Queensland's first social impact bond tackles Indigenous disadvantage

By David Donaldson

April 27, 2017

The over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Islander children in out-of-home-care is the focus of Queensland’s first social impact investment initiative, to be delivered by UnitingCare Queensland.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are nine times more likely to be subject to protective orders than non-Indigenous children, according to the state government.

Approximately 200 families across three locations are expected to be referred to the program over the 7.25 year term of the bond. The first centre will open in Cairns by the end of the year.

The government hopes to raise $6 million to fund the Newpin — short for new parent infant network — program with the help of Social Ventures Australia.

The Queensland government is in the process of developing two other social impact bonds, focusing on homelessness and youth offending.

“By attracting new sources of private sector funding and allowing the social service sector to develop new service innovations we are creating potential for cost savings for taxpayers and delivering a return to investors when agreed outcomes are acheieved, rather than when the services are delivered,” says Treasurer Curtis Pitt.

“Our social benefit bonds initiative will not involve outsourcing of any government services, with its sole focus being on delivering new additional services that government doesn’t currently provide.”

Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman said her department had worked closely with Treasury on the pilot program.

“NEWPIN offers hope to troubled families, with a program that works to safely reunify children who are living in out-of-home care with their families,” she said.

“Once up and running the department will be referring families to the service.”

Victoria announced further details of its first two social impact bonds last week.

New South Wales launched Australia’s first two social impact bonds in 2013, one of which is also a Newpin program.

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