Applying the Principles of Social Impact Bonds to Business as Usual Service Delivery: Lessons for Australia

Matt Tyler

Jesuit Social Services
Executive Director, Men's Project

Matt Tyler is Executive Director of the Men’s Project at Jesuit Social Services and brings over 10 years of experience across the private, public, academic, and community sectors. He has particular expertise in improving social services including within child protection, family violence, homelessness, criminal justice and mental health. He has contributed to the Reintegration Puzzle for several years and is currently involved with the design of a place-based approach to service coordination for people leaving prison in South-Western in Victoria.

Outside social services, he has worked as a strategy consultant for Australia’s largest companies, an economist on Australia’s foreign aid program focused on South-East Asia, a policy adviser to the Australian Labor Party, and a researcher on an Australian Research Council grant seeking to better understand the determinants of Indigenous Australian men’s health. He holds a Master of Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School, Honours in Economics (University Medal) from Monash University, and a B.A (Psychology) / B.Comm (Finance) from the University of Melbourne.

Social Impact Bonds, for better or worse, have attracted much attention yet they are often small and expensive to develop. This begs the question - what can be learnt from Social Impact Bonds and applied to business as usual social services delivery in Australia including in corrections? Working with Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families, the Harvard Government Performance Lab tested several approaches to improve the match between the needs of 30,000 Connecticut families and Child Welfare services: i) tools and new roles to improve social worker’s referral decisions; ii) timely use of data to iteratively improve service provider performance and; iii) a better understanding of the underlying needs of children and families to inform procurement of services. The approaches used are relevant to social services delivery more broadly including supports that are provided to people pre and post release from prison in Australia.