Social equity and cohesion
Fairer Victoria is the group within The Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) responsible for advising on embedding inclusion, access, and social and economic participation across state government projects.
Fairer Victoria is in the process of developing a ten-year LGBTIQ+ Strategy through a whole-of-government approach to reforming and improving policies, programs, and services for LGBTIQ+ communities.
The strategy includes a vision for Victoria where:
A key component of the LGBTIQ+ Strategy involves capturing data and evaluating its impact on communities to inform its ongoing implementation.
spur: was engaged to develop a strategic approach to measuring the outcomes of the LGBTIQ+ Strategy.
Given the extensive work the Victorian government has already done across population-focussed outcomes frameworks, there was also clear opportunity to harness work already undertaken across the public sector.
Our work compromised three key parts; a comprehensive analysis of existing approaches to outcomes (including those in the Victorian public sector), a recommendation that Fairer Victoria adopt a community-led approach to outcomes, and an implementation plan.
The Victorian Government has recently aligned how its Departments talk about, define, and measure success for Victorian communities through the Victorian Outcomes Reform Statement:
The Statement has been used by Departments to articulate the big picture, population-level outcomes they want to see for communities. It also provides a framework for understanding how government activities might achieve these outcomes and measuring their impact. Many Department outcomes frameworks are built using the Statement, including:
These frameworks have already identified thousands of population-specific outcomes and their measures—many of which are relevant to LGBTIQ+ communities.
For example, in the Family Violence Outcomes Framework:
We know that LGBTIQ+ communities disproportionately experience family violence.
And in the Public Health and Wellbeing Outcomes Framework:
We know that LGBTIQ+ communities disproportionately experience suicide.
Fairer Victoria and spur: identified the opportunity to harness the work already being done across the Victorian government and utilise this information as a foundation of Fairer Victoria's evaluation approach. Therefore, spur: undertook an analysis of all available outcomes frameworks—to cross-analyse and extract indicators and measures relevant to LGBTIQ+ communities.
Over 800 existing indicators and measures used in existing government outcomes frameworks could be utilised.
Crucially, Fairer Victoria would not have to reinvent the wheel.The challenge that remained, however, was good data.
Data forms the backbone of any outcomes evaluation approach. The ability to effectively measure progress (or regress) towards real outcomes for people comes from the compelling stories data can tell us. Each of the existing Victorian outcomes frameworks utilise myriad datasets to measure progress, including the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Victoria Police, universities and many more.
These datasets, typically capture a range of insights on demographics and identity, socioeconomic position, family make-up, safety and security, community connectedness, mental and physical health—the list goes on.
However, absent from most government (and ABS) datasets is data on LGBTIQ+ identities. While not unique to the Victorian government, Fairer Victoria has set their sights on changing this reality. Fairer Victoria has already provided departments across government with best practice LGBTIQ+ data collection standards. But these changes don't just happen or get adopted overnight. It was clear that data collection needed to form part of the evaluation approach.
spur:'s approach needed to find a way to ensure success of an outcomes framework through its implementation. It must be understood, embraced, actioned, evaluated, and iterated by all stakeholders affected by and affecting the outcomes framework:
Traditional approaches to outcomes frameworks often privilege a single stakeholder measuring progress of their own actions. For example, a government body might develop an outcomes framework that reflects how their own internal and external programs shift the needle towards outcomes for the LGBTIQ+ communities. This is understandable —though it is limiting. Not only does this result in the fragmentation of effort and resourcing to achieve outcomes, but fails to acknowledge the reality that population-level outcomes are typically achieved only with the sustained efforts of an ecosystem of stakeholders.
A community-centred approach, however, allows multiple stakeholders to understand how they’re contributing towards shared goals and outcomes—both individually and collectively. This approach supports and fosters both collaboration and autonomy. With a shared vision, these stakeholders can more easily understand areas of alignment and areas of specialisation. A community-centred approach is particularly powerful when all stakeholders have contributed to its development too—which is the work Fairer Victoria has already undertaken in community and consultation. This fosters a common purpose, ongoing engagement, allocative efficiency, and accountability for the following key stakeholders:
Rather than each stakeholder working towards separate impact frameworks, with discrete language and measurement methods, this model aligns purpose, language and measurement. In reality, many stakeholders are working towards similar or tangential outcomes. A community approach allows this work to be captured as a reflection of the whole LGBTIQ+ ecosystem, not just how the public sector is working towards (or away from) it.
Engagement is the active involvement of other stakeholders in the outcomes process. A community approach ensures ongoing community engagement. Fairer Victoria has already undertaken extensive and exemplary community consultation in its LGBTIQ+ Strategy work. Allowing the community to contribute to and measure against the outcomes framework on an ongoing basis both embeds community engagement into its architecture and continues the legacy of work already done. This may also speak to efficacy, as a constant feedback and contribution loop allows constant and live iteration of the outcomes framework. It allows issues to be addressed quickly and with the input of those it affects at the forefront.
Resourcing are the inputs that go into delivering outcomes. It’s the people, time, skills, and money that go into achieving progress towards outcomes. A community approach helps to prevent duplication of efforts in the LGBTIQ+ ecosystem. Embedding the work of the broader public sector and community into the framework mitigates overlapping of scope, maximising resourcing and inputs. Utilising a community approach maximises the number of resources available, while also increasing the capacity of existing resources. In this way, resource allocation is prioritised and achieved.
Accountability is the cornerstone of good and representative government, democracy and the rule of law in Australia. Accountability in outcomes frameworks manifests in the transparency of progress that has or hasn’t been achieved. It means honesty about the challenges and barriers to achieving outcomes in a given period. However, the community approach means it is a shared burden and responsibility, just as much as it means shared wins.
Data is one of the most influential and important aspects of an outcomes framework. An outcomes framework must utilise representative and beneficial data. It must be capable of reflecting the changes in the lived experiences of communities at its core. This means datasets must capture LGBTIQ+ communities at large, but also the distinct Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer+ communities within. It may also reflect multiple identity intersections, for example LGBTIQ+ people living with a disability and Indigenous LGBTIQ+ people. It is next to impossible to capture every intersection and identity in each outcome of a framework, but it is possible to capture intersections with good data. Data must also be reliable. It must be captured under rigorous testing conditions, and with integrity.
Without representative and reliable data, an outcomes framework will not measure true regressions or progress of outcomes.A community-centred approach recognises the limitations of current data collection and designs them out. As discussed, current data collection by government and used by government do not adequately capture LGBTIQ+ communities as needed.
While the Victorian government is making headway towards improving these standards, integrating community datasets mitigates this problem in the short term, when improvement of government data may be a multiple-year endeavour. A wider net of potential datasets also increases the likelihood of capturing more intersectional identities, and moving the outcomes framework towards data efficacy and representativeness.
What this lead to was a community-owned outcomes framework, which is not just a reflection of how government builds towards LGBTIQ+ outcomes, but a north star of outcomes for the whole community. How might we all define, achieve and measure progress for LGBTIQ+ communities. And a central data repository, built and refined by the LGBTIQ+ community, is the vehicle of this progress. what this creates is a shared responsibility, accountability and a living, breathing movement towards a better and fairer Victoria for LGBTIQ+ people.
Fairer Victoria is looking to deliver the Strategy before the end of 2021. We look forward to seeing and living the real outcomes this important work will facilitate. Fairer Victoria knows the work is far from over, but have set the agenda and roadmap for a better world for LGBTIQ+ Victorians.
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