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New social impact bond focuses on disengaged students

26 October 2020 at 6:11 pm
Luke Michael
The Victorian government is launching the state’s third social impact bond

Luke Michael | 26 October 2020 at 6:11 pm


New social impact bond focuses on disengaged students
26 October 2020 at 6:11 pm

The Victorian government is launching the state’s third social impact bond

Young Victorians who are disengaged from school and living with mental health conditions will be given extra support to complete their studies, through a new program from the state government and Melbourne City Mission.  

The Living Learning initiative was launched by the Victorian Minister for Youth Ros Spence on Monday, as part of the government’s Partnerships Addressing Disadvantage social impact investment program.

The three-year program will offer education and wraparound mental health support for 144 young people aged 15 to 21 who have a mental health condition and are disengaged from employment, education and training. 

The Victorian government has committed up to $15 million for this project, with the final level of investment to be based on the results achieved.

Minister Spence said through this program, the government was looking at achieving long-term change. 

“[It] will open up so many opportunities for this group of young people – from improved mental health to engaging with school and gaining independence,” Spence said.

“This new program focuses on young people and their needs – because we believe a holistic approach will give them the best chance to succeed.”

Melbourne City Mission (MCM) will deliver the program at its Hester Hornbrook Academy, which has specialised campuses across Melbourne.

This is an independent school that runs a flexible education program tailored towards providing a supportive environment to young people experiencing barriers. 

Living Learning is designed to reduce these young people’s reliance on health and social services, while helping them experience the transformative power of education.

MCM CEO Vicki Sutton said she was pleased to launch the program.

“Education is critical to improving life opportunities and we are excited to work alongside the Victorian government and our colleagues at the Hester Hornbrook Academy to give our students a chance to graduate,” Sutton said.

“The Living Learning program will empower young people to navigate their own pathway to a positive future”.

This announcement marks Victoria’s third social impact bond – which enables social service providers to enter into outcomes-based contracts with government – following on from the COMPASS program and the Journey to Social Inclusion program.

Latitude Network was the lead advisor for MCM during the development of the program, and co-director Russ Wood told Pro Bono News they were now working to develop a live data and performance system to help MCM achieve their outcomes targets.

“There is a real drive from organisations like MCM to build programs that actually deliver and are measurable. So there’s a lot of work in building [the] service model to identify for whom this program will work and under what circumstances,” Wood said.

“We’re helping them build a data performance system which will give them early warning dashboards and metrics on the progress they’re making towards the outcomes.”

Fellow Latitude Network director Dale Renner said outcomes-based funding enabled everyone within an organisation – as well as government and philanthropic funders – to align their interests around making a measurable shift in people’s lives. 

He agreed with the view of UK social investment pioneer Sir Ronald Cohen, who told Pro Bono News in September that philanthropy needed to shift from funding activities to funding successful outcomes.

“We’re excited about how we can shift the sector gradually towards an outcomes focus that is [beneficial] for government, philanthropy and other funders, [and changes] how social organisations deliver what they’re delivering,” Renner told Pro Bono News.

The details of the financial structure behind the program will be announced at a later date.

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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