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Informing your community



WESTIR Limited attended a breakfast event held by SIMNA NSW (Social Impact Measurement Network Australia) at the Urbis Sydney offices in July 2018. The event was called ‘A 360 degree view of collecting outcomes data: reflections from impact measurement specialists and their frontline colleagues’ 

The event showcased two case studies from Mission Australia and The Salvation Army on how they are implementing impact measurement in their programs and organisations. The Mission Australia presentation was presented by Maria Berry (Common Ground Program Manager, Mission Australia) and Rachel Christie (Impact Measurement Specialist, Mission Australia) and The Salvation Army presentation was presented by Garima Misra (Research Analyst, The Salvation Army). 


Mission Australia presentation: Impact Measurement and the Common Ground Program

The Mission Australia presentation focused on the implementation of an impact measurement (IM) framework for the Common Ground program in Sydney, as well as other sites around Australia. Common Ground is an inner city service run by Mission Australia that uses a Street to Home model to house inner city homeless and provide individualised, tailored support to their clients. The aim of the initiative is to establish a national approach to impact measurement starting with grassroot grounding.

Mission Australia’s IM framework was developed using Social Venture Australia’s Golden Thread Program Logic and Deakin University’s Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI). Surveys are administered to clients when entering the Mission Australia service, during the program and once they have left the Mission Australia service. Mission Australia uses the Microsoft Power BI software platform to feed survey results back to frontline staff. There is a mechanism in the software that flags low scores on PWI questions, which can be immediately fed back to front line staff for immediate attention.

Recent analysis on the survey data has shown that Mission Australia’s work is making a statistically significant impact on all the PWI domains of their clients. Regression analysis was used to determine what domains are most likely to drive overall client wellbeing for Mission Australia Children and Families Services. Their findings indicate that the PWI domains with the most impact are standard of living, achieving in life and personal health. The aim moving forward is to integrate the IM framework across the organisation to improve service delivery and eventually contribute to social change.

Some critical lessons from the Mission Australia experience included:

  • The need for leadership buy in and a culture of accountability
  • Alignment of collected data to minimum datasets (e.g. FACS is increasingly using PWI)
  • Flexibility
  • Consistency in language use and definition
  • The need to share data and insights
  • The use of technology, automation and IT solutions.


The Salvation Army presentation: Moneycare Outcomes Measurement Pilot

The Salvation Army presentation focused on the Moneycare program, which is a program run by The Salvation Army to improve the financial resilience of clients through a range of short, medium and long term interventions such as financial counselling, financial capability work and no interest loans.

The outcomes measurement pilot was a 3 month pilot study. The pilot was undertaken across New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and Queensland with 67 Moneycare workers, 39 centres and over 200 clients.

The guiding outcomes framework used was ‘The 3Ps for Achieving Impact’ through the Centre for Social Impact (purpose, process and progress). The implementation of the framework included several activities such as review of internal documents and existing datasets, review of funding requirements, site observations, front line staff conversations, outcomes prioritisation, pilot implementation and collective learning, and a continuous improvement/feedback loop.

Some important insights from The Salvation Army pilot experience included:

  • The need to co-design the pilot with frontline staff: this opens the gateways for innovation and ensures that data collected is useful and relevant.
  • The need for the pilot to be integrated and holistic: the recognition that we can’t work in silos to address client wellbeing in its entirety.
  • The need to share data and findings with frontline staff: the pilot’s reports are accessible to front line staff, so they can see in real time how their clients are progressing between the 3 assessments (beginning, middle and end of program). The interaction is also important for researchers to clarify results that they themselves can’t explain.

The Moneycare outcomes measurement pilot will be assessed over time to gauge the long term sustainability and effectiveness of the program and highlight where more intensive support and resources are needed.


Interested in similar events?

SIMNA NSW runs a variety of social impact measurement events throughout the year. Visit www.simna.com.au for more information.


By Amy Lawton, Social Research and Information Officer, WESTIR Ltd

WESTIR Limited attended a free webinar called ‘Using Facebook to connect with your community’ in June 2018, run by Leep. The presenter was Anne-Maree Kerr through AMK Training and Consulting. The webinar looked at some simple methods that organisations can use to make their Facebook page more effective and engaging. Some areas that were explored included:

  • Guidelines for making good Facebook posts
  • The need for your organisation to have a social media policy
  • Tips for growing your online audience and engaging with the broader community
  • Using blogging to share more complex ideas
  • Online tools available to manage and plan your online content
  • How to make beautiful imagery to attract attention to your posts
  • Other useful tips for managing your Facebook page

Leep and AMK Training and Consulting run regular online sessions on similar topics to help you and your organisation communicate more effectively online. Follow Leep and AMK Training and Consulting on Facebook to receive updates on future webinar and training opportunities.     

