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“Australia-first” social impact bond to address youth unemployment

An Australia-first initiative has been launched to combat youth employment in New South Wales

A first-of-its-kind initiative has been launched to address youth unemployment in regional NSW and in Sydney.

Not-for-profit SYC has partnered with Social Ventures Australia (SVA) and the New South Wales government to launch Australia’s first Social Impact Bond (SIB) addressing youth unemployment.

The Sticking Together Project (STP) has secured a $10m social impact investment from the NSW Government to support the almost 900 young people living in New South Wales who face barriers to work.

This investment represents the first time in Australia that a social impact investment has focused on youth unemployment. Previous projects have addressed other social issues including homelessness, mental health and children in out-of-home care.

Michael Clark, Director of Corporate Strategy at SYC, said that STP represented a significant achievement of a milestone that has been designed to be funded by social impact investment.

“We set out right from the beginning to structure and measure Sticking Together Project in a way that would facilitate and enable funding through social impact investments, and it’s incredibly pleasing to see that aim become a reality with this agreement” Clark said.

“We are also very pleased to see the expansion of our NSW operations with this agreement, after having operated in NSW since 2013 with our Disability Employment Services.”

Sticking Together Project was conceptualised and co-designed by SYC in 2016 as an outcome of SYC’s My First Job initiative, which developed strategies to address Australia’s persistently high rate of youth unemployment.  The objective was to create a model that assisted young people in breaking into the workforce, and staying in there, whilst recognising that many young people had barriers to employment that required ongoing support to overcome.

The coaching model was piloted in 2017 in Melbourne and Adelaide with two primary objectives; to test the model and to gather measurement data and analytics that would enable future funding through social impact transactions.

“The results of the pilot were outstanding, with 66% of the young people who participated being completely off welfare benefits at the end of the pilot,” Clark said.

“From a cost avoidance perspective, this is an excellent outcome and one we’re confident of achieving in NSW as well.”

Elyse Sainty, Impact Investing Director at SVA, said the project is an exciting opportunity for private investors to make a meaningful difference to the lives of young people, while also receiving a financial return.

“The Sticking Together SIB is expected to improve the job prospects of young people who might have a hard time finding a job, for a whole variety of reasons,” Sainty said.

“Importantly it will focus on the wellbeing of each individual and find ways to improve their motivation and personal self-worth through the lens of home, health and relationships.

“In addition to increased wellbeing, more time spent in work and other productive activities leads to reduced welfare costs, greater lifetime earnings, and a reduction in the use of other government services.”

Clark also pointed out the importance of collaboration to make this project possible, and he expressed SYC’s gratitude and appreciation to its various partners in Sticking Together Project.

“There’s no doubt that without our partners in this project, we would not have had the same success”.

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