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National evaluation (2004-2008) of the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy 2004-2009
This report covers three of the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy initiatives - Communities for Children (CfC), Invest to Grow and Local Answers. It examines service provision, service coordination, Indigenous families and children in CfC sites, factors that facilitate or hinder service provision and outcomes, and sustainability.
Many research participants compared the SFCS 2004–2009 model favourably with other funding models noting that it gave service providers considerable control over the types of services they could provide and the way they could deliver them. Programs benefited greatly from consultations and partnerships with Indigenous organisations and community members, but effective community engagement takes considerable time, especially in rural and remote areas.
Partnerships, better coordinated services, and a focus on early childhood may be long-term outcomes of the SFCS 2004–2009 initiative in some areas. However, without ongoing funding, it is unlikely that SFCS 2004–2009 programs will be sustainable. Short-term interventions can fuel resentment and mistrust. Furthermore, preliminary positive program outcomes may diminish, and potential benefits remain unrealised without sustained funding.
The evaluation was undertaken over four years by a consortium comprising the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, supported by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. This report is written by Kristy Muir, Ilan Katz, Christiane Purcal, Roger Patulny, Saul Flaxman, David Abelló, Natasha Cortis, Cathy Thomson, Ioana Oprea, Sarah Wise, Ben Edwards, Matthew Gray and Alan Hayes.