Open for ideas: Try, Test and Learn Fund

Innovative ideas that help move people from welfare to work will be funded by the Turnbull Government, with the opening of the $96 million Try, Test and Learn Fund on Friday.

Using insights from the Australian Priority Investment Approach to Welfare, the Try, Test and Learn Fund will initially target and invest in groups of young people who are at-risk of long-term welfare dependency.

Speaking at Mission Australia’s Campsie site in western Sydney, Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, encouraged new and forward-thinking ideas on how we can support people to have better lives through work and independence from the welfare system.

“This is an innovative Government initiative; from Friday 9 December until late-February, we want your ideas on how we can help people who may be at risk of being on welfare for the long term to find, retain and flourish in long-term employment,” the Minister said.

“Our priority groups for this first round of the Try, Test and Learn Fund are young carers, young parents and young students at risk of long-term unemployment.

“Mariam and Rola are fine examples of parents taking initiative and utilising programs offered by the Coalition Government, in conjunction with services providers like Mission Australia.

“Existing programs such as ParentsNext and the Empowering YOUth Initiatives are already supporting innovative new service approaches. Through the first phase of the Fund, we want to build on these approaches by trying and testing scalable, efficient initiatives that help young people establish themselves in the workforce.

“At the end of the day, the Fund isn’t about kicking people off welfare and saving money. Nor is it about replacing programs that are already doing great work across Australia, or expanding existing programs. It is about investing in people who may need some extra help.

“The evidence from the Baseline Valuation Report tells us that what we’re currently doing isn’t helping people as it should be. That’s why we need your ideas to do it differently. We need your ideas to better help people at risk of welfare dependence, and better help their children.”

From Friday 9 December, ideas for the Fund can be submitted using a simple online form on the Department of Social Services’ (DSS) Engage website.

Ideas will be published on DSS Engage for everyone to see, to encourage collaboration and innovation. A discussion forum will run alongside the ideas generation phase, to encourage people to share views about how to help people in our priority groups, through the Try, Test and Learn Fund.

“We expect proposals to come from industry, the not-for-profit sector, NGOs – any group with ideas about how we can help improve lives through self-reliance and employment,” Mr Porter said.

“The most promising ideas will be selected for development into possible policy initiatives, which will involve refinement and co-design of the idea in preparation for funding.

“Our aim is that by May 2017, the first handful of successful ideas will have been selected by Government, and we will be on our way to on-the-ground implementation.”

The Fund itself is the product of innovation. Over thirty key stakeholders—representing service providers, academia, social enterprise and business—helped design the Fund, including how ideas are published online for public review and collaboration.

“I’m absolutely committed to making sure that the Fund operates in a way that fosters innovation and collaboration, while minimising the burden of red tape,” Mr Porter said.

More information about the Try, Test and Learn Fund and the Priority Investment Approach is available on the Department of Social Services website—dss.gov.au/priority-investment-approach

To submit an idea for the Try, Test and Learn Fund, visit www.engage.dss.gov.au