Australia’s Largest SIB To Forge New Path For Victorians Leaving Care
21 February 2018 at 5:05 pm
Australia’s largest social impact bond to date has been launched in a bid to help young people leaving out-of-home care make a successful transition to adulthood and prevent youth homelessness.
Welfare providers Anglicare Victoria and VincentCare have joined forces with the Victorian government to launch the Compass Social Impact Bond, which will deliver a new model of support for 200 care leavers aged between 16 and 18.
The $14.2 million program, which is now seeking investor support, is based on a preventative model of support and provides young people in Melbourne’s west, inner north and Bendigo, with access to housing and basic services via a dedicated case worker, for a period of two years.
Anglicare Victoria CEO Paul McDonald said Compass was an exciting opportunity for investors to make a real difference to the lives of young people and the Victorian community.
“This is a great opportunity for the investment community to set young people up for success as they leave care and tackle the tough social issue of youth homelessness,’’ McDonald said.
“Young people leaving care – who are often on their own without support from 18 – deserve every chance to fulfil their potential as adults but face so many more obstacles than most young people in the community, who live at home with family support well into their 20s.
“Research shows they are more likely to be homeless, unemployed, suffer mental health problems or be involved in the criminal justice system than other young people. But the evidence shows that with the right support care leavers can achieve better life outcomes.’’
Bridget Weller, Anglicare Victoria strategic projects manager and director, social impact bond, told Pro Bono News, as well as securing a viable housing option the program would match care leavers with a case worker who can help them “get their head around all of the things you need to learn when you first leave home”.
“It might be helping them to sign on with a GP, to access the kind of services that are available to all of us in the community, it might be providing some support to access some specialist care they might need if they have got particular issues they need help with,” Weller said.
“Importantly it will also be helping them engage with employment and education that meets their needs and suits their aspirations for what they want to do, and also just general life skills about how you deal with a landlord, how you manage your household budget, how you get your head around sharing a flat, working through the relationships and all that kind of stuff.
“And we’ll continue to work with them over a two year period, with a view to at the end of that, they’ll be ready to set out as young adults and make sensible and informed decisions about how they can set themselves up in the next stage.”
Over the coming months Anglicare Victoria and VincentCare will be speaking with a number of potential investors to finance the initiative.
“While that all goes on we’re already beavering away, and have been for some time, on implementation planning, so we’re ready to kick in as soon as we can with a view to us being able to start first delivery in the middle of the year,” Weller said.
She said there were a number of reasons that social impact bonds were valuable.
“I think one of the things that they provide is a way for the broader community to directly engage in and understand and learn about social care programs and the outcomes we can achieve in that,” she said.
“And I think part of what makes the social impact bond interesting is it creates a high level of transparency around that. All of the people who support the program will be seeing exactly what results we obtain as that will be driving the return they end up receiving.
“I think that is a good thing for us in terms of making sure we’re being really dynamic and responsive to need and it incentivises us to maximise the outcomes. It also provides a way for the broader community to engage very directly in delivering these outcomes.”
The success of the program will be measured against targets of reduced homelessness, improved health and reduced involvement with the criminal justice system, which, if achieved, promise to deliver tangible benefits for participants as well as economic returns for government and other program funders.
Weller said there had been a lengthy negotiation process with government to arrive at the measures that would drive performance payments.
She said there was also going to be an independent evaluation process which would look more broadly at the outcomes achieved for clients.
“That’s a really important element of it as well,” Weller said.
“So it is not just about getting driven by those performance payments, it is also about ensuring that we build the evidence base on how effective this innovative program is.”
She said in terms of the three key metrics used for performance payments, they will be drawing on data sets the government already collects from service provider agencies.
“That means it is a completely impartial assessment of performance, and in all cases the people who are involved in the program and what outcomes we get for those people will be compared against a carefully matched – the statisticians call it a counterfactual group – but a control group that is extracted from the same data set but who aren’t participating in the program,” she said.
“So what we’re going to be measured against is not just whether we have got good outcomes but whether we have got better outcomes than other people who are in similar circumstances.
“In terms of housing that is going to be measured by whether or not people have required emergency housing over the period, in the case of justice it is going to be measured according to whether people have been convicted of an offence and in relation to health it is going to be measured according to presentations at emergency departments.”
Weller said measurement would also include whether gains were maintained after the clients’ participation in the program had concluded.
“So it is not just about getting the outcomes while we’re working with people, it is also about ensuring we have got sustainable outcomes and have made an ongoing difference that really sticks,” she said.
VincentCare CEO John Blewonski said providing stable housing and ongoing support services for care leavers was a critical part of breaking the cycle of disadvantage.
“Providing a safe, secure home removes the uncertainty many young people face when they leave care and puts them in the best possible position to thrive and develop the skills they need for the future,’’ Blewonski said.
“Having a roof over their head and the support they need to look after their health, find a job or get involved in education and training will help young care leavers make a successful transition to adult life.’’
Compass marks Victoria’s second social impact bond, after the state government recently launched the Journey to Social Inclusion Social Impact Bond to provide rapid access to stable housing and intensive case management for people experiencing chronic homelessness, and harmful alcohol and other drug use.
Treasurer Tim Pallas, who launched the latest bond alongside Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos, said social impact bonds were an “innovative, but bold way of addressing serious disadvantage in our communities”.
“We’re thinking outside the box to help our most vulnerable kids,” Pallas said.