it today.

Ms Hefren-Webb : There is, as I said, a merchant approval framework that operates in terms of who is approved for the Basics Card and who is not. Obviously each individual merchant has a slightly different kind of turnover, and even how they have their EFTPOS system organised can have an impact. I do not know the specific examples you are talking about, but we would be happy to have a look. If someone is not approved, there are processes whereby they can go back and ask for a second opinion, and it can be looked at again. So I am happy to have a look.

Senator SCULLION: I am happy to provide the address of the one in Tennant Creek. No-one is questioning the fact that you have to have a Basics Card in Wadeye. But if we could have a look and perhaps even provide them with how to go about the process of appeal, I would appreciate that.

Ms Hefren-Webb : Sure.

Senator SIEWERT: I have a question about the longitudinal survey. I specifically want to talk about income management, which is why I have raised it here. I want to ask about the survey first, which I got through an order for the production of documents, and the questions on income management. Firstly, there is no separation of voluntary income management and compulsory income management. Why was that?

Dr Schneider : I am not sure if that was ever explicitly discussed in the production of the question. I could have a guess—if it was discussed. The survey is highly reliant on the assistance of the respondents. We go back to them every year, so we are quite careful not to ask them questions that they really do not want to answer or that they might find embarrassing, where we can avoid it.

Senator SIEWERT: Do you mean when they are asked to say whether they were put on it compulsorily? That is not just in the Northern Territory, because some people are on it in other states, not compulsorily, across that general suite that the NT people are subject to. Is that the point? Is it a matter of whether they are required to be on it or whether they are on it voluntarily?

Dr Schneider : I think it would be more accurate to say that it has just not really been considered.

Senator SIEWERT: The reason I am asking is that if people are on it voluntarily then it changes their opinion of income management compared with if they had been on it compulsorily. Would that therefore not affect whether they said it was a positive or a negative experience in their community? You are asking about a matter of opinion.

Dr Schneider : That is possible, but I cannot really comment on what the respondents are thinking.

Senator SIEWERT: It seems to me that it is a fundamental thing in the design of the questionnaire and of what you take out of the questionnaire in terms of whether income management has a positive or a negative effect. That seems very fundamental to me: whether people have chosen themselves to be on income management or whether they have been forced onto it.

Ms Hefren-Webb : Looking at the findings from the ORIMA study in 2010 in Western Australia, certainly the people who were on voluntarily had a higher agreement and a feeling that the policy worked. But by no means was that stark. We still had some people who were on voluntarily who said it had not actually improved things much. But close to a majority of those who were on income management compulsorily in Western Australia said it had improved their lives and the lives of their families. So I take the point that we are pulling two groups together in this small survey, but I would say the story about who is going to say they think it has improved their lives is not black and white.

Senator SIEWERT: I wonder about the value of putting the question in if you are not actually going down to that final level of detail, other than for PR around income management—and I will come to another question related to that in a minute. What is the point of putting it in if you are not actually investigating this issue properly?

Mr McBride : The study is fundamentally about looking at the children. It is not designed around income management; it is designed around looking at what is happening to Indigenous children in Indigenous communities. These questions were designed very much with children front and centre; it is more about the children's outcomes than the various questions were.

Senator SIEWERT: Again, why put the question in in the way it is worded—with the inferences that are drawn from it and what has been fed to the media—around income management?

Mr McBride : Getting back to the children: are the children of people on income management better off as a result? If the focus is the children then that seems to me to be an appropriate question.

Senator SIEWERT: It is not the question that is asked, though, around that. It is: 'Has it had a positive impact on the community?'

Mr McBride : It is: 'Do you think income management is a good or a bad thing for your family?' There are two questions.

Senator SIEWERT: Yes, there are two questions. One is: 'Is it positive or negative for your community?'

Mr McBride : Once again, if you are looking at it from the point of view of the child, you want the children to grow up in a safely functioning community. So it is arguably an appropriate question to ask if your focus is the child rather than an evaluation of income management. It gives you insight into income management but the focal point of this study is always the children, and the questions are designed from the perspective.

Senator SIEWERT: Why is Centrepay linked in with the question about income management?

Dr Schneider : We try to distinguish Centrepay from income management. I know you have seen the questionnaire. If you look at it, it actually says: 'Were you income managed?' They can answer either 'Yes, I've had income management'' or. If they answer 'Yes, I've had Centrepay' then they are actually sequenced out of the next two questions. What we found in wave 1 and 2 was that people were mixing up income management and Centrepay. So in wave 3 and 4 we have tried to remove that so it is not being mixed up.

Senator SIEWERT: I am reading the question for wave 3 and I thought it was there in the same question as income management. It is listed in the table in the wave 3 report under income management; it is listed in that same table. Sorry, I have obviously grabbed the wrong reports, but I am pretty certain it is in the same question.

Dr Schneider : It is; that is quite right. It is on page 79 of wave 3.

Senator SIEWERT: And it is on page 44 of this report to. Centrepay is there in the same table that talks about income management.

Dr Schneider : Sorry, I have left that back at my seat. Would you like me to go and get it?

Senator SIEWERT: The issue is that it is there—it is on page 44 and it is table 32. It talks about income management and Centrepay in the same table.

Dr Schneider : Are we giving separate estimates for them?

Senator SIEWERT: You give a line for income management and quarantining and then another line for Centrepay in that same table. They are two very different mechanisms.

Dr Schneider : They are indeed, yes; and that is why there are separate estimates.

Mr Pratt : Senator, perhaps I can clarify this. Are you talking about how this is reported in the summary report?

Senator SIEWERT: The point I am trying to get to is: why link Centrepay and income management when they are two very different mechanisms.

Mr Pratt : They are separate mechanisms but they are both ways of assisting people with managing their money. That is why it would appear all together in the same table.

Senator SIEWERT: With respect, Mr Pratt: with Centrepay you make your own decisions; with income management you do not.

Mr Pratt : But they are still both mechanisms which help people with managing their money.

Senator SIEWERT: The point I am getting to about the benefit of people being able to make their own decisions about their money, rather than being directed about their money. This does not deal with that.

Mr Pratt : Understood. But you are talking about what is in a report. As Ms Schneider has pointed out, there is a difference in the way in which the questionnaire now handles this—for those reasons.

Dr Schneider : That is correct. I think the main driving reason for this is that when we ask our respondents out in the field 'Are you on income management?' they sometimes report yes but they are on Centrepay. I think this is an artefact of how we have asked the question, this tabulation. What we have tried to do is distinguish Centrepay and income management because we are aware that they are very different things.

Senator SIEWERT: Centrepay is listed in the report under income management.

Dr Schneider : It says: 'Primary carer affected by income management or Centrepay'.

Senator SIEWERT: The heading on page 44 is income management.

Dr Schneider : Yes, it does appear under that section.

Senator SIEWERT: In other words, we are lumping Centrepay in with income management rather than financial management or something like that. I am asking why you do it that way.

Dr Schneider : It is a result of the way we have collected the data. It really just reflects the way that the question was structured and the fact we have collected them both at the same time, while trying to distinguish between the two, because that worked for us in an operational way.

Senator SIEWERT: I will put some more questions on notice. I have a question on the other survey that I understand is being undertaken at the moment, and that is on the child protection measure in Western Australia.

Ms Hefren-Webb : There is an evaluation.

Senator SIEWERT: Who is undertaking that?

Ms Hefren-Webb : It is being undertaken within the department, with an advisory group comprising people with particular expertise.

Senator SIEWERT: Is it possible for you take it on notice to give me a copy of the survey questions and who is being surveyed, or the evaluation and who is participating in that process?

Ms Hefren-Webb : Yes, it is possible to get a copy of the survey questions.

Senator SIEWERT: And also who is being surveyed?

Ms Hefren-Webb : The numbers and locations of people?

Senator SIEWERT: Yes, and the organisations—obviously not the individuals but the organisations. I want to go back to the release of the information from the longitudinal survey study. When the article appeared in the Australian several weeks ago about the wave 4 data, I am pretty certain that I could not find the wave 3 data; it was not on the website at the time. When did that go up on the website? In fact, I cannot find any mention of wave 4 data anywhere.

Dr Schneider : I will need to check my notes but I think the Weekend Australian article went out at the same time as the wave 3 report.

Senator SIEWERT: So why did it have wave 4 data in it?

Dr Schneider : The wave 3 data refers to 2010 and the wave 4 data refers to 2011. They are similar sets of questions, and we thought that if we provided both sets of data they might provide some validation of each other.

Senator SIEWERT: But where can the general public get a copy of the wave 4 data?

Dr Schneider : The wave 4 data is only available as a beta dataset. That means it is pre-release data and therefore it is not generally publicly available. It is usually only provided to researchers who are checking the data file for us. However, it is usual practice for us to use a beta data file to produce our publications.

Senator SIEWERT: The point is that wave 4 data is not available. I was not able to get access to the data in the claims that were being made in the Australian. I could only get access to that data when I used production of documents—and I still have not got access to the data; I have got access to your summary, which has a note in it saying 'this data has not been released'.

Dr Schneider : That is correct. We have quite strict licensing arrangements that do not prevent people from accessing the data but do require each person to sign an agreement to protect the privacy of the records in there. That is why it could not be tabled and made public.

Senator SIEWERT: Why was it released to the media but not released generally? I went straight onto the website as soon as I saw that article, because obviously I am interested in having a look at it. That information was not available publicly for checking to make any analysis of—and it still is not.

Dr Schneider : No, but it is not unconventional for data bases to be unavailable.

Senator SIEWERT: Nor any summary of it. Is it conventional to release data selectively and not make it available for anyone else to have a look at?

Mr Pratt : I do not think we actually know the circumstances of this data being used by the Weekend Australian. Can I suggest that we take that on notice and find out?

Senator SIEWERT: Yes, you can take it on notice and look at what was available and make it available to the committee. I will put the rest of my questions on notice.

Senator CASH: I have some follow-up questions on income management. I just want to ensure that I have written this down correctly: 'Income management is going to be introduced into the APY lands.' It was introduced on 1 October 2012?

Ms Hefren-Webb : Yes.

Senator CASH: It is voluntary?

Ms Hefren-Webb : There are three ways in which a person might become part of income management in the APY lands: people can volunteer, people can be assessed by a Centrelink worker as being vulnerable and being able to benefit from income management, in which case it is compulsory for them to participate; and people can be referred by the South Australian child protection authority.

Senator CASH: The information we have been given is that it is all voluntary. But it is not?

Ms Hefren-Webb : No.

Ms Carroll : I think the current numbers that Ms Hefren-Webb talked about earlier are all voluntary at this time but, over time, there will be people referred from those other two mechanisms.

Senator CASH: Are they currently able to be referred?

Ms Hefren-Webb : The Centrelink social work assessments are able to occur, and there are some commencing. We are still agreeing arrangements with the South Australian child protection authorities for the referrals.

Senator CASH: Okay. My understanding was that it is voluntary. It just so happens that the participants are currently in voluntarily but there is an assessment process that is able to refer people onto it. In relation to those people referred by state child protection authorities or by Centrelink social workers, when do you anticipate that that will be finalised?

Ms Hefren-Webb : We have got a meeting on 2 November with South Australian officials to work through the detail of the referral model. I am hopeful that we would have a final model agreed within a few weeks of that.

Senator CASH: Is there a reason for the delay in this occurring?

Ms Carroll : We are working with the state and territory governments. The same thing happened when income management was introduced in Western Australia and with each of the Building Australia's Future Workforce trial sites. We need to work with the state and territory governments' child protection legislation and they need to work out the best way that the referrals will occur and also the best circumstances. Our experience in Western Australia was that there is a slow process as the child protection staff in state and territory governments get used to what would be the best circumstances to use income management in a child protection case. So the numbers grow over time.

Senator CASH: Have there been any issues raised in relation to the referral process?

Mr Lye : By whom?

Senator CASH: Have issues been raised with you generically?

Ms Hefren-Webb : When we undertook the consultations in the APY lands, certain people raised questions about how it would work. But, in the sense of a problem, nothing has been raised.

Senator CASH: What is the total funding that has been allocated to the Income Management Program in the APY lands over the forward estimates? Can you provide a breakdown of this expenditure by program?

Ms Hefren-Webb : All the funding sits within outcome 3.1. The total cost is $4.4 million. That includes the FaHCSIA costs and the DHS costs.

Senator CASH: And that is what you were talking about before for the APY lands?

Ms Hefren-Webb : Yes.

Senator CASH: And that is over two years?

Ms Hefren-Webb : Yes.

Senator CASH: Is there any way you can break that down even further?

Ms Hefren-Webb : I can provide that to you on notice. I can certainly break down the FaHCSIA costs into communications and voluntary income management incentive payments. It would be up to DHS whether they can provide you with a breakdown of their costs.

Senator CASH: You can take that on notice. In terms of the referral process, were any issues raised by the states or by the workers themselves?

Ms Hefren-Webb : We have not had discussions directly with the child protection workers in the APY lands as yet. We have been working with the officials in Adelaide at the policy level. Once we get into training those child protection workers—and I think a lot of them are based in Coober Pedy—they will raise issues. It is fairly normal when we are training child protection workers about this; it is new to them. They raise issues like, 'How does that work?' and 'What happens if …?' That is a fairly normal part of it. That is why we go through a fairly deliberative process of training and brainstorming it out with them so they can familiarise themselves with the legislation under which it will occur.

Senator CASH: And have the states raised any issues in relation to referrals?

Mr Lye : We have been through this process recently with the South Australian government to agree on an MOU in relation to the Playford site. We have got to a point where we have got agreement with the South Australian government. So we are not anticipating any problems with the APY process.

Senator CASH: In terms of the five trial sites, what is the total cost of administering income management to date and are you able to provide a breakdown of this expenditure by subprogram and program components?

Ms Hefren-Webb : The total cost over five years, including DHS and FaHCSIA, is $117.5 million. That includes the costs of financial management services. I can provide you with a breakdown of the FaHCSIA costs. In 2011-12 there was $548,633 for FaHCSIA for place based income management. Of that amount, $463,459 was for evaluation and $85,173 was for communications.

Senator CASH: And that is just the FaHCSIA component?

Ms Hefren-Webb : That is right; and then there would be a much larger DHS servicing component.

Senator CASH: I have just received the income management summary that you were kind enough to provide. Can I find out how many people are being managed at each trial site?

Ms Hefren-Webb : We were talking about that earlier with Senator Siewert. At some of the sites the number is below 20. We do not generally release location details where the client number is below 20 because we would be at risk of identifying people. But I anticipate that, within a month, the numbers will be high enough for us to provide the committee with a split between the five trial sites.

Senator CASH: You are probably aware of an article published in the Australian on 18 September 2012 that stated only 71 people in total are participating in income management at the trial sites in Shepparton, Logan, Bankstown, Playford and Rockhampton. Based on this information, that would appear to be incorrect. Are there 96 people?

Ms Hefren-Webb : As Ms Carroll said, the numbers build over time. The program commenced on 1 July. The experience every time we implement income management is that we have a slow build-up in numbers. That figure of 71 may well have been correct at that date, but this data we have provided you is as at 7 September.

Senator CASH: The article in the Australian by Patricia Karvelas was on 18 September.

Ms Hefren-Webb : She might have been quoting older data there, I think.

Senator CASH: What would you say the figure of people participating in income management at the five trial sites is today?

Ms Hefren-Webb : As at 5 October it is 96.

Ms Carroll : As we have just been explaining, this is as we would have expected and it mirrors what happens in Western Australia—that is, as people become aware of it, the people who want to go on voluntarily will go on voluntarily, and then the child protection triggers or the vulnerable triggers take longer and they progress over time.

