Frequently Asked Questions

What is Commissioning?

Commissioning involves working with community partners, including service users, to identify the services people need and how best to provide them. Service design involves all stakeholders and is collaborative.  As a result, the outcome is a framework for services that are client-centred and outcomes focused.  
Commissioning helps to target investment in services that:

  • meet community need;
  • are provided in ways that are valued by the community;
  • are designed together;
  • support innovation; and
  • yield improved, measurable health outcomes.

While there is no single model for commissioning, the process broadly includes:

  • Strategic planning – understanding needs, identifying gaps and strategising to deliver improved health outcomes.
  • Design – designing services and systems tailored to the needs of Canberrans.
  • Engagement of services – procuring services with community partners.
  • Partnering to deliver outcomes – improving outcomes for individuals and communities.
  • Continuous evaluation – collaboratively monitoring all stages to ensure service planning, design and delivery are responsive to need.
Continuous_Evaluation: Stage 1 Strategic Planning, Stage 2 Design, Stage 3 Engagement of Services, Stage 4 Partner to Deliver Outcomes

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Why is ACT Health changing the way it purchases health services in the community?

Historic funding practices have not kept pace with the changing health landscape in our city and region.

Commissioning is a new approach to the delivery of health care in the community that involves working with our partners to design and deliver the best health services for Canberrans.

The move towards commissioning will happen in stages and we expect it will take place over a number of procurement cycles. ACT Health’s goal is to develop a new way of working together, focused on relationships between government, providers, communities and service users to shape health services in the community.

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How and when will ACT Health implement commissioning of health services in the community?

ACT Health’s commissioning approach will be introduced gradually to allow implementation and evaluation to take place over several procurement cycles.

The first commissioning round will be completed in the lead-up to the expiry of existing service funding agreements in June 2022.

As part of this initial round, ACT Health will work with community partners to identify a small number of services that are suitable to review and design collaboratively. This will allow us to trial different approaches and learn what works best.

We do not intend to use a collaborative design approach for all services in the lead-up to June 2022. This would exceed the capacity of both the community health services sector and ACT Health, and potentially disrupt service delivery. Instead, services will be purchased using a combination of traditional procurement and a commissioning approach.

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Will the amount of funding for health services in the community change in the move to a commissioning approach?

No, ACT Health is approaching the first round of commissioning with a fixed funding envelope that is the same as the amount we currently spend through community health service providers.

We anticipate that, as we work through the commissioning process, areas of unmet need and new priorities for service delivery will emerge. As this occurs, we will work with community partners to determine whether to prioritise these gaps as part of the current commissioning cycle or defer for consideration in a future budget process.

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Will service providers be supported to participate in the commissioning process?

Yes, ACT Health will deliver a range of activities to help providers develop their capability to better participate in the commissioning process.
Capability development activities will aim to:

  • increase provider knowledge of what commissioning involves;
  • build skills to support providers to prepare quality responses to varying approaches to market; and
  • understand the ACT’s procurement legislation and policies. 

If you would like to know more about capability development opportunities, email the Commissioning of Health Services in the Community team to register your interest.

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I am not a currently funded ACT Health service provider: will I be able to participate in the commissioning process?

Yes, there will be opportunities for service providers that are not currently funded by ACT Health to participate in the commissioning process. Further information on opportunities for engagement will be provided as the process is taken forward.

To register to receive future tender notifications, visit

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Page last updated on: 4 May 2021