In October 2018, Victoria’s Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) launched its position paper on outcome measurement within the specialist homelessness service (SHS) sector. The paper was developed by Lirata’s CEO Mark Planigale, in collaboration with CHP, sector representatives and people with lived experience of homelessness.

The position paper notes increasing trends toward outcome measurement in the funding and policy environment. What risks and opportunities do these trends present? How can the sector most effectively navigate these issues?

The position paper identifies five key actions that the sector can take as part of a strategy of proactive engagement with outcome measurement.

Lirata is proud to be working in partnership with CHP to help the sector implement these actions and build capacity to use outcomes data well.

 

Sector context

Achieving improvements in people’s lives – or outcomes – is central to the work of specialist homelessness services. Service providers work closely with people experiencing or at risk of homelessness to help them obtain and sustain housing, increase their safety, and achieve other health and wellbeing outcomes.

Although outcomes are a central concern for service providers and for people using homelessness services, the ability to gauge the success of the sector in achieving positive outcomes is currently lacking.

There is not yet a consistent, widely accepted framework for outcome measurement in the SHS sector in Australia. Some services have experimented with the Outcomes StarTM, while others have developed their own outcome frameworks and data collection tools. Many are unsure where to start, or worried about the complexity and work involved in measuring outcomes.

There are now strong signs within the funding and policy environment that increased outcome measurement requirements are on the way. Government departments around Australia are creating outcome frameworks and working towards the introduction of outcome reporting. The introduction of new funding models, including ventures into the social impact investment space, is also part of this trend.

In Victoria, a whole of government outcome-based management approach is being driven by Department of Premier and Cabinet. The Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Funding Reform, Outcomes Policy and Evidence Strategy Unit is working towards introduction of outcome based performance management, using a sector by sector approach.

Preparing for outcome measurement

Through consultations with the sector, CHP has identified the value of building capacity to engage constructively with outcome measurement. In the absence of such a strategy, the sector faces significant risks of imposition of outcome measurement approaches that provide a poor fit with the context, needs and capacities of service providers and people with lived experience of homelessness.

CHP’s position paper – Preparing for Outcome Measurement – outlines a proactive strategy through which the SHS sector can influence the way in which outcome-based approaches and outcome measurement are introduced. This will increase the sector’s understanding of outcome measurement, its ability to present workable and effective outcome measurement approaches to government, and its capacity to use these processes to benefit individuals and communities. The aim is for the sector to have access to robust data with which to demonstrate its impact, plan and improve services, and advocate for change.

The paper was developed by Lirata through a literature review, consultations with service providers and people with lived experience of homelessness, and sense-checking with sector and outcome measurement experts.

Key actions

The position paper recommends that the sector undertake five key actions to strengthen its voice regarding outcome measurement:

  • Increase sector understanding of outcome-based approaches and outcome measurement, through convening forums and distributing information resources
  • Identify key elements of a fit-for-purpose outcome measurement approach for the sector, through consultation with service providers and people with lived experience of homelessness
  • Join DHHS in a partnership approach to develop an outcome measurement framework for the sector, through a consultative process led by government which builds on the knowledge, experience and needs of service providers and people experiencing or at risk of homelessness
  • Facilitate the sector’s access to a suite of practical and functional outcome data collection tools; including pursuit of enhancements to SHIP to enable outcome data entry and reporting
  • Advocate for sufficient resourcing for the sector to undertake outcome measurement, including resourcing for training staff, in recognition of the time and skills required to collect and analyse outcome data.

Lirata is now supporting CHP to progress this strategy in collaboration with the sector.

 

Assistance with outcome measurement

Lirata Consulting assists organisations to develop and implement effective approaches to monitoring and evaluation, to design outcome frameworks and to measure the impact of programs and services. Lirata’s staff have worked in the housing and homelessness sectors since 2000.

For further information or assistance, please contact Mark Planigale at Lirata Consulting:

Mobile: +61 (0)429 136 596
Landline: +61 (0)3 9457 2547
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 

Download the position paper

Full and Summary versions of the position paper – Preparing for Outcome Measurement – are available from the Council to Homeless Persons website:

Related articles

Literature Review: Measurement of Client Outcomes in Homelessness Services

D.I.Y. Outcome Measurement