By Jawed Gebrael, Social Research and Information Officer, WESTIR Limited


WESTIR Limited attended the launch of the Communities of Change Report in June 2018, a joint collaboration between Western Sydney Community Forum (WSCF) and St Vincent de Paul Society. The event was co-hosted by Western Sydney University and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) at Western Sydney University Parramatta CBD campus. The report provides an overview of the Greater Western Sydney region, outlining current population trends and projected growth, employment, community sector investment trends and health services and some preliminary projections. The aim of the report is to provide insights on changing landscape of Western Sydney to assist government, community sector organisations and the private sector “in making quality strategic decisions about future planning and investment in service delivery”.

The event was facilitated by Professor James Arvanitakis, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Western Sydney University who provided the acknowledgement of country. Paul Shepherd of PwC provided a speech outlining the company’s commitment to the region, signalled by its relocation to Parramatta in the heart of Western Sydney. He commended the report for highlighting Parramatta’s changing landscape and demographics and its potential to act as a guide for future investment and service delivery.

The report was officially launched by the Honourable Natasha Maclaren-Jones, Government Whip of the NSW Legislative Council. She highlighted the NSW’s Government’s commitment to major investments in Sydney and that this report can help guide investment in the Western Sydney Region.

Heather Nesbitt, Social Commissioner for the Greater Sydney Commission, spoke about the Commission’s overarching plan for redeveloping Sydney, a large part of which involves shifting the focus away from the Sydney CBD to Greater Western Sydney. CEO of St Vincent de Paul Society Jack de Groot lauded the partnership with the Western Sydney Community Forum. The organisation has traditionally focussed on addressing the present needs of disadvantaged members of the community, and this collaboration signals a shift towards a more proactive approach of forecasting future trends and allocating resources and services accordingly.

Billie Sankovic, CEO of WSCF, outlined the key features of the report and thanked her team for their tremendous work and effort. The report addresses population growth and future trends within Greater Western Sydney, along with indicators of wellbeing, planning landscape and investments in community services, along with preliminary projections of future trends.

The launch concluded with a brief panel discussion. Peter Prants (NSW Department of Family and Community Services) was impressed with the detail presented in the report and provides information to guide FACS’ resource allocation based on population forecasts.

Susan Goldie (St Vincent de Paul), envisions the report as a game changer that can help organisations plan strategically for the future needs of the community. Nafiye Mind (Blacktown Area Community Centres) is aware that the release of the report has potential for impact but that it also presented a challenge for small organisations to maintain their voice and influence within the sector. Eddie Jackson (Liverpool City Council) similarly stressed the importance of smaller organisations and local councils securing a “seat at the table” with the NSW Government and private sector organisations with regard to shaping the future of Western Sydney.

The WSCF will soon be taking the report around to Western Sydney Local Government Areas as part of a community sector consultation process. The report can be viewed here: https://bit.ly/2sqtfAp



By Amy Lawton, Social Research and Information Officer, WESTIR Ltd


The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) held a webinar in April 2018 about the review of 2021 Census topics. The webinar was presented by Dr Paul Jelfs (General Manager, Population and Social Statistics Division) and Caroline Deans (Director, Census Content Review) from the ABS Canberra office. The webinar can be viewed here.

The webinar was the public launch of the Census 2021 review. The review of the information collected in the Census is an important step to ensure that it remains relevant to its users and is reflective of Australian society. The webinar was designed to assist people in participating in the public consultation process and helping them make their submission.

Some key points from the webinar:

