Commonwealth Place-Based Service Delivery Initiatives

Commonwealth Place-Based Service Delivery Initiatives

Key Learnings project

Sez Wilks, Julie Lahausse and Ben Edwards

Research Report No. 32 — April 2015
Commonwealth Place-Based Service Delivery Initiatives

Place-based initiatives are programs designed and delivered with the intention of targeting a specific geographical location and particular population group in order to respond to complex social problems. Typically, they focus on areas and communities with entrenched disadvantage or deprivation.

This report investigates the key factors and characteristics associated with successful outcomes with such programs, drawing on the international literature and evaluation studies of Australian government and overseas programs.

Key messages

Many Commonwealth place-based initiatives reviewed had features that accord with those of international place-based initiatives, including common program elements such as design, delivery, implementation and evaluation.

Evaluation of all these common elements is rarely done by either international or Commonwealth place-based initiatives.

In particular, evaluations of Commonwealth place-based initiatives lacked sufficient evidence to establish the causal effects of initiatives, their cost-effectiveness and an understanding of how these initiatives work to achieve their goals. This was more pronounced among the evaluation of Commonwealth initiatives than in international evaluations.

Authors and Acknowledgements

Sez Wilks is a Research Officer, Dr Julie Lahausse is a Research Fellow and Dr Ben Edwards is Executive Manager, Longitudinal Studies, all at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.


The findings are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Australian Institute of Family Studies or the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The authors are grateful to Professor Alan Hayes, Dr Daryl Higgins and Kelly Hand for their assistance with scoping and conducting the review, and for their valuable comments on earlier versions of this report.

It should also be noted that Dr Ben Edwards was the lead author of the evaluation of the Communities for Children initiative (Edwards, Mullan, Katz, & Higgins, 2014). Moreover, Dr Edwards was also an author of a report to the Department of Employment that provided information on a survey of parents who were affected by the Helping Young Parents measure that fed into the evaluation of the Building Australia’s Future Workforce evaluation (Taylor & Edwards, 2012).

Australian Institute of Family Studies and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet logos

Publication details

Research Report
No. 32
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, April 2015.
98 pp.
ISSN: 
1477-1477
ISBN: 
978-1-76016-017-3
Suggested citation:

Wilks, S., Lahausse, J., & Edwards, B. (2015). Commonwealth Place-Based Service Delivery Initiatives: Key Learnings project (Research Report No. 32). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

AIFS news

Get the latest news about our publications, research and upcoming events.

Subscribe