By Poppy Wise | 13 Sep 2019

COMPACT is a first-of-its-kind program – in Australia and internationally – that is centred around empowering young people to stand up and unite against extremist hate, fear, violence and division.

This week, Urbis Director Poppy Wise, will present at the Australian Evaluation Society conference on this significant project. Together with our client Multicultural NSW, and recent evaluation participant Bankstown Youth Development Services, Poppy will reflect on the experience and outcomes of co-designing an impact measurement approach for the COMPACT program in an emerging and complex policy setting. 

In the lead up to the event, we share some insights around co-designing the measurement approach for COMPACT. 

Community Partnership in Action (COMPACT) is a NSW Government program aiming to empower young people to stand up and unite against extremist hate, fear, violence and division. This is achieved through delivering grants to local initiatives run by community partners that develop young people as champions for community resilience.

COMPACT is delivered by Multicultural NSW and funded by the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC). It was initially funded to provide $4 million in grants in 2015, and this has now more than doubled to $9.2 million due to the overwhelming response from the community sector.

COMPACT is funded under the NSW Government’s commitment to countering violent extremism (CVE) and was the first program to be funded in this policy area in NSW. It is a first-of-its-kind approach in Australia and internationally in that it does not aim to reduce the likelihood of violent extremism, instead, it aims to mitigate the negative social impacts that occur in the wake of extremist events, by promoting social cohesion.

Co-design in social impact measurement essentially revolves around securing the involvement in designing the measurement approach of the communities involved in delivering and receiving the program or service. This investment ensures the communities involved agree with the fundamentals – they are the experts after all!

Genuine co-design means being willing to compromise, and critically it also takes time given the inclusion of stakeholders and the need to be iterative in designing solutions.

By involving the parties who are delivering and receiving interventions in the evaluation design, we have also found you secure buy-in to the results and subsequent advice around continuous improvement and, where delivery stakeholders are involved in data collection, you also build support for these activities to ensure strong compliance and quality assurance. 

Genuine co-design means being willing to compromise, and critically it also takes time given the inclusion of stakeholders and the need to be iterative in designing solutions.  We were very lucky working with Multicultural NSW who demonstrated this authentic commitment from day one – they were determined to include and respect all the voices of the communities being influenced by the COMPACT program.

Our co-design process was born from this commitment to both build a shared sense of ownership of program-wide objectives, across a diverse range of locally-based projects; as well as agree an evaluation approach that could be implemented by the 30+ funded community organisations, who were to assist with data collection.

From the perspective of one of the COMPACT community partners, Bankstown Youth Development Services (BYDS), there were a couple of really useful outcomes of the co-design process:

Firstly, co-design built on what was already there in terms of the BYDS project’s existing impact measurement approach. Urbis built on the progress to date with planning, for all community partners, rather than starting from scratch. 

The co-design process also reportedly brought new ideas of how to measure impacts, which took partners’ existing frameworks to the next level.  The result of the impact measurement development really helped partners to develop questions that were used in their own internal processes.

We really saw the benefits for our client, Multicultural NSW, for the more than 30 community partners and for the young people of NSW involved in COMPACT as a result of a genuine commitment to including everyone in our approach to measuring the social impact of the program.

The COMPACT impact measurement co-design helped Multicultural NSW build the program in a couple of key ways. By bringing all community partners along on the process, it not only gave them a sense of participation and ownership in the impact measurement process, but also in creating a collective sense of identity for the COMPACT program itself.

In addition, the co-design process also reportedly became an important part of a program of joint activities. The co-design workshops directly contributed to strengthening the COMPACT program by helping to strengthen relationships between partners and build Multicultural NSW’s and partners’ collective evaluation experience.

Ultimately, the evaluation has allowed Multicultural NSW to share evidence of success with community partners; to build the evidence base for this kind of intervention; to build the global reputation of the COMPACT program; and of course with funders to support their successful bid for future funding for the expansion of COMPACT.

The process has really showed Multicultural NSW that the most important thing about evaluation is that program improvement is an iterative learning process, and the co-design process helped facilitate this learning process.