Senator CASH: Are you able to provide information on how many people in the trial sites have taken up the income management schemes voluntarily? I am assuming you will not be able to tell us how many have been referred by state child protection agencies because that has not yet occurred.

Ms Hefren-Webb : We can give you the breakdown for the whole 96 but we would not give it to you by trial site at this stage for the same reason that I mentioned earlier—that it might identify them.

Senator CASH: Can you tell us how many of those 96 have been placed on income management as a result of a Centrelink assessment?

Ms Hefren-Webb : As at 5 October the number was three.

Senator CASH: How much does it cost on average to income manage a person in the trial sites and how does this compare to the cost of income managing a person under the NT scheme?

Ms Hefren-Webb : It is quite difficult to separate out a cost per head.

Senator CASH: Why is that?

Ms Hefren-Webb : Because there are quite a lot of centralised costs for income management. For example, the cost of having a 24-hour hotline for the Basics Card is held at a national level by DHS. They service more and more customers but there is a certain sunk costs in having that facility up and running. So it is a mix of transactional, or per head, costs and set costs. So, even if we had three people on in a site, we still have a certain amount of investment in the infrastructure that we have to put in.

Senator CASH: Are you able to say whether it costs more to administer income management in a trial site than it does in the NT, or vice versa?

Ms Hefren-Webb : I would be a bit uncomfortable with that, just because a lot of the infrastructure was built for the NT and subsequent sites have used the infrastructure that was built up for the NT. Obviously there are some costs in the NT around remote servicing that are unique to that environment, but I am not sure that it would be accurate to make that comparison.

Senator CASH: I might put some further questions on notice to see what sort of data we can distil from what you are saying. With respect to program 3.3, what is the breakdown of the subprograms and their respective administered and departmental costs?

Ms Hefren-Webb : Are you talking about 3.1.

Senator CASH: I am talking about 3.3. Are we in income support for vulnerable people?

Mr Lye : We have just given you 3.1, because it is where we are located.

Ms Hefren-Webb : Outcome 3.1 includes income management, financial management services and problem gambling. So it has a number of elements to it.

Ms Carroll : Income support for vulnerable people would be an income support payment.

Senator CASH: So we are in 3.1 at the moment.

Ms Carroll : Yes, we are in 3.1.

Senator CASH: That is okay because I had that question for 3.1 as well. What is the breakdown of subprograms in the respective administrative and departmental costs over the forward estimates?

Ms Carroll : As Ms Hefren-Webb said, there is a range of programs that sit across a range of areas within the department. It is probably quickest for us to provide that summary for you on notice.

Senator CASH: Thank you. I have questions on the Community Development Financial Institution pilot and on the emergency relief component. What is the total amount allocated to the pilot over the forward estimates in the 2012-13 budget?

Ms Winkler : There is currently no funding committed yet in the 2012-13 year in relation to the CDFI pilot.

Senator CASH: How does that work then?

Ms Winkler : Initially, up-front funding was provided for the CDFI pilot.

Senator CASH: How much was that and when was that provided?

Ms Carroll : That funding went from March 2011 to June 2012. I think it was around $2.8 million.

Mr Innis : The seed funding was $6.03 million and over the period Ms Carroll mentioned the CDFIs loaned a total of $2.827 million to 1,175 financially excluded individuals.

Senator CASH: What is the status of the CDFI pilot?

Ms Winkler : The funding agreement arrangements were in place until the end of June 2012. In relation to at least one of pilot organisations, one of the banks has provided some additional capital funding to that organisation to continue loans. The government is currently considering future funding options in relation to this.

Senator CASH: In relation to an amount allocated in the 2012-13 budget, there is nothing. In terms of how much of this funding has been expended, there cannot have been any. Are able to provide details of which organisations and initiatives received funding under this program component?

Ms Winkler : Community Sector Banking got $2.17 million; Foresters Community Finance got $2.04 million; Many Rivers Microfinance, not to be confused with another Many Rivers organisation for housing, got $0.986 million; the Fair Loans Foundation got $0.53 million; and the Community Credit Foundation, which was Fitzroy and Carlton Community Credit Co-operative, got $0.3 million.

Senator CASH: What is the status of the program? Is it literally in the air at the moment in terms of future funding?

Mr Innis : The program was announced as a one-off pilot. An evaluation has been conducted of the pilot and that evaluation is being considered by government.

Senator CASH: So at this stage you cannot discuss the outcomes of the evaluation. How many people did you say participated in the pilot?

Mr Innis : There were 1,175 loans.

Senator CASH: What were the outcomes or KPIs by which the efficacy of the pilot was measured?

Ms Winkler : Targets were set for each of the organisations. That related to numbers of personal loans, the number of micro-enterprise loans and, in some instances, new businesses established. The criteria did not apply across all. For two of the organisations it just related to personal loans, for two of the organisations there were micro-enterprise loans, and one of the organisations had new businesses established as part of that process.

Mr Innis : The providers also gave other services to some people—financial literacy services et cetera and money mentoring services. So, whilst the CDFI institutions are primarily about a lending model, they connected to other services as well.

Senator CASH: Were any of the grants issued under the pilot frozen?

Ms Winkler : I would not say that the grants were frozen. There were five initial organisations and four of them successfully were able to operate.

Senator CASH: What happened to the fifth one?

Ms Winkler : The fifth organisation, which was the Community Credit Foundation, had difficulties in terms of the set-up arrangements to be able to loan. They had difficulty in getting their deductible-gift-recipient status. They had problems with capital adequacy and some other internal issues.

Senator CASH: How much money had they been initially allocated?

Ms Carroll : Can I just come back to the initial part of that question, which was about the grants being frozen. As I think has already been indicated, for this financial year, which is the financial year in which, as I described before, about 10 per cent of the funding across the whole department has been impacted by the grants pause. As has been indicated there have been no decisions about funding in this area, so none of them have been impacted. What Ms Winkler is talking about is the previous year.

Senator CASH: Thank you for that clarification. In relation to the Community Credit Foundation, how much initial funding had they received?

Ms Winkler : They got the least amount, the $0.3 million.

Senator CASH: And what happens to the funding? Is it literally just not accessed?

Ms Winkler : The funding they had was seed funding. So they would have expended that funding trying to set themselves up to be able to deliver, like the other organisations. Only two organisations were able to provide loans immediately. So, consistent with like evidence from overseas in relation to these types of organisations, it often takes quite a lot of set-up for them to be viable to provide the—

Mr Innis : What the pilot is designed to test was the ability for organisations to set up as CDFIs in Australia, because it is not something that is done here. We had two organisations that were ready to go from day one—

Senator CASH: And were they the ones that received the bulk of the funding—the $2.17 million and the $2.04 million?

Mr Innis : I think that is correct, but Ms Winkler will say otherwise if not. We had three organisations that were effectively starting as completely new businesses. One of those organisations did not get everything they needed in place to make it part of their business. As a pilot, you sort of expect some of that.

Senator CASH: What happens to the $0.3 million—or $300,000—they were given?

Ms Winkler : When we enter into a funding arrangement with an organisation there are obviously acquittal requirements at the end of the funding agreement period. I do not have the details in relation to the acquittal for that particular organisation, but that is a standard process that occurs with all of our funding.

Senator CASH: I just want to work out whether or not the taxpayer got any benefit for the $300,000, or has it literally just evaporated into thin air because they expended the seed capital and were unable to get up and running, and that is the end of the story?

Ms Winkler : In terms of the learnings that government got—

Senator CASH: They were worth $300,000!—

Ms Winkler : in relation to this process and what it takes for the set-up of new organisations in this space—because this is a new arrangement in the Australian context—then in terms of what might happen into the future we would take those learnings to try to avoid that happening—

Senator CASH: It is unfortunate that it is an expensive learning process. But what I am hearing from you is that the $300,000 is gone?

Mr Innis : We might take it on notice. Ms Winkler mentioned that she did not have details of what acquittals had taken place. If we take that on notice—

Senator CASH: Could we have all of those acquittals if it is at all possible, but, obviously, particularly in relation to the one that—

Ms Winkler : We actually may not have all of the acquittals yet, because the funding activity period ceased at the end of June and sometimes we do not get that information until the end of October.

Mr Innis : Can I suggest that we take on notice what has happened with that funding and provide you with that information?

Senator CASH: Thank you.

Ms Winkler : And for the record you raised the issue of the two organisations that got the most funding.

Senator CASH: Yes, the $2.17 million and the $2.04 million.

Ms Winkler : Many Rivers Microfinance and the Fair Loans Foundation were the ones that were able to commence operations immediately.

Senator CASH: My understanding is that the program had an emergency relief component?

Ms Winkler : I am not aware that the pilot had an emergency relief—the funding comes under the same umbrella as the financial management program, and there is emergency relief through that—

Senator CASH: That must be a separate program component then? Has that been affected by the 10 per cent grants—or is there an amount allocated in the 2012-13 budget for that?

Ms Carroll : In relation to the emergency relief, any existing funding agreements that were in place would not have been affected. That money has continued to be paid. I would have to take on notice if there is anything. But I do not believe there is. But I can confirm that there is no other emergency relief money that has been impacted by that pause.

Senator CASH: Would I be able to find an allocation in the budget papers for the emergency relief program component?

Ms Winkler : Not in the budget papers, specifically, because it is a component of the overall financial management appropriation. But I can give you the figures for the emergency relief component for 2012-13, which is $58.559 million.

Senator CASH: How much of that has been expended to date?

Ms Winkler : In terms of expenditure to date, the funding has been committed—

Senator CASH: So it has been committed but it has not actually been allocated. Is this one of the 10 per cent?

Ms Winkler : No. It is in funding agreements. We make three payments per year to emergency relief providers. We have actually just made an early payment to emergency relief providers. Normally it is in November. We brought it forward so that it would not be impacted by the work we are currently doing on the SACS supplementation.

Ms Carroll : That is really just an administrative process. Internally we just needed to sequence our work to make sure we did not miss any November payments, because we are doing the SACS payments in November.

Senator CASH: What was the amount of the payment that was brought forward, and to whom did the payment go?

Ms Winkler : I do not have the detail of that. They would be a range of individual payments. We have about 700 organisations, I think, receiving funding for emergency relief. They are of significant variability, but it would be approximately one-third of the overall—

Senator CASH: Can I just go back, Ms Carroll, to the reasons you had to bring forward the payment. You said that it was an administrative issue to do with what is going to be occurring in November with the SACS payment. Is that because so much is going to be occurring in November that you are having to bring forward payments so that they are not—

Ms Carroll : As we talked about earlier, with the SACS we have about 2,500 funding agreements that we have to process in November and get out to service providers, and back. So, if we had payments due during that period, to actually balance the workload in the department—and with out IT system and all of those things—and make sure we did not miss any payments. For some of them that had a payment due in this period we have had to bring it forward by a short period, but it is just about our administrative workload, to make sure we do not miss any of those milestones.

Senator CASH: The programs I will be asking about in my remaining questions on 3.1 cover emergency relief, the Commonwealth Financial Counselling program, the Money Management Information and Education program, the Home Energy Saver Scheme program and the Matched Savings Scheme program. The questions will be similar in relation to each of those programs.

In regard to the emergency relief program I understand that you said that approximately 700 organisations receive funding under the program component?

Ms Winkler : Yes.

Senator CASH: How many people are currently receiving assistance under the program?

Ms Winkler : I cannot comment for this financial year because we do not have that data yet. But the figures for last financial year are in the annual report.

Senator CASH: So they are under emergency relief in the annual report?

Ms Winkler : Yes, there is a reference—

Mr Innis : On page 69 of our annual report there is a table that has a range of performance measures in it. In the first part of that table there is a reference to emergency relief, where we estimated there would be 1,045,000 people supported, and the actual number was 1,070,205 people.

Senator CASH: And that is the emergency relief component?

Mr Innis : Yes. That is the percentage of clients who had their immediate needs met.

Senator CASH: On notice, in the interests of time, could you provide the committee with what the outcomes or KPIs were in terms of the efficacy of this program component, and how it was measured?

Mr Innis : Yes.

Senator CASH: Have any of the grants issued under this program component been frozen?

Mr Innis : No. We have ongoing contracts with the service providers and—

Ms Winkler : We do have some selection processes, because from time to time there are organisations that have opted out of delivering emergency relief. I am aware of a couple of processes that are underway at this stage, but they have not yet gone to the minister for approval.

Senator CASH: How many are involved there?

Ms Winkler : In recent times 12 locations have been identified where an ER provider has opted out or where their legal arrangements may have changed. A couple of those processes have been finalised and funding agreements have been offered. There were three in New South Wales, three in Victoria, one in South Australia and five in Queensland.

Senator CASH: Turning to Commonwealth Financial Counselling, and with respect to that program component: what is the total amount allocated in the 2012-13 budget over the forward estimates?

Mr Innis : It is $19.794 million.

Senator CASH: How much of that funding has been expended to date?

Ms Winkler : We make two payment instalments to Commonwealth Financial Counselling organisations: a 70 per cent payment in July—

Senator CASH: Seventy per cent of the $19.794 million?

Ms Winkler : Seventy per cent of each individual organisation's allocation, and then a further 30 per cent payment in March.

Senator CASH: Of 2013?

Ms Winkler : Yes.

Senator CASH: In terms of the 70 per cent, can you actually allocate a figure to that?

Ms Winkler : Not off the top of my head at this point.

Senator CASH: Could you take that on notice. Are you able to provide details of which organisations and initiatives received funding under this program?

Ms Winkler : We would be able to provide you with a list of organisations; that would be the most expedient way.

Senator CASH: That would be easier? Thank you. How many people are currently receiving assistance under this program component?

Ms Winkler : If you refer to the same page in the annual report, it indicates the number of people assisted in the 2011-12 financial year.

Senator CASH: So the estimate was 84 per cent and the actual was 87 per cent—36,206?

Mr Innis : That is correct, and it is the percentage and number of clients with increased money management knowledge and skills as a result of their contact with the program, which is 87 per cent of the total number who engaged with it.

Senator CASH: Could you take on notice to provide the committee the outcomes or KPIs by which the efficacy of the program was actually measured. Have any of the grants issued under this program component been frozen?

Ms Winkler : No.

Senator CASH: On money management information and education: what is the total amount allocated in the 2012-13 budget to this program component over the forward estimates? And how much has been expended to date?

Ms Winkler : For money management we have, in this financial year, $19.928 million. As to money management services, there are probably three different ways that we are making payments in that space currently, which we are looking to review. Some organisations, in a similar way to Commonwealth Financial Counselling, will have had a 70 per cent—

Senator CASH: Payment made?

Ms Winkler : payment. There is at least one organisation that gets a 50 per cent payment, and in a couple of other circumstances there are some quarterly payments.

Senator CASH: And why the difference in payment structure?

Mr Innis : It is likely to be just a matter of history—how long we have had relationships and the different contracting arrangements at the time.

Senator CASH: You said, Ms Winkler, there are three types of payment structures under this particular payment, and I think you then said, 'which we are looking to review'.

Ms Carroll : I can probably go into that a little bit. This came up earlier in looking at how we simplify our risk management and our engagement with our service providers. We are looking at how we can standardise a range of those things across the department so that service providers that might get funding across multiple programs do not have the problem that in one program they might get payments in July and March and in another in July and January and in another in some other way. We are looking at what would be the best standardisation of that and how to simplify that.

Senator CASH: And this is across all programs, not in relation to a particular program?

Ms Carroll : No. It is to simplify it for our service providers generally, with the department.

Senator CASH: Ms Winkler, can I get you to take on notice a dollar figure in relation to how much of that $19.928 million has actually been spent to date in this financial year? Are you able to provide details of which organisations and initiatives received funding under the program?

Ms Winkler : Yes, we can provide that. The other thing I would say is that the information is available on our website. The current funding arrangements for these organisations are generally through until the end of 2013-14. So they will be listed on our website.

