Thank you for inviting me to speak to you and join in celebrating the Australian Impact Investing Awards.
As you all know, your work today through impact investing creates vital opportunities to improve the lives of those who are disadvantaged in our community.
For this, I commend you, and congratulate today’s award recipients.
Recently, the Australian Government partnered with the New South Wales Government to trial an innovative homelessness intervention, called Foyer Central.
This trial aims to provide accommodation and support services to young people exiting out of home care, or at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness in Sydney.
In the first 18 months of the trial, 64 young people enrolled.
And 15 of those young people have successfully transitioned to independent housing.
This arrangement, underpinned by $7 million in funding raised through a social impact bond, and outcome focused support services delivered by Uniting and St George Community Housing, has changed the lives of these young people.
The Australian Government has also partnered with South Australia to trial the Newpin program.
This program, supported by a $6.5 million social impact bond, seeks to reunify parents with children in out of home care.
With over 200 families over 6 years being supported by the program, the opportunity for positive outcomes for these parents and their children is greatly improved.
By bringing together governments, service providers, socially minded investors, and robust data and measurement, these programs have delivered an alternative approach to tackling these challenges.
And this is why we are all here today.
To see this impact, to acknowledge it, and to congratulate those who have made a difference.
The Awards is an important event that celebrates innovation and excellence in the impact investment market. The Australian Government is proud to continue its support of the Awards, as it is an opportunity to recognise and showcase the social enterprises, investors and market builders who are committed to positive social change in Australia, through new and innovative solutions targeted at improving the lives of vulnerable Australians.
I want to congratulate the finalists and award recipients across the four categories of impact market builder, impact asset owner, impact asset manager and impact enterprise of the year.
The Government shares your commitment to explore new and innovative ways through social impact investing to improve the lives of Australians in communities experiencing persistent disadvantage. The Government is also taking steps that respond to advice of the Impact Investing Taskforce, including the role we have to play in supporting the Australian impact investing sector.
As part of our integrated package to break the cycle of disadvantage the Government has invested $100 million in an Outcomes Fund, which will commence from 2024‑25 and make payments for programs that support disadvantaged communities based on agreed measureable outcomes.
We know that disadvantage is a complex problem which no single policy, government department, organisation or entity can solve.
That is why for the Outcomes Fund to make a meaningful change in communities and enhance its reach and potential impact, we are working together and undertaking a co‑design process with state governments in consultation with service providers, philanthropy, intermediaries and investors.
The objective of the Outcomes Fund is to utilise outcome‑based contracting arrangements such as payment‑by‑results contracts or social impact bonds to build capability, foster collaboration amongst stakeholders, and promote opportunities for social impact investing in Australia.
The Government is also boosting opportunity for Australia’s most disadvantaged through social enterprises. This is a key reform direction outlined in our recently released Employment White Paper, and forms part of our agenda to address community disadvantage.
We believe social enterprises are critical to improving more inclusive employment opportunities, job training and on‑the‑job support for disadvantaged Australians with complex barriers to work. Over 58 per cent of the 12,000 social enterprises across the country have as their objective the provision of employment opportunities.
Social enterprises also form part of our work to back local communities, as they are often intimately tied to the communities they work in and become an important part of the fabric of the community. Because of this connectedness, their social impact is amplified.
In recognition of the important role social enterprises play in lifting communities and improving employment outcomes, the Treasury, and the Departments of Social Services and Employment and Workplace Relations, will engage with the social enterprise sector to identify ways to provide more employment and training opportunities for Australians facing disadvantage.
We have also committed to support the growth of the social enterprise sector through the Social Enterprise Development Initiative. The Initiative, which is in the final design stage, will provide around 52 social enterprises with capability building grants. It will also support education and mentoring services to the sector.
This initiative builds on the success of the Sector Readiness Fund.
Through this program, we saw how a small Government investment can be amplified through impact investment.
Dismantle was one social enterprise supported through the program, Dismantle, received $133,000 funding to engage Social Impact Hub, to help them navigate how to raise impact investing capital.
With this support, Dismantle raised $1,090,000 from philanthropists and foundations and investors.
This enabled them to scale their work‑focused social enterprise called ReNew Property, which supports employment and skills training of young people from marginalised communities.
This is the kind of impact that the Social Enterprise Development Initiative seeks to facilitate.
While we are seeing positive outcomes driven by impact investment approaches, the social impact market is relatively small in Australia and we will all need to continue to work together to grow and sustain it.
Looking ahead, the Treasurer and the Minister for Social Services, along with leading philanthropies will partner in the Investment Dialogue for Australia’s Children, with the aim of co‑ordinating government and philanthropic investments where they're needed most.
The Treasurer will separately host a round table with investors to discuss how to unlock private capital to support social impact investing initiatives.
The Government looks forward to working with you to support the flourishing sector towards the goal of improving the lives of all Australians who face disadvantage
I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.