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Our interest in joint working arrangements

As stewards of the service system, we want to ensure viability of the sector. We work with the parties involved in joint working arrangements as a commissioner of services, and encourage these collaborations because they can lead to:

  • more diverse thinking
  • shared learning
  • increased knowledge pool

and contribute to:

  • more effective service delivery
  • development of new service models.

What is a joint working arrangement?

The term ‘joint working arrangement’ doesn’t have a set legal definition. The term is generally used to describe the arrangement where two or more organisations work together for a common purpose.

Joint working arrangements provide a mechanism for collaboration and service delivery between organisations in the sector, whether or not the organisations are contracted by the department.

The purpose of the arrangement may be anything from an informal alliance for sharing information, through to a consortium established to tender for a project or services.

There are different approaches to working together, with different levels of collaboration. The nature of the arrangement depends on the needs of each of the organisations involved and, if contracted by the department, the outcomes to be achieved for our clients.

Benefits of developing joint working arrangements

It’s understandable that you may choose to enter into a joint working arrangement because of the benefits.

By sharing workload and resources, organisations can lower overheads and enable more funding to be directed to frontline service delivery.

By working together, organisations can:

  • improve their overall capacity, capabilities and geographical reach
  • achieve better outcomes for beneficiaries: the organisations themselves, their clients and the sector in general.

Your obligations under the contract

While we support joint working arrangements that help achieve better outcomes for our clients, it’s important the arrangements don’t pose a risk to service delivery.

Whether you’re required to notify us of a joint working arrangement depends on the terms and conditions of your contract.

One example is if the joint working arrangement is for the purposes of subcontracting. We consider subcontracting to be any arrangement where a service provider uses the department’s funds to pay another organisation or an individual to fulfil part or all of the services we have contracted the service provider to deliver.

Under the terms and conditions of the contract with us, you must obtain our consent to subcontract before entering into the arrangement.

Is a joint working arrangement right for your organisation?

Before committing to a joint working arrangement, you may want to consider:

  • whether the organisations involved have visions, values and cultures which are compatible with those of your organisation
  • the viability and sustainability of the arrangement, including its capacity to meet the stated purpose
  • the risks of the arrangement, and the impact they may have on your organisation, the others involved, and your relationship with the department.

The purpose of the arrangements will determine whether the arrangement is formal or informal. Generally, the closer the collaboration, the more important it is to have a formal agreement in place, such as a contract.

We strongly recommend you obtain legal advice before entering into any arrangement that requires a formal agreement. This is the best way to ensure the agreement meets the specific needs of the joint working arrangement and your organisation, and that it sufficiently addresses any areas of risk.

Support and assistance

For further information and free advice about joint working arrangements:

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Last updated: 25 Nov 2019