Australia’s first social impact bond launches in SA after interstate success
1 February 2021 at 10:12 pm
The Newpin bond is launching in its third location across the country
A successful program aiming to reunite parents with children in out-of-home care is expanding to South Australia, with experts hoping it will deepen understanding of how social impact bonds work across the country.
The launch of Newpin in SA follows the “resounding success” of the first Newpin program in NSW, which saw nearly 400 children returned to the care of their family and delivered a financial return of 10 per cent p.a. to investors.
The Newpin SA Social Impact Bond (SIB) is a partnership between the South Australian government, Uniting Communities and Social Ventures Australia (SVA), designed to strengthen family engagement and relationships, and address underlying issues such as poor mental health, addiction, or domestic violence that create an unsafe home environment by working with parents and children over 18 months.
Structured as an outcomes contract, the program creates financial returns for investors when positive social and community outcomes are achieved.
Parents with children in out-of-home care will participate in an 18 month program designed
There are currently over 4,000 children in SA living away from their parents in out-of-home care, and it’s estimated that through the program, 25 per cent of children will be reunified with their families, measured 18 months after enrolment.
A tried and tested approach
Elyse Sainty, SVA’s director of impact investing, told Pro Bono News that the launch of the bond in a new location was an opportunity to add another layer of understanding around how Newpin could work in different places and different organisations.
She said that it wasn’t something that often happened in the social sector.
“Sometimes programs are piloted and then people move on to the next new thing,” she said.
“But I think that sustained focus on measuring outcomes for a program like Newpin will give governments around the country, and service providers, a really strong understanding of what’s involved, how it works, places where it doesn’t work, and how to be successful in setting it up.”
While Newpin bond in NSW saw great success, when the same program was launched in Cairns in 2018, it faced different and significant challenges because of its location. Sainty said this is something SVA has learned from and will apply in the setting up of Newpin SA.
“Our involvement is probably useful for the South Australian government and for Uniting Communities because we have been through the NSW and Queensland programs, so we actually bring some memory of the positives and the negatives to the table,” she said.
One size (doesn’t) fit all
Sainty said that it was “terrific” SA was seeking to understand the role a program like Newpin could have in the state’s broader child protection system, but that it was important to note that it wasn’t a one size fits all approach.
“This isn’t going to suit every family because you have to be able to come two days a week and have children of a certain age, but it works really well for a slice of families,” she said.
“But we’re really pleased to continue to see different state governments continue to build capability and continue to run new programs in the outcomes contracting space.”
Three Newpin centres will be established across metropolitan Adelaide under the SIB and it is anticipated that around 224 families will be referred to the program over a five-year period. Each of these families will have at least one child who is below school age and in out-of-home care.
SVA is still currently raising capital for the bond, which is expected to reach a $6.5 million financial close at the end of March.
Find out more information here.