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Rethinking a contemporary social justice in government

By Pradeep Philip & Vishaal Kishore

If the public sector is to achieve the task of innovation, integration and improvement in social services, we must learn from our social policy experience, writes Dr Pradeep Philip, secretary of the new Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, and his chief of staff, Dr Vishaal Kishore. The Victorian government has signalled a time of ‘mega-departments’, of service integration, and of radical innovation in our policy approaches. The... Read More

10 social impact lessons I learnt as a not-for-profit leader

By Kristy Muir

CEO Kristy Muir reflects on the key lessons she’s learnt as the Centre for Social Impact marks its 10th birthday. It is natural to reflect on the moments of success at a major milestone, but sometimes we learn the most from the hard times and the lessons we take from them. So, for our 10th birthday, here are my top ten personal lessons and reflections on social impact and the social purpose ecosystem. 1. Leading social purpose... Read More

Bonds won’t work for every social service

By Stephen Easton

Academics warn there is not enough evidence around social impact bonds to put much faith in the fashionable financial instruments yet. Even the New South Wales Government’s successful Newpin pilot raises questions about how widely they can be applied. Sally Cowling The trial of Australia’s first SIBs — the NSW government calls them “social benefit bonds” — has worked “exceptionally well” for the... Read More

Social impact bonds report card: learning lessons in NSW

By Stephen Easton

Australia’s first two social impact bonds in New South Wales appear successful so far. But less is known about why a third never made it off the drawing board. Encouraging results were first reported from the bond funding UnitingCare Burnside’s Newpin program, which aims to return foster children to their parents or prevent others going into out-of-home care. In doing so, it saves the government money and provides returns to the... Read More

‘Failed model’: union warns Treasurer off social impact bonds

By David Donaldson

Social impact bonds are a “failed” funding model aimed at achieving privatisation of public services, says the main public sector union, which has revealed it has lobbied the Victorian government against introducing the outcomes-based approach. “The motivation of governments who promote these is as plain as the nose of your face and that is short term cost and risk shifting like all forms of privatisation,” argues Karen... Read More

Newpin success paves way for social impact bond expansion

By David Donaldson

Several state governments and the Commonwealth have taken the strong returns of the Newpin social impact bonds as the way forward for achieving outcomes within a constrained budget and risk appetite. Australia’s first social benefit bond has helped return 66 children in care to their families, resulting in a 8.9% per annum return to investors, according to second year financial results. The Newpin bond, created in 2013, is a seven-year,... Read More

Social impact investing ‘promising’ — but beware the risks

By David Donaldson

Social impact investing holds significant potential to address housing and homelessness needs, argues a new report — though there are plenty of risks, too. Social impact investing — investment intended to generate both social and financial returns — provides a “promising framework” for addressing housing affordability and homelessness, despite a need for further evidence on its effectiveness, argues a paper by the... Read More

Coalition budget commits $20m to study and stimulate social impact investing

By Stephen Easton

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet scored $5 million in last week’s budget to consider how the Commonwealth can encourage private investment in positive social outcomes, and the government has appointed two social impact investing gurus to advise them. The funding is to support a new Social Impact Investing Taskforce in PM&C. According to the Coalition’s proposed 2019-20 budget: “Building on work already... Read More

What the public sector can learn from Wetherspoons: you don’t need social media

By Roger Christie

Organisations want their investment in social media to pay off, especially in the public sector where any costs are sensitive. Should government ditch social media if its channel metrics are low? The number of senior government figures questioning their investments in social media reached a new peak in the wake of a major UK pub chain’s decision to ditch social media. Just as Mark Zuckerberg’s senate-enquiry-induced sweats were getting... Read More

Social enterprise – a missing piece in the NDIS?

By Chris Mason and Gemma Carey

Social enterprises have a transformative influence on the lives of individuals, families and communities across Australia. A social enterprise is a business that has a social mission which it pursues using mainstream business models. As well as their social impact, they contribute 2-3% of Australian GDP. Rather than small businesses on the fringes of the economy, or social movements, social enterprise, in fact, represent a major part of our... Read More

Budget woes could use private capital, public good

By Rosemary Addis

The handing down of the federal budget is nearly upon us and along with it, mounting anticipation around the policies and cuts to be announced as we navigate Australia’s budget deficit. While the winners and the losers are yet to be revealed, one thing is certain. From the housing crisis to homelessness, from disadvantage in Aboriginal communities to youth unemployment, the social and environmental challenges we face as a nation far... Read More

Social impact bonds, explained

By Sheela Pandey, Joseph J. Cordes & Sanjay K. Pandey

A new approach to fighting poverty and solving some of society’s other big problems is emerging at a time when the federal government and states are cutting back on safety-net spending. Instead of relying on tax revenue or straightforward charity, state and local governments are signing contracts with Wall Street investment houses and banks as well as foundations. These contracts, often called “social impact bonds,” leverage capital from... Read More

Social impact bonds: how much evaluation is too much?

By David Donaldson

Calls for improved monitoring and evaluation are commonly heard in government — and for good reason, as their frequent absence means government is often flying blind when it comes to the question of whether the money it spends really does anything. Improved rigour in monitoring and evaluation is one of the most commonly cited benefits of social impact bonds. The presence of private capital in the equation pushes both government and... Read More

Implementing a Social Outcomes Fund in Australia

By Peter Willis & Matt Tyler

Australian policymakers know well the cost of dealing with social crises is far greater than prevention, but structural factors make it difficult to intervene effectively. Peter Willis and Matt Tyler on bringing governments and communities back on the same page. Crisis. Four Corners expose. Media flurry. Public shocked. Cue Royal Commission, Inquiry, or Review. Pressure builds and then subsides. Another crisis. Repeat. This is too often the... Read More

The 10-point plan to grow social impact investing in NSW

By David Donaldson

The New South Wales government on Wednesday made a commitment to take 10 actions to increase social impact investing in the state with the launch of its new policy. The policy builds on the two social benefit bond trials — a form of outcome-focused public private partnership — implemented in 2013. Under the social benefit bond model, trialled by UnitingCare Burnside and the Benevolent Society in NSW, private investors provide funds... Read More