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Wellsprings for Women

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Wellsprings for Women (Wellsprings) is a women’s only centre operating in Dandenong, Casey and Cardinia in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne.The Women’s Support Program (the Program) at Wellsprings offers a range of tailored support to women experiencing family violence, social isolation, poverty, mental health issues and homelessness.

96 per cent of women part of the Program are migrants and most are very socially isolated before engaging with Wellsprings, with social isolation, or the need for emotional or mental health support, among the reasons for referral for 76 per cent of womenaccessing the Program in 2020. At this time of the evaluation, 50 per cent of women were experiencing or have previously experienced family violence.

To gain a deeper understanding of the social and economic value created by the Program, Wellsprings commissioned Think Impact to conduct a Social Return on Investment (SROI) evaluation.

Creating value for women and their families

In this evaluative SROI, we measured and monetised the value created by the Program’s activities over the course of 2020. We found that the Program created an estimated $7.9m of value across five stakeholder groups as shown at right.

Clients were the largest beneficiaries of this value, experiencing 67 per cent of the total value, with the majority of this value occurring from a ‘sense of belonging’ and ‘ability to meet basic financial/household needs’.

‘With my life, I am just trying to get through it. I am facing so many things. It’s the connection that’s most impacted my life. Wellsprings is like a family' – Client

We also found that 11 per cent of the overall value is contributed to the Victorian economy. Experiences of family violence and lack of social support can diminish women’s capacity for unpaid labour. Where unpaid domestic work and care is not fairly distributed amongst the household, or supported by extended family or other social supports, women’s capacity for unpaid work and care is strained. With the support provided by the Program, women can increase their capacity for unpaid work and care, contributing to the Victorian economy.

As a result of Program support, 63 per cent of clients reported they are now able to focus on caring for their family.

‘I am more connected with my family, more able to understand my children’ – Client

Creating access for women who are traditionally excluded

The Program’s inclusive, women-centred and culturally competent approach creates access for women who may not otherwise be supported. However, while Program creates significant social value for women and their families, the women still face a number of systemic barriers limiting the degree to which the Program can support them. For example, those with temporary visa status are excluded from crucial forms of government support, with lack of access to ongoing material aid perpetuating ongoing economic insecurity.

‘[I] have developed the courage to stand if me or my children are treated unfairly. Also, I can stand for others who are disadvantaged due to systemic injustice, and unfairness.’ – Client

Crucially, while these women are inherently strong, with existing capacity to navigate daily life, to parent and for social participation, their capacity is diminished in the context of their economic and social discrimination and exclusion.

Modelling the value created by the Women’s Support Program

The social value modelling approach drew upon the internationally recognised SROI methodology for understanding and measuring social, environmental and economic impacts.The methodology guides a process understanding what changes for key stakeholders from the perspective of the stakeholders themselves. The SROI calculation compares the investment required to deliver the activities with the value of the outcomes experienced by all beneficiary stakeholders.

In this evaluation we interviewed clients, partners of clients, Program staff and volunteers and surveyed clients and volunteers with the support of Program staff. Social value was calculated by placing financial proxies on the quantified change commensurate with the degree of change experienced by stakeholders as a result of the Program. The report, found here, documents the value created, as well as how the principles were followed. It has been externally assured by Social Value International.

The Think Impact study has helped Wellsprings for Women to engage with government departments, decision makers, stakeholders and service providers on the value provided through our Women’s Support Program to women who would have otherwise been lost through the system. Having the evidence base gave our organisation the leverage we needed to argue our case for funding. As a result, we have secured the funding we need for this coming year and the resources to pursue the next level of compliance we need to achieve to ensure our program is sustainable and continues to offer women a service option they feel comfortable with.
Dalal Smiley, Chief Executive Officer, Wellsprings for Women

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