Sky AM Agenda this morning

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Social Impact Bonds

Justin Wolfers draws my attention to an intriguing new idea afoot in the US and UK.
Lately, both American and British policy makers have been thinking about how to bring some of the competitive discipline of the market to government programs, and they have hit on an intriguing idea.

David Cameron’s Conservative government in Britain is already testing it, at a prison 75 miles north of London. The Bloomberg administration in New York is also considering the idea, as is the State of Massachusetts. Perhaps most notably, President Obama next week will propose setting aside $100 million for seven such pilot programs, according to an administration official.

The idea goes by one of two names: pay for success bonds or social impact bonds. Either way, nonprofit groups like foundations pay the initial money for a new program and also oversee it, with government approval. The government will reimburse them several years later, possibly with a bonus — but only if agreed-upon benchmarks show that the program is working.

If it falls short, taxpayers owe nothing.

The first British test is happening at Her Majesty’s Prison Peterborough, where 60 percent of the prisoners are convicted of another crime within one year of release. Depressingly enough, that recidivism rate is typical for a British prison.

To reduce the rate, a nonprofit group named Social Finance is playing a role akin to venture capitalist. It has raised about $8 million from investors, including the Rockefeller Foundation. Social Finance also oversees three social service groups helping former prisoners find work, stay healthy and the like. If any of those groups starts to miss its performance goals, it can be replaced.

For the investors to get their money back starting in 2014 — with interest — the recidivism rate must fall at least 7.5 percent, relative to a control group. If the rate falls 10 percent, the investors will receive the sort of return that the stock market historically delivers. “It’s been only a few months,” says Tracy Palandjian, who recently opened a new Social Finance office in Boston, “but the numbers are coming in O.K.” ...

The Obama administration’s seven pilot programs would create bonds for, among other areas, job training, education, juvenile justice and care of children’s disabilities. Nonprofit groups like Social Finance could apply. So could for-profit companies
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What I'm Reading

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At the Canberra Multicultural Festival

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Do you have to drink each time you mention the Beveridge Curve?

I copped some gentle flack yesterday for asking the RBA Governor about the Beveridge Curve. Here's an illustration of the data that concerned me (thanks to Scott Kompo-Harms at the Parliamentary Library for compiling it).





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Australian Youth Forum for 2011

A brief speech in Parliament on youth engagement.
Australian Youth Forum, 10 February 2011

I was pleased today to attend the launch of the Youth Forum’s Youth Engagement Steering Committee, which is going to advise the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, Mr Peter Garrett, about a range of important issues in education. I was delighted to have the opportunity at that event to meet Ms Tahlia Azaria, a successful member of the AYF steering committee in 2010, who will lead the steering committee in 2011 as chair.

I would like to pay particular tribute to two members of that youth steering committee from my electorate, Anthony Antioch and Mitchell Wall, two very impressive young men who I am sure will bring to bear a youth perspective on some of the critical issues that young Australians feel it is important to speak about.

I think young Australians often feel too shut out of our political process, that they do not have enough opportunities to have their voices heard in the corridors of power. The Youth Engagement Steering Committee is a way of addressing that, of bringing a breath of fresh air into our political process and ensuring that young Australians have a voice at the highest level of power.
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Politics and Parenthood

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Why helping Indonesia is in our National Interest

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Leadership for People with a Disability

A new national program provides leadership skills for people with a disability. I hope that local Canberra groups will apply.


Media Release - Helping leaders for tomorrow



Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fraser, is encouraging organisations in Canberra to help boost leadership skills of people with a disability.

Leaders for Tomorrow is a new national program designed to help people with disability become leaders in business, the community and government through mentoring and leadership development.

“This is one part of the Gillard Government’s $11 million package to support people with a disability and carers in our community,” said Andrew Leigh.

“The Leaders for Tomorrow package allows local organisations to help people with a disability partner up with mentors.

“It’s about overcoming barriers to education and work and skilling up the leaders of tomorrow.

“I hope many organisations in Canberra take up this opportunity.

“The successful applicants will develop individual leadership development plans for all participants in the Leaders for Tomorrow program. This may include goal setting, team building, governance, communication, implementing change and problem-solving.

“I congratulate Senator Jan McLucas, the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, and the Gillard Government in helping people with a disability,” concluded Andrew Leigh.

The program is expected to provide about 200 people with disability with up to 12 months intensive leadership support, including a mentorship program where people work with mentors in their field of interest.

The accessibility package is being delivered under the National Disability Strategy and also includes the $5 million Accessible Communities Program, which is currently open to local governments to make their communities more accessible for people with disability through minor infrastructure upgrades.

Eligibility criteria and application forms for the Leaders for Tomorrow are available at www.fahcsia.gov.au, by calling 1800 668 689 or sending an email to leadersfortomorrow@fahcsia.gov.au

Applications close on 11 March 2011.
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Big Ideas Competition



I'm running a 'Big Ideas' competition for young people living or studying on the north side of Canberra (the Fraser electorate). Entries should:
* Be a video no more than 3 minutes in length;

* Describe an issue, what should be done in response, and why.

The competition will be open for entries until Friday 12 May and will be run with three separate levels: primary (K-6), secondary (7-10) and youth (year 11 until age 24).

Topics can include anything from reducing crime to improving sports participation, urban transport to water use, foreign aid to alleviating homelessness, boosting business start-ups to fostering artistic creativity in Canberra.

The judges are: Danielle Cronin (Canberra Times), Kieran Gilbert (Sky), Peter Martin (Age), Samantha Maiden (The Australian), Mark Simkin (ABC), Sarah Wiley (2GB), Annabel Crabb (ABC), Mark Davis (SMH), and Laura Tingle (AFR).

If you know any young Fraser residents with bright ideas, please encourage them to enter the competition.

For more details, click on the 'Big Ideas' tab at the top of this page.
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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | Andrew.Leigh.MP@aph.gov.au | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.