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REDWatch’s comments on 18 Month RWA Human Services Plan Evaluation

The following comments were made by REDWatch to the RWA as feedback on the RWA's 18 month Evaluation of the RWA Human Services Plan Phase One in September 2009.

“There is no doubt that there has been significant and progressive change in the area’s community, and the Redfern Waterloo Authority’s Human Services plan has contributed to this, however it disappointing to see that the report [Human Services Plan phase one initial Evaluation] does not acknowledge the significant work of local residents, volunteers, and the under resourced and over stretched Non-Government agencies working in the area.

There is no doubt about the need for a central coordinating role of human services reform In the area - RWA has been the key to this strategy, however, with so much reform still needing to be progressed, there is an outstanding concern that needs to be addressed, that being the lack of a clear exit strategy being in place for RWA with their expected departure from the area in 2011. “ 

The above quote from an NGO in the area is reflective of feeling across the area’s NGOs, according to feedback supplied to REDWatch during a recent survey of the area’s NGOs. 

The following concerns featured in the feedback to the Survey: 

(a) The Evaluation as released does not take into consideration and thus make allowances for;

  1. the changes in the population’s economic, social, and cultural demographic both during the timeslot evaluated, and into the future.
  2. the impact of Town Planning, Social Planning, and Gentrification on the population demographic in the economic, social, and cultural sectors of the area’s community.  
  3. whether the people receiving the services are resident in the area – is current resident data a reliable indicator of historic success. 

(b) The Evaluation as released does not refer to having consulted with the service recipients, both current and future, to seek their views of the Services delivered and the manner in which they were delivered. 

(c) The Evaluation as released does not fit well with the Performance Indicators developed by the Evaluation Consultant in 2006, against which the Evaluation was to be done. 

(d) The Evaluation as released indicates that out of the alleged 70 + services operating in the area only 20 had a chance to give input into the evaluation. 

(e) The Evaluation as released acknowledges input from only two NGOs, which raises issues around the perceived value of NGOs in service delivery. 

(f) The Evaluation as released does not present data indicating the level of service outputs and Performance Indicators for the NGO sector of the area, who operating under severe constraints of resource and budgetary paucity. 

(g) The Evaluation as released does not acknowledge and/or highlight the success of the area’s NGO network - to do so would enhance their ability to seek and gain additional resources from external sources. 

(h) The Evaluation as released appears to be based on feedback from Government Agencies. Having a Plan in itself does not mean that a physical outcome has been delivered to the membership of the community. 

REDWatch is of the opinion that: 

1.  a survey of Awareness of service, current service utilisation, current need, and future need of the projected target group, such as is presently being undertaken by NSW DADHC, would be an effective tool in any future Human Services Plan phase one Evaluations to be done. The inclusion of such a tool in the evaluation of Human Services Plan phase two would also be desirable. 

2.  the community is the best qualified group to evaluate the success of any Plan that is meant to assist the community, and therefore their views and opinions should be sought as a matter of priority. 

3.  the community is the best qualified group to identify areas of both current and future needs of the community, and as such their views and opinions should be used to identify, develop and drive the implementation of all Plans that may impact on them. 

4.  there is a clear need for an Exit Strategy to be developed, and in place, prior to RWA’s departure so that the benefit of the work done to date may be preserved. 

REDWatch looks forward to being a part of the future delivery of services to the community of the area and to being a participant in the development of any such services.