Community managed organizations in the Northern Territory mental health sector
: sources of funding and their impact on service delivery

  • Tahir Mahmood Ali

    Student thesis: Masters by Research - CDU


    Government funding for mental health community managed organizations (CMOs) across Australia and particularly in the Northern Territory (NT) has been criticised for being insufficient to meet requirements. Contractual funding and accountability requirements have also been criticised for causing mission drift and loss of autonomy by the CMOs.

    Objective: To investigate the impact of government funding on the performance of mental health CMOs in the NT; and secondly, to explore other revenue sources for future successful mental health service delivery.

    Methodology: The study employed a qualitative approach to collect data in a single case study design. One small to medium CMO was selected by purposive sampling from a total of 34 in the NT. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six employees of the CMO, and document analysis and field observations were also used for data collection. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and thematic analysis was used to synthesize the results.

    Findings: From data analysis, 12 themes emerged and were clustered into three categories: government funding impacts with seven themes; other revenue sources with four themes; and government funding mechanism, one theme. Government funding impacts included two subcategories, negative impacts and positive impacts. Negative impact themes included: insufficiency which causes lack of resources, such as transport, space and workforce; uncertainty due to 2016 elections and 2019 National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) roll out; and improper performance evaluation system. Positive impact themes were, stability of the NT government funding, no mission drift, greater independence, and enhanced performance as a result of accountability. The four other revenue sources themes were: restrictions on fundraising and commercialization in service agreement; not viewing other revenue sources as viable; satisfaction with current government funding; and preference for government funding for future successful service delivery. The last category, government funding mechanism, included improper government performance evaluation and grant management system which also negatively affect the CMO.

    Conclusion: This study revealed useful qualitative data about the experience of a CMO in the NT. Some issues worthy of further exploration and discussion for the future of financing CMOs also emerged. While, single case study methodology is a limitation of the study and generalisation of findings should be cautious, a richness of data emerged which provides foundation for expanded survey studies, and quantitative quasi experimental interventions exploring the effects of some of the options for alternative funding on performance of CMOsand their clients and families in an often neglected health care sector.
    Date of AwardJul 2016
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDavid Arthur (Supervisor), Flora He (Supervisor) & Suzanne Stewart (Supervisor)

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