Performance indicators needed for disability services

Performance indicator development is the key to providing national information on the efficiency and effectiveness of disability services, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The report, Integrating Indicators: Theory and Practice in the Disability Services Field, is a joint project of the AIHW and the National Disability Administrators.

AIHW Director, Dr Richard Madden, said that the partnership with the disability administrators ensured that information collected would be practical, useful and relevant to current policy.

'Government and non-government agencies are becoming increasingly interested not only in the amount of money used in providing services, but in how effective the services are.

'To put it more technically, in addition to interest in inputs and processes, there is a great deal of interest in the relationships between costs and service outputs, and the extent to which these outputs translate to outcomes for people.'

'It is, of course, very difficult to directly measure concepts such as outputs and outcomes.

'So, we have to look for things we can measure that indicate how much service is provided, the resources that went into providing it, and the difference the service or output made to the recipient. Hence the term "indicators".'

'For outputs, we might look at numbers of clients and hours of support provided, to name only two of many possibilities. For outcomes, we might try to measure changes in participation in the labourforce, changes in social participation, and measures of client satisfaction with services.'

The Integrating Indicators report also argues that better performance information is needed to service the increasing shift from block grants to consumer- and output-based funding models and reporting requirements.

Other information contained in the report includes:

  • Issues behind the increasing trend to performance measurement.
  • How concepts such as 'input', 'output', 'outcome', 'efficiency' and 'effectiveness' are understood and used in the Australian disability services field.
  • A critical review of the current use and development of performance indicators in the disability services field.
  • Suggestions on how disability services performance indicator development could proceed.

19 October 2000


Further information: Nicola Fortune, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1185.
For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, tel. 02 6244 1032.