Closing the Gap Outcomes and Evidence Fund
The Closing the Gap Outcomes and Evidence Fund (the Fund) provides up to $38.6 million in funding from 2021 to December 2026. Funded projects will contribute to Closing the Gap:
- Target 12: By 2031, reduce the rate of over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care by 45%
- Target 13: By 2031, the rate of all forms of family violence and abuse against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children is reduced at least by 50%, as progress towards zero.
Projects will also support First Nations people with disability.
Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations and/or other First Nations organisations (service providers) will deliver projects designed in partnership with their communities. Projects will provide services to people experiencing (or at risk of) child removal or family violence.
Service providers will have the option of being funded through an outcomes-based funding model, focused on reward and incentive in a low risk setting. An aim of the program is to test whether an outcomes-based funding model can lead to:
- Better outcomes for service recipients
- Improved funding allocations
- Greater incentives and rewards for achieving outcomes.
Project reporting and evaluation methods will be designed with service providers and their communities. These will align with First Nations ways of measuring and communicating success. The design of the Fund reflects the Australian Government’s commitment to Closing the Gap Priority Reforms:
- One (Formal Partnerships and Shared Decision Making)
- Two (Building the Community-Controlled Sector)
- Three (Transforming Government Organisations)
- Four (Shared Access to Data and Information at a Regional Level).
Design and implementation
The department is co-designing and implementing the Fund in 3 stages.
The department established an Expert Panel comprising representatives of the Coalition of Peaks. The department worked with the Expert Panel to decide the Fund's:
- Outcomes and objectives
- Eligible activities
- Eligible organisation types
- Eligible locations
- Reporting and evaluation methods.
Community Panels (or community working groups) are being established in project locations. Community Panels consist of First Nations people and organisations with:
- Strong connections in their community
- Expertise in Targets 12 and 13
- Strong knowledge of their local Community-Controlled service system.
Community Panels provide advice on their community's needs and interest in undertaking projects. They also provide advice on service providers in their community with the relevant skills and experience to deliver projects.
Selected service providers will be invited to take part in co-design processes, along with their Community Panel. The aim of these processes is to develop projects which would achieve outcomes and represent value for money.
Selected service providers will be invited to submit their co-designed project proposals. Suitable service providers will then be invited to deliver their projects in their communities.
Evaluators will work with service providers and Community Panels on project and program evaluations. The evaluations will assess:
- How the program and projects contribute to progress towards Targets 12 and 13
- Whether programs are being implemented as intended, and outcomes are being achieved
- The suitability of the optional outcomes-based funding model, where applicable.
The evaluators will have experience in working with First Nations people and communities. They will also support service providers based on their identified needs, for example to further strengthen data and evaluation capability.
Service providers will have the option of being funded through:
- A standard funding model, consisting of fixed payments covering full service delivery costs (including wages and reporting).
- An outcomes-based funding model, consisting of both fixed payments and outcomes-based payments, providing incentive and reward for meeting mutually agreed outcomes targets.
Outcomes targets and funding models will be co-designed with service providers. They will take into account:
- Service provider experience, cash flow, and past performance
- What outcomes are achievable with the time and funding available
- What service providers can control and influence.
The Expert Panel recommended that the department target:
- High need locations with regard to Targets 12 and 13
- A mix of States and Territories, and a mix of urban, regional, and remote areas.
Consultations are underway to identify First Nations service provider partners in project locations. Locations will be announced when First Nations partners confirm projects are ready to proceed in their communities. Timing will depend on community readiness to undertake projects.
For more information about the Fund, please contact OutcomesTrialsandEvidence@dss.gov.au.