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In this section we have provided an example set of measurement areas, organised against levels of a generic place-based theory of change. These measurement areas can be used to inform indicator development in place-based contexts. The indicators included draw on the evidence of what works in practice, including from place-based approaches within Victoria, nationally and abroad.

While these examples provide a useful basis for developing effective indicators that demonstrate the impact of place-based approaches, the choice, adaptation and number of indicators chosen will depend on the local needs and context and the unique theories of change, as well as the sorts of data that is available for MEL. Furthermore, measurement areas suggested will need to be turned into indicators.

The timeframes ascribed to measurement areas are intended as a rough guide only and refer to the time period that you would expect change to occur in. The timing will vary depending on contextual factors, including the readiness and maturity of the place-based approach. It may also be important to begin measuring outcome areas before change is expected (e.g. by establishing a baseline).

Our example measures align with guidance on how change can occur over time.

The theory of change shows the progression of time, Year zero. Early years (1-3), Middle years (2-5), and Late years (5-9), and the relationship with a number of components of change as time progresses.

Source: adapted from the Place based evaluation framework, national guide for evaluation of place-based approaches in AustraliaExternal Link (PDF, 3.7 MB).

Building enablers for change (1+ years)

These measurement areas focus on the critical enablers to do place-based work well. While it is important to track the progress and health of these critical aspects throughout the initiative, these can be particularly helpful for assessing progress in the formative years, well before any longer term outcomes are expected to occur.

Focus Measurement areas

Coordination governance and partnerships

  • Strength/cohesion/health of partnerships (including networking, coordination, cooperation, collaboration and succession planning between governments, service providers and others in community)
  • Alignment and divergence in articulation of common problem and opportunity across partners
  • Transparency of governance and alignment of policy agenda to community priorities

Systems understanding and innovation

  • Extent place-based ways of working and principles are embedded across community and government
  • Improvements to understanding of complexities of the work amongst key partners
  • Improvements in understanding of the system, problem and opportunity across key partners

Enabling infrastructure and resourcing

  • Adequacy of technical and operational systems and supports
  • Adequacy and sustainability of staff resourcing
  • Accessibility of data
  • Extent resources are sufficient to tackle known and emerging issues

Systems influencing outcomes (3-5+ years)

When talking about systems change, we mean shifting the conditions that hold complex problems in place, including the explicit (policies, practices and resources), semi-explicit (relationships, connections, and power dynamics) and implicit (mindsets). These often relate to people and institutions beyond the geographically defined boundaries of the place-based initiative.

Focus Measurement areas

Changes to mindsets and attitudes

  • Extent the cohort or issue(s) targeted by the place-based initiative is viewed as a priority among system actors
  • Increased awareness of the place-based initiative's messages/goals among public and key policy stakeholders
  • Instances of significant shifts in mindsets amongst key actors
  • New and/or improved quality of engagement, trust, connection, and communication between key system actors

Community agency and activation

  • Strengthened systems leadership across the initiative
  • Increased action taken by champions and breadth of partners’ support of an issue (including diversity across community)
  • Extent that use of power and authority is used differently / extent that community priorities and aspirations direct activities and investment

Structural policy change (funding, service alignment and resourcing)

  • New public resources are committed to evidence-informed strategies in the target issue area/system
  • Public funding is increasingly designed to allow for innovation, experimentation and collaboration in the targeted issue area/system
  • Improved alignment of policy framing, investments, and coherence of strategy to the long term goals of the approach
  • Examples of the wider policy settings, systems, infrastructure, and investment influenced by the place-based initiative
  • Improved alignment or integration of services across the ecosystem

Impacts in place

Focus on how outcomes and livelihoods for target population/groups may be changing or has already changed as a result of the place-based approach.

Focus Measurement areas

Early and intermediate signs of impact

(3-5+ years)

Depending on the problem or opportunity being addressed in community, there may be scholarly frameworks and theories that can be used to support the identification of early signs of change (for example, in health, these could be pre-determinants). Additionally, while population level change may still be a while off, you may expect to see positive early impacts for target cohorts e.g. resulting from pilots or high leverage activities with a smaller section of the community.

Example measurement areas include:

  • Changes to social determinants that are known pre-conditions for population change (for example in health, these could be pre-determinants such as accessibility to services, educational attainment and income)
  • Impacts/outcomes of innovations or high leverage activities from the place-based initiative that are directly attributable to it
  • Positive early impacts for individuals and families
  • Local stories of impact and most significant change

Long-term population level changes

(5-9+ years)

Access to meaningful population level data often requires government to support facilitated access to State and Commonwealth data which should be aligned to Departmental or Whole of Victorian Government Outcomes Frameworks where possible.

Example domains include:

  • Mental health and wellbeing outcomes
  • Youth detention rates
  • Secure employment rates
  • Secure housing rates
  • School readiness

Example indicator banks

  • ARACY NESTExternal Link
    The Nest is Australia’s first evidence-based framework for national child and youth wellbeing, (0-24 years), focussed across six wellbeing domains: Loved and Safe, Material Basics, Healthy, Learning, Participating and Positive Sense of Identity and Culture.
  • Centre for Social Impact’s Indicator EngineExternal Link
    A platform to support users to identify outcomes and indicators relevant for their measurement needs in a way that aligns to best-practice by using published sector frameworks or internal organisational frameworks. The platform can also produce and distribute surveys, therefore supporting users from start to finish in identifying the most suitable outcomes and indicators to measure in survey format.
  • Victorian Population Health SurveyExternal Link
    The Victorian Population Health Survey (VPHS) is the cornerstone of population health surveillance. The VPHS collects information at the state, regional and local government area levels about the health and wellbeing of adult Victorians aged 18 years or older.
  • Closing the GapExternal Link
    The National Agreement on Closing the Gap has 17 targets for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, across the following outcome areas, to enable them to achieve life outcomes equal to all Australians: education, employment, health and wellbeing, justice, safety, housing, land and waters, and languages.
  • VicHealth partnerships analysis toolExternal Link
    This resource is for organisations entering into or working in a partnership to assess, monitor and maximise its ongoing effectiveness.
  • Evaluating Systems Change Results: An Inquiry FrameworkExternal Link
    This paper is designed to give clarity on how to approach the evaluation of systems change and provides three types of results that social innovators and evaluators should consider “mission-critical” to their work.
  • UK Measurement Framework for Equality and Human RightsExternal Link
    The Measurement Framework is used by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to monitor equality and human rights in Britain. Progress is measured across six domains: education, work, living standards, health, justice and personal security and participation.
  • Mayi Kuwayu: The National Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander WellbeingExternal Link
    The Mayi Kuwayu Study aims to understand how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing is linked to things like connection to country, cultural practices, spirituality and language use. Organisations can apply to use this data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing studies.

Reviewed 08 March 2023

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