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Media releases

$5million social benefit bond to tackle youth homelessness in Queensland

25 July, 2017


Westpac Banking Corporation (Westpac) has partnered with Social Outcomes to support Churches of Christ in Queensland, raise AUD 5 million via a social benefit bond to fund the Youth CONNECT program in Queensland over 6.5 years.

The Queensland Government led initiative aims to support young people 15 to 25 years old who are exiting or have exited statutory care and are homeless or are at risk of homelessness.

Strong interest from the investment community is expected at this week’s investor launches, based on the take up of this innovative funding model in other states.

According to Peter Taplin, Westpac’s Director Structured Finance, Social Benefit Bonds represent an innovative way of tackling complex social problems.

“By paying upfront and investing in services that improve social outcomes we are trying to offset the future cost to tax payers,” Mr Taplin said.

“As we have seen from the Benevolent Society’s social benefit bond in NSW, a successful bond requires an improvement of social outcomes over a five plus year time frame so programs need to be transparent, well defined and demonstrate measurable returns.

“Investment returns are based on the agreed outcomes being achieved generating avoided cost for government over time. By reducing the incidence of homelessness and supporting education, employment and community connection, we can effectively return this money to the investors who supported the service upfront.” he said.

Social Benefit Bonds appeal to investment funds, charitable foundations and philanthropic family trusts. They are designed to secure attractive returns while helping to have a positive impact on pressing social issues.

According to Social Outcomes Managing Director, Sandy Blackburn-Wright; it’s all about building resilience in the people we are supporting.

“We are focussed on increasing resilience for young people exiting statutory care.”

“We have designed a measurement framework for the bond that reflects the situation they find themselves in and measures the progress they make towards greater resilience and a more stable future,’ she said.

In 2015–16 over 43,000 young people were alone and in housing crisis when they approached a specialist homelessness agency; over half of these were already homeless (AIHW).

“Youth CONNECT will offer young people wrap around services aimed at build their resilience factors of education, employment and community connection and to influence the individual’s future trajectory towards achieving sustained housing,” said Churches of Christ in Queensland CEO, Paul Scully.

“The approach supports the development of better coping skills to improve life outcomes and sustain long-term health and well-being into adulthood, ultimately reducing the risk of future homelessness,” he said.

According to 2011 ABS Census 60% of homeless people in Australia were aged under 35 years. Young Australians are over-represented compared to their proportion to the total population.