Our highlights in 2019

At SVA, we are privileged to work in a passionate team of people united by a common goal; creating an Australia where all people and communities thrive. With 2020 officially underway, we’ve taken some time to pause and reflect on our highlights of 2019.

Published Perspective Papers in mental health, disability and education

Lynn Nguyen, Shanais Nielsen, Diana Ferner, Katie Maskiell, Chris Harrop
Panelists at the Disability Perspective Paper launch: Lynn Nguyen (Scope), Shanais Nielsen (Summer Foundation), Diana Ferner (SVA), Katie Maskiell (SVA), Chris Harrop (Bain & Co.). Not pictured: Damian Griffis (FPDN).

Our Perspective Papers are a chance for us to share the practical knowledge we have gathered in different sectors over several years of work. Last year we released papers across three topics: mental health, disability and education. Representing hundreds of hours of research, work and consultation, the papers aim to spark debate, innovation and collaboration. They take a systems-level view, defining the key problems, exploring the underlying drivers and detailing the changes that we want to see.

Partnered with HESTA to invest $20m in social and affordable housing

Last July, HESTA and SVA made a $20m investment into the Nightingale Village housing project. It was the biggest commitment that we have made to date through the Social Impact Investment Trust (SIIT). Nightingale Village is a social and affordable housing project that aims to help first home buyers. Of the roughly 200 carbon-neutral apartments, 20% were reserved for ‘Key Contribution Workers’, including nurses, aged care professionals and non-profit employees. A further 20% were sold to Community Housing Providers. We’re thrilled that our partnership with HESTA is creating more social and affordable housing and are excited to see the impact the SIIT will drive in 2020.

Made the economic case for early intervention in child protection and out-of-home care in Victoria

Our report for Berry Street found that investment in evidence-based early intervention programs in out-of-home care has the potential to save the Victorian Government $1.6 billion over ten years.

Victoria’s child protection and out-of-home care system is overwhelmed, with around 12,000 children currently living in out-of-home care. This figure is on-track to reach almost 26,000 by 2026 – more than any other state and territory. Berry Street engaged SVA Consulting to find out what difference early intervention could make. We found that investing $150 million per year in evidence-based programs would not only significantly improve outcomes for Victoria’s most vulnerable children and families – it has the potential to save $1.6 billion over ten years. Most importantly, this means that almost 1,200 children would avoid out-of-home care. Berry Street are now using this report in their advocacy campaign for increased funding in early intervention, and we hope to see additional investment from the Victorian Government in 2020.

Lodged six government submissions to create positive social change

We support the position of ACOSS, the Business Council of Australia and many others who believe that the current rate of Newstart is manifestly inadequate.

This year we were proud to lodge six government submissions advocating for systemic change. Responding to the Newstart Inquiry, we added our voice to the national call to Raise the Rate. We pushed for legislative changes to protect people from funeral poverty, and highlighted the importance of Indigenous self-determination to the Productivity Commission. We called for significant shifts in the mental health sector through our submissions to both a National Inquiry and the Royal Commission into Mental Health. Finally, we identified a need for new funding in education and impact investing in the 2019-20 Commonwealth budget.

Graduated 39 schools from the Bright Spots Schools Connection cohort

In 2019, there were 39 schools in The Connection whose three-year engagement ends this year. Spanning across New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria, each of the schools have made enormous progress since joining The Connection in 2016. It has been remarkable to see just how much impact the program has had in helping the schools significantly improve student outcomes. At our final Thought Leadership Gathering (TLG) in November we celebrated these changes and recognised the impact that everyone in the room helped create in their communities. We look forward to seeing how these schools continue to create change in 2020!

Expanded Evidence for Learning (E4L) to include early childhood education

Early childhood is a critical moment, as high-quality early learning has a significant positive effect on a child’s readiness for school, with the greatest benefit for those from families experiencing disadvantage.

In 2019 SVA-incubated venture Evidence for Learning (E4L) expanded its work to include early childhood education, focused on the learning lives of children before starting school. The initiative aims to ensure that any spending is focused on increased learning so that all children, regardless of background, can make the best possible progress. E4L continued to build an evidence base of rigorous and relevant research over the year, making sure that the information gets into the hands of educators across the system. We also continued our advocacy campaign to the Federal Government on how to fund and implement a national evidence institute for the education sector, including its operating model and type of entity.

Shared our knowledge with 60,000 people through the SVA Quarterly

The top-3 SVA Quarterly articles from 2019 on social impact bonds, indigenous evaluation and harnessing client feedback.

In the eighth year of the SVA Quarterly we published 18 articles exploring topics ranging from older women at risk of homelessness, to the most common pitfalls to avoid in outcomes management. Here are the top-3 Quarterly articles from 2019:

Launched the SVA Champions Network

By funding work that drives change in education, housing, employment, disability, mental health, family violence, and with First Australian communities, SVA Champions support people from communities all across Australia.

2019 saw the launch of the SVA Champions Network. The Network unites passionate donors wanting to shift the trajectory of people experiencing disadvantage in Australia. Members contribute to long-lasting, positive change by supporting SVA’s work to transform systems, which helps to improve the lives of people across Australia. The Network is a community – a place to access learning materials, research, share knowledge, and meet like-minded people. We’re excited to see how it grows in 2020, and what we will achieve together.

Click here to learn more about joining the SVA Champions Network

Developed our systems-change agenda

The average funeral cost represents around one tenth of the average Australian annual earnings. The average cost of a Tender funeral is between $3,000-$3,500 – less than half the cost of the average funeral in that area of NSW.

In 2019 we took a deliberate whole-of-system approach to our new programs of work. The first program came about with a finding from the Banking Royal Commission around the cycle of debt created by funeral costs and insurance policies. Uniting a range of stakeholders, we crafted a new solution that both drives down the cost of funerals and provides a fairer way to save. The second program is focused on older single women – the fastest growing cohort of people experiencing homelessness. We are working directly with those affected towards a solution around housing supply, service provision and financial wellbeing. We are very excited to see how these areas of work, along with an emerging body of work around children experiencing vulnerability, will continue to take shape in 2020.

Forecasted 10-years of service demand for the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA)

SVA Consulting supported VACCA to better understand and plan for the issues that will influence their capacity to deliver effective services and support to Victoria’s Aboriginal population.

The Aboriginal population in Victoria is projected to rise significantly over the next 10 years. With demand for services already exceeding capacity across the state, VACCA, a major service delivery organisation, needed to plan for the significant impacts of this change. In 2019, SVA Consulting created three interconnected models that forecasted how this change would affect VACCA’s service delivery. This key piece of work has since been used by Aboriginal leaders to advocate for budgetary changes and will potentially contribute to better service delivery across Victoria.

Cross-sector awards given to SVA team and partners

The winners from the 2019 Australian Impact Investment Awards

We were delighted to see several awards given to our team and partners over the year. Associate Director, Evidence for Learning Tanya Vaughan received the Media Award from ACEL for her prominence in the national conversation around education. Director, Impact Investing Elyse Sainty was recognised for Outstanding Achievement at the Impact Investment Awards for her critical role in building the Social Impact Bond market in Australia. Our partners HESTA and Nightingale Housing’s Jeremy McLeod also received awards at the same ceremony, highlighting the impact of their work as well as the impact of the SIIT. Another SVA partner Bernie Shakeshaft, founder of venture partner BackTrack, was named NSW Local Hero in the 2020 NSW Australian of the Year Awards for his inspirational work helping young people experiencing disadvantage. Finally, six schools from the Bright Spots Schools Connection cohort received awards over the year for their outstanding work across the country. Congratulations to all!