An independent evaluation of Settlement Grants was undertaken in 2016-17.
The final evaluation report is available.
About the research
The evaluation was conducted by the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC). The key questions addressed by the evaluation included:
- How well is the program focusing on client's settlement needs?
- Is the current four service delivery stream structure1 appropriate for meeting client needs?
1Casework, coordination and settlement service delivery; Community coordination and development; Youth settlement services; and Support for ethno-specific services/communities.
- Is the program effectively engaging the target population?
- Is the program achieving desired goals and outcomes?
- How well is the program encouraging innovation?
- How efficient is the program in delivering services including whether the program is achieving value for money?
The evaluation examined services between 2015 and 2018.
The evaluation methodology included:
- stakeholder consultations - interviews with settlement peak bodies and key DSS staff
- an online survey of all settlement grant service providers
- fieldwork in three locations - New South Wales (Liverpool and Auburn), South Australia (Adelaide City, Salisbury and Playford) and Victoria (Shepparton).
The fieldwork included focus groups with selected clients, service providers and non-settlement grant service providers. Interviews were also conducted with a range of ethno-specific community organisations.
Findings from the Evaluation
The evaluation found there is a strong consensus that the Settlement Grants program fills an important niche in the range of available services. The evaluation also found:
- the program is appropriately targeted
- the five year eligibility limit is appropriate for most clients
- the program is appropriately flexible allowing services to adapt to local contexts while at the same time focusing on the needs of the eligible client group
- most services are well-integrated with the local service system
- the program appears to be efficient.
SPRC identified six options for program enhancements in the evaluation report:
1. Meeting client needs: Consider providing a medium level of support that sits between the intensive case management support delivered through the Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) and Complex Case Support (CCS) programs and the low-intensity case support provided through the Settlement Grant program. Consideration should be given to whether this should be funded through Settlement Grants or through another funding source.
2. Program structure: Consider two activity streams that focus on:
- individual supports as part of a life course approach, noting that different client cohorts face different settlement-related challenges that require a tailored response e.g. youth and older clients
- community-based supports that support ethno-specific communities, including mentoring and leadership training and capacity building.
3. Program eligibility: Provide support for high needs clients in a culturally appropriate way beyond five years through Settlement Grants or another funding stream. It is important that the program continues to focus on independence and self-reliance, and that clients do not become dependent on Settlement Grants in the long term.
4. Settlement Grants and the wider service system: Settlement Grant policy makers should continue to liaise with policy makers responsible for relevant mainstream services across departments. DSS should encourage sector collaboration through the grant round and through requirements detailed in funding agreements.
5. Policy and program settings: Program objectives should be clarified (particularly in relation to the employment, English language and education) and continue to emphasise both social and economic participation, and fostering independence and self-reliance.
To increase accountability and maintain quality of the services clearer guidance should be provided on the outcomes, what to expect, and how to achieve and measure these. There should be more opportunities for service providers to share best practice or 'good news stories' to allow for a clear sense of what providers can do and to disseminate innovative practice. Consideration should also be given to how to encourage innovation through the program.
6. Data Exchange (DEX) & monitoring: An improved evidence base is required. To support improvements service providers would benefit from increased support and guidance on the DSS Data Exchange system (DEX) so that robust administrative data is submitted.
The Department is considering the evaluation findings and the six SPRC suggestions. The evaluation will inform the development of program settings for the next open selection round for Settlement Grants.
The Department conducted consultations with settlement stakeholders on proposed changes to the program in the form of roundtable discussions on:
- Sydney - 29 November 2017
- Melbourne - 30 November 2017
- Brisbane - 1 December 2017
- Teleconference Discussion – 5 December 2017
A Discussion Paper provided the basis for consultations. A summary of the key views and issues raised provided valuable input into the design of future arrangements.