Change is happening and Ganbina can prove it

Ganbina is an Indigenous led organisation based in Shepparton, Victoria. Social Ventures Australia supported Ganbina through the SVA venture philanthropy program until 2016 and has recently conducted an SROI report evaluating the social impact created over the last four years compared to the investment.

This year, we have been confronted with the truth of inequity that pervades our society due to racism both globally and within Australia.

We know the prevalence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in prison is a significant problem in Australia. We also know that we are still far from closing the gap in health and educational outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. We also have a long way to go to appropriately recognise the voice of First Australians in our country’s governance.

One organisation that is working to address the gap is Ganbina, a school-to-work transition program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth. Based in the Goulburn Valley in Northern Victoria, Ganbina was established in 1997 to empower youngsters from 6-25 years old to reach their full potential through meaningful engagement in education, training and employment programs. Ganbina is an example of an organisation that is contributing to tangible and long-term change.

This year, my colleagues and I assisted Ganbina with a social return on investment (SROI) analysis. It was the latest report in a series of evaluation and impact reports commissioned by Ganbina over the last decade. Ganbina has a strong practice of evaluating its impact which is driven from the top. Accountability to the young people, their families and to Ganbina’s philanthropic partners is a key tenet of Ganbina’s ethos and practice.

The latest SROI report focuses on the social impact created over the last four financial years compared to the investment in the program over that time. We found Ganbina helped 579 young people during the four-year period and created approximately $60,000 of social value per young person. For every $1 invested in Ganbina during this period, $6.60 of social and economic value was created. The majority of the value (80%) was created for the young people. We found Ganbina expanded the view young people had for their future, helped them understand their cultural background and improved their school attendance and engagement.

“Ganbina showed me how to look forward to the future and that’s something I never thought of as a kid. They helped me believe in a better tomorrow.” – Young person involved with Ganbina

Fourteen per cent of the value was created for parents or guardians the majority of which was in the form of an improved relationship with the young person and reduced stress. Value was also created for employers, government, and schools.

Infographic showing Ganbina's impact 2016=2019


Ganbina’s focus for development is long-term and generational which is truly unique

Ganbina’s vision is ‘to see, within two generations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have cultural, economic, and social equality and become empowered to live, love, learn and leave a legacy’. Part of Ganbina’s success is the potential for long term (20 years) involvement with young people. This is an innovative approach that emphasises real change requires a long-term view.

Ganbina starts working with children in schools from the age of six and continues through to 25 years of age. It offers a program suite that caters for each stage of their life from tutoring for school to assistance in gaining work experience and professional skills, from gaining a drivers licence to applying for further education and scholarships.

On average 99% of students engaged with Ganbina over the last four years, completed their full current year of schooling and 94% of year 12s completed high school. This is a remarkable achievement especially when the national level of education attainment for Indigenous Australians is around 65% and non-Indigenous Australians is 89%. [1]

“My children have achieved an enormous amount with Ganbina, one completing year 12 and in her second year of university and the other continuing schooling instead of dropping out.” ­ – Parent/guardian

Ganbina provides tailored support based on the young person’s needs and aspirations which is one of the cornerstones of its success

Eighty per cent of the total social value created was for young people. Ganbina provides information and opportunities at an early age so that young people begin to dream big. The staff then work with all relevant stakeholders including schools, families, and potential employers to improve education outcomes and gain meaningful employment in-line with the young person’s aspirations. Unlike other school-to-work transition programs, Ganbina emphasises matching the young person with the jobs that align with their career goals and interests.

“A couple of the Ganbina employees have been with us for a very long time, with very low turnover. Ganbina looks at placing kids in careers they want. It’s not just about giving out jobs. It’s about finding the right jobs. This approach is very different to other job seeker organisations.” – Employer

Ganbina’s philosophy of providing a ‘hand up’ rather than a ‘hand out’ empowers and motivates the young people

Ganbina’s expectations of young people and their families motivates them to stay committed and achieve their goals. The team treats each individual with respect and with a strengths-based outlook which allows many of the young people to believe in themselves and work towards their goals.

The team also proactively seeks to eliminate any barriers the young people and their families face such as with co-funding for school fees and supplies and checking in with the young people and their families to see where they might need a hand up. It is because of this connection and support to remain in school that around 70% of parents and young people surveyed indicated Ganbina helped the young person avoid the justice system and early pregnancy.

Ganbina also regularly celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievement with the Youth Achievement Awards. By modelling this behaviour, they inspire not only their young people but also others in the community to dream big and do more.

“Ganbina helped him get a tax file, find employment, uniforms etc. They were also a mentor outside of the school context. They would check in and see if he had any issues with work or school.” – Parent/guardian

Ganbina helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to walk in two worlds

Ganbina provides opportunities for young people to learn about their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage as part of their education and employment activities. Many young people feel an increased sense of belonging and self from being a part of Ganbina and learning about their history, as well as the history of other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Amy Goonan, one of Ganbina’s young people who says she has benefitted a lot from their ongoing support.

We found that increased cultural knowledge and pride was an outcome experienced by all young people surveyed and interviewed. Ganbina’s young people are encouraged to walk confidently in both the professional world and their cultural world. This is profound given we live in a society where most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and people of colour may not feel mainstream Australia accepts their true and whole self.

“Ganbina’s been there supporting me for a really long time and I have really benefitted a lot…  I have gained so much confidence, learned so much more about my own culture and so much more about the world in general as a result.” ­ – Amy Goonan, Young person with Ganbina

The success of Ganbina’s program has attracted the attention of other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around Australia and overseas

Ganbina has recently been requested to expand the program to other communities in Australia and aims to have five self-sufficient Ganbina models running in regional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by 2022. The hope is that these replicated models will be the first of many and that as a result, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia will achieve social and economic equality with other Australians.

Ganbina is working to dismantle long-term pervasive issues and has been able to prove its effectiveness time and time again.

To read the full impact report prepared by SVA, access the SROI report here.

[1] Indigenous education and skills snapshot, 11 Sept 2019, AIHW.