ALIGNING STRUCTURE AND STRATEGY AT THE WESTERN AUSTRALIAN POLICE

ALIGNING STRUCTURE AND STRATEGY AT THE WESTERN AUSTRALIAN POLICE AND COMMUNITY YOUTH CENTRES (PCYC)
BY SCOTT GARDNER, MURDOCH UNIVERSITY, AND JOHN GILLESPIE.

ALIGNING STRUCTURE AND STRATEGY AT THE WESTERN AUSTRALIAN POLICE

CASE STUDY
ALIGNING STRUCTURE AND STRATEGY AT THE WESTERN AUSTRALIAN POLICE AND COMMUNITY YOUTH CENTRES (PCYC)
BY SCOTT GARDNER, MURDOCH UNIVERSITY, AND JOHN GILLESPIE.

A ‘new broom’
John (Jock) Gillespie, a seasoned former senior police officer of 31 years’ standing, has just completed his first year as CEO and ‘new broom’ of the Western Australian Police and Community Youth Centres (PCYC). A ‘new broom’ is a person brought in to undertake a ‘clean sweep’ of the old approaches and old problems and change the organisation for the better.
His appointment in June 2013 followed the Browne Report (2012)—a comprehensive review of the core purpose, strategy, governance arrangements, structure and processes of the Federation of Western Australian Police and Community Youth Centres.

Prior to 2013, the Western Australian PCYC offered sporting and recreational programs for youths aged 10–24 through a network of 10 metropolitan and 13 regional and remote centres, spread across a vast expanse of Western Australia. The activities at each centre were guided federally by a broader role-modelling and diversion philosophy, introduced during World War II to provide structure and discipline for boys, in the absence of fathers and other authority figures who were serving in the armed forces.

This paramilitary philosophy and allied structure, employing serving police officers as devolved centre managers, was broadly successful in diverting youth energies into sport and recreation until the 1990s.

Post-2000, significant questions were raised in Western Australian media and state government forums concerning the continued relevance of the paramilitary PCYC model, and the reportedly piecemeal delivery of programs and their uptake. This emerging political and media discourse was framed by broader public concerns regarding the increasing level and impact of juvenile crime in metropolitan, regional and remote communities across Western Australia.

Jock’s remit as the new CEO was to action a series of key reforms over a three-year period that aligned to a strategic and business planning process, with measurable performance outcomes at the levels of head office, centre, program, team and individual staff. These initiatives would be linked to a cross-agency approach to program and service delivery, designed to measurably reduce youth participation in the juvenile justice system. Leading reforms in policing was second nature to Jock, but tackling this complex, ’wicked problem’ of juvenile crime and recidivism could well prove to be his biggest challenge, even with $10 million dollars of funding to support the reforms.

The WA PCYC reform agenda 2013–14

The Browne Report had recommended civilianisation of WA PCYC and centrally coordinated state-wide delivery of diversionary, recreational, learning and development programs directly targeting disengaged or ‘at-risk’ youths in order to reduce the likelihood of them entering or re-entering the juvenile justice system. Under the new strategy, programs and services were to be governed by agreed standards, and delivered in partnership with the WA Police and the WA Departments of Corrective Services (DCS), Child Protection and Family Support (DCPFS), Department of Sport and Recreation (DSR) and other relevant stakeholders in the local government and the not-for-profit domain.

This orchestrated cross-agency approach, combined with structured case management interventions for higher-risk juveniles, had the potential to provide the dual benefits of juvenile crime reduction and the building of positive and productive futures. Learning and development programs were to be tailored to the needs, interests and abilities of individual ‘at-risk’ youths. Centralised coordination from a new headquarters, employing three additional staff to professionalise the Executive Management, HR/HRD and Finance functions, was combined with delegated authority for centre managers to determine locally sensitive provision of services and programs.

Jock realised that his ability to calibrate the ‘loose–tight’ balance between centralised efficiency, through corporate strategy, clarity of roles and reporting lines, cross-agency coordination, case management and locally informed program delivery in metropolitan, regional and remote centres, was crucial for the success of the reforms in the years ahead.

‘Loose’ refers to giving the centres/centre managers more flexibility in their approach to running their centres as each area and setting is unique. ‘Tight’ refers to having better centralised coordination and procedures for the agencies involved to follow. His efforts to introduce centralised efficiency and effectiveness across a network of centres would ultimately be judged by improved governance and local program outcomes, and his team’s capacity to reshape the destiny of West Australian youths at risk. The way forward for at-risk youths in Western Australia?

Reflecting on his first 12 months, Jock felt he had successfully addressed part of his leadership challenge through the implementation of several key decisions including: the introduction of strategic and operational planning; restructuring (including redeployment or removal of ‘old guard’ centre managers); improved governance and risk-reduction arrangements, incorporating an experienced board with senior representation from the judiciary (the Chief Justice of WA and former magistrates), WA police, media and local entrepreneurs; stricter police integrity and working-with-children checks for staff and volunteers; improved consistency and reliability of program delivery through common standards; and streamlining of head office functions and processes.

Jock now needs to evolve a flexible ‘loose–tight’ structure to align program-based activities within the organisation to the goals of his corporate strategy, intervention programs and achievement of a measurable reduction in levels of participation in the juvenile justice system across Western Australia in concert with the WA Police.

Discussion questions

1.         Jock has already put in place some structural changes that will support a more efficient, effective and coordinated approach to service delivery. Describe these arrangements and discuss how they will improve this approach and PCYC program outcomes.

2.         What are some of the other organisational and program design measures required to support the successful achievement of the PCYC vision and goals detailed in the website and strategic plan (see www.wapcyc.com.au/). Answer with reference to your own experience and the concepts from Chapter 13 and other chapters concerned with organisational learning, teamwork and performance management.

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