Senator CASH: How many people are currently receiving assistance under this program?

Ms Winkler : From the figures that are in the annual report, you will see that the percentage and number of clients with increased money management knowledge and skills are 80 per cent—

Senator CASH: That is for both of them, but there is a different figure against the 80 per cent.

Ms Winkler : Yes. The estimate is what the department projected may be the outcome. The number is slightly higher than what was estimated, but it is still 80 per cent of the population that was serviced.

Senator CASH: Could I also get you to take on notice to provide the committee with the KPIs et cetera for measuring the efficacy of the program?

Ms Winkler : Yes.

Senator CASH: Have any of the grants issued under this program component been frozen?

Ms Winkler : No.

Senator CASH: What is the total amount allocated in the 2012-13 budget to the Home Energy Saver Scheme? How much funding has been allocated to date? And could I ask the same questions for the Matched Savings Scheme? I will put the rest of my questions on notice.

Ms Winkler : The budget allocation for 2012-13 for HESS is $8.118 million. I would have to take on notice how much has been expended to date.

Senator CASH: And the Matched Savings Scheme?

Ms Winkler : That is part of our microfinance bucket, so I would need to—

Mr Innis : Ms Hefren-Webb probably has more accurate data. It is a component of a bigger fund.

Ms Hefren-Webb : The funding for the NT Matched Savings Scheme is $300,000. In Western Australia it is $16,202. In the place based trial sites it is $12,000.

CHAIR: Who has questions on 3.1?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: I do. It's gambling—or nongambling.

CHAIR: No, it is everything but gambling, because gambling has been quarantined—and they are my words.

Senator FURNER: I have questions on 3.1. No doubt you would be aware of the decision by the Queensland government to cease some contracts with respect to the continuance of the emergency relief. What impact will that have on the Commonwealth emergency relief contracts for Queensland?

Ms Winkler : Our Queensland state office has been following up with the Queensland state government in relation to their decision to withdraw funding in this space. The large majority of organisations that receive emergency relief funding in Queensland also receive emergency relief funding from the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is the larger contributor to emergency relief, so the Queensland government component in total is about $1.67 million per year, which is less than 10 per cent of the funding that the Commonwealth currently provides.

Senator FURNER: But what will that mean for our capacity to further assist Queensland in that respect? Is it going to be the case that extra pressure is going to be put on the Commonwealth to assist in the funding in emergency relief?

Ms Winkler : There will be fewer organisations with funding available to provide to individuals at the same level of funding as is on the table for Queensland organisations.

Senator FURNER: So, less funding for those organisations?

Ms Winkler : Some are not funded by us.

Senator FURNER: I understand that. That equals fewer jobs of course?

Mr Innis : I suspect, from our talking about the specific impacts of the Queensland component of that decision, in terms of our program it means that it is going to have to work a bit harder to support the community.

CHAIR: Senator Cash, you have six minutes for 2, 3 and 4.

Senator CASH: Oh—for 2, 3 and 4?

CHAIR: Yes.

Senator CASH: Could I just quickly go to the Special Benefit payment then, in 3.3. How many people received this payment in 2010-11 and 2011-12? And are you able to provide a breakdown by adjusted taxable income where possible and say whether these were short- or long-term recipients?

Ms Essex : We would certainly have to take a breakdown by ATI on notice, and I am not sure that we could get you that level of detail but we will do our best to do so. Ms Corver will have the numbers for you for those years.

Senator CASH: I will also be looking at, just while you are flicking through your papers, how many of these recipients received the maximum rate of payment, how many persons in receipt of this payment are holders of a temporary visa, and how many persons in receipt of this payment are newly arrived migrants.

Ms Corver : At the end of June 2012, there were 5,828 recipients of Special Benefit.

Senator CASH: Do you have a comparison with the 2010-11 financial year?

Ms Corver : In 2010-11 there were 6,385—that is at the end of June 2011.

Senator CASH: In terms of the breakdown by ATI, I appreciate that you will take that on notice and see what you can do. Are you able to say whether they were short- or long-term recipients?

Ms Corver : I would have to take that on notice.

Senator CASH: How many of these recipients received the maximum rate of payment?

Ms Corver : One thousand, three hundred and sixty-nine recipients received the maximum rate of payment at the end of June 2012.

Senator CASH: Do you have a comparison with the previous year?

Ms Corver : I do not. I would have to take that on notice.

Senator CASH: How many persons in receipt of this payment are holders of a temporary visa?

Ms Corver : I may have that in a different spot, if you will bear with me.

Senator CASH: Also how many persons in receipt of this payment are newly arrived migrants?

Ms Essex : I think it might be more convenient for us to take that on notice if that is all right with you.

Senator CASH: That is fine. Do you have information—and if you do not have it to hand immediately I am happy for you to take it on notice—on how many people who received this payment were taking a temporary absence of between six and 13 weeks from Australia?

Ms Essex : We will take that on notice.

Senator CASH: There is a substantial increase in the appropriation for this payment over the forward estimates from 89,804,000 in 2013-14 to 102,434,000 in 2015-16. What are the factors that account for or contribute to the projected increase? It is page 72 of the FaHCSIA PBS 2012-13.

Ms Corver : I think that is partly to do with the introduction of the new supplementary allowance which comes in from March 2013.

Senator CASH: And that is to the value of—what? About $13 million?

Ms Corver : No. I believe estimated expenditure is $477,000 for 2014-15—

Senator CASH: Could you take on notice, in terms of the increase from 2013-14 to 2015-16, the factors that account for that increase over the forward estimates?

Ms Corver : Yes.

Senator CASH: Can I turn to the bereavement allowance. How many people received this payment in 2010-11 and 2011-12? Again, could you take on notice to provide a breakdown by ATI where possible?

Ms Stawyskyj : I do not think I have the previous year's figures for bereavement allowance.

Ms Corver : For 2011-12, then.

Mr Pratt : On page 74 of our annual report it says there were 919 recipients.

Senator CASH: Okay, and you will take on notice to break it down.

[15:16]

CHAIR: We will now go to gambling.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Can I go to the offer to the ClubsACT. On 22 January Minister Macklin put out the press release in relation to the offer to the clubs. Was that decision made by the minister?

Ms Carroll : In terms of the government decision about the ACT trial?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Yes.

Ms Carroll : It was a decision of the government.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Did the department provide advice to the government before then?

Ms Carroll : Yes.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Did that advice include advice about conflict of interest?

Ms Carroll : I think we have talked before in this estimates committee—

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: We have. You are probably aware I have been in receipt of documents under FOI. The documents that the minister had were released to me under FOI, and documents have been released to me from the department. I am just asking if you have provided that advice. The answer is yes?

Ms Carroll : Yes.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Bearing in mind that the minister had put out a press release that outlined explicitly the terms of the offer, including, predominantly, the financial arrangements associated with that offer, on 27 January, in a flurry of activity, the Problem Gambling Taskforce sought urgent advice from Oakton Consulting. Whose decision was it to seek that urgent advice? Was that the department's decision or a decision on instruction from the minister's office?

Ms Carroll : We worked with the minister and the minister's office about ensuring that we had appropriate advice, and we then went out and sought that advice. I could not tell you the exact sequence, but certainly we worked with the minister and then went and sought the advice.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: You say you worked with the minister's office—can you tell me what that means?

Ms Carroll : There were discussions with the minister and the minister's office about the trial in the ACT and what that might mean. After that process we went out and sought the advice.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Verbal and written?

Ms Carroll : I am not sure I have that information. I will just check.

Mr Pratt : We are getting very close to getting into the nature and content of our policy advice to ministers.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: I will be very clear. I sought documents from the minister's office. You are now telling me that there was communication between the department and myself which was not provided to me under FOI, which makes me think there are more documents available which ought to have been provided to me and which have not been provided to me. That is why I am asking the question, so I think I am legitimately entitled to ask the question about whether there were verbal and written communications between the minister's office and the department in relation to this matter.

CHAIR: Senator, you can ask the question—

Mr Pratt : I am happy to attempt to assist with those questions but we do need to be careful that we do not get into what was advised to the minister's—

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: I did not ask what was advised.

Mr Pratt : Certainly.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: I am just asking, Mr Pratt, were there communications—

Mr Pratt : In relation to the FOI, we would certainly have released everything that we could under FOI.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: There were two FOI requests. One was to the minister and one was to the department. My concern is that all the documents may not have been released to me from the minister. That is why I am asking these questions. Ms Carroll has now provided me with certain answers which lead me to that conclusion.

Mr Pratt : I suspect that Ms Carroll has not done that.

CHAIR: Senator, we will just go forward with your question. Listen to the answer.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Thank you, Ms Carroll.

Ms Carroll : As I said, there was verbal communication. I would have to take on notice if there was any other form of communication. I cannot confirm—I do not have anything in front of me that would say yes or no to that, and I do not have a specific recollection of that.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: So that communication was before 22 January and after 22 January.

Ms Carroll : Certainly, when we went to Oakton we were clear about trying to think about the issue of a potential or perceived conflict of interest, and in going to Oakton it was to get that advice from them about what would be the best way to address that perceived or potential conflict of interest.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Can I be very clear: the instruction to go to Oakton was generated from within the department of its own initiative, or on instruction from the minister's office?

Ms Carroll : The department went to Oakton. As I said, I would have to take on notice, any further instruction.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: At the time that you had the discussions, were you privy to, or were you aware that there had been, requests to the minister's office from Mr Lion from the Daily Telegraph, specifically in relation to conflict of interest issues?

Ms Carroll : I am not aware of that, but I can that on notice.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: You are not aware. Can you just tell me—

Ms Carroll : I do not have a recollection of that but I can take that specific question on notice.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Is Ryan Batchelor an officer of the department?

Ms Carroll : No. At that point he worked for the minister.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Abbie Clark?

Ms Carroll : For the minister.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Keely Bell?

Ms Carroll : For the minister.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Gerard Richardson?

Ms Carroll : For the minister.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Were you aware also that there had been a request made from Mr Joe Kelly, from the Australian on 24 January?

Ms Carroll : The same answer: I do not have an awareness of it. I can take that on notice.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: In relation to the minister's office, could you confirm to me precisely if the request did come from the minister's office to seek advice and when precisely that request was made, please.

CHAIR: So there are two questions: if the advice came from the minister; and, if it did, when?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Yes. The official order for the services from Oakton, which was released to me under FOI, requested Oakton to provide professional, fully defensible advice on what measures can be implemented to ensure integrity and transparency in the process of providing funding to clubs participating in the trial. I understand, from the documents that have been given to me, that late on 1 February Oakton provided draft advice—1½ pages. The next morning Oakton was provided with further documents, and that afternoon Oakton provided a three-page advice.

You are refusing to release this document under freedom of information, asserting that it is part of a deliberative process. My question to you is: how can advice which was requested and prepared after the government had already made the decision, and had already released its decision on 22 January, in any way be part of a deliberative process?

Mr Lye : I think that it goes to the preparation for trial, which is still occurring.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Sorry?

Mr Lye : In terms of deliberative process, the work is ongoing in terms of the preparation for the trial.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Are you saying to me that it had nothing to do with conflict of interest issues?

Ms Carroll : In terms of the ACT trial, while there was an announcement about a desire to do the trial and an intent to work with the clubs within the ACT and with the ACT government, there is no final signing-up agreement around the trial. So we have been working closely with both the ACT government and clubs in the ACT about that trial over a range of time. But the final details of that trial—what it would look like, how we would think about conflict of interest in terms of going forward with that trial—is all still in motion and in progress. That is the notion of the deliberative advice.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Ms Carroll, you did not even think about conflict of interest until it appears to have been raised. Certainly, all of the material I have in front of me leads to no other conclusion, other than that conflict of interest only became an issue because some journalist started to ask questions of the minister such as, 'How can you explain money given to the Canberra Labor Club is not a conflict of interest and could not be used for donations to the ALP at all?' That is how the whole thing arose. And you are telling me now that it is to do with how the trial rolls out.

The documents appear to say that it is about conflict of interest and then at estimates last time you told me about looking at things like representatives of clubs to sign a statutory declaration and the possibility of setting up separate bank accounts, and that, 'a series of recommendations in that report'—blah, blah, blah—'how to implement part of the trial.' What is so secret about that? Ms Carroll I just do not understand why you cannot release this document to me. It is now nine months ago.

Ms Carroll : All I can say is that because we are still in ongoing negotiations with the clubs in the ACT and with the ACT government, and those components will form part of that end result then—

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Ms Carroll, can you specify to me what components of that document are such that could not be released in the public arena. Goodness me, the document is not even a page of redaction. So it cannot be all that much advice.

Mr Lye : For the question you are asking around FOI—I am not deflecting—our legal officers would be in a much better position to provide you with some—

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Your legal officers have not been very assisting, if I can put it that way. I have been at this matter, seeking documents under freedom of information, since February this year. I find it appalling that it is a document—you tried to play it down at estimates on 16 February—which supposedly contained what appears to be fairly routine matters and I have not only asked for it under FOI; I had a ruling under FOI and I have asked for a review under FOI. There is something in this letter that you seem to be very keen to keep out of the public arena. So much for transparency!

Mr Pratt : I can see how you might come to that conclusion, but it is not actually the case. In terms of FOI, if something is still being worked through with the government we will not release it until that deliberative process is over.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: But you told me that you would not release because of a deliberative process. I remind you that it says, 'taking in the course of deliberative processes of the department or a minister'. Now, the minister made her decision, and that decision contained quite substantial financial considerations.

Mr Pratt : As Ms Carroll has pointed out—

CHAIR: Mr Pratt, before you go ahead—just so this is not going to happen again—Senator, when Mr Pratt is answering, his answer has to be complete before you ask another question.

Mr Pratt : I will try to be a bit more concise. Ms Carroll has addressed that issue, as has Mr Lye: we have not yet completed arrangements for the ACT trials. So it is still in deliberation. That document is part of the things we are thinking about and providing advice to government on. Until that time is over, we will not be in a position to release that document. There is another matter I think we should address. I cannot give you precise dates, and I undertake to look at this on notice. You have postulated that the reason for our considering conflict-of-interest issues was a result of a news article. That is not the case.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: I did not say 'news article'; I said 'inquiry by a journalist'. I have a document here that shows that there was a trail of emails from the minister's office on Sunday 22 January talking about the offer for the clubs, saying, 'We agreed we would release this publicly' and that while they could not get hold of a certain staff member they 'think she gave it to Sunday journos yesterday'. It talked about various things, and then it sets out the parameters of those. That was on 22 January. Then, on 23 January, you get an inquiry from Mr Patrick Lion from the Daily Telegraph. And then there appears to be a comment, 'What do you reckon we should say on donations?'—that is very profound, isn't it! Obviously something is cleared for Mr Lion. Then there is something that is all black and redacted. Then on 24 January we have another request, by Mr Joe Kelly from the Australian, in relation to the same issue—the risk that any money going to ACT Labor clubs could be recycled back to the Labor Party in the form of donations. And basically the minister's office simply says, 'The offer made clear that no club could use trial funding for political donations.' I just have to say, in conclusion: so much for integrity and transparency. I just cannot understand, Mr Pratt, what is in this document that you do not want to release to the public.

Senator DI NATALE: I have just a few questions on the trial and how things are progressing. Can you give me an update?

Ms Carroll : Certainly. As you might have noticed, the minister established a trial oversight committee. The trial oversight committee had its first meeting last week. At that meeting, as well as doing the normal things for the establishment of the committee—the terms of reference et cetera—we started to work through and identify the key pieces of work that could be progressed in advance of having a final agreement to a trial, doing all the preparatory work—deciding what it was possible to do early and the kind of form that might take. There was also agreement about having additional meetings prior to the end of the calendar year and then going forward into next year.

