After the Workshops – What happened next?
In 2019 Fams delivered 30 workshops – TEI Outcome Measurements and the Logic that sits behind it.
The workshops provided an opportunity to hear directly from services about what their needs were as well as their concerns – and indeed what was working well. However, it also confirmed that structural disadvantage was not being addressed by the TEI Reform and therefore, measuring outcomes for the community could be flawed if this was not taken into account. Services felt strongly, the pressure of trying to measure their outcomes against a backdrop of inherent societal issues that had not been taken into account by the ‘reform’.
Following the delivery of workshops, Fams was approached by several organisations as well as DCJ (FACS as it was then called) for further assistance.
These requests covered various Districts across the State, namely New England, West (Bathurst, Orange, Dubbo), South Coast (Wollongong) and Sydney (Crows Nest, Sydney City). The requests themselves ranged from;
- Assistance with Activity Mapping and understanding the relevant documentation
- Thinking specifically about the priority needs of the District and how to address these both practically and sustainably.
- Direction around relevant research/evidence for these purposes.
- Specific guidance on measuring outcomes (not just the tools – but actually doing the work)
- Collection as opposed to Reporting Outcomes – this has been a particular issue for Neighbourhood Centres
- Design and implementation of the Program Logic
- Engaging multiple levels of an organisation – Management, Staff and Boards and at times, DCJ, as well and facilitating this engagement by attending meetings and workshops.
- Engaging ‘like’ services in a discussion about measuring outcomes that were meaningful to their field of work and client base.
However, Fams offered more than the specifics named above. Fams was offering a direct connection to services – and a ‘hands on’ connection at that –which made services feel heard, valued and more confident to deal with the changes ahead. As a Peak we were ‘capacity building’ in the truest sense and facilitating dialogue and constructive feedback loops between the Sector and DCJ.
New England & West (Bathurst, Orange, Dubbo)
For the New England area we were approached by the Department itself – conscious of the needs of its District which was suffering through drought and was soon to be dealt the blow of bushfires as well.
New England wanted to know more about ‘measuring the work’…as well as how this would sit with the Program Logic and finally – the services also wanted more specific guidance on how to prepare for DEX and contract negotiations. Fams was asked on more than one occasion and from various geographical locations within the District to work with organisations and DCJ. This created an open space to discuss fears and insecurities around the impending changes but also gave us the opportunity to work directly and specifically with services to;
- Draft Program Logics
- Develop ideas for collection of data for reporting into DEX (including survey tools)
- Facilitate discussions around increased and purposeful partnership and collaborative opportunities
- Focused services on the priority needs in their District
How we did this?
Initially it was a phone call and or Zoom session but we also visited services and worked with them individually and in groups. After we left we kept in touch and services sent us their drafts (sometimes this was a number of attempts) and then, when they were satisfied, they submitted to DCJ. However, our presence on the ground was what made the most difference and it had a cascading effect – as we quelled the anxieties of services, DCJ contacted us to replicate the work – and we have since returned to host a discussion in Glen Innes and we will, at the request of services (and DCJ), return in February to Tamworth is host an information session for FS Services in the District.
We have similarly, continued to be actively engaged in Bathurst where we have returned several times to work with Services, their Boards and Staff – to ready them for the Re Contracting process.
South Coast – Wollongong
After attending a TEI Workshop, we were approached by a service for further assistance – particularly to assist with measuring outcomes in relation to children who had experienced some form of sexual violence. The service proved to be an exemplar agency for the involvement of Board, Community, Clients and Team and Fams wanted/wants to work further with the service to document the process of developing the Program Logic and implementation of measurement possibilities. It is also an opportunity to really see what can be measured by a service of this nature.
This also led to an invitation to attend a Network meeting of similar ‘service providers’, within different organisations. This again presented an opportunity to investigate the possibilities of outcome measurement and indeed to begin a discussion about a ‘prototype’ of a outcome measurement process. This work is ongoing.
In Sydney we were approached by 3 youth services. All had attended the TEI workshops and wanted further explore how to fully engage in the Program Logic process – specifically outcome measurement and building in the DEX language to the process. Here, the services wanted Fams to meet with Board members, volunteers and other staff to fully explore how to maximize participation from their team and governance structure. One of the services, an education based service, again has the potential to have a prototype – specifically addressing structural disadvantage for young people and keeping them out of the Juvenile Justice System. This prototype may be replicated in Regional areas and our involvement will be ongoing because it raises significant possibilities about ‘measuring outcomes’ in different locations.
The Director of Cowra Neighbourhood Centre attended a TEI Workshop and as a result, firstly became a Fams member and secondly, asked if we would facilitate a DEX discussion with other Neighbourhood Centres in the District. Cowra hosted the event and we had a variety of services from the West attend. It created the opportunity to meet with the service providers and hear from them what issues they were experiencing with DEX, Program Logic and outcome measurements. We have continued to work closely with these organisations, by reviewing drafts of Program Logics, following up DEX queries and generally helping them prepare for contract negotiations.
Earlier in 2019 we had done the same in Dubbo where we were asked by LCSA to run an additional workshop on outcome measurements for WINC members. We also kept in close touch with all of those participants and have continued to respond to queries, check drafts etc. It is likely this work will also continue.
The above level of engagement, replicated across several districts and canvased a range of service – youth, educative, FSS and Neighbourhood Centres. All had a common motivation – to meet the needs of their community. Many had terrific ideas and strategies for addressing the identified, priority needs. What they needed however, was guidance as to how to translate these ideas, their day to day work – into meaningful and ultimately reportable, measurements.
With respect to the objectives of Fams – the above reflects our commitment to Act – namely responding to and proactively engaging with the Sector to ensure they are in the best position possible to meet the needs of their community. We have Advised the sector on research and evidence and tools that are best placed to assist them deliver their work. And, finally, we have Advocated on behalf of the Sector to government and other agencies to ensure it has all the possible assistance it needs to meet the challenges of the Re Contracting process.