Community health services provide state-funded primary healthcare in Victoria, focussing on people with, or at risk of, poorer health, under a social model of health.
Community health services directory
CHSs work alongside general practice, privately funded services and other health and support services in Victoria. They primarily deliver:
The delivery of these supports and services is flexible and responsive to the needs of people and local communities. In this way, the CHSs focus on person-centred, coordinated care.
Community health services also have a key role in early intervention and management of people with chronic and complex conditions.
How community health services operate
The Community Health Integrated Program (CHIP) guidelines describe what funded CHSs are expected to deliver. Their aim is to improve consistency across the state in organisations’ planning, program design and service delivery. They also clarify expectations for coordinated service provision.
Community health services receive Community Health Program funding from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Departmental funding accounts for approximately 60 per cent of CHS revenue. In 2013-14 the department contributed $138 million for the Community Health Program with funding for general counselling, allied health (audiology, dietetics, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, podiatry, speech pathology), community health nursing and health promotion.
The department also funds CHSs to deliver a range of other services, including aged care, dental health, Home and Community Care and a range of other community-based health and human services.
Victorian CHSs operate under two distinct legal and governance arrangements: 56 CHSs operate as part of public health services and 32 are independent registered CHCs.
The independent registered services are companies limited by guarantee, and registered under the Health Services Act 1988.
Victoria's registered community health centres comply with performance standards and report regularly to the department.
CHSs provide universal access to services. The Community Health Program prioritises access to people with particular health needs. The program’s eligibility and priority criteria target disadvantaged populations with the poorest health and the greatest economic and social needs.
CHSs use a schedule of fees and income ranges when assessing clients. Fees for CHS are applied in line with the Home and Community Care (HACC) fees policy and program manual which provide a consistent framework for how service providers are to operate.
CHSs operate from a social model of health. They acknowledge the social, environmental and economic factors that affect health, as well as the biological and medical factors.
For this reason, CHSs are active participants in and contributors to their communities. This strong community connection means they can better respond to their local communities and better address the factors that influence health.