This week's announcement by the Victorian Government of the $100 million Community Infrastructure Loans Scheme, will provide councils with access to low interest rate loans of between $500,000 and $10 million. The loans will apply to community centres and hubs, cultural facilities, public libraries, kindergartens and early learning facilities, heritage building restorations for community use and public spaces like parks, reserves and trails.
The funding will be very competitive and so it will be important to demonstrate how your proposal will not only provide functional benefit to the community but will also deliver real, long-term community outcomes as well.
We call it Outcomes-Based Infrastructure and it is a process that sets up social infrastructure projects so they can make a measurable difference to people's lives, particularly where pockets of disadvantage exist. Brimbank City Council is leading the way with their 'Brimbank Hub' development, which will bring together a world-class leisure centre with a rigorous approach to addressing real social and health inequalities.
Let us know if you would like to talk about how your application for infrastructure funding could become an outcomes-based community infrastructure proposal.
Link to the Premier's announcement
Guidelines for a previous, similar, program
Yesterday’s release by Infrastructure Australia of its annual Infrastructure Audit is a timely reminder of how important capital spending is to our social, community and health sectors.
It is also a reminder of how ineffective our social infrastructure currently is in addressing some of the growing and increasingly complex health and social challenges facing our communities.
The report notes that it is the challenge of operating within ‘sector-based structures’ and the ‘lack of integration’ that stops us from effectively addressing these challenges through our infrastructure investments. Indeed, it can often make things worse as a result of getting differing levels and types of services depending on where people live (p.394).
Perhaps the most critical statement in this section of the report, however, is the following:
“…challenges remain, however, in overcoming sector-based planning, funding and governance structures which limit the incentives for different infrastructure sectors to work together to improve benefits to communities.” (p. 394)
The take-out here is that the success of an infrastructure investment should not be measured by the quality or scale of the build itself but the extent to which it delivers solutions to complex and enduring social and health challenges. To do that, it requires a process that breaks down silos and creates incentives for different parts of the infrastructure system to work together with outcomes at the centre.
Latitude Network’s work with Brimbank City Council in Victoria as well as Logan City council in Qld has delivered a process which puts the social and health focus at the core of the investment, including the identification of outcomes, service delivery approaches, cross-sector partners and governance structures. The planning, design, construction as well as the operations can then proceed, confident that we are arming this piece of infrastructure with the tools it will need to truly have an impact.
It is a common problem in local and state government that a new piece of infrastructure is commissioned, but it fails to make a lasting impact on the social and health needs of the community. Our client, Brimbank City Council in Melbourne's West, had identified a range of population health and social measures that are worse than the average for greater Melbourne, yet investments over the years had not closed those gaps. In addition, a sports and recreation centre in St Albans needed to be redeveloped. The insight was that this large infrastructure project could be developed in a way that addressed the health needs of the community.
The project involves engaging with organisations to co-locate on the site, but also to sign up to common agreements and collaborative approaches to addressing community needs. Specific social and health outcomes (including in early childhood development and physical activity and health) were agreed, and a management system put in place to ensure reporting and accountability of those goals.
The program has three pillars -
Council-led social innovation, and aligning council programs and activities around common social outcomes
A novel approach that attaches outcomes goals to an infrastructure project and to tenant contracts
Building a community collaboration using the principles of collective impact
The project is still in development, but is pointing to a better way to make buildings work for the community and become more active, measured parts of system change. We will update this page as progress is made and goals achieved.
Combining an infrastructure project and a collaborative project to address population-level challenges is a new an exciting direction for local government. Typically these processes are managed separately, and while a building may have some impact goals up front, they can easily be forgotten in the commercial pressure to deliver a project in a timely and cost-effective way.
Latitude's role is to help design the systems, governance and approach for the project, and to help Council navigate their way through the complexities of analysis, managing, resourcing and stakeholder management. We believe this higher standard of outcomes-based infrastructure points to a future of improved impact and effectiveness. If you would like to keep up to date with the project as in progresses, subscribe to our newsletter or get in touch.