With increased demand for community services, compounded by a tight fiscal environment, awareness is growing of the need to find new, better ways to finance and deliver improved social outcomes for West Australians.
As part of tackling this challenge, SVA recently hosted a cross-sectoral forum to share knowledge of Social Impact Bonds as an effective funding mechanism and explore their potential in WA.
Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) are innovative financial instruments that leverage private investment to fund preventative programs that improve social outcomes. In so doing, they generate savings to government and returns are delivered to investors dependent on their success. It’s a structure that aims to deliver benefits to investors, governments, taxpayers and service providers alike, and one that is highly focused on social outcomes.
At the event SVA brought together representatives from each of the three stakeholder groups: the social sector, government and investors, with the aim of demonstrating sector appetite for SIBs and stimulating conversation around some of the opportunities and challenges specific to WA.
From the various perspectives of our panelists, it was encouraging to hear that the key elements necessary to open a pathway for this funding mechanism appear to be in place in the region. Representatives from St Vincent de Paul Society and UnitingCare West demonstrated a clear willingness from the social sector to participate in outcomes based contracting, with both already having presented ideas to government; our investor voice expressed confidence in the availability of capital to fund preventative services that would deliver better outcomes; while our government contacts acknowledged some of the critical issues that need to be addressed to enable this transition.
With SIBS gathering steam around the world, we are hopeful that momentum in WA also continues to grow and that the conversation around SIBs is properly explored in the relevant context.
There are already more than 60 SIBs worldwide, including the Social Benefit Bond which SVA developed with the NSW Government and Uniting in NSW, which funds the maintenance and expansion of UnitingCare’s Newpin program. SVA has several others in the pipeline in NSW, South Australia and Queensland. Given this, we are in a strong position to build off lessons learned and take an accelerated path to successful outcomes contracting in WA, creating an environment which facilitates full participation for all key stakeholders.
SVA is a strong proponent of an outcomes based approach to tackling disadvantage and this latest event follows on the heels of our Perth thought-leadership forum on outcomes management with international expert David Pritchard. Read more.