SVA launches Australia’s first social impact bond for mental health care

  • SVA launches the first social impact bond in Australia for mental health care
  • SVA is raising $7 million to fund an innovative program that will provide peer support to 530 participants, from staff who have a lived experience with a mental illness
  • Targeting returns for investors of 7.5% per annum, linked to the success of the program
  • Expected to improve the mental health of participants while generating significant savings for the NSW Government through a reduction in participants’ utilisation of health and other services

Social Ventures Australia (SVA) is pleased to launch Australia’s first social impact bond for mental health care, the Resolve Social Benefit Bond (Resolve SBB).

SVA is seeking to raise $7 million to fund the Resolve Program in NSW which will be delivered by Flourish Australia, a highly regarded mental health services provider.

The Resolve Program is a recovery-orientated community support program that is expected to help approximately 530 people over a seven-year service delivery period.

Investor returns will be based on the savings generated for the NSW Government, through a reduction in the utilisation of Government-funded health and other services, in particular by reducing the number of days spent in hospital. The Resolve SBB is targeting returns of 7.5% per annum.

The Resolve Program aims to support people who present frequently to emergency departments and spend long periods admitted to mental health inpatient facilities. It is highly innovative as the majority of staff are peer workers with a lived experience of a mental illness, enabling them to draw on their own experiences to engage and act as a role model for participants.

The program combines a residential service for periodic crisis care, psychosocial, medical and mental health support, and a support line for after-hours assistance from peers.

SVA CEO Rob Koczkar commented:

‘We are seeing considerable momentum around social impact bonds, with governments across Australia recognising that this is an innovative and impactful way to support some of the more vulnerable members of the community while generating considerable savings for government and returns to investors. Following the recent launch of the Newpin Queensland SBB, the Resolve SBB further highlights the growing interest in this space.’ 

‘The NSW Government was at the forefront of the space when we jointly launched Australia’s first social impact bond in NSW in 2013, and we are encouraged to see the NSW Government continuing to seek new and effective ways to fund solutions to some of the state’s most pressing social problems.’

The Resolve Program will support each participant over a two-year period, and will be delivered in collaboration with the Nepean Blue Mountains and Western NSW Local Health Districts.

Flourish Australia CEO Pam Rutledge said the development was significant:

‘Flourish Australia is delighted to embark on this historic program aimed at supporting people on mental health recovery journeys. Keeping people with mental health issues out of hospitals is a win for social wellbeing, a win for taxpayers and now also a win for investors. 

‘A major element of the program is the emphasis on peer workers, who provide hope and optimism from their own experience of living with a mental health issue. Flourish Australia is the largest employer of mental health peer workers in Australia, so we are well positioned to take on this challenge,’ Mrs Rutledge said.

NSW Minister for Mental Health, Tanya Davies commented:

‘This initiative offers an opportunity for the NSW Government to lead the way in mental health care and work together with the private and non-profit sectors to deliver better outcomes for the people of NSW. The innovative Resolve Social Benefit Bond will help improve the health and wellbeing of people experiencing mental illness by better supporting them in the community.’

SVA has already achieved strong results with the Newpin Social Benefit Bond (Newpin SBB) in NSW, which was the first in Australia. The Newpin Program is an intensive centre based program aimed at restoring children in out-of-home-care with their families. The Newpin SBB has already successfully restored 130 children to their families, and delivered a return of 12% per annum to investors over a three-year period to 30 June 2016.

Earlier this year, SVA raised $9 million for the Aspire Social Impact Bond, with investors including Coopers Brewery Foundation, HESTA and Future Super, amongst Trusts, Foundations and other institutional investors across the country, and the Newpin Queensland Social Benefit Bond opened for applications in April.