Senator DI NATALE: Who is on the committee?

Ms Croke : Our committee consists of the chair, Ms Carroll; Mr Jeff House, the Chief Executive of ClubsACT; Mr Glenn Bain, the Executive Director of the Economic Development Directorate in the ACT government; Mr Rob Docker, the Chief Executive Officer of the Tradies Group; Mr Greg Jones, the Chief Executive of the ACT Gambling & Racing Commission, the regulator in the ACT; Ms Roslyn Dundas, from the ACT Council of Social Service; Mr Geoff Long, the ACT Zone President of the Club Managers Association; Lyndal Ryan, the ACT Secretary of United Voice; and Professor Alan Hayes, the Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Senator DI NATALE: Thank you. What sort of work are you looking at progressing?

Ms Croke : We are looking to do preparatory work around two features. One is the trial design and the other is the evaluation strategy. In the trial design, we are looking at finding evidence around pre-commitment trials that been done and other evidence to help us get a head start on some of the features of a pre-commitment system. For instance, we want to know about default limits—when players register and nominate a maximum amount of money—and other features of pre-commitment systems. They are not one size fits all. We are trying to get some early learnings on the best design features.

Again, for the evaluation strategy we are looking at trials of pre-commitment that have been done and what their evaluation strategies were. We are looking at issues around ACT being the site, around the population, around migration, around representative samples and all those sorts of things. We are looking to build two pieces of work that will help to put us in a very good position for when negotiations are finalised.

Senator DI NATALE: You touched on the issue of leakage there—how do you envisage managing that?

Ms Croke : In terms of the evaluation strategy, we are looking for experts in the field to provide us with advice and guidance on how a trial could operate in the ACT and how you would mitigate that or quantify that and try and reconcile it in the trial.

Senator DI NATALE: My understanding is that Mr House has previously said that the trial will not proceed without legislation. There is no legislation, yet you have an oversight committee established and you are looking at the design features and evaluation of the trial.

Ms Croke : What we are looking at is the design features and evaluation strategy of a trial, but not necessarily a trial in the ACT. I think that is a separate question. We are gathering the evidence that—

Senator DI NATALE: You have all these ACT reps.

Ms Carroll : Senator, suffice it to say that none of the representatives that have come onto the oversight committee have signed up to finally agree to do a trial in the ACT, but they have come on in good faith with the view that if it did progress having some of the preliminary work done would allow it to progress quite quickly. As you indicated, there have been public statements about the point at which people would finalise the negotiations and sign up to a trial in the ACT.

Senator DI NATALE: I think February next year was the scheduled commencement date, which is not going to happen. What would you see as the earliest time that a trial could begin?

Ms Carroll : We would not want to speculate. One of the reasons for doing this work is to see whether we could have a range of documentation already done which would hold us in good stead to move more quickly to a trial. But we are not in a position to say. It will be dependent on a range of things when final agreement is made and how far we have progressed with some of the preliminary work.

Senator DI NATALE: Can you tell me a little bit about the costs involved so far?

Ms Croke : in the preparatory work?

Senator DI NATALE: Yes.

Ms Croke : At this stage we have not made an approach to market at all. So we do not have as yet a real sense of how much it will cost.

Senator DI NATALE: I take it from the answer at previous estimates that it is unlikely that you will give me a number on what that may be.

Mr Lye : That is right, Senator.

Senator DI NATALE: Okay, I won't even bother going there, because we have limited time. Have you spent any money on this process so far?

Ms Croke : The only money would be on managing the—

Senator DI NATALE: Cakes and biscuits?

Ms Croke : Some sandwiches!

Senator DI NATALE: Another line of questioning I have for you relates to the freedom of information request we have on the $1 bets costings that are now available. I am interested in the costings for the $1 bets that the department has been using as the basis for its cost for implementing $1 bets. From what I can understand from this FOI document, the total cost comes to $3.3 billion. Is that correct?

Ms Croke : Can you read that number again for me, Senator?

Senator DI NATALE: I have a table here which has a $1 maximum bet limit assessment, and it breaks it down into machines that are three years old, three to five years old, and over five years old.

Ms Croke : I might get my colleague Mr Glare to give you a hand with that.

Senator DI NATALE: Are you aware of the document?

Mr Glare : Yes, I think so, Senator. The number I think you are referring to was an industry estimate.

Senator DI NATALE: Yes.

Mr Glare : Rather than any government estimate. And that was based on the fact that industry estimated that 50 per cent of all machines would require replacement to implement $1 bets.

Senator DI NATALE: I cannot find any evidence of you conducting an independent assessment. The costs that are present throughout this document on $1 bets are by based on the industry's assessment. Have you conducted any assessment on the cost of $1 bets independent of the industry figures?

Mr Glare : We have certainly received independent technical advice as well as industry advice on potential costs.

Senator DI NATALE: Who was that from?

Mr Glare : The Toneguzzo Group

Senator DI NATALE: Do they use the cost of making new machines dollar-bet ready at $6,000 per machine?

Mr Glare : There was a broad range across all the different jurisdictions—there are different regulatory environments and costs associated with implementation, but the estimate was up to $6,000 per machine.

Senator DI NATALE: That is a remarkable figure, particularly given that it is a software upgrade. The other issue is: do they assume the implementation of $1 bets on all new machines?

Mr Glare : The costings were of the implementation of $1 bets on all machines.

Senator DI NATALE: On all current machines—new and old; not phased in over time?

Mr Glare : No, it was a point-in-time costing.

Senator DI NATALE: Okay. Given the time, I think I am happy to leave it there. Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you. That concludes the issues around gambling. Senator Siewert has come back with one question on income management.

Senator SIEWERT: I apologise. How I forgot this one is beyond me! I wanted to ask about the evaluation report—which I have asked about lots of times before, so that is why I can't understand why I forgot. I wanted to follow up on the evaluation that is being undertaken of income management in the NT and just ask where it is up to. Is it finished?

Ms Carroll : It is getting very close. We have a draft report from the evaluators. That is being considered at the moment. We anticipate over the coming months that that will be finalised.

Senator SIEWERT: Okay. You do not intend to release the draft report?

Mr Lye : Senator, that is a decision for the minister.

Senator SIEWERT: Senator McLucas, would you be able to take on notice whether the draft report of the evaluation of income management could be released?

Senator McLucas: I will see what the minister has to say.

Senator SIEWERT: Thank you; that would be appreciated. What do you expect the time frame to review that is?

Mr Lye : I might just say that, while the evaluators have provided us with a final draft of the report, we are considering that in the department at the moment. There is a process to go through before the minister formally considers it and then considers the issue of release. So there is not a specific time frame on it.

Senator SIEWERT: Okay. So when you say 'considering the draft', what happens when you consider a draft? Do you consider it and say, 'We don't like it', or—

Mr Lye : No, we have what we regard as a final draft from the evaluators. The department is considering that draft.

Ms Carroll : So, Senator, we would not be trying to change the recommendations or any of those sorts of things; what we would be looking at is whether there was something in there that we did not understand or we wanted to talk to them further about. It gives us that opportunity to go back as a department and confirm things that are in the report.

Senator SIEWERT: Okay. I do get that you are reluctant to put a time frame on it, because you need to give it to the government et cetera, but do you expect it to be released before Christmas?

Mr Pratt : It is a matter for government, Senator—we would hate to speculate!

Senator SIEWERT: I would love you to speculate—speculate away!

Mr Lye : I would say, Senator, that we would not want to give you the impression it is a major report; it is the first reflections of the evaluators on the first part of their evaluation process. So it is an initial report to government.

Senator SIEWERT: Okay, so the overall evaluation is not completed?

Mr Lye : It is a staged process, so this is the initial—

Senator SIEWERT: This is the first-stage report?

Mr Lye : This is the first report.

Senator SIEWERT: Okay. And when do you expect to get the rest, then?

Mr Lye : I might come back to you on that.

Senator SIEWERT: Okay, that would be great. Supplementary to that, could you also take on notice when you received the draft report.

Mr Lye : Yes, Senator.

Senator SIEWERT: Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you very much to the officers of outcome 3.

Proceedings suspended from 15:47 to 16:02

CHAIR: We will go back into questions around outcome 4, Seniors. Senator Fierravanti-Wells?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: In the portfolio budget statement at page 82 there are figures for staffing and there is a small variation, up rather than down, from 153 to 157—are there no major changes in staffing anticipated?

Mr Pratt : I might kick off here. No, these things do move around a little bit just depending on the—

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: There is a small margin?

Mr Pratt : Yes. One area where the department does actually have a significant expansion in staffing, unusually, is in the area working on the NDIS.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Looking at page 84 of the PBS and those expenses in 4.1: are those forward estimates still on track, Mr Pratt, with no variation?

Mr Pratt : They are the best estimates at this stage.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: The same with the expenses for program 4.2 at page 87—no variations to those figures?

Mr Pratt : I am sure someone will leap in and tell me if I am wrong, but no; those are the best estimates at this stage.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: How many pension recipients have taken advantage of the pension advance payment option since the introduction of the carbon tax on 1 July?

Ms Foster : I do not have the answer to that question, I am sorry; I do have the numbers for the quarter ending June 2012, but not from 1 July.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: All right; give me those and take that question, on the numbers from 1 July, on notice.

Ms Foster : Yes. For the June quarter 2012, there were 36,400 age pensioners who had received an advance payment.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Are you able, as part of that information, to provide a month-by-month breakdown—or tell me, Ms Foster: is there somewhere where I can check those annual figures?

Ms Foster : It is not published. We do receive information from the Department of Human Services.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: So I will have to draw on it through estimates. Then can you provide that month-by-month breakdown of the number of age pension recipients applying to utilise the pension advance option for the 2012-13 financial year to date?

Ms Foster : We generally get the information quarterly, I believe, though I believe we can get the information monthly from DHS, but please let me check and we will provide what we can.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Could you also tell me how many of those applications have been denied?

Ms Foster : From 1 July?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Yes please. And do you have those statistics by state?

Ms Foster : I do not know the answer to that.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Could you check that and just let me know. If you do, if you could provide it by state that would be good.

On the Seniors Supplement: in your annual report, page 85 tells us the number of recipients. Is there a breakdown of those recipients into categories?

Ms Stawyskyj : I can check that for you.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Would you check and please break it down to show, for example, those who are on DVA gold card? Could you also provide to me, or indicate to me if it is available, the number of recipients who receive a single payment and the number of recipients who receive couple payments?

Ms Stawyskyj : I could get those figures for you.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: And how many recipients received the payment for 'illness', 'separated', 'in respite care' or 'have a partner in prison'—if you have that sort of information? And is there any move afoot or any indication as to any changes to the eligibility criteria for this payment? Minister?

Senator McLucas: No.

Ms Stawyskyj : No, not that I am aware of.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: How about in relation to the internet kiosks? I will tell you what I have questions on, and the relevant officers can answer them. I also have some questions on the national partnership agreement on certain concessions for pensioners, concession cards and senior card holders. Budget paper No. 3 sets out over the forward estimates the certain concessions for pensioners component. I understand there was a renewal of the commitment in 2008. How long is that agreement in force for?

Ms Stawyskyj : The agreement actually concluded on 30 June this year, and it is still being renewed.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: So it will be renewed?

Ms Stawyskyj : Yes, it will be renewed.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: So it is a four-year agreement?

Ms Stawyskyj : Yes.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: So the concessions are ongoing.

Ms Stawyskyj : That is right.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: It is now October. When do you anticipate that it will be finalised?

Ms Stawyskyj : Discussions with the states have been ongoing for a few months, and we are hoping that it is very close to finalisation.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: As part of this agreement, will there be adjustments to keep pace with increases in cost of living?

Ms Stawyskyj : Component 1, which is the certain concessions for pensioners component that covers various payments, like local government and other things, is indexed. So that one will certainly be increasing. For the second component—the reciprocal transport component—the budget is $50 million over four years.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: So in this particular one there will obviously be considerations as part of that first component that looks at utility prices and those sorts of things, if I understood it correctly.

Ms Stawyskyj : Yes.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: In this agreement, will there be further obligations imposed on the states that were not in the previous agreement?

Ms Stawyskyj : That is still under discussion and negotiation has not been finalised.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Have there been proposals to include further requirements, particularly in relation to red tape or anything like that, from the Commonwealth's perspective?

Ms S Wilson : We had sought some changes to reporting arrangements, and they are being negotiated with the states and territories.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Such as?

Ms Stawyskyj : The nature of the concessions and the numbers provided—very simple aspects.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: So it is not actually imposing a further regulatory burden?

Ms S Wilson : No. I do not think it could be characterised in that way at all. It is basically information about the numbers of people being assisted.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Will that then be available afterwards?

Ms S Wilson : I imagine so.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Perhaps you could take on notice how or whether those figures could be publicly available. I will conclude by asking some questions on internet kiosks. Mr Palmer, I understand the number of locations currently is 1,847. Is that correct?

Mr Palmer : That is my understanding.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: How many computers does that cover?

Mr Palmer : Do you mean how many kiosks does that cover?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Computers. And how many computers are there in each kiosk?

Ms Laughlin : At the moment there are two computers per kiosk.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: What happens when one breaks down or if it needs repairs or something like that?

Ms Laughlin : We work with the kiosk. We sometimes send the computer back to NEC to see if they can mend it.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Who picks up the costs of mending?

Ms Laughlin : At the moment that is all part of the process. NEC are contracted to do that, so that is part of the contract.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: So they have the contract, they pick up the costs, they worry about the replacement or fixing of the computers, and that is all part of the agreement that you have with them. What about replacement of computers? Is that their job as well?

Ms Laughlin : At the moment, within our budget, we are just working with the kiosks. Some kiosks have their own computers. We pay them some internet costs, and they are happy with working with us. We provide training materials for them and support along the way through the consortium partners. Some kiosks will actually have their own computers and not need our computers, so we are working to make sure they have a maximum number of computers.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: When you say 'we'—

Ms Laughlin : The department.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: You pay NEC an amount. What is the value of that contract?

Ms Laughlin : At the moment it is $2.6 million a year.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Did that contract go out to tender?

Ms Laughlin : It did in the first instance, when Broadband for Seniors first came out. We have just extended them for two years.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: And then after that will you go to re-tender?

Ms Laughlin : That is—

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: That is a matter for government. All right.

CHAIR: Thank you very much to the officers who answered questions on outcome 4. We will now move to outcome 5.

Senator FIFIELD: Before we do, I was just wondering if the department has any further advice in relation to kitchens.

Mr Pratt : We are still working with the agency trying to get advice for you, Senator.

[16:16]

CHAIR: We are now on outcome 5. The proposal is that we will first go through all issues that are not NDIS, and then we will quarantine some time at the end for NDIS.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: I have a question on outcome 5.1—targeted community care—in relation to the mental health program, on page 89 of the annual report. Could you give me the funding breakdown over the five years, including the figures previously announced in the national mental health reform package?

Ms Farrelly : The allocations over the forward estimates are $183,884,000 for this year. For 2013-14 it is $213,282,000, and for 2014-15 it is $227,202,000.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: I do not have the mental health package in front of me, but are they basically the same figures as were in the mental health package over the forward estimates?

Ms Farrelly : Those are the PBS figures, yes. Sorry—did you require specific further details? Did you want the allocations in the budget?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Yes please.

Ms Farrelly : The 2011-12 budget measures have $37,820,000 this year, $64,799,000 in 2013-14, $76,996,000 in 2014-15 and $78,296,000 in 2015-16.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: The annual report, at page 90, says that 13 new family mental health support services were established. Can you tell me the locations of those services? And what was the cost of establishing these 13 new services? If you do not have them I am happy for you to take them on notice.

