Key Data Challenges for Place-Based Prevention and Implementation in Australia

A/Prof. Geoffrey Woolcock1
1Logan Together, Meadowbrook, Australia

The growth of dedicated, long-term place-based responses to overcoming entrenched disadvantage in Australia encouragingly continues to be characterised by a ‘bottom up’/participatory intent and practice. Many, if not all of these responses have committed to variants of collective impact approaches including its five necessary ‘conditions’ – common agenda; continuous communication; mutually reinforcing activities; backbone function; and shared measurement system.

These collective impact approaches have coalesced around changing a number of fundamental service system traits, including the fact that interventions often arrive too late; fragmented and uncoordinated services not geared to address whole of community needs; funding ‘short-termism’; and an absence of local and effective community decision-making.

This presentation highlights some of the key challenges I have observed in several communities committing to these collective impact conditions, in particular that of a shared measurement system.

These challenges are expressed in the form of probing questions where I will seek to actively engage with the symposium audience on each of them:
• Is there a genuine interest in the history of progress and how it has been/might be measured, and in turn, the history of the impacted community and how it has been/might be measured?
• Is the ‘systems change’ initiative primarily focusing on prevention and tackling inequality?
• If the chief mode for achieving systems change is collective impact, have we spent sufficient time together to share a common understanding of what the problem/s is/are that we’re addressing?
• How can the impacted community genuinely drive the establishment and ongoing monitoring of shared outcome measures, especially with indigenous communities?
• How much actual direct resourcing is given to collecting and collating – let alone analysing – meaningful data in measuring for outcomes?

Geoff Woolcock is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Southern Queensland’s Institute for Resilient Regions, and an Adjunct Associate Professor at Griffith University and University of the Sunshine Coast. Geoff has 30 years community-based research experience nationally and internationally, with considerable expertise in community service planning and evaluation, including social capital and community capacity building. He has co-published more than 175 peer-reviewed papers, chapters and reports. He is a board director of both Brisbane Housing Company and Logan Child-Friendly Community Ltd overseeing the collective impact initiative, Logan Together. He also Chairs the Australian National Development Index (ANDI).