Australia’s first social benefit bond delivers for investors and families in first year

Australia’s first social benefit bond (SBB) will deliver a return of 7.5% to investors this year after a promising first 12 months, a certification of the bond by Deloitte has shown. The Newpin SBB is a pilot program designed to test the effectiveness of social benefit bonds in the Australian context, in the area of out-of-home-care. At its centre is a performance contract between the NSW Government and UnitingCare Burnside with Social Ventures Australia (SVA) having raised the funds needed for the bond.

The purpose of Newpin is to restore children to their families from out-of-home care, or prevent them from entering care in the first place, through creating safe family environments. It does this by funding an intensive 12 to 18 month course for mothers and fathers, with strong outcome targets and performance measures guiding returns to investors in the program.

At the end of June 2014 the program had 55 families (82 children) in its 3 centres and a new centre on the NSW Central Coast set to reach new families when it opens in coming weeks. During the first year, 28 children were successfully returned to their families, and 10 families at risk were assisted to prevent their children from being put into care.

Claerwen Little, Director UnitingCare Children, Young People and Families* commented:

‘The introduction of the Newpin SBB has supported practice innovation. A focus on outcomes has improved the quality of our work. We now work with a much higher share of families who have at least one child in care but we support them to systematically work through their own trauma and rebuild the bonds between parents and children.’

‘The Newpin approach supports parents to make significant changes in their lifestyles and to build the skills to create caring relationships. That the bond enables the program to expand as families show that Newpin ‘works’, is a tremendous bonus. The Newpin ‘Restoration’ model, which has developed as a result of the Social Benefit Bond, means that an increasing number of New South Wales children will be able to grow up with their birth families, within a safe and nurturing home.’

Ian Learmonth, Executive Director at SVA commented:

‘It’s encouraging to see the bond delivering an attractive return in its first year, and to hear the positive personal stories coming out of the program. Tying funding to specific and measurable outcome targets has seen a new rigour embedded in the way this program is run and its ability to demonstrate the impact it’s having in the community. This is an exciting forward step for all of us concerned with large scale, meaningful social change.’

NSW Treasurer Andrew Constance commented:

“The NSW Government is striving to develop new and innovative ways to deliver services and supports to our community, and the first year results of the Social Benefit Bond with UnitingCare Burnside are certainly encouraging.

“Not only are we tapping into a new source of funding by partnering with investors, we are delivering better social outcomes while providing cost savings to government.

“We look forward to the continuing success of the Social Benefit Bond trial with UnitingCare Burnside over the next six years, and we’ll continue to look at more opportunities in this space.”

* UnitingCare Children, Young People and Families includes UnitingCare Burnside.