Ms Farrelly : I can give you those. The 13 new services are: New South Wales, in Blacktown—

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Are they in the annual report?

Ms Farrelly : No, they are not. Would you like the 2011-12 or the 2012-13? I have a figure for each year of the life of that agreement.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Yes, please give me those figures.

Ms Farrelly : In 2011-12 there are $170,000, in 2012-13 there are $356,300 and in 2013-14 there are $356,300. I have this whole list. It goes through Bankstown, Campbelltown, Liverpool—it will take us a long time. Do you want me to keep going through it?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: No, perhaps you could take that on notice. Thank you.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Again, the annual report also states that these are the first of 40 new Family Mental Health Services sites. Can you take on notice any additional sites that have been opened since 1 July, and where they are located?

Ms Farrelly : I can answer that now. Since that first 13, there have been no further sites.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Your annual report shows the clients, carers or family estimate and then the actual number. Your estimate was 49,000, and the actual was 124,000. Can you give me an explanation for the difference?

Ms Farrelly : Certainly. I am not sure how much you know about the program. Targeted Community Care has three elements: it has the PHAMs element, it has Family Mental Health Services and it also has Mental Health Respite: Carers Support. Services have a one-on-one support element, but they also have a community education element. When we estimate how many occasions of service there will be and how many clients there will be, we do it on the slightly conservative side. There are a couple of organisations in family mental health support that provide and are funded for community education. That can increase the numbers quite significantly, and that is what has happened in this case.

Senator FIFIELD: In order to maximise the time for NDIS, I might put my non-NDIS questions on notice. I will lead off when we get to NDIS.

Senator PRATT: I have some questions about the Personal Helpers and Mentors mental health program. I understand it was recently evaluated, and I am interested to know what findings have come from that.

Ms Carroll : The evaluation for the Targeted Community Care program is on FaHCSIA's website. We found that the program is working well.

Senator PRATT: I have seen the general evaluation. I am interested to know how that evaluation might inform the program in the future.

Ms Farrelly : At the moment we are working through the new budget implementation. As you are probably aware there are implementations to provide an additional 425 Personal Helpers and Mentors. In our thinking we are using what we understand from the evaluation as we progress our planning for that next stage.

Senator PRATT: Has it made an appreciable difference in terms of impact on other community support services—that people are getting more direct support?

Ms Farrelly : We can only gauge from satisfaction with the program, and there is very high satisfaction. There is also very high attainment of personal goals. Clients of PHAMs could not achieve their personal goals without their programs significantly connecting with other community services. As you probably know about PHAMs, the person is at the centre, and so helping them to navigate the different areas of need in their lives means that their service needs to be very well connected.

Ms Carroll : If I could just add, in terms of sharing those learnings across government, which I think is a part of where your question was going, we certainly are looking at what were the key success factors in the program and the areas that the evaluation said that it was doing quite well, and sharing those across government, like with the department of health and other departments so that they are able to pick up and think about those components as they roll out programs themselves or take on board further developments in the area of mental health.

Senator PRATT: I know that PHAMs has been a key part of mental health reform. I think you indicated how many new positions you were looking to. How many new workers and services have been established so far? I know that some are in existing services and some are in new services.

Ms Farrelly : That is correct. We have an additional 36 workers in 17 sites. That was announced in April. And an additional 66½ workers in 48 sites, announced in June. Those were all existing services that were in areas of high need. So those were existing high-functioning services and they were procured by a range of methods. If there were additional PHAM services, and they were the only PHAM service, then we have gone direct to those organisations. And in areas where there were a number that could potentially provide support we have done a restricted competitive process.

Senator PRATT: How have you gone recruiting staff and providing appropriate services to Indigenous communities and culturally diverse communities? I know that a fair bit of work has been done supporting people who come from those backgrounds, but I am interested to know where that has been most successful and whether you have been able to get the same kinds of outcomes with those cohorts of people?

Ms Farrelly : We have worked fairly closely with the organisations supporting Indigenous communities. To give you an example, in the lower gulf we fund a PHAMs provider that is actually the Medicare Local. That organisation has also recently been funded to run a Family Mental Health Support Service. That organisation has a number of locally employed Indigenous workers. So we are working with that organisation as a way of navigating what is really effective when doing a whole-of-community approach. We recognise that there are a number of barriers in some of the more remote communities that cover not just FaHCSIA's programs but other programs as well. It includes things like difficulty in recruiting and maintaining staff, and so on. So we are using the examples of the service like the lower gulf, and that is servicing Doomadgee and Mornington Island also.

Senator PRATT: Does that mean you have needed slightly different models for those services?

Ms Farrelly : The PHAMs model is the same model—the Family Mental Health Support, with a few slight variations. For instance, we relax the 16-year entry barrier. But with the new Family Mental Health Support Service, then, we see the two working really closely together.

Senator PRATT: On a different topic, regarding the Cinema Access Implementation Plan, I know that targets were set for rollout of technology into cinemas. Have those targets been met?

Ms Angus : The cinema access group plan that you refer to is progressing very successfully. In fact, a number of the cinemas involved are ahead of schedule. I can assure you we are ahead of schedule. In fact, one of the cinemas has actually just completed digitising all of its cinemas across the country—that is Village—and it is two years ahead of schedule. So we are well progressed on that and we anticipate those targets will be met, most of them in advance of the original milestones that were set for that particular program.

Senator PRATT: Are you able to direct me to how consumers find out which cinemas have done that access and are up to standard?

Ms Angus : Yes. The cinema advisory group is made up of a number of stakeholders. Those stakeholders are provided with that information each time we meet and they are able to promote that within their own organisations, and I understand they routinely do.

Senator PRATT: If someone wants to visit one of the cinemas that has met these targets how would they find out which have had the appropriate technology installed?

Ms Angus : There are a number of ways they might do that. Some of the cinemas would advertise in newspapers, for example. At least one of the groups has established a page on their website that directs you to what films are currently screening that are accessible. Also, there are opportunities for people to call some cinemas and find out the information. But, most commonly, you would see it in the newspaper advertisement.

Senator PRATT: Or on the internet.

Senator FIFIELD: Moving to NDIS, given that this is your first appearance here in your new role with NDIS, Mr Bowen, you might wish to make some brief remarks about your position?

Mr Bowen : I have come into this position with a history of having worked in areas of injury and disability. I think one of the strengths of the position at the moment is that the agency that is working on the operational design and the establishment of the scheme is working in conjunction with the task force, who are doing all of the policy and setting up a framework for the government's development and implementation of the NDIS. I think that is a great strength. For those of us who have been involved in delivering operational systems where the policy is given to you without having had that input, it is not as rich and is not as well informed. So, despite what would seem to be some tight time constraints, there has been enormous value in having the agency work with the taskforce and, now, with our state colleagues on the build of the NDIS.

Senator FIFIELD: Are you confident that the five launch sites—some geographically contained and some state wide—will all be up and running by the middle of next year?

Mr Bowen : The negotiations on the start and the transition in each launch site are underway with the states at the moment. That is a combination of both negotiation through the governance and funding areas around the transition of the funding and it is also a discussion at the operational level between the agency and the state agencies and, from virtually this point forward, both clients and service providers to make sure that it is operationally able to be delivered. At the moment we are tracking in accordance with the development of those agreements between the governments, but they are not finalised at this point in time.

Senator FIFIELD: Do you have any causes for concern in terms of meeting the mid-2013 commencement?

Mr Bowen : We will be launching the NDIS in July 2013 in accordance with the agreements that are to be made. I am confident that we will achieve that.

Senator FIFIELD: I just want to go through some of the amounts that were announced in the last budget.

Ms S Wilson : That is probably a question more for me.

Senator FIFIELD: $122.6 million over four years, from 2012-13, to prepare the disability sector for a new way of delivering disability services, with a focus on launch locations. Has any of the money as yet been expended?

Ms S Wilson : Are you asking about the disability sector workforce funding of $122.6 million?

Senator FIFIELD: That is right.

Ms S Wilson : Currently, there is work done on developing the approach that will be taken for the expenditure of that funding, but to date none has been spent.

Senator FIFIELD: The $58.6 million over three years—obviously from 2012-13 that has not been expended.

Ms S Wilson : No.

Senator FIFIELD: The $53 million over four years from 2012-13 to establish the transition agency. How much of that $53 million has been spent.

Ms S Wilson : That is probably more a question for my colleague Mr Bowen. But between us we can probably find expenditure to date for the agency.

Mr Pratt : Perhaps while we are waiting we could run through some of the things that money is being spent on currently.

Senator FIFIELD: I will just continue down through this list and then we might do that, if that is okay.

Mr Pratt : Yes.

Senator FIFIELD: There is $18.3 million over four years from 2012-13, to continue the Commonwealth task force responsible for providing policy advice to government on design, governance, funding et cetera—how much of that has been expended so far?

Ms S Wilson : I have not got year to date expenditure on the task force with me, but my colleague, Ms Moses, probably has.

Ms Moses : Task force expenditure, departmental expenditure, to the end of September is $2.9 million.

Senator FIFIELD: And that is from the $18.3 million?

Ms Moses : That is right.

Mr Bowen : I have discovered that the figure for the agency for year to date to the end of September is $1,611,000.

Senator FIFIELD: Mr Bowen, how much of that $53 million do you expect will have been expended by the end of this financial year?

Mr Bowen : The expenditure for the current year will depend in part on a recosting of the agency's budget to recognise the different launch options. That recosting will not be able to be completed until the bilateral agreements between the Commonwealth and states recognise the starting point and the transition. At this stage I would expect that to be sufficient, but it probably will be completely spent.

Senator FIFIELD: By the end of 2012-13?

Mr Bowen : Yes.

Senator FIFIELD: Ms Moses, or, if that is more appropriate, Ms Wilson: how much of the $18.3 million will have been expended by the end of this financial year?

Ms S Wilson : We anticipate that it will all have been expended. You may not be aware, but the task force is being staffed partly through secondments from other departments, so we have a sort of reimbursement arrangement. We are carefully budgeting our staffing and other expenditure, but it does not come in smoothly every month.

Senator FIFIELD: Of the $11.7 million over four years to undertake research into early interventions, how much of that has been expended to date?

Dr Hartland : I think we are struggling to find that line of funding. The $11.7 million is this year's spend of the workforce development funding which we have previously discussed. Again, we would expect to spend that money.

Senator FIFIELD: Going to the Practical Design Fund, which the Prime Minister announced on 3 December last year—I think that was the International Day of People with Disability—

Ms S Wilson : I think that is right.

Senator FIFIELD: I think so—where the Prime Minister announced $10 million towards the Practical Design Fund. When did applications open for that? Just refresh my memory.

Ms S Wilson : The details on how to apply were announced on 4 and 11 August 2012 in the press.

Senator FIFIELD: When did applications close?

Ms S Wilson : On 3 September.

Senator FIFIELD: How many applications have been received?

Ms S Wilson : Four hundred and sixty-three.

Senator FIFIELD: When will successful recipients be notified?

Dr Hartland : We are working through the applications at the moment, so this is one of the ones where we are in the hands of the minister. We have not completed the assessment process at this point; 460-odd applications is a fair number to go through but we are working through them at the moment, and then of course we are in the hands of—

Ms S Wilson : The decision-making processes.

Dr Hartland : our ministers, as to when they will be finished.

Senator FIFIELD: But that is all on track and what the Prime Minister announced in December will be given effect to?

Ms S Wilson : Yes, we believe so. We are confident that that will be the case. I should qualify that, of the 463 applications that were received, 14 were not compliant because they were received after the end date. So we have only been assessing 449.

Senator FIFIELD: Mr Bowen, I should let you know that I have what might be concerning news for you. In Finance estimates, I asked the secretary of the department of finance what the situation was beyond the forward estimates in relation to funding for the NDIS. Specifically, I asked him if it were on the same footing as the Parramatta to Epping rail link, where the department of finance say that there has been a decision of government that there will be expenditure beyond the forward estimates period, and that is reflected on the Department of Infrastructure and Transport's website. I asked him if it were the same situation in relation to the NDIS, and he said no—that there had been no decision of government. I asked him where that placed the NDIS, and he pointed to his head and said, 'It's in here.' I am just wondering what the implications of that are for you in your planning. Does that mean, for instance, that you would be unable to have your agency enter into any contracts which would extend beyond the forward estimates period—so, say, from 2016-17 on?

Mr Bowen : If I can answer that last question first, I do not believe it does limit our capacity to enter contracts while we are working on this. It being a launch, we are doing it in the context of a clear government commitment that it is a launch, with a full scheme to flow from that. That is obviously subject to ongoing discussions with the states around funding and arrangements for full scheme. Also, in due course, the design of that full scheme will be influenced by what happens during the launch period.

Ms S Wilson : It is probably worth clarifying that, notwithstanding the separate decision-making process on moving from the first stage to a national rollout, there is an ongoing commitment made by the Commonwealth and required of the states and territories to continue to provide support to the individuals who are being supported in the launch jurisdictions. So that funding is ongoing and that support is ongoing.

Senator FIFIELD: If there are issues or troubles with the time frame for the national rollout, does that mean there is the potential for there to be a group of people who are funded at a higher level than those around, for a longer period of time?

Ms S Wilson : We do not anticipate that being the outcome. I was merely explaining that there is no intention to turn off support for the individuals who are being supported in launch sites—that it is an ongoing commitment beyond the forward estimates in respect of the financial support and arrangements that support them.

Senator McLucas: I think it is absolutely clear that this government is totally committed to the delivery of a National Disability Insurance Scheme, particularly through the launch sites, but then to the longer-term goal of ensuring that we roll out right across the country.

Senator FIFIELD: Which is why I was surprised to hear from the secretary of the department of finance that the Parramatta-Epping rail link was on a different, stronger and more certain, footing than the NDIS.

Senator McLucas: A road is different to people.

Senator FIFIELD: That is right—people are more fundamental than roads, which is why it surprised me that there was a greater commitment to the Epping-Parramatta rail link.

Could I move now to the issue of eligibility, which I know is being worked on. Minister Macklin was at Novita yesterday; I saw her on the TV giving a speech and she said, 'No matter who you are, no matter what disability you have, you're going to be able to meet your dreams,' in reference to the NDIS, which sounded a fairly all-encompassing statement to me: 'No matter who you are, no matter what disability you have, you're going to be able to meet your dreams.' Given that statement, I assume we must be in a better position to identify eligibility. I will start with a group in the community who, as I know those at the table would be aware, are particularly concerned at the moment, and that is people with a sensory impairment. I know that the draft definitions of what is reasonable and necessary support have been released for public comment. So, to try and bring some focus to this: for an individual who is blind, would a guide-dog count as reasonable and necessary support?

Ms S Wilson : The Productivity Commission identified that assistance dogs should be part of the scheme, which includes guide-dogs.

Senator FIFIELD: So you do envisage that if someone who is blind needs an assistance dog, a guide-dog, then that is something that will be provided?

Ms S Wilson : Yes, we do anticipate that that sort of support for people with visual impairment would be covered through the NDIS.

Senator FIFIELD: As to a person who has a hearing impairment who needs hearing aids—which vary widely in cost: they might be $6,000; they might be $12,000—is that something which would be deemed reasonable and necessary?

Ms S Wilson : We also anticipate that, for people within the eligible age range of the scheme—which currently, in the engagement material that is out with the community, has been identified as people entering the scheme prior to 65—yes, their need for hearing aids or other hearing appliances would be covered through the scheme.

Senator FIFIELD: Are there any working parameters as yet as to what would constitute a reasonable expense, given the wide variation in the cost of hearing aids, for instance?

