Program planning and evaluation guide

Program planning and evaluation guide – March 2018

Step 2: Understand the issue

Before addressing a social problem it is important to understand it. This includes: thinking through the causes and consequences of the problem; exploring the research evidence on that type of problem; and understanding who is most affected by the problem.

A public health approach may be a useful framework to guide this process.

This page contains resources that will help you to frame the way you understand and approach social problems. 


2.1 The public health approach

A public health approach aims to prevent a social problem before it occurs. This approach identifies a problem and its causes, then identifies and evaluates solutions.

Resources in this section describe the public health approach and how it can be used to address specific social problems.


A public health model for child welfare services [CFCA Resource Sheet]


2.2 Understanding and exploring social issues

Social issues are often complex and can have a range of causes and consequences. Understanding the causes of a social issue and the way it is experienced by different groups and individuals will enable you to identify and implement a more effective program or service.


Child abuse and neglect prevention [List of CFCA publications by topic]

Communities and neighbourhoods [List of CFCA publications by topic]

Culturally and linguistically diverse families [List of CFCA publications by topic]

Early intervention and prevention programs [List of CFCA publications by topic]

Family dispute resolution [List of CFCA publications by topic]

Parents [List of CFCA publications by topic]

Social inclusion [List of CFCA publications by topic]

Protecting Australia's Children: Research and Evaluation Register [Database of completed projects]


2.3 Risk and protective factors

Every social problem has risk factors and protective factors. These are things that make it more or less likely that an individual may be affected by an issue. They can also have an influence on the way an individual experiences the consequences of an issue.

2.4 Meeting the needs of your target group

Most projects, programs or services are designed to meet the needs of a group of people who share certain characteristics.

This section includes resources that describe how to ensure your program meets the needs of your target group, as well as resources on how to work effectively with specific groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.