Designing the future of investment in the homelessness sector

CSIA and Industry recently worked through a rapid design process for the future of homelessness investment.

To shape the next phase in the Homelessness Investment Logic Project, representatives from across Industry and government came together in the Department of Housing and Public Works (DHPW) Fortitude Valley Collaboration Space.

The full day workshop was jam-packed with sessions exploring themes from discovery interviews, creating new investment flow models and building a Theory of Change.

The information gathered through the day will inform the demonstration projects phase, with some exciting opportunities to test the Commissioning for Outcomes model in the real world.

CSIA CEO Belinda Drew said the initial Commissioning for Outcomes report highlights an innovative approach to the way Industry and government work together.

“We’re shifting the language away from funding, the outdated paradigm, to investment to describe the process of Industry and government working together in a more mutual way. 

“This workshop is a step towards this new process and finding a new way to invest into specialist homelessness services to provide better outcomes for people who use the services,” Ms Drew said.

We have a wrap up of what was achieved across the day for you.

Progressing the Conversation 

Here at CSIA we find the best, evidence-based process and experts to work with.

For this workshop, CSIA worked with Associate Professor Ingrid Burkett, from the Yunus Centre at Griffith University, to design an interactive day exploring the themes emerging from discovery interviews and focus groups held during late 2018.

Ingrid took previous conversations with Industry a step further, with discussions during this stage of the day largely focused on what’s already working and how we might make a start on:

  • incorporating the voice of people with lived experience in the design of the system
  • ensuring investment in evidence-based practice, AND practice-based evidence
  • developing the types of relationships between investors and investees which create value, and are focused on more than compliance
  • ensuring there is an effective workforce for the future across the spectrum of roles from frontline service delivery, to evaluation, data analysis, design and business acumen.

The CSIA team is working through the cascade of useful information that came forth during this session. We will keep you updated with the findings in the next phase of the project.

Investment Flow  

Considering the insights of government and Industry was a useful primer for looking at the quantitative data about how the Homelessness Program investment flows through the system.

CSIA worked with Ingrid and DHPW to develop a visual representation of how investment flows from the program area, to organisations and activities.    

Ms Drew said understanding the flow of investment towards an outcomes approach was complex at the system level.

“We’re building a richer picture of what has been discovered to date to create an industry-led view of what the future flow of investment might look like,” she said.    

Reviewing a draft of the diagram, participants filled in the gaps, corrected misunderstandings and pointed out where greater inquiry is needed. They were invited to rearrange sections of the flow, to create a map where investment flows more directly to people and outcomes.

CSIA is now distilling feedback from Industry and will be seeking additional information from government to create an accurate reflection of the current state of investment. Suggested changes to the flow will be considered as we refine what the future state of investment flow might look like.

Theory of Change 

How do we know where we are going and how we will achieve that? This session focused on creating a Theory of Change to map this out.

CSIA has been using the Theory of Change process across its programs and on the business itself. This visual process of mapping out activities and outcomes to lead to an end goal results in more purposeful planning, strengthens determination and makes programs easier to evaluate.

In groups, participants reflected on what it might take for a future where investment is focused on outcomes. Industry worked together to start on developing components of a draft Theory of Change for this future.

Demonstration Projects 

The rest of the day was spent scoping how Industry and government might test these ideas for change during 2019 through two demonstration projects. The ideas were broad and varied, some short-term and others longer-term proposals.

Some interesting demonstration project concepts for further exploration are:

  • how both flexibility and practice-based evidence can be built into the way investment can be used to reduce homelessness
  • how people with lived experience might shape the future state of investment under the Homelessness Program
  • how resources in the system could be intentionally structured and shared by industry across networks around an issue like brokerage or tenancy sustainment
  • how relationships between investors and investees might create greater value
  • how capacity and capability of government and Industry can be developed concurrently.

Next Steps 

As CSIA, Industry and government collaborate on an innovative approach for the future of investment, the next steps in the project are to:

  • synthesise the content from the day and use this to develop the next iteration of a draft Theory of Change which can be tested with industry and government
  • develop the demonstration project ideas further and explore government and industry appetite for progressing with proposed projects.

If you would like further information about the Commissioning for Outcomes – Homelessness Investment Project, contact Senior Project Officer Vanessa Swinburn on 3180 1360 or email [email protected].

The Commissioning for Outcomes – An Industry-led Approach report was the catalyst for a partnership between CSIA and the Department of Housing and Public Works (DHPW) to look at the future of investment in the homelessness sector.