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Creating change

Case studies of our work in driving better social outcomes.

At SOULAB we specialise in designing, implementing and measuring social change. Here are some examples of the work that we have undertaken with our incredible social change partners. 

Impact assessment success stories

Explore how we've partnered with clients to measure how they do good.

Measuring mental health reform outcomes: Review of the NSW mental health indicator framework

SOULAB was engaged by the NSW Mental Health Commission to develop headline indicators to ensure sufficient, appropriate and effective systems level monitoring of progress in reform, from a whole-of-government and whole-of-life perspective. We undertook lived experience consultations across NSW to understand what was important to people in terms of a mental health service system and what the key drivers of mental health were. We analysed this information together with a review of best available evidence to develop an outcomes framework and a revised set of  headline indicators.

Development of a Decision Making Framework: Improving the matching of families to services

SOULAB was engaged by the NSW department of Family and Community Services ( NSW FACS) to develop a resource that assisted in matching families with the most appropriate services to ensure the best possible likelihood of achieving positive outcomes such as restoration in line with the Permanency Support Program (PSP) reform. We conducted mapping of the casework process to develop a best practice casework decision making framework. The framework was tested by people with lived experience and we provided 

recommendations on how to embed the resource to support more effective matching of families to the most appropriate services.

Human centred design consultations to inform the design of the Mentally Healthy Workplace program

SafeWork NSW engaged SOULAB to lead a human centred design consultation process with NSW businesses and relevant stakeholders to further inform the design of a new Mentally Healthy Workplace program. The consultations tapped directly into SafeWork NSW customer base to inform and develop the new design model to ensure it met the customers’ needs. We co-designed solutions and tested the new program with stakeholders throughout consultation, resulting in a program designed to increase uptake and completion by small and medium businesses of varying industries across NSW.

Impact Assessment of ABC Trailblazer Program


SOULAB together with the Australian National University undertook an impact assessment evaluation of the ABC Trailblazers program. One challenge for the evaluation was to develop a clear theory of change given that the program had already been in place for some years. To overcome this challenge and develop a theory of change, a workshop wit the ABC project team and past Trailblazers was conducted to understand the mechanics of change in terms of outcomes for the participants. We also analysed multiple data sources from surveys to participant interviews to broadcast data to identify program improvement areas to enhance outcomes for participants. 

Improving young people's understanding of ADVO, bail conditions, and court processes

Youth Justice NSW (YJ NSW), a division of the Department of Communities and Justice, engaged SOULAB to assess the understanding of young people of their Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders, bail conditions, and court processes. We undertook lived experience consultations with sector stakeholders and over 100 justice involved youth to identify where and why understanding is the lowest, and to identify gaps in best practice. We leveraged the experiences of young people to inform the development of and test solutions to ensure the solutions best suited the needs of young people. The assessment provided a range of strategies and solutions that YJ NSW can implement to increase young people's understanding. 

Impact Investment Readiness Assessment of a refugee employability skill-development program

SOULAB was engaged by SSI, a large NGO, who wanted to assess the impact investment readiness of a key refugee employability skill-development program. SSI had vast amounts of data, multiple stakeholders, and complexities to consider. We developed a program impact measurement framework and data collection approach tools to measure short- and medium-term outcomes for refugees undertaking the program. We also developed an impact investment readiness framework to assess the program's viability to receive social impact investment funds. The assessment provided clear recommendations to SSI on the next steps to take so the program would be viable to social impact investment funds. 

Rapid Evaluation of Dignity Housing Pilot

NSW DCJ were seeking approval to extend the Dignity Housing Pilot into 2021-22. They required a rapid evaluation in-line with NSW Government Program Evaluation Guidelines to: 1) quantify and articulate the impacts of the pilot; and 2) assess the economic benefits-costs of the program. We

developed a Community Impact Framework and a benefit-cost model to analyse the outcomes achieved through the pilot compared to a comparison group. We conducted a program design review to provide recommendations for future rollout to improve outcomes for participants. NSW DCJ leveraged the evaluation to obtain funding to extend the pilot into 2021-22, ensuring the program could continue to support the younger and elderly populations experiencing homelessness. 

Review of Specialist Homelessness Services Unit Costs

SOULAB was engaged by the NSW department of Department of Communities and Justice (NSW DCJ) to conduct an independent desktop review of unit costs developed for Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS). These unit costs were developed by the Family and Community Services Insights Analysis and Research (FACSIAR) Economic and Evaluation through applying the DCJ Unit Costing Framework, as there were no standard unit costs for the SHS sector. We reviewed the methods, underlying workings and calculations to provide independent assurance to the Department and stakeholders. It is the intent that these SHS unit costs will provide both DCJ and the SHS sector with a robust evidence base to deliver quality SHS services at a fair price, improve outcomes for clients, and identify sustainable funding levels to maintain a viable SHS sector.

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NSW Workforce Adaptation Research and Analysis

Transport for NSW (TfNSW) commissioned SOUALB to conduct an analysis on four megatrends - the ageing workforce, work-life balance, gig-style working, and reskilling and upskilling - identified in their workforce adaptation environmental scan. The analysis sought to determine the key issues for each trend and how TfNSW could best leverage these trends to increase workforce retention, engagement, and productivity. For each trend, we analysed multiple data sources to identify possible mechanisms for workforce adaptation and provide key insights and recommendations on areas to leverage. We developed a Roadmap for TfNSW's workforce which set out the high-level workforce adaptation strategy for TfNSW across the four megatrends. 


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Action Lab success stories

Explore how we've partnered with clients to design the change they want to see in the world.

Ashmont Community Lounge and Grocery

To test whether establishing a social business is a feasible approach to generate employment for disadvantaged communities in NSW, SOULAB worked with a social housing community in Ashmont to design, develop, and deliver a social enterprise that generated employment, reduced food waste, and increased food security. The project identified that establishing community based social enterprises generated a number of benefits in addition to economic outcomes including empowerment outcomes. Based on consultations and analysis, a community store was the chosen social enterprise to meet the community's needs. The Ashmont community now own and operate the store.

Development of a strategy to address domestic violence in NSW Muslim communities

In NSW, domestic violence related assaults have been increasing over time. The aim of this Action Lab was to take a solution-focused approach to DFV issued specific to Muslim communities. in partnership with the Australian Muslim Women's Association and the Australian National University Research School of Finance, Actuarial Studies and Statistics, we ran an Action Lab to discuss the issues facing the Muslim community, including the cultural needs of Muslim women when accessing mainstream services. The lab brought together representatives from across the community for a full-day solution-focused workshop. A set of strategies and actions to address DFV issues in Muslim communities in NSW resulted from the Action Lab. 

Economic empowerment of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse women in the ACT

SOULAB was commissioned by IWiN to run a collective impact Action Lab. The objective of the lab was to identify innovative and structured approaches to increase economic opportunities and supports for CALD women. We undertook a three part workshop series that brought together the CALD community, NGOs, and government to collectively identify issues, solutions, and an impact action plan. Additional design labs were undertaken to develop an operating model for the new social enterprise (Her Kitchen Table) which would provide economic opportunity to migrant and refugee women and promote social cohesion in the Canberra community through experiencing stories and culture through authentic and diverse food. HKT has been live since 2021. 


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