Humanitarian entrants to Australia were previously supported through the Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) and Complex Case Support (CCS) programs. Following a 2015 evaluation, the programs were merged into the Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP), with an increased focus on English, education, and employment outcomes. The Department of Social Services (DSS) commenced operation of the HSP in October 2017. The program was transferred to the Department of Home Affairs in July 2019.
The HSP provides initial settlement support to people who have recently arrived in Australia on refugee or humanitarian visas and to some eligible people onshore. The objective of the HSP is to build people’s skills and knowledge for social and economic well-being through a tailored, needs-based, case management approach. Over 17,000 clients are eligible for the HSP each year and the program is allocated over $120 million annually. The ANAO has not previously audited the HSP or the prior versions of this program but audited settlement services grants in 2009. This audit assessed whether DSS and Home Affairs have managed the HSP effectively following the commencement of the HSP in October 2017.
The objective of this audit was to examine whether the HSP is being delivered effectively. To form a conclusion against the audit objective, the ANAO adopted the following high-level criteria:
- Are the HSP contracts well designed and managed?
- Is the performance of the HSP effectively managed to achieve program outcomes?
- The HSP contracts are largely well designed but contract management has only been partially effective. Service provider contracts contain appropriate provisions supported by strong stakeholder engagement by DSS. Key contract management elements were not undertaken, including establishment of abatement regimes, contract management plans or adequate assurance activities. The HSP IT System only partially supported program delivery due to issues obtaining reliable information from external systems, challenges with accessing performance information, and the administrative burden of using the system.
- The departments have been partially effective in managing HSP performance to achieve program outcomes. While HSP risk management processes have been appropriate, performance management and reporting has not been appropriate and available data does not allow the departments to determine if the objective of the HSP is being met. Despite some improvements having been made to the program, with more planned, not all intended benefits of the new HSP delivery model have been achieved.