Ms S Wilson : We have not developed the exact standards around that. There are some standards that currently apply in the approach to hearing services and hearing support which would certainly be, potentially, a starting point. One of the benefits of an insurance approach is individualising—working out for people a standard that meets their personal needs rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. So we would anticipate that there would be some variance, yes, between individuals because of different degrees of impairment and different causes of hearing impairment, and different needs arising as a consequence.

Senator FIFIELD: Taking something like a cochlear implant, which is currently provided or supported financially through a series of state based schemes, usually through the health system: different numbers of people, depending on the state that they are in, receive them. Is it envisaged that that would stay with health—that that would not transfer, for some people, into the NDIS?

Ms S Wilson : We are working through some of those boundaries. There is a range of assistive technologies or interventions that require surgery that the health system currently provides, and we would anticipate that some of those may stay with the health system, but the maintenance of a cochlear implant, once implanted, is something that the scheme could potentially pick up. We have not worked through all that detail as yet.

We are working on those other system boundaries currently with colleagues in the Commonwealth and we will be doing that work in conjunction with states and territories, as well.

But, as you know, the boundary between health and disability, and where it is funded from, varies at lot from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so we are working on getting some principles in place and a broad policy framework, and then we will need to negotiate the detail with each state and territory bilaterally, consistent with the national approach.

Senator FIFIELD: In situations where an individual—they may be blind or vision impaired—needs occasional or period assistance in learning particular skills, or if they have an acquired vision impairment and are being trained in how to use particular equipment or how to negotiate different public spaces—

Ms S Wilson : Certainly we would anticipate that things like mobility training would be covered by the scheme. The exact form of the funding arrangements for that is something that needs to be worked through. The PC's model had a combination of things that were highly individualised and things that were arguably more effectively delivered on a group or block basis because of economies of scale, uncertainty about demand and the like. So we certainly anticipate that that support would be covered within the boundaries of the scheme.

Senator FIFIELD: When I was next door in the economics hearing, asking questions earlier today on the National Injury Insurance Scheme and its progress, I asked whether they envisage that the coverage the National Injury Insurance Scheme which would provide for the sorts of people that are intended to be eligible would be in parallel with the NDIS launch sites. And they—officers from Treasury—indicated that, yes, that was their understanding, and that was what they were working towards. Is that your understanding?

I am not quite sure how that would work in the case of South Australia and Tasmania, given the particular cohorts that are envisaged there for the NDIS. Let's just take Victoria as an example. I guess you have the TAC effectively covering motor vehicle accidents. To your understanding are there people who are not currently covered, who would be covered by an NAAS, who will, in parallel with the Victorian launch site, have NAAS-equivalent coverage?

Ms S Wilson : The proposition on the NIIS, as I understand it, was that it should comprise the motor vehicle provisions and the workers compensation provisions then look at medical indemnity and general accident. Is that correct, colleagues? Yes.

Senator FIFIELD: And other catastrophic injuries.

Ms S Wilson : So there was a sequence around that, and the exact timing and negotiation, and the lead policy work on that is, as you appreciate and recognise, being led by Treasury. In Victoria, because there is already a comprehensive motor vehicle scheme in place, we do not anticipate that, for the purposes of the launch starting from July next year, there would be gaps in respect of motor vehicle injury coverage.

Dr Hartland : The PC envisage that an NIIS and an NDIS would operate side by side. So the roll-out of an NIIS is really a matter for Treasury, but NDIS launch sites will need to work with existing compensation schemes, both statutory and common law, and as an NIIS starts to be developed.

Senator FIFIELD: Are they talking to you?

Dr Hartland : Yes.

Senator FIFIELD: Just checking.

Ms S Wilson : You may not recall that Nigel Ray, from Treasury, co-chairs the senior officials working group with me.

Senator FIFIELD: Yes, it was Nigel Ray who was at the table.

Ms S Wilson : He is part of our steering committee within the Commonwealth and also a member of the NDIS board. So we are working hand in glove with Treasury, although there is a different MINCO taking forward the NIIS. Certainly, the interactions are a standing agenda item at all of our Commonwealth-state meetings and at ministerial meetings.

Senator FIFIELD: Can I just move to launch sites. I firstly want to clarify something that there seems to be a little bit of confusion about. The Productivity Commission never envisaged every jurisdiction having a launch site, did it?

Ms S Wilson : No, not in the first instance. It proposed that you would start with some select geographic regions and then you would move out from that. It did not have a pattern for what the move would be geographically or state by state. It had a funding phase-in but it did not have a particular set of recommendations around implementation that said, 'You go from X number of launch sites to Y and to Z.'

Senator FIFIELD: That is right. And a jurisdiction not having a launch site is not an impediment to taking part in a full national roll-out, is it?

Ms S Wilson : No. We are continuing to work with all jurisdictions on policy around the full scheme and having detailed bilateral negotiations and discussions with participating jurisdictions for launch.

Senator FIFIELD: That is helpful because I think there is a bit of a misconception abroad that if a jurisdiction does not have a launch site somehow therefore they are against a full national roll-out and could not take part in a full national roll-out. I just wanted to make sure that was on the public record. Thank you for that. I will just go to the Tasmanian launch state, I guess. The cohort is 15- to 21-year-olds; is that right?

Ms S Wilson : That is correct.

Senator FIFIELD: Thank you. What percentage of people with a disability in Tasmania does that represent?

Ms S Wilson : I am not sure that I have the percentage. I am not sure whether Mr Bowen is aware of that. It represents about 950 people within that age range.

Mr Bowen : I do not know what the percentage that is of the total population.

Dr Hartland : I suspect, that compared to the relevant population cohort, it is the same percentage as would apply to other full population launches.

Senator FIFIELD: It would be fair to say that a state-wide cohort launch is not what the NDIS envisaged or focused on. The Productivity Commission was focusing on discrete geographic areas covering all eligible cohorts.

Mr Bowen : The Productivity Commission made a recommendation for a launch with a sufficient number of people in it to be able to test assumptions around the number of people and the level of unmet need and to be able to test different operating models. Through the state regional cohorts we will have that. I think that the addition of the state-wide age cohorts in South Australia and Tasmania will allow additional elements to be tested, particularly around early intervention types of strategies both for children and that difficult, late adolescence through to young-adult phase, where there is clearly a significant fall-off in support for children with disabilities as they exit the school system at the moment.

Senator FIFIELD: Was the proposal for the 15- to 24-year-old state-wide launch a proposal from the Tasmanian government or from the Commonwealth?

Ms S Wilson : My recollection of it is that there were several alternative approaches discussed with Tasmania, of which this was the one that seemed to best be able to test a range of things that were important to test about the scheme, including the different transitions that Mr Bowen has identified. Making sure that it was state-wide was important for the Tasmanian government. They did not want to have a specific geographic launch, its being a small jurisdiction.

Senator FIFIELD: They would hate to choose between the north and the south of Tasmania.

Ms S Wilson : I cannot comment on that, but I understand that that was an important issue for them. This is a pressure point. It is an area of some unmet need within the jurisdiction as well.

Senator FIFIELD: If, say, a discrete geographic area in Tasmania had been chosen, are the costs likely to have been less, more or about the same to both the Commonwealth and Tasmania?

Ms S Wilson : It is a hypothetical. I would not know without having the detail. I beg your pardon.

Senator FIFIELD: I am just wondering if cost was a factor. Were there any discussions with the Tasmanian government about launch sites or potential styles of launches before the Commonwealth first formally communicated with the jurisdictions?

Ms S Wilson : I do not quite understand your question.

Senator FIFIELD: When did the Commonwealth first formally communicate with jurisdictions and invite launch site proposals?

Ms S Wilson : The first formal communication was post budget in a teleconference discussion with all the jurisdictions. From recollection, it was on the morning after the budget. We ran through the budget measure and set out our broad parameters and identified that the Commonwealth would be seeking expressions of interest. The minister wrote on 18 May to her counterparts seeking their interest and we developed a sort of template within which we asked them to identify their proposals.

Senator FIFIELD: Had there been any communication with Tasmania, South Australia or the ACT before 18 May?

Ms S Wilson : I do not believe so. We had had a general discussion multilaterally with all the jurisdictions about the Commonwealth being keen to launch, but we are not in a position to reveal budget decisions ahead of budget night.

Senator FIFIELD: Sure. Where is Western Australia's proposal to have a joint Western Australia disability services commission-Commonwealth NDIS launch site up to? I think Premier Barnett wrote to the Prime Minister in the recent—

Ms S Wilson : I think you had some evidence from my colleague Rebecca Cross at PM&C on this earlier in the week. We have not reached agreement yet with Western Australia. Those discussions are ongoing. The two issues that need to be resolved are the governance approach and the funding benchmark being met.

Senator FIFIELD: Western Australia is one of the better funders on a per head basis—

Senator McLucas: Not on a per capita basis. I think that is the difference.

Senator FIFIELD: Yes. I think Western Australia is one of the better funders. I would not think there would be too much of an issue there.

Ms S Wilson : We have not yet had the formal confirmation, as I understand it, of their capacity or preparedness to meet the funding benchmark of $20,779 per client in the launch sites that they were proposing; nor have we yet finalised a governance approach that would be consistent with the governance arrangements at its core in the other launch sites that were a feature of the COAG discussion earlier in the year.

Senator FIFIELD: Western Australia was proposing $135 million from themselves and $135 million from the Commonwealth. I think that is how they presented their—

Ms S Wilson : I beg your pardon; I do not have the details of their launch with me. There are a range of details that there have been ongoing discussions with them about.

Senator FIFIELD: In relation to the governance arrangements proposal from Western Australia, given that the launch sites are about trialling different elements and testing different elements of the scheme in relation to eligibility, and given not all the launch sites look quite like what the Productivity Commission necessarily envisaged, is the Commonwealth open to trialling in a jurisdiction a slightly different model of governance?

Ms S Wilson : There are three core components that the Commonwealth believes are fundamental to the launch approach. Those are that the agency would undertake the responsibility for planning, assessment and decisions on individual funding of packages or support for individuals. That is not an approach that we have yet been able to reach agreement on with Western Australia. The reason for that approach is to ensure a consistent approach against reference packages to the determination of eligibility, to the planning and assessment, and to the funds distribution.

Senator FIFIELD: You said planning and assessment, and what was the third—

Ms S Wilson : Funding allocation—decisions about reasonable and necessary support.

Senator FIFIELD: As I understand it, Western Australia has proposed having a pooled arrangement for funds.

Ms S Wilson : They proposed a pool for funds to which the Commonwealth would contribute. The funds would not be under the control of the agency. They proposed that they would have their own decision making process that would be independent of the agency. And they offered that the Commonwealth—this is from memory; I do not have the launch detail with me—could have a representative on their board that would administer and manage the launch. So it was quite a different approach to having—

Senator FIFIELD: But applying the same nationwide, consistent eligibility criteria.

Ms S Wilson : Utilising the eligibility criteria, yes.

Senator SIEWERT: Is the eligibility criteria the same as the necessary and reasonable support criteria?

Ms S Wilson : The terms were that they would pick up national frameworks for eligibility and for determining 'reasonable and necessary'. I guess the issue that the Commonwealth has with that approach is that, as this is a demand driven program and we want equitable outcomes nationally for people against eligibility criteria and determination of 'reasonable and necessary', and want a consistent client experience in that respect with a consistent appeals mechanism, merits review and the like, that is not easy to deliver in what they were essentially proposing—that is, a federated model, which is quite different from the PC's proposed national model.

Senator FIFIELD: I guess Western Australia are in effect saying they are happy with a national model but they want a federated component.

Mr Hartland : I think it is more than that, Senator, because it goes to the—

Senator FIFIELD: Far be it from me to speak for Western Australia, but they are relaxed with the rest of the country doing something under a unified model but having themselves bolted on.

Mr Hartland : I understand that view because I have heard it directly from the source. But the governance is not just about national and federated; it is about the way in which the scheme operates. I think Ms Wilson was talking about how an integrated body makes a decision that looks at long-term liabilities against eligibility and 'reasonable and necessary'. So there is more than just the issue of the state basis of the model.

Senator FIFIELD: Thank you. I will move to the legislation that is required to establish the scheme. I understand you are currently consulting with the states over the legislation.

Ms S Wilson : We have been working with the states on the drafting of legislation. We have been discussing very early cuts and we will continue to do that all the way through to reaching agreement for introduction.

Senator FIFIELD: Is it the government's intention that the legislation be introduced into parliament this year?

Ms S Wilson : I believe you had evidence to that effect earlier this week from my colleague Rebecca Cross. Yes, it is the government's intention that the legislation be introduced this year.

Senator FIFIELD: Just checking.

Senator SIEWERT: You get different answers.

Senator FIFIELD: That's right.

Ms S Wilson : Ms Cross and I jointly lead the Commonwealth task force.

Senator FIFIELD: Not a cigarette paper's width between you?

Ms S Wilson : Absolutely not.

Senator FIFIELD: So it is the intention to introduce it this year—and, again, we discussed this in PM&C—but not necessarily to have it passed this year?

Ms S Wilson : We think it is most unlikely it would be possible for it to be passed this year. There will be a lot of parliamentary interest and community interest in the legislation, and that consultative and inquiry process is very important. So we anticipate that there would be passage next year.

Senator FIFIELD: Will there be an exposure draft, or will the government just introduce the legislation direct?

Ms S Wilson : The bill that is introduced will be a bill for introduction but it will be subject to the parliamentary process, of course, and the community engagement process. So we would anticipate, as is often the case with complex pieces of legislation, that there would likely be amendments at the end of that consultative process. There will be a draft provided to states and territories for their formal consideration and that will come back through the ministers and their governments prior to introduction.

Senator FIFIELD: Will the Commonwealth require the approval of the others jurisdictions before introduction?

Ms S Wilson : The aim is to reach agreement with the states and territories ahead of introduction. We anticipate that there might be some areas in which some further work is required, which we would acknowledge that there will be further work and engagement around, but the goal is to reach agreement for introduction.

Senator FIFIELD: Senator McLucas, I assume the government would not see any difficulty with an inquiry by the relevant Senate legislation committee.

Senator McLucas: As a former chair of that committee, I would be encouraging it.

Senator FIFIELD: I just wanted to check because I know that there are many stakeholders—and I am not referring to the states and territories—who would be keen for there to be an inquiry by the committee.

Senator McLucas: Can I just confirm Ms Wilson's comments there. The Senate inquiry process, particularly around complex legislation, as this will be, is extremely valuable, particularly in the way that it can connect with the community.

Senator FIFIELD: Hear, hear!

Ms S Wilson : I could probably provide some additional information. As well as the bill, we anticipate drafting a consultation paper that will support engagement with stakeholders during the committee hearing process—over the period from introduction prior to finalisation for passage—so that we can engage with as many stakeholders as possible both at state and territory level because we anticipate that the states and territories will want to do the same.

Senator FIFIELD: Is the lack of legislation impeding your ability to do what you need to do at the moment? And, if it is not impeding it at the moment, when would it start to impede it?

Mr Bowen : The legislation will assist the agencies set a very broad framework and confirm the policy objectives and principles upon which the agency will then design the operation of the scheme. So I believe it will be imperative to have it in place by launch and important to give a direction to the agency as it implements a scheme through the launch periods. But, at the moment, the agency is able to do that work in the context of the broad blueprint provided by the Productivity Commission and the ongoing design work that is occurring between the Commonwealth and the states and increasingly informed by engagement directly with people with disabilities and providers.

Senator FIFIELD: The legislation will cover governance arrangements and, I assume, the establishment of a board to oversight the agency. Has the government commenced consideration for recruitment for that board?

Ms S Wilson : No.

Senator FIFIELD: Does the government have in mind how that will be gone about? Will it be by way of advertising? Will it be by direct approaches? Will it be representatives of the states? Will it be a broad based board with a range of skill sets?

