Approximately 100 people gathered at Melbourne 614 (69 Bourke Street) on 5,6 November, for the Melbourne Central Division’s ‘first and last’ social program conference*, entitled ‘Theory of Change – People, Practice and Program’.
A conference for all those involved in Salvation Army social programs across the state, the event featured keynote speaker Sara Burns, the co-creator of Outcome Star, as well as a host of practitioners and managers leading forums and discussion groups formally and informally.
A vast sea of subjects were canvassed throughout the program, touching on numerous sectors including AOD, ER, homelessness and social housing, education and opportunity, OOHC, FDV, and the growth and implementation of the NDIS.
Issues raised included the effective capturing, interpretation and use of data, research methods and ethics, compliance to government funding and governance edicts, substance misuse, management of financial resources, self-care, emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health, community support, and provision of meaningful uses of clients’ time.
Ms Burns said the Outcome Star originated as a tool ‘to capture change in clients’ lives’ in 2002-2003 and has since grown to include more than 27 versions across different social sectors.
‘There is a universality to the human condition and how people change,’ she said, ‘and the Outcome star is all about collaboration…bringing together people to develop, listen and model. The stars help engage and empower people, give organisations data and information about change and outcomes, and support workers skills with clients.’
Discussing the vital role of research in the life of The Salvation Army, VSPPU** head Captain Jason Davies-Kildea said that ‘research can be good, quick or cheap, but almost never all “three”,’ adding that ‘research alone isn’t enough – partnering with the “right” people is gold, and you need to know a lot about the question you are asking to get the best answers.’
* As MCD divisional social programme secretary Major Jenny Begent explained, the conference’s host was changing its name in 2016 to the ‘Central Victoria Division’.
** The Victorian Social Programme and Policy Unit.
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