Evaluation of the Try, Test and Learn Fund
The Try, Test and Learn (TTL) Fund provided funding to organisations across Australia for the delivery of 52 projects, supporting more than 12,000 Australians. Service delivery for all projects ended on or before 30 June 2021.
The Department of Social Services contracted the University of Queensland, in partnership with the University of Melbourne, to conduct an independent evaluation of the TTL Fund.
The evaluation examined evidence generated by projects financed under the TTL Fund to look for new insights into what works to reduce welfare dependence. Projects were aimed at particular priority groups at risk of long-term welfare dependence such as young parents, young carers and at-risk young people more broadly as well as older unemployed people, migrants and refugees.
The evaluation used both quantitative and qualitative methods to look at the impact of the TTL Fund overall as well as project-level analyses, and analyses at the priority group level. Data was drawn from surveys, interviews, project reports and administrative datasets. The University of Queensland Human Research Ethics Committee approved the evaluation, which also complies with relevant data security and privacy laws.
Evidence and insights gathered through the evaluation will inform future policy and program approaches.
The report finds that the TTL Fund achieved its main purpose:
“The TTL Fund met its stated objective to generate new insights and empirical evidence into what works to reduce long-term welfare dependence by trialling a number of new approaches to inform policy and program development.”
The report provides insights into whether the TTL Fund has increased the capacity of individuals to participate in social and economic life, and examines whether projects have the potential to reduce the risk of reliance on welfare.
Some key limitations should be noted in reviewing the evaluation, these include (but are not limited to): restrictions in the data and survey results available; the short period of observation particularly for tranche two projects; and the significant impact of COVID-19 on delivery during the course of the program.
While the evaluation lists the relative outcomes of projects, it should be noted that individual projects were not assessed against each other.
The department is continuing to monitor the progress of TTL Fund through analysis of administrative data, including to investigate medium and long term factors that may contribute towards reducing welfare dependence.