Jon Stanhope, Chief Minister
I welcome the Report on Government Services (ROGS), released recently by the Productivity Commission, showing ACT Government services continue to be among the best in the country. I am pleased with the ACT’s performance in the report but note useful benchmarks for future improvement.
The Report on Government Services 2007 is an annual comparison of services provided by Australia’s State and Territory Governments.
The ACT’s performance in many crucial areas leads the nation. In particular, our community enjoys access to excellence in public school educational outcomes; we continue to enjoy the best health and highest longevity rates, and our police and emergency services lead the nation in many performance measures.
It should be noted that the information contained in the report pre-dates the ACT Government’s recent budget reforms and initiatives, which aim to bring the costs associated with many government services back into line with other jurisdictions, without compromising service standards.
The report reinforces what we in the ACT have long prided ourselves on – our first-class education system. We have the best public education system in Australia, and with the recent announcement of a $90 million injection into our schools, we are determined to ensure that our public schools are the first choice for a quality education.
The report shows that in 2005 the ACT had the highest Year 12 completion rate of any jurisdiction by far at 80% compared to a national average of 67%.
Literacy benchmarks also exceed national averages for ACT students in Years 3,5 and 7. In addition, numeracy measures in 2004 showed levels of performance for ACT students above the national average.
The ACT has the highest apparent retention rate of full time students from years 10-12 at 88.1% compared to 76.5% nationally, with retention rate for Indigenous full-time students from years 10-12 at 66.1% compared to 45.3% nationally. The retention rate for government schools in the ACT is much higher than for non-government schools, at 99.5% compared to 74.5%.
The ROGS shows that expenditure on students in government schools is above the national average. The ACT Government is addressing this issue through recent budget initiatives and the Towards 2020 program. Recent reforms to the public education system are aimed at ensuring sustainability in public schools and improving learning and teaching environments in our schools.
The ACT has more police officers on the beat than any other jurisdiction, with the report showing the ACT has 85.6% of operational police officers, well above the national average of 82.6%. In addition, community perceptions of safety remain relatively high and are generally above the national average. Perceptions of safety on our public transport after dark are also significantly higher than any other jurisdiction.
The ACT has the lowest imprisonment rate of any jurisdiction at 76 adults per 1,000. The national average is 156. The ACT also has the lowest rate of Indigenous imprisonment at 545 per 1,000 adults.
The report shows that the ACT has a relatively high cost per capita for corrective services. However it is expected that the commissioning of the ACT’s new prison will result in a reduction in the recurrent cost per prisoner per day.
Performance of our court system is in line with the achievements of other states, although improvements can be made in reducing case backlog. In is anticipated that the introduction of the new Court Procedures Rules in the Supreme Court and Magistrates Courts will further enhance case management. The ACT shows superior performance by the Magistrates Court over the last five years, having cleared more than 100% of cases in each year, thereby reducing the backlog of cases. The cost per finalisation continues to decline for criminal matters, with the Supreme Court less than most jurisdictions.
I am proud of the ACT Fire Brigade’s response times which are the best in the country, with containment of fire to the room of origin at 82%, also the best response in the country.
The ACT health system also performed well in comparison to other jurisdictions in many key areas.
Life expectancy at birth for the ACT has increased steadily and Canberrans continue to outlive their counterparts in all other jurisdictions with the highest average life expectancy of 79.7 for males and 83.9 for females. This is not only higher than the Australian average, but is amongst the highest in the world.
The ACT’s hospitals continued to record excellent results for relative stays in hospital for patients, with a decrease from 1.04 days to 1.01 days.
The ACT Government continues to work towards cutting the waiting times in the emergency department and for elective surgery. The Government has invested significantly in reducing elective surgery waiting lists and results show that more patients were admitted for elective surgery in 2004-05 (8.617) than in 2003-04 (8.547). This figure is increasing year-on-year with 9,076 patients receiving elective surgery in 2005-06.
The ACT Government is also working to reduce ACT public hospital costs and in line with the 2006-07 Budget is implementing a strategy to bring costs to within 10% of the average cost of similar facilities in Australia by 2009-10.
The ACT also performed well in a number of significant areas of aged care provision.
The number of Aged Care Assessments (ACAT) per 1000 people over 70 was the highest in the ACT at 121.4 against a national average of 88.1 and the ACT has the highest number of community aged care packages, with 20.2 per 1000 people over 70, compared to the national average of 18.2.
In the area of aged accommodation, the ACT Government is committed to bringing operational care places on line as quickly as possible after the Commonwealth Government allocates the care places. We expect to see a steady increase in performance over time in this area, with the recent completion of a planning framework for the number of residential places required for the next 20 years and identification of land for future aged care accommodation.
The report shows that, despite being a small jurisdiction, services provided by the ACT Government compare extremely favourably in comparison to other States and the Northern Territory.
This is a great opportunity not only to recognise what we are doing well, but to identify those areas where there is still room for improvement.
Jon Stanhope, Chief Minister