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. 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.
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.
Conducting a literature review is an important step in determining the existing evidence base and possible program or intervention options. A good starting point may include one of the many online evidence banks or clearinghouses which aim to synthesise evidence on what works in various policy areas.
|Campbell Collaboration||Systematic reviews and evidence and gap maps (EGMs) by a range of subject areas e.g. Crime & Justice, Disability, Education, Social Welfare|
|Washington State Institute for Public Policy||Systematic assessment of high quality studies across various public policy areas and the cost of each policy option|
|Cochrane library||The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews is the leading journal for systematic review in healthcare|
|Australian Public Sector Evaluation Network||APSEN SharePoint Communication site provides a library of public sector evaluation resources and reports|
|The Evidence Based Policing Matrix||This Matrix categorises and visualises evaluated police tactics against ‘realms of effectiveness’|
|CrimeSolutions||A clearing house of programs and practices that have undergone rigorous evaluations and meta-analyses aiming to address criminal justice, juvenile justice and crime victim services outcomes|
|Evidence for Learning Toolkit||Summaries of global evidence for education approaches with a dashboard of i) average months’ worth of learning progress, ii) cost to implement and iii) security of evidence|
|Child Family Community Australia||The CFCA information exchange’s mission is to be the primary source of quality, evidence-based information, resources and support for professionals in the child, family and community welfare sector|
|The Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Clearing House||This clearinghouse shares promising and best practice programs, services, guidelines, resources and research on Indigenous suicide prevention initiatives|
Closing the Gap Clearinghouse (historical)
|This clearinghouse was established to collect, analyse and synthesise evaluation evidence on 'what works' to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage.|
|Indigenous Justice Clearinghouse||This clearinghouse disseminates relevant Indigenous Justice information|
|Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety Limited||ANROWS produce evidence to support the reduction of violence against women and their children|
|What works wellbeing evidence bank||Evidence statements and gaps from systematic reviews on wellbeing, culture, sport, work and learning|
|Clearinghouse for Sport||An information and knowledge sharing platform for Australian sport|
|HealthInfoNet||This website provides an evidence base to inform practice and policy in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health|
|NSW Department of Communities and Justice evidence and gap maps||An interactive out-of-home care evidence and gap map against 11 outcome areas based on 128 primary studies and 31 systematic reviews|
|UNICEF Evidence Gap Maps||Evidence gap maps for reducing violence against children, child well-being interventions, adolescent well-being and pandemics, epidemics and child protection|
|3ie - International Initiative for Impact Evaluation||Interactive evidence gap maps for international development policies and programs, links to user-friendly summaries and full-text articles where available|
 NSW Evaluation Toolkit (step 1).
Last updated: 12 September 2022
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