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Impact Evaluation

First Step has been funded by the John T Reid Charitable Trusts to undertake an independent, 2-year impact evaluation of our work. Our partners on this project will be Turning Point led by the renowned team of Dr Annette Peart and Dr Victoria Manning.

This is a stellar opportunity.

Day-to-day, the staff group at First Step focusses on providing a welcoming, non-judgemental environment where people get support from a unique, multi-disciplinary team. We know from conversations and anonymous client surveys that close to 100% of our clients feel welcomed, safe, empowered, respected and supported. But what about measurable impact on mental health? What about actual impact on drug and alcohol use? What about our impact on the families of our clients, on rates of incarceration and other justice issues, on hospital visits? These are the impacts we need to investigate and to quantify.

But why?

Firstly, undertaking this mixed-methods research project (interviews, surveys, clinical tools/metrics, data mining) will lead to a great many insights and service improvements. Our clients, our lived experience reference group, our clinical and non-clinical staff will all be involved, and there is no doubt that our Continuous Quality Improvement team will have a full agenda as the results come in. We will also have a better understanding of how the organisation functions, our model of care, and how our change process takes place.

When the process is complete, we will have a series of metrics in place, gathered routinely or automatically, that will keep informing us about the many outcomes of our work (medical, psychological, behavioural, social). Regular analysis of that data can then continue to inform our development into the future.

We are confident that the interim and final reports will form a solid evidence-base for future tenders, grant applications and communications with government. At First Step we want most Victorians with complex, co-occurring needs (not just those attending First Step) to have access to a team of GP, mental health clinician, psycho-social worker and lawyer. This evaluation, properly leveraged, will be the next step in that direction.

The impact evaluation will include the new roles coming in 2024: Clinical Director, Senior Intake Clinician and Practice Manager.

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