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2. Description of service need

The reader should gain an understanding of the key policy and planning issues that have influenced the project’s development.

The focus should be on the government’s service delivery requirements, priorities, commitments and outcomes rather than focusing on the outputs, activities or solutions.

This section should clearly answer the question, 'Why is this project needed?'

For example: the service requirement is to provide 24 hour access to secondary level emergency department services for patients within the primary catchment area of the hospital.

Rather than: the service requirement is for a new 20 cubicle purpose built state-of-the-art emergency department.


This section is available to inform a reader unfamiliar with the project, of important background or historical information that is outside of the policy context, and won't be picked up in other sections. For projects that have been developed in response to the policy context of section 2.2, it is probably unnecessary.

For projects that have a long or complex development history, or have unique features, this section can be used to ensure that the reader is provided with relevant background information.

Policy context


  • State government perspective, such financial statements, cabinet endorsed strategies, cabinet or budget and expenditure review committee (BERC) decisions.
  • Departmental policies, such as departmental plan, published departmental strategies, and divisional funding strategies or programs. Check for policy documents in other departments, divisions, regions or local bodies that might impact or interface with the project’s scope.
  • Regional directions, such as consideration of policy decisions in related areas that may impact on project, particularly if recently funded.
  • Agency information, specifically consider current agency strategic planning.
  • Federal government approach.

Identify any related projects that might need consideration within the project, e.g. decision of state or federal governments to fund and build a new university department on site.

All Department of Health metropolitan documents should refer to:

  1. Metropolitan Health Strategy
  2. Growing Victoria Together
  3. Liberal Policy Statement
  4. Agreed Health Service Strategic Plan (From 2005-)

Refer to Department of Health business case documentation – library of resources for other prompts.

Description of service need

Description of process should be sufficient to convey a sense of how detailed or complete the planning has been.

Append service plans in appendix and summarise the issues that relate directly to the investment decision. Focus on the needs to be met.

Generally, this will include key points on:

  1. demographic trends
  2. demand drivers, illness trends, utilisation (inpatients, outpatients, ED presentations, operations, occasions of service), access issues
  3. service deficiencies
  4. model of care
  5. change of role of facility (new services, alternative services, role-conversion)
  6. operational or organisational efficiency
  7. maintenance of asset or building fabric
  8. patient safety, regulatory compliance, OHS issues
  9. capacity of asset to sustain service delivery (building fabric, building services condition, site infrastructure condition).

Summarise the section with a tabular presentation of the services to be provided within the development. Try to convey a sense of volume, scope and complexity.

Check that services needs are consistent with policy objectives and scope of project.

Existing conditions

Some projects will benefit from a brief description of the conditions and limitations under which services are currently provided from. The section will be particularly useful where the project involves relocation, rebuilding or refurbishing existing facilities. Where existing conditions are well described in supporting documentation (eg condition surveys) it may be sufficient to quote the major finding and reference the report in the appendices.

Where not relevant, this section can be omitted.