26 September 2023

1800RESPECT audit respects effectiveness

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A performance audit into the Department of Social Services’ (DSS) process to secure a provider for 1800RESPECT has found it was effective and had the potential to achieve value for money.

In his report Procurement of 1800RESPECT, Auditor-General Grant Hehir said 1800RESPECT is Australia’s national domestic, family and sexual violence counselling service, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Mr Hehir said 1800RESPECT’s counselling and support services were delivered by third party providers.

“The Department commenced a procurement process in 2020 to select a new provider and change the funding arrangements from a grant agreement to a contract,” Mr Hehir said.

“The procurement process took two years to complete, resulting in a five-year contract for around $200 million being executed on 24 January 2022,” he said.

“The Department’s 2020 to 2022 procurement of counselling and support services provided through 1800RESPECT was effective and has the potential to achieve value for money when the performance management framework is fully implemented and an evaluation strategy and plan are developed.”

Mr Hehir said DSS’s tender process was also effective and had the potential to achieve value for money.

He said it appropriately managed the transition of 1800RESPECT from Medibank Health Solutions Telehealth to Telstra Health and maintained service continuity.

“The Department has designed fit for purpose administrative arrangements, including an approved contract management manual and governance framework, both of which are still being implemented,” the Auditor-General said.

“The performance management framework is yet to be fully implemented and the Department is currently not able to provide assurance over the completeness and accuracy of the data Telstra Health provides,” he said.

“A 1800RESPECT evaluation strategy and plan is yet to be developed.”

Mr Hehir made one recommendation to DSS to develop an evaluation strategy and plan to assess the performance of 1800RESPECT in line with its objectives and the performance management framework.

The Auditor-General’s report can be accessed at this PS News link and a 59-page pdf version at this link.

The audit team was Rowena Thomson, Sean Brindle, Supriya Benjamin, Renina Boyd, Daniel Whyte and Alexandra Collins.

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