Ms S Wilson : The proposition about the composition of the board is that it is a skills based board, consistent with the approach recommended by the Productivity Commission, as is really required for a CAC Act entity. But the exact way in which the board would be appointed is still being worked through, including with the states and territories.

Senator SIEWERT: Is it expected that the states are going to have to change their legislation as well?

Ms S Wilson : We have been having those discussions with them and they have certainly been considering whether they will require consequential changes. At the most recent discussion we had with them, which was this week, their current thinking was that they would not need to. But we have asked them to continue to look at this.

Senator SIEWERT: This is not quite model legislation, is it?

Ms S Wilson : No, it is national legislation.

Senator SIEWERT: But you are getting it signed off by the states and we are having an inquiry, or several inquiries—House of Reps, Senate, whatever. It recommends changes, but what we have experienced in the past is 'No, you can't alter this legislation because the states and territories have already signed off on it'.

Ms S Wilson : Signing off for introduction and signing off for passage are two different phases. It is very often the case that there will be consequential changes, and the need for amendments, arising out of the inquiry and the consultative process. We therefore anticipate that any changes proposed around the bill from introduction would equally need to be agreed.

Senator SIEWERT: So you have to go through this process where if there are changes recommended, and the government accepts them, they will have to go back to the states to negotiate further. Has that been factored into the time line?

Ms S Wilson : Yes, it has. We interact with our colleagues several times a week, and we anticipate that that is not going to change between now and launch. So we have been sharing what has come up in stakeholder engagement discussions and the like and we will continue to do that. We will offer to have Commonwealth officials attend state stakeholder engagement on the legislation to help explain where that is useful. So we are trying to do it as collaboratively as possible so that there are no surprises, so that we are aware of the issues as they come up and we can work through them together.

Senator SIEWERT: Is Western Australia engaging in the discussions over the legislation?

Ms S Wilson : Yes. All jurisdictions are participating in the discussions on the legislation.

Senator SIEWERT: Is Western Australia seeking to have the legislation reflect its opinion that there should be a federated model?

Ms S Wilson : This legislation is currently for launch, so it is focused on what we need to establish the agency and have the launches run. So they are participating from the perspective of an interested jurisdiction but whether they will be a launch jurisdiction is currently still under discussion. That is about as far as I can go in terms of unpacking their motives and interests.

Mr Bowen : Chair, could I just take a moment to clarify an answer to an earlier question from Senator Fifield in relation to the Practical Design Fund. I think the impression may have been given that the minister was making the decisions on that fund. It is in fact the agency that is the delegate to make those decisions, but once those decisions are made they will be of course be announced by the minister. That was the intention of the answer.

Senator FIFIELD: So that will be your decision, effectively?

Mr Bowen : Yes.

Ms S Wilson : Chair, could I just correct the record from a little earlier. Ms Moses said the budget to date for the task force expenditure was $2.9 million. She has just checked and it is actually $2.6 million in September. It is a bit hard sometimes to track these small red sheets.

Senator FIFIELD: How much of the $1 billion announced in the budget has been spent thus far?

Ms S Wilson : It is a combination of departmental and administered funds. The administered expenditure to date is $2.017062 million.

Dr Hartland : If you add the other two answers that we have given you previously, you get to the total of the budget allocation.

Ms S Wilson : The budget expenditure.

Dr Hartland : Yes, because the other two answers concern departmental spending for the task force.

Senator FIFIELD: Can you tell me those two amounts again?

Ms S Wilson : It was $2.6 million for the task force and $1.8 million for the agency.

Senator FIFIELD: While we are talking about dollars, contract No. 465731, with Ernst & Young, in its various iterations, which I think kicked off as a contract with for $300,000, went up to $580,000-odd and yesterday went up to $3.3 million. What is the nature of that work?

Ms S Wilson : It covers quite a span of work. I think I have given evidence previously that we established a project management office in the task force early on and Ernst & Young were the successful consultant we obtained to establish that task force management office. Their work included developing an overarching project management plan, blueprints on elements of the scheme, and business processes to support project and regular program reporting to the government, COAG and the board. They also have undertaken a range of work around the facilitation of workshops.

Senator FIFIELD: That is within your area? That has not now gone into Mr Bowen's area?

Ms S Wilson : There has been a transition; we have transitioned some of this work. I can go through the various elements of it. They established and managed a database of stakeholders with us. They assisted with some of the agency design and set up work and setting up work for board reporting. They have been working on some project office assistance to the launch transition agency as well as facilitating a range of workshops between the states and territories and the Commonwealth.

Senator FIFIELD: Is the increase in the value of the contract something that was expected as the scope of their work increased?

Ms S Wilson : We anticipated that the scope of the work would potentially grow. Ms Moses might wish to say more about this. Our scoping was for some deliverables but we had in mind that we wanted to build a relationship with an organisation that was well equipped to take us through the journey and could deliver flexible services. So the nature of the tender was for a flexible range of services that assisted with the project start up and then embedding the reporting and the ongoing program oversight and monitoring.

Senator FIFIELD: How many people does Ernst & Young have working full time on this?

Ms Moses : Ernst & Young has now transitioned the project office over to the task force and the agency. They are doing a few small pieces of work on an ad hoc basis at the moment but the bulk of the work has been finished. We negotiated with Ernst & Young for the contract value and the deliverables that we needed through that, and then Ernst & Young managed the staff they brought in. But we certainly had one lead project manager working with us full time.

Senator FIFIELD: I realise that the contract value does not necessarily mean that the expenditure will be 'up to' that level—or does it?

Ms Moses : Some components are 'up to'; the remaining components of the contract are 'up to'.

Mr Pratt : Senator, you are correct: it does not mean that we will spend that much money.

Senator FIFIELD: How much of the potential spend of $3.3 million has been spent so far?

Ms Moses : The actual spend?

Senator FIFIELD: The actual spend.

Dr Hartland : We have not spent the amount from the briefing, but I will have to do some quick subtraction from six digit numbers to get it. We may have to take that on notice.

Ms S Wilson : Maybe we could take that on notice. I am not sure that we have got the consolidated expenditure to date.

Senator FIFIELD: Okay, that is fine. Ernst & Young are not providing actuarial skills as well, are they?

Ms S Wilson : No.

Senator FIFIELD: So there is a separate contract for actuarial skills, for which you also had a request for tender in August?

Ms Moses : That was a tender conducted by the agency.

Mr Bowen : There is a current tender out for actuarial services for the agency, which is close to finalisation.

Senator FIFIELD: Is that to get in-house actuarial capacity, or is it a particular project of work?

Mr Bowen : It is a purchased-in consultancy. The primary purpose of it is to prepare an annual valuation and then do some additional work around that. There is already in place within the agency a limited expertise in that, which will ensure that we have the capacity to ask our consulting actuaries the right questions, but we are not intending to do the detailed analysis in house.

Senator FIFIELD: Is the agency still using the Australian Government Actuary for any work at the moment?

Mr Bowen : The Australian Government Actuary has in fact been a member of the tender selection panel. I believe it is his preference, and compatible with these arrangements, that he will undertake a peer review of the consulting actuaries work on an annual basis and perhaps more period periodically than that.

Ms S Wilson : The AGA has also been providing support for the work on NDIS around costing the full scheme and sensitivity analysis work. So, through Treasury, the AGA has been providing some ongoing support separate from this particular piece of work.

Senator FIFIELD: That includes the actuary report released under FOI in August and provided in answer to a question on notice in September? Is there anything in addition to that work that they were doing?

Ms S Wilson : I do not believe there was any other output at this stage; it is more for ongoing advice.

Senator FIFIELD: How many staff do you now have in what is now a virtual agency?

Mr Bowen : We have 50 staff, which included some contractors. Three of those are located at this stage in the regions. We have fairly much finished recruitment for head office apart from a couple of additional positions. The rest of the staff will be recruited into the regions and into the launch sites. That is starting with senior executives and administrative staff from November and then our local area coordinators and planning and assessment staff from March-April with an increase in that in accordance with whatever is ended up as the agreed transition strategy.

Senator FIFIELD: You do not have a handle as yet on the total number of FTEs you will have by launch day next year?

Mr Bowen : In fact all of the SES contracts are on a non-ongoing basis pending the formation of the agency and we will be having ongoing discussions with the Australian Public Service Commission about the exact needs once we have got the full dimensions of the launch.

Senator FIFIELD: Do you have a ballpark figure?

Mr Bowen : For how many bodies, or for total staff?

Senator FIFIELD: Total staff in the transition agency.

Mr Bowen : Yes. We have a staffing ratio based on client numbers. For each 1,000 clients we would need around 15 local area coordinators, 10 planners and five administrative staff. One of the other elements of this is working in conjunction with our colleagues in the states so that there is opportunity to bring state agency staff who are currently doing any of that sort of work into the agency.

Senator FIFIELD: To be seconded to the agency?

Mr Bowen : Yes, or on an alternative arrangement yet to be determined.

Senator FIFIELD: Remind me how many clients you envisage there will be at the five launch sites?

Ms S Wilson : It is 26,000.

Mr Bowen : That is by the end of the launch period.

Senator FIFIELD: I think you were about to tell me the number of SES staff you envisage.

Mr Bowen : During the current period, we have approval for 11 and we are seeking an additional four for the regions. We would need no more than that for the full launch period.

Senator FIFIELD: Did you say 11 SES staff in total?

Mr Bowen : No, we are seeking an additional four for the regions.

Senator FIFIELD: Are those four SES staff included in the figures of 15, 10 and five that you gave me, or are they additional?

Mr Bowen : They are included in that.

Senator FIFIELD: So what is your ballpark figure, doing the maths with that?

Mr Bowen : I think you might have done it quicker than me!

Senator FIFIELD: I doubt that very much!

Mr Bowen : I think it is around 700 to 800 staff.

Senator FIFIELD: So that is 700 to 800 staff for the launch agency?

Mr Bowen : Yes.

Senator FIFIELD: In the broadest ballpark sense, do you have a handle yet on how many staff you would require with a full national rollout of the NDIS?

Mr Bowen : Those ratios for the local area coordinators and planners are based upon best assumptions as to what we would need for the full scheme. It is not necessarily the case that all the local area coordinators need to be agency staff. I am counting them in there at this stage but we may well look in certain circumstances to use contract staff. So I would prefer to distinguish between those staff needed for the administrative needs of the agency and local coordinators and planners who are very much providing a service to clients.

Senator FIFIELD: What is the latest Productivity Commission figure for the total number of people envisaged to be supported by a full national NDIS?

Ms S Wilson : It depends what you mean by supported by an NDIS. You will recall the tiers.

Senator FIFIELD: I meant the figure of 400,000-odd.

Ms S Wilson : Their estimate of people who would require an individualised support client package was 410,000. The work that we have been doing suggests that it is still of around that order. We are working through the detail of that. It changes a little at the margins between those who might be supported in tier 2 or with one-off and those who get supported with an individually funded package.

Senator FIFIELD: The rule of thumb is that for every 1,000 clients—or 'citizens' as your sister department, the Department of Human Services, likes to refer to people now, which is very 'French revolutionary'—there are 15 LACs, 10 planners and five admin people. Is there a ratio for head office staff as opposed to local staff? I assume those 15, 10 and five are regionally based rather than based in head office.

Mr Bowen : The agency is working on the normal public sector ratio for the cost of corporate services, which is about 30 per cent of payroll, I believe. If I am wrong on that I will come back and correct it. During launch, the agency will continue to purchase its corporate services.

Mr Pratt : That ratio of 30 per cent is all overheads.

Ms S Wilson : That's right. It is property, ICT, desktop—everything.

Senator FIFIELD: So what is your working assumption for the number of people you would have wherever the national agency is based?

Mr Bowen : During the period of the launch I do not believe head office needs to grow beyond 50 or 60 people. That would be sufficient.

Senator FIFIELD: And for a full national organisation, using your rules of thumb?

Mr Bowen : Slightly larger. But one of the approaches that we are taking during the launch, which I believe should be continued, is to vest expertise in the regional offices. We do not want to create a situation where decisions are delegated back up to head office at all. Head office is very much around supporting and ensuring consistency—strategic planning, corporate planning, maintaining policies and procedures and managing IT systems and the like—not about doing the work that has to be done on the ground. So our engagement of staff already on the ground is trying to target—for example, staff in South Australia have an expertise in working with children with disabilities and that becomes an area of expertise for the whole of the agency in terms of children.

Senator FIFIELD: Okay. If we are looking at 700 or 800 staff all up nationwide, including regional and head office for the transition, what are we looking at in total nation wide for a full national NDIS?

Mr Bowen : I am doing sums on a bit of paper here. I do not know if that is necessarily a great way to do it.

Mr Pratt : We might be getting into the area of speculation here.

Senator FIFIELD: Let me ask it another way. As a ballpark figure for the NDIS, just looking at the head office staff, would be double the number of 60, or three times?

Mr Bowen : I do not believe it needs to be at large head office. Even where additional people may be required in those types of head office functions, it would be best to vest that into regional and state offices removed from head office. One of the things that is important to note is that the ratios, particularly around LACs and planners, are based upon best estimates; they are based around what is happening in current services. For example, for LACs Tasmania, New South Wales WA have pulled those ratios from their operating systems. The number of planners has been based on best estimates based on appropriate case loads and the number of plans that would need to be made over the course of a year. But all of that is part of the testing during launch as well.

Senator FIFIELD: Whereabouts are you based at the moment?

Mr Bowen : We are based in Woden. We have got a task force.

Senator FIFIELD: And where would you ultimately like to be based? I am being cheeky! In all seriousness, has consideration been given to where the optimal location for the head office is?

Mr Pratt : Certainly that is an issue that is being discussed and thought about, but it is not something that needs to be resolved in a hurry. The main thing you can be sure of is that, in the medium to longer term, it will not be in Canberra.

Senator FIFIELD: Is Victoria's proposition still under active consideration?

Mr Pratt : I believe so.

Senator FIFIELD: Is that actually a decision of government that the headquarters not be in Canberra?

Mr Pratt : It is not so much a decision of government. A decision has not been taken at this stage but it is highly likely that the skills that the agencies will need in its head office are unable to be sourced from Canberra. There are plenty of other locations where we are more likely to be able to get those skills.

Senator McLucas: The take-home message from the point that Mr Bowen has made is that the employees of the agency are very much focused in the regions, doing the work with the people who will be getting services from the National Disability Insurance Scheme. That is a conscious decision that we have all been pursuing following representations from people with disabilities. They want people on the ground, in the regions, in their communities, to understand what is happening there, what their circumstances are and what potential services they may be able to receive. And that is the way we will pursue it.

Senator FIFIELD: Mr Bowen, you said you do not necessarily see the LACs as being employees of the agency—that they may be other organisations or individuals who are contracted to the agency. Would the LACs actually do the assessments of the individuals themselves? Or would it be another part of the organisation that would do that?

Mr Bowen : They played an assessment role.

Senator FIFIELD: So they are the 10 planners? You would see those 10 planners as actually being employees of the agency? Or, again, not necessarily?

Mr Bowen : During launch they will be employees of the agency. The planning is really the most critical aspect of this scheme, and ensuring a consistency in approach that can deliver that individualised outcome requires them to be part of the agency with an embedded culture and approach, and the opportunity to test difficult matters with each other in a peer environment. I think that is all very important during launch.

Senator FIFIELD: So, by 'planners' you mean assessors. It is just a more elegant term.

Mr Bowen : We have been carefully moving away from the concept of assessment, which carries with it the context of a functional assessment of a need to focus upon this being, starting with the person, with their goals and aspirations. The assessment is assisting the person to identify and overcome the barriers to reaching those goals, rather than coming in and defining the person by their disability and then assessing and telling them what they need.

