On Wednesday 7 September 2016, SIMNA NSW hosted a breakfast event to explore Wellbeing valuation. Wellbeing valuation is a hot topic right now, with the pre-launch of the Australian Social Value Bank at the end of July adding to the excitement around the approach.
We were lucky to have Maree McKenzie (Housing Alliance) to present what drove herself and the Housing Alliance to fund the creation of the forthcoming Australian Social Value Bank (ASVB), Dr. Jo Fildes (Mission Australia) to provide an overview of their use of Wellbeing evaluation in their work evaluating two Government funded projects, and Kylie Sproston (CEO Bellberry Limited) to discuss ethics in research and what level of ethics approval is appropriate for different evaluation activities.
The event was hosted by Uniting and facilitated by SIMNA Committee member, and passionate Wellbeing valuation advocate, Andrew Callaghan from Karrikins Group.
Maree McKenzie kicked the event off with an anecdote about how a UK study tour and a fortuitous meeting with Daniel Fujiwara resulted in The Housing Alliance and the NSW Federation of Housing Associations working together to bring Australia its own version of the UK Social Value Bank.
Maree went on to discuss the importance of the ASVB, believing that “values can connect people to what’s happening and to their experience on the ground”. Maree also outlined further key reasons how Wellbeing valuation and the ASVB can be useful to organisations. Wellbeing valuations can:
- Aid in setting priorities that aren’t solely the result of the assessment of a few, which allows us to include the individual experience in an objective way
- Help compare the value of interventions in a context of budget constraint so we can demonstrate value for money in a more holistic way
- Support our aims to: balance commonly accepted values (e.g. a dwelling) with well-being/quality of life values; and influence Government policy and funding
As of September 2016 the ASVB is still in development, however, it is anticipated that it will be available under licensing by November 2016. For more information, see here or email ASVB@communityhousing.org.au.
Dr. Jo Fildes spoke next and shared her experience of being part of the Mission Australia team that developed their ‘Client Wellbeing Survey’, designed to capture subjective wellbeing through a combination of measures. The survey was created as a result of Mission Australia’s desire to know their impact at an organisational level (measuring multiple complex services and service models, supporting 12,000 families and 280,000 clients) and to better understand how their services contribute to clients’ journeys towards independence.
Mission Australia uses the Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI) as the foundation of the Client Wellbeing Survey. The Client Wellbeing Survey also includes questions from the HILDA survey, Longitudinal Survey of Australian Children (LSAC) and the WHO Quality of Life (WHOQOL) to ensure all domains in Mission Australia’s outcomes hierarchy are properly covered.
Mission Australia uses this form of Wellbeing evaluation to inform their policy and practice and to reflect on practice by using the data to answer questions such as: Are our clients better off? and How can we optimise outcomes for our clients?
The final presentation was made by Kylie Sproston who highlighted the importance of Ethics Reviews when undertaking human research, and when an Ethics Review is necessary. Kylie’s organisation, Bellberry Limited, is an independent not-for-profit that offers Ethics Reviews through a Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC). An HREC is a diverse group of people representing a range of perspectives. Kylie outlined that an Ethics Review is primarily about protecting the welfare of participants and may be required for a number of reasons, including:
- When comparisons are being made – and groups are being treated differently;
- When particular groups are being targeted for investigation;
- Review of sensitive subjects;
- Data and privacy interventions;
- Review of consent processes to support informed consent;
- The possibility of vulnerability or uneven dynamics of power in the researcher/participant relationship;
- A desire or intent to publish the research
And that an Ethics Review can be of further benefit by:
- Improving the quality of the research (the HREC will ask targeted questions to ensure the study is designed to achieve the desired results)
- Ensuring the independence of the researcher
- Managing any organisational risks
Each speaker was followed by a short Q and A session at the end whereby attendees asked a number of fantastic questions relevant to the work they are currently doing as well as work being planned for the future.
SIMNA NSW is extraordinarily grateful to Uniting for hosting us and to Maree, Jo and Kylie for being so generous with their time and willingness to share their experiences.