2.2. Program overview

The program overview needs to explain why the program is needed, what it is aiming to achieve and how it is expected to impact demand on future government services. It also briefly describes how the program operates (its funding and governance) and any sensitivities. It should be about half a page in length with any additional information in an appendix.

2.2.1. Needs assessment

Ideally, a needs assessment will be undertaken as part of the program design. If a needs assessment has been carried out, please outline the findings in the program overview or a relevant appendix.

A needs assessment is a tool that is used for both designing programs and for conducting program evaluation.[1] It is a systematic method to determine who needs the program, how great the need is, characteristics of the target group, patterns of unmet needs, and what might work to meet the needs identified.[1]

Key questions may include:

  • What problems exist and how large or serious are they?
  • What are the characteristics and needs of the target population?
  • How are people affected as individuals?
  • How is the community affected? What are the financial and social costs of the issue?
  • Are other groups or agencies (including Commonwealth agencies) working to address the need?
  • What are the opportunities for collaboration and shared funding?

Undertaking a systematic needs assessment is a transparent way of ensuring resources are used in the most effective way possible. The needs assessment should be reviewed during evaluation to assess whether the program is still needed.

Further information on needs assessment is available from the Australian Institute of Family Studies, including a guide on how to do a needs assessment.


[1] NSW Evaluation Toolkit (step 1).

Last updated: 14 December 2020

Share this page: