Investment approach for human services in NSW

The Department of Communities and Justice is working with government and non-government partners on an investment approach for human services. The goal is to improve outcomes for children and families in need across NSW.

Group of seven children smiling

How does it work?

An investment approach for human services uses data to improve decision making by better understanding demand for services and outcomes for children and families. It identifies groups of people in the population who are more likely to have poorer life outcomes. Whole-of-government funding is then directed to deliver more coordinated, evidence-based services that achieve measurable and meaningful improvements to people’s lives.

Key outcomes of interest to the investment approach include safe and permanent homes for children in out-of-home care, health and mental health, education, employment, housing, justice and community connection.

Central to this work is the NSW Human Services Dataset. The dataset brings together information from NSW and Commonwealth government agencies to: 

  • better understand what services people receive
  • understand the factors that affect people’s use of human services
  • project future service use.

A key focus of the investment approach is to redirect savings from realised benefits over time towards prevention and earlier intervention services across government agencies, partners and service providers. Critical to achieving this is building a high-quality evidence base of programs and services that achieve measurable improved outcomes for people in NSW and quantified cost benefit to government.

How will it be delivered?

The Department of Communities and Justice in collaboration with the Department of Education, NSW Ministry of Health and other key stakeholders in the human services sector has developed the Investment plan for human services in NSW (PDF 6.04MB)

The investment plan outlines how the investment approach can be applied by government to direct investment in the most effective and efficient way to deliver better outcomes and target those in need. 

The investment plan outlines six key areas for delivering an investment approach for human services in NSW, comprising:

  • regional control and accountability for outcomes
  • support from government to empower regions to reform the service system and reorient and tailor services to each family
  • world-class whole of government data and data capability
  • building the evidence base of what works
  • investment modelling to understand avoidable costs and return on investment
  • delivering actionable insights.

Implementation will be supported by:

  • strong governance across government, its partners and service providers
  • local partnerships to deliver more coordinated, joined up services
  • pooled funding to reallocate resources to earlier intervention as benefits are realised
  • ongoing monitoring and evaluation for continuous improvement of the service system.

Improving access to quality data about the characteristics and distribution of community need for human services will drive effective delivery of services to achieve better outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and families.

The investment plan marks the first major milestone in the implementation of a whole-of-government investment approach for human services and is a foundation for the rollout of place-based pilots, initially in Western and South Western Sydney. 

View the investment plan. (PDF 6.04MB)

Where is it being trialled?

Western Sydney was selected as the first demonstration site of the investment approach.

The Kids Early Years (KEYS) Network provides a system level response to assist families with children aged 0 to 5, living in Western Sydney who have vulnerabilities linked to poorer life outcomes. 

Find out more about the network on the KEYS website.

South Western Sydney will be the second demonstration site of the investment approach. 

The Investment Approach for Social Impact Strategy is implementing a whole of system reform to improve the overall safety, wellbeing, resilience, and lifetime trajectories of women aged 25 and under with a child aged 0-6 (including antenatal care) and their families.

South Western Sydney Local Health District, South Western Sydney Primary Health Network, the Department of Education and the Advocate for Children and Young People co-contribute to this initiative, along with other service providers in DCJ’s South Western Sydney District.

How do we measure the impact on people’s lives?

The first round of modelling and the landmark Forecasting Future Outcomes Stronger Communities Investment Unit - 2018 Insights Report (PDF 21.8MB) was delivered in 2019. 

The updated Forecasting Future Outcomes Stronger Communities Actuary Insights Report 2022 (PDF 2.3MB) reflects the development of the investment approach in NSW since 2019. This report provides an update to headline population level results. It identifies that 19% of children and young people in NSW are expected to experience the poorest outcomes later in life and make up around 50% of the total estimated future cost.

The report also presents three case studies demonstrating how the Forecasting Future Outcomes Model can be used to estimate expected return-on-investment and improved outcomes for programs that target particular groups of vulnerable children, young people and their families.


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