‘Ground-breaking’ report: social services overhaul
Seven per cent of people who are aged under 25 will account for half of the estimated $100 billion cost of the state’s social services by the time they are 40 years old.
The stark finding is contained in the Forecasting Future Outcomes report, a NSW government paper to be released on Friday, which studied the predicted reliance of 3.1 million people aged under 25 on social services.
The report’s findings have prompted the Berejiklian government to overhaul the sector.
The 191-page report sheds new light on the extent to which a small cohort of people account for the majority of costs associated with providing key social services in areas such as child protection, health, justice and education.
As a result, a new multi-agency called the Stronger Communities Investment Unit to channel funding towards early intervention measures will be established.
Families and Communities Services Minister Gareth Ward said the report was “ground-breaking” and would “transform forever the way we improve outcomes and reduce costs to the taxpayer.”
“This report will help reform and improve the way we allocate every precious dollar in order to achieve the best possible outcome,” he said.
“For example, the data shows an interaction with the child protection system early in life can have a profound impact on a child’s life. It can help predict things like health and educational outcomes, as well as involvement in the criminal justice system.”
The report’s findings are based on modelling by actuarial consultancy firm Taylor Fry, which analysed over seven million anonymous records of people born in NSW since January 1, 1990, as well as the records of their parents, guardians, and other family members.
The records were used to forecast the use of NSW social services by the 3.1 million-strong cohort of people aged 25 and under at June 30, 2017, in one of the most comprehensive studies of NSW government agency data.
The modelling revealed seven per cent of this group will make up 50 per cent, or $54 billion, of the total estimated future cost of services they use up to the age of 40.
The report identified six vulnerable groups, including young mothers with children, children aged 5 and under, and young people with mental illnesses, as a priority for future programs.
People who were part of those groups – defined as having risk factors such as contact with mental health services, child protection services, or the justice system – were “likely to have the highest estimated future cost and the poorest social outcomes.”
Aboriginal people were over-represented across all six vulnerable groups. For example, of the almost 73,000 people categorised as vulnerable young adolescents, 20 per cent were Aboriginal.
The data also underscored the importance of early intervention, with one per cent of children aged under five accounting for 45 per cent of the estimated future costs of child protection services for that age group.
Similarly, only 47 per cent of children in the lowest year 3 NAPLAN band are expected to complete their HSC, compared with 89 per cent in the highest band.
The report was welcomed by an array of agencies across the child welfare and social services sector.
Chief executive of YFoundations Zoe Robinson said an investment approach that targeted early intervention would “support young people at the right time and result in better outcomes for young people.”
Originally published Sydney Morning Herald 5 July 2019