VACCHO and its members are facing a changing external environment; one that presents significant cultural, social, political, and environmental challenges. These challenges, will and are requiring members to review their service models, business systems and back-of-house operations. At a business level, each ACCHO operates its own back of house functions and procures goods and services independently. As a sector, this results in duplicated practices that are costly to run, fragmented and fail to harness the purchasing power of the sector. This operational business model is inefficient, and one that consumes scarce resources that could be better utilised in service delivery and improvement. Individual ACCHOs are challenged within their existing scale, capability and resource capacity to deliver business support to a contemporary business standard. The Shared Business Services (SBS) concept asserts that a VACCHO-led, member-governed SBS model will achieve a higher standard of service, provide access to specialist expertise and reduce overhead costs.
In 2014 VACCHO and its 27 member Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (the sector) charged VACCHO with investigating and leading an SBS model. The aim of the SBS Project is to ‘investigate, develop and implement a shared business support services model for VACCHO and the members’. This paper details the development of the SBS concept; involving comprehensive consultation, a scoping study and development of a business case to demonstrate the model’s merit and feasibility. The result has been the establishment of an SBS team, now operating as a small social enterprise and testing SBS offerings with interested members. The challenges and learnings experienced by VACCHO, and the engaged members, has led to a different working relationship between the parties. VACCHO is using these learnings to improve the service offered and build the capacity of the members.