McAuley’s Work Confirmed and Awarded
McAuley Community Services for Women (MCSW) have launched two reports carried out by Deloitte Access Economics which confirmed the value of their work. It coincides with their receipt of the Excellence in Ending Homelessness Awards (for adults) at the 2019 Victorian Homelessness Conference earlier this month.
Together the reports provide a rich and nuanced picture of the outcomes and effectiveness of MCSW’s interventions for women who have experienced homelessness, family violence and mental health issues.
One of the reports looked at the social return on investment for each dollar spent, by an in-depth analysis of the situations of 30 individual women. The other report is a continuation of an annual evaluation of MCSW’s outcomes, which explores changes and shifts in MCSW’s client profiles and benefits over time.
Introducing the reports, Deloitte’s partner Natasha Doherty said the findings of a positive return on investment in 26 of the 30 case studies was ‘an astonishing outcome.
‘The women selected were among the most vulnerable, with the highest and most complex needs, of the hundreds of women supported by McAuley each year.’
Ms Doherty said: ‘There are many other benefits for each individual that can’t be monetized, and we have also taken a very cautious and conservative approach in our analysis.
‘But our study confirms that the services provided by MCSW generate positive social and economic terms. Even where a return less than a dollar is attributed, there are still clearly positive outcomes; it is just that they cannot be “monetised”.
‘The stories of these women speak for themselves.’
MCSW CEO Jocelyn Bignold said: ‘The outcomes we want to see for women are universal, and ones that we all want in our own lives. Good health, stable and affordable accommodation, safety, friends, family and social connections…plus the means to work or participate in meaningful activity. These are outcomes that women themselves tell us they need.
‘We don’t want to see outcome measures imposed on us that are not consistent with what women and children want for themselves. We fear that the discussion taking place within Government and philanthropy is being conducted at a population or theoretical level, and may not be holding real people’s lives at the centre of their thinking.’
Ms Bignold said: ‘Initially, we thought this work would give us an overall social return on investment picture at the organisational level. Instead we found that each case was unique and needed to have its own calculation.
‘This work demonstrates the effectiveness of individualised support which is also scale-able.’
Ms Bignold said that Deloitte reports confirmed that MCSW’s integrated approach worked for women with complex needs. ‘Our formula works, and is cost effective. It brings together accommodation, case management (with ‘as needed’ timeframes for support) and partnerships that provide swift access to additional expertise, such as legal and health services.’
The evaluation study, now in its second year, showed that in 2018/2019:
- McAuley is ensuring more women and children are safe in times of crisis. Sixteen per cent more were supported in crisis accommodation compared to last year.
- There was a significant increase in the number of women from culturally diverse backgrounds (46% compared to 31% in 2017/2018).
- A partnership with the WEstjustice community legal centre had led to the waiver of $309,187 in debt that women had accumulated because of economic abuse or financial fraud from their violent partner.
The Social Return on Investment study showed that:
- Returns were highest for women who engaged in McAuley’s employment support program and accessed case management. This gave additional benefits beyond just employment.
- ‘non-monetised benefits’ that could not be counted, but which were evident, included family reunification, shifts in expectations, improvements in life skills and social contacts.
- The case studies were of women who needed McAuley’s support for longer, resulting in a higher than average investment cost.
Earlier this month, McAuley were thrilled, proud and honoured on being awarded the Excellence in Ending Homelessness Awards (for adults) at the 2019 Victorian Homelessness Conference.
On their Facebook page, they said ‘Just as they say at the Oscars … this award is not just about us! It reflects the efforts of our passionate staff, amazing volunteers, our community partners … and the wonderful donors & supporters who help us support women and children towards better lives. Thank you all’. Well done MCSW!
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