Senator FIFIELD: I think thinking in terms of planners and citizens is preferable to thinking in terms of assessors and clients. Before I yield to Senator Furner, is there any kitchen news, Mr Pratt?

Mr Pratt : Yes. We were thinking we might be able to provide a bit of an update at the end of the session this evening, just before 6.30 pm. We have had some back and forth with the agency during the course of the day. I understand—although I have not seen it yet—that we have some material that we can share with you, if that would suit.

Senator FIFIELD: There is no time quite like the present.

CHAIR: I would prefer to finish NDIS. Then, at the end of NDIS, I am happy to have any information that can be shared, but not in the middle of a session.

Mr Pratt : We will be able to share more information, I imagine, at 6.30 than at 6.00.

CHAIR: If you have all of the information by 6.30 then I cannot see a problem with having it at 6.30.

Senator FURNER: I take it that the offer for a commitment to be involved in an NDIS program went to all the states and territories, including Queensland.

Mr Bowen : Yes.

Senator FIFIELD: Could you elaborate on the process of how that occurred with respect to gaining the expressions of interest in participating in the launch? Was it a case of those expressions of interest going to where the locations would be, their willingness to meet average benchmarks for funding for a person with disabilities and a willingness, naturally, to have some form of a commitment to the Commonwealth to be part of the process?

Ms S Wilson : There were a number of criteria, as I explained earlier. There was a sort of a template, if you like, that we asked the EOIs to be framed against. It went to preparedness to meet the funding benchmark, preparedness to meet the governance approach, information about the population to be covered and the characteristics and the nature of the launch, the dates and those sorts of things, as well as preparedness to share data. So there were a range of criteria in the EOI template that we asked the jurisdictions to address.

Senator FURNER: And how much of that data was forthcoming from Queensland?

Ms S Wilson : None, Senator. From Queensland there was a reply to Minister Macklin's letter of 18 May from Queensland which stated that Queensland would consider a launch site if the Australian government would meet the full cost associated with such a site. It did not make any attempt to address the selection criteria and therefore it was not rule as a compliant EOI and did not receive a formal assessment.

Senator FURNER: How many of the other states or territories have indicated an expression of interest in participating to date?

Ms S Wilson : Western Australia, South Australia, the ACT, Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria all produced expressions of interest.

Senator FURNER: So the only missing EOIs were from the Northern Territory and Queensland.

Ms S Wilson : Yes.

Senator McLucas: Senator, you may recall the Northern Territory was leading-up to an election and it was not deemed appropriate for them to engage at that point.

Senator FURNER: That's correct. I take is some sort of dialogue is happening with them now to try and reach some commitment.

Ms S Wilson : They have not followed up post-election, at this early stage, with an expression of interest.

Senator FURNER: Okay. I understand the Queensland Premier announced on 25 July that the Queensland government had nominated Gympie as a launch site. How was that communicated, if at all, to the Commonwealth?

Ms S Wilson : I believe that that was the way it was communicated, Senator.

Senator FURNER: Merely that it was—

Ms S Wilson : That is what I understand. It may potentially have been mentioned in a meeting of First Ministers departments that I was not at, of course, because I work for a line department. But my general understanding is that that is the way in which it was communicated to the government.

Senator FURNER: Can I put that on notice, in terms of the communique on the delivery back of that information from the Queensland parliament, and what was actually communicated.

Ms S Wilson : Certainly, Senator; I can follow that up for you.

Senator FURNER: Thank you. That is the extent of my questions, Chair.

Senator PRATT: Clearly, there has historically been a considerable but varied state commitment to the funding of support for people with disabilities over their lifetimes. I am interested in how we are going in getting the Commonwealth funding that is there for the trial scheme to roll out, and what that means in terms of the Commonwealth funding, under the National Disability Agreement, compares with previous years funding.

Ms S Wilson : I wonder if my colleague Karen has the NDA figures. I do not have them in my current folder. The Commonwealth's contribution for launch is comprised of a combination of existing and new funding. The government provided $342.5 million over three years to fund the individualised support packages. In addition, a range of existing programs will be drawn upon and funding within those programs to support the Commonwealth's contribution of 14,191. The Commonwealth is also counting its contribution through the National Disability Special Purpose Payment as part of the launch funding in each of the launch sites.

Senator PRATT: So, am I correct in that that is about 15,000 places? Is that what you are saying?

saying?

Ms S Wilson : For individualised support packages, the—

Senator PRATT: What was the 14,191 figure?

Ms S Wilson : The $14,190—

Senator PRATT: Ah, sorry.

Ms S Wilson : was the Commonwealth's contribution for the average cost of an individual support package.

Ms K Wilson : In 2012-13 the Commonwealth government's contribution to the states and territories through the NDA is around $1.28 billion.

Senator PRATT: And how does that compare with previous years?

Ms K Wilson : For example, in 2006-07 the Commonwealth's contribution was $620 million. Over the 5½ years—2009 to what we anticipate for 2015—the Commonwealth government's input will be around $7.6 billion.

Senator PRATT: How are we translating that into the number of people accessing support for Commonwealth funding? How many more people are we supporting through that funding currently?

Ms K Wilson : I have some information on people accessing specialist disability services, if that would help.

Senator PRATT: I suppose I am looking to see how many lives we are affecting through that extra funding and how that compares with previous years. If the funding has doubled, then you would hope that we are reaching out to double the population, or giving a higher level of service.

Ms S Wilson : We can probably give you some information about the numbers of people being supported in each state and territory and nationally with specialist disability support as reported through the NDA reporting, but you cannot necessarily equate the increase in Commonwealth funding with an outcome saying that because it has doubled funding then the number of people being assisted has doubled.

Senator PRATT: No, but you would expect that there would be a higher level of service for some people and that others would be able to access services for the first time, and that you would be able to model overall the penetration of that funding into the community.

Ms K Wilson : According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, who look after the Disability Services National Minimum Data Set, between 2005-06 and 2010-11 the number of people using specialist disability services increased by 45 per cent.

Senator PRATT: Okay. That is a good example.

Ms S Wilson : I think it is important to acknowledge that the Commonwealth has certainly increased its funding, and some jurisdictions have as well, over that period.

CHAIR: Thank you very much to the officers from outcome 5.

[18:02]

CHAIR: We now move to outcome 6: Women.

Senator CASH: You will be aware of the Attorney-General's agreement to provide sexual harassment training for MPs and senators as part of the government's $50,000 legal settlement with the ex-Speaker's former staff member James Ashby. Has the Office for Women been approached for any comment in relation to what this type of training might look like?

Ms McKenzie : We have talked about this a number of times. We have responsibilities for a number of issues, including the National Plan. We have some other issues on which we work jointly with other departments, and we have a number of issues on which the other departments are the ones that have the expertise to manage complex policy and program issues. In this case the Attorney-General's Department, along with the Australian Human Rights Commission, has the excellence in this particular area. So we stand ready to assist should they require it, and they know we are available to comment on anything they request.

Senator CASH: Has any approach been made from either of those two—

Ms McKenzie : At this stage I am unaware of any approach that has been made.

Senator CASH: Ms Carroll, do you know if any approach has been made?

Ms Carroll : I am not aware of any, either.

Senator CASH: In terms of the NGO delegate applications for CSW 57, I understand that the selection process for individuals to participate in the official Australian government delegation to the 57th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women is now closed. How many applications were received by the Office for Women for potential participants?

Ms McKenzie : I do not know the particular number. This is a normal process for us. For the last several years we have run a process to select the non-government delegates. I know that it is something that the non-government organisations really look forward to. In the past we have certainly had some very high-calibre applicants and have been very pleased with the delegates who have joined the delegation.

Ms Steele : I understand there have been over 30 applications.

Senator CASH: How are the successful delegates chosen?

Ms Steele : We go through the applications as you would with any job application scenario. There are selection criteria which unfortunately I do not have to hand, but I think they are in the advert. We short list and then we interview those short listed candidates.

Senator CASH: How many NGOs are chosen to participate in the delegation. How many people or participants are there?

Ms Steele : At this stage we are expecting to select three, one of whom will be an Indigenous person.

Ms McKenzie : I will just mention that that has been the practice for the last several years.

Senator CASH: Who will make up the official Australian delegation?

Ms Steele : That is yet to be determined.

Senator CASH: It has not been decided yes; okay. Do you have any anticipated costs, or has there been anything allocated in the budget for the delegation?

Ms Steele : The costs will obviously depend on the final make-up of the delegation.

Senator CASH: Is there anything that you can find in the budget for the delegation?

Ms McKenzie : In preparing our internal budget we always have a nominal allocation to this.

Senator CASH: For delegations?

Ms McKenzie : For the FaHCSIA representatives and the NGO representatives. And we always assume that there will be a number of side events that we will also be looking to fund. It is just a question of how that works out. So we do have some money that is set aside, but it is really a question of how it works out in terms of the number of delegates and also the side events that open up.

Senator CASH: What is the amount of money that has been set aside?

Ms McKenzie : Usually we set aside about $150,000.

Senator CASH: Is that for the one delegation, or is that across a number of delegations?

Ms McKenzie : That is for our delegation to CSW. That covers both the delegation and the side events.

Senator CASH: Could I take you, now, to the Gender Balance on Australian Government Boards—Information for Portfolios document. Who within the Office for Women developed the document?

Ms Steele : It was staff in Womens Branch, my branch.

Senator CASH: Were any consultants used in the development of the document?

Ms Steele : We secured the services of Women on Boards to do a number of things for us in this space, including advising on that document.

Senator CASH: At what cost?

Ms Steele : I will need to find that in my notes.

Senator CASH: Thank you. Why? Was it for specialist advice that you had to commission Women on Boards?

Ms Steele : Yes, and also to undertake some consultation and information sessions with staff from other portfolios across government.

Senator CASH: I note that in the document under the section 'target' it states that some portfolios have already reached the target, some are close to reaching the target and others are encountering significant challenges in meeting the target. Could you provide a list of those portfolios who have reached the target, are close to reaching the target and those who are encountering a significant challenge in meeting the target.

Ms McKenzie : That information for 2010-11 was in our previous women on government boards report. That information for the last year will be in the next women on government boards report which we are expecting to finalise shortly.

Senator CASH: When do you expect that to be released?

Ms Carroll : It is not final just at the moment but, once it is, then obviously we need to provide it to the minister and it would go through that normal process.

CHAIR: Is there a standard reporting date or period for that?

Ms McKenzie : It is done on the basis of the financial year.

CHAIR: So there is an expectation that it is around October-November? You reported last year; you will report this year—it is just in terms of the community having an expectation as to when that is going to be.

Ms Carroll : I think that normally it would be available by the end of the calendar year, so it would be, normally, in the February estimates that you would actually have a copy of that report.

Senator CASH: As to those who are encountering significant challenges in meeting the target, what is the Office for Women doing to assist them in reaching the target?

Ms McKenzie : There is a range of things we are doing. We work with all the departments. Obviously, those departments that are doing very well against the target need relatively little assistance; those departments that are finding it more of a challenge we are providing more assistance to. We provide assistance in terms of pointing them to particular strategies that might be useful, working with them to develop strategies that might help them to achieve the target and providing them with the links and liaison points with other departments that have been able to address the challenges that they are currently meeting.

Senator CASH: When you say, 'encountering significant challenges,' why are they encountering challenges in meeting the target?

Ms McKenzie : If you look at industry more broadly and the private sector as a whole, then I am sure Helen Conway could explain to you how some organisations find this an easier challenge than others and some have a historic performance in this area and others do not have the links—

Senator CASH: Sorry—I was talking about government boards, I thought.

Ms McKenzie : Yes, but I think the same is true for the government sector. There are departments—such as FaHCSIA; immigration; and the department of health, to a certain extent—who have traditionally had larger numbers of women on their boards, and we have generally taken those from the sectors where women tend to be present. It is a little more challenging for departments in choosing people to go on boards when they have been in what I guess we would call male-dominated industries. It means that they have to work a bit harder to find the links and have more strategies for engaging with the women in that sector. They need to do a bit more communications and publicity to encourage women to step forward. And we are finding that departments are doing that. If I could point to the agriculture portfolio, that is one where they have increased the number of women on their boards quite significantly because they have a very strong process of going out there and encouraging women to come forward, making it very obvious what their boards are that women can apply to, and using a number of other strategies. So we certainly use that department as one of the departments—

Senator CASH: That you can hold up.

Ms McKenzie : when we are talking with other departments that are finding it a bit more difficult; they can learn from them and their experience. But we have also been identifying the various strategies that can be used and looking at helping them in terms of their planning and what they might be able to do. So it has been a very collaborative process, and the training sessions that Ms Steele mentioned are part of that process of bringing people together and talking about some of the issues and the ways through.

Senator CASH: Ms Steele, did you manage to get a cost for the Women on Boards consultancy.

Ms Steele : I did. The contract was for $19,300.

Senator CASH: Regarding the AICD scholarships, the minister announced $225,000 funding for the 70 scholarships. Are there any out-of-pocket expenses for women who receive the scholarship?

Ms Steele : I do not believe so. The scholarship is in effect the cost that AICD charges for their courses.

Senator CASH: Do they have to be employed?

Ms Steele : I do think that is a criterion, but they have to have some experience or be at a stage where they are board ready, I suppose.

Senator CASH: Is there any expectation that the employer will pay part of the cost?

Ms Steele : Not that I am aware of.

Senator CASH: I met with Women in Agriculture and one of the issues they raised with me was that if a woman from a rural or regional area wins the scholarship it is very difficult for her to then leave her job to come to the city to undertake the course. Obviously she has to close down the business for a week. Have you thought through how you might be able to engage better with women in those situations who would love to do this scholarship?

Ms McKenzie : This is one of the areas that we have realised needs to have some work. It is not just rural women but also Indigenous women, CALD women, women who are moving into community boards and women who are moving into small private company boards. So we are looking at this area to see what can be done.

Senator CASH: I appreciate that.

Senator PRATT: What is the progress against actions under the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, noting of course that it is in collaboration with a number of other agencies that have quite an international focus.

Ms Steele : The stage we are at with the national action plan is that we are finalising the implementation plan. We have had at least two meetings with all the relevant agencies and departments. In terms of other activities, a DVD has been launched and a toolkit, which is aimed at preparing military, police or other peacekeeping people prior to deployment, in terms of their obligations under the national action plan and, obviously, 1325 itself.

Senator PRATT: How much work is the Office for Women responsible for versus how much is being done within these other agencies, because clearly you are looking to train them up and sensitise them for the international work they are doing. Hopefully they have some internal capacity themselves.

Ms Steele : If you have seen the actions at the back of the national action plan you will see that the Office for Women is not actually responsible for many of them. But we are responsible for still bringing everybody together in a whole-of-government sort of sense. We have the responsibility of trying to promote the plan and to help out where we can in the educational activities. That is why we paid for the toolkit that goes along with the DVD that was launched both in New York and then in Canberra.

Senator PRATT: Are you finding positive uptake amongst defence leadership and other agencies?

Ms Steele : Very much, and particularly in defence.

Senator PRATT: That is terrific. Can you give me some examples?

Ms Steele : I understand that, with some of the recent developments in Defence, the new organisation—I forget the name of the new body that will be driving the sort of cultural changes that Elizabeth Broderick has recommended—will be taking carriage of the defence obligations under 1325. So that has given it a high profile.

Senator PRATT: I suppose that underscores the fact that you have to practice what you preach in this context, that in working with other countries to promote good gender inclusion in development of peace and in women's participation in post-conflict situations it is important that the Defence Force has its own house in order in that context?

Ms Steele : That would seem like a good idea. For your information the name of that board is the Australian Defence Force Gender Advisory Board.

CHAIR: Thank you for your evidence. We will now move to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency.