South Australian public servants are setting up Australia’s first “employee-led public service mutual” to deliver disability services with the support of the state and federal governments, The Mandarin reports.
The new public sector spin-off will deliver early-childhood intervention services, funded through the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The SA Department for Communities and Social Inclusion announced that a “highly skilled allied health and support workforce” was transferring from the state government’s Child and Youth Services unit to the new not-for-profit mutual:
“The employee-led mutual will deliver services under a co-operative structure, with members of the organisation pivotal in decision-making. It is expected that the ECEI Grant Agreement will create 50 full-time roles.”
The idea of public service mutuals first arose in the United Kingdom, and has been promoted more in recent years by a new peak body, the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals, which launched in 2014.
The BCCM and the federal government both say the new entity being set up in SA is an Australian first, which is led by former government employees who will staff it and provide services funded by a $47 million grant.
In a statement last month, federal Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham described public service mutuals as “organisations which operate outside of the formal public sector, but continue to deliver public services led by experienced and qualified staff with strong local knowledge and understanding of the community’s needs”.
“The creation of the South Australian employee-led mutual is an example of the innovation and creativity required to deliver the NDIS, a world-first, ground-breaking scheme,” he said.