  • ABS releases over 500 statistically releases annually, covering Australia’s economy, population and the environment. The Census is a large data collection on population and housing that complements these data releases.
  • Census data is extremely important as it informs decision makers on the allocation of government funds and the development of a variety of policies and plans.
  • The topic review process is as follows: (1) consultation with data users; (2) ABS publishes details of the submission process; (3) Public submissions open from 3 April 2018 until 30 June 2018; (4) ABS publishes consultation summary and refines recommendations; (5) Approvals by Australian government; and (6) ABS publishes final 2021 Census questions late 2020.
  • There has been no change to Census topics since 2006, however there has been some minor changes to the wording of some questions.
  • It is expected that there will be high demand for change due to the little to no change over the past decade, however it is not expected that there will be radical changes to the Census topics moving forward. There is a need to balance changes to the Census topics with other considerations such as time series, respondent burden and limited space on paper form.
  • From the consultations that have already occurred with Census users, the following feedback has been received by the ABS:
    • The need for a non-binary sex option and for same sex marriage is accurately captured.
    • The possibility of an additional question to address the undercount of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.
    • The need for increased representation of diverse family structures such as shared custody (where a child is not in a household on Census night) or multiple families.
    • Enhancements to volunteering and journey datasets (including journey to education, not just work).
    • Same sex marriage is accurately captured.
    • Possible new topics around health, defence force service, and movement and location of service populations.
    • Possible removal of topics such as number of motor vehicles and household internet access due to low relevance and the fact that it can be accessed from other sources.
  • Submissions are not required to retain critical topics, rather to propose an argument for the collection of new topics. Some existing topic categories will automatically be updated based on 2016 responses (for examples, countries of birth, religion, language and ancestry).
  • Submissions to the 2021 Census topics criteria must meet the following seven assessment criteria:
    • Must be a current topic of national importance (that is, for an electoral or legislative purpose or needed to support policy and program development or research purposes).
    • There is a need for data from a Census of the whole population.
    • The topic can be accurately and easily completed in a household Census form.
    • The topic would be acceptable to Census respondents and not considered intrusive, offensive or controversial.
    • The topic can be collected efficiently and not require a lengthy instruction or explanation.
    • There is likely to be continuing need for data on the topic in the following Census, and will remain relevant in the future.
    • There are no other suitable alternative data sources or solutions that could meet the topic need.

The content presented in the webinar is presented in detail on the ABS website: Census of Population and Housing: Consultation on Topics, 2021 (Cat. No. 2007.0). Submissions for the Review of 2021 Census Topics can be submitted here (closes 30 June 2018).


By Amy Lawton, Social Research and Information Officer, WESTIR Limited


The Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) recently held a community briefing session in April 2018 to provide an update on the major metropolitan planning strategies that will guide the development of the Greater Sydney region in the next forty years. The strategies include Greater Sydney – A Metropolis of Three Cities and District Plans, Transport for NSW’s Future Transport 2056 and Infrastructure NSW’s State Infrastructure Strategy 2018-2038.


The full community briefing session (followed by a Q&A session) can be watched at the GSC’s Facebook page or website. The session had three speakers: Rod Simpson (GSC Environmental Commissioner), Tim Raimond (Executive Director, Future Transport, Transport for NSW) and Kirstie Allen (Head of Strategy and Planning, Infrastructure NSW).


Rod Simpson began the session providing an overview of the Greater Sydney Commission, its regional plan and its long-term vision. He highlighted that by 2056, Greater Sydney will be home to around eight million people and will require an additional 725 dwellings and 817,000 new jobs. The aim of the GSC regional plan is to rebalance the city, with a greater emphasis on the west and ensuring people can access jobs and services within thirty minutes of their place of residence. The community consultation process undertaken for the Region Plan found the following areas to be of importance: transport, job opportunities, infrastructure delivery, open space, affordable housing supply, an industrial lands policy and the need for coordinated and collaborative implementation. The Commission is starting implementation work in several areas including Greater Penrith, Liverpool, Rhodes East, Randwick and Camperdown-Ultimo. More sites will be announced in the near future. The GSC Regional Plan can be viewed here.


The Regional Plan is also affected by the recently announced Western Sydney Deal, which was a response to the announcement of Western Sydney Airport. The commitments under the Western Sydney Deal include connectivity, skills and education, planning and housing, jobs for the future, liveability and the environment, and education and governance. There is $30 million that has been set aside for sustainable growth and $150 million set aside for the liveability program. The deal has a clear emphasis on the need for all government levels to work closely together to ensure strong integrated place-based outcomes are achieved. Information about the Western Sydney Deal can be viewed here.


The next speaker was Tim Raimond from Future Transport. Tim spoke about the Future Transport 2056 strategy, which is building upon Transport for NSW’s 2012 masterplan. The strategy is a living changing document to adapt to government decision making. The intended outcomes of the strategy include customer-focused, successful places, growing the economy, safety and performance, accessible services and sustainability. The strategies community consultation (using face to face and digital methods) found that the community wanted stronger transport connections to their local services and regional areas such as Newcastle and Gosford. There was also a push for more alternative transport options and quicker implementation of transport projects. The Future Transport 2056 strategy can be viewed here.


The last speaker was Kirstie Allen from Infrastructure NSW (an independent body providing advice to the government on infrastructure issues). She spoke about the State Infrastructure Strategy 2018-2038, its vision and its goals. Some of the recommendations of the strategy included the increasing importance of evidence-based decisions and collecting and sharing data in an ethical way. The State Infrastructure Strategy 2018-2038 can be viewed here.


The session finished with a Q&A session with all speakers, plus two commissioners from the Greater Sydney Commission.




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