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Tasmanian charity bravely rolls their program out to the nation

Bernadette Black, 2019 Tasmanian Australian of the year, began the Brave Foundation in 2009 to provide support, guidance and resources to expecting and parenting teens. Herself a parent at sixteen with limited support, Bernadette identified the need for a national program to support young parents around the country.

After operating for several years, the Brave Foundation built an understanding of the procurement and funding opportunities provided by government. When the chance to become involved with the Department of Social Services (DSS) arose, the Brave Foundation was well prepared.

From an idea to a national project

The Brave Foundation first engaged with DSS through a co-design working group. This working group included other organisations who submitted their ideas to the Try, Test and Learn Fund.

‘We went into the co-design sharing the information that we had learnt, and we gave that information willingly to the group,’ Bernadette says.

The co-design exercise resulted in the Supporting Expecting and Parenting Teens (SEPT) project. Due to the merits of their contribution to co-design, the Brave Foundation was procured through a three month contract to continue the development of the project including a rollout strategy.

According to DSS, the Brave Foundation were able to show through the work they did under the procurement, that they were an obvious choice to lead the delivery of the project over a two year period.

Support for young Australian parents

After continuing to develop the project and strategy with DSS, the Brave Foundation were successful in applying for funding to implement the SEPT project. The Brave Foundation launched a 24 month federally funded national trial in July 2018. By connecting trusted mentors with expectant teenage parents, the SEPT trial aims to assist young parents to set goals, develop pathway plans, and provide the support and guidance to achieve them.

‘This is the sort of support I tried to find for myself as a teenage mother and couldn't,’ says Bernadette.

The SEPT trial is funded by DSS’ Try, Test and Learn Fund. This fund aims to trial innovative approaches to assist people who have the capacity to work, and who are at risk of long-term reliance on welfare.

The Try, Test, and Learn Fund started as an idea generating exercise. DSS went out to the public and asked for innovative ideas to reduce welfare dependence for young parents, young carers, young students and unemployed former students.

Ultimately, the SEPT trial will test whether this intervention will help young parents address barriers they may face to taking up education, training and employment opportunities and in the longer term, reduce reliance on welfare payments.

Charity partnering with Government to take their service to the country

The Brave Foundation and DSS have had a very successful working relationship throughout their engagement.

The Brave Foundation are successfully leading a large national trial through engagement with stakeholders and working with a cohort with which they have a great deal of experience. The Brave Foundation would not have been able to scale their service to a national level without the funding and support from DSS.

The SEPT trial has been successful in recruiting participants for the trial with waiting lists in high‑demand areas. Participants in the trial are already beginning to reach the first goals set out in their pathway plans.

‘I think the success of our program so early on is a reflection of the Government’s bravery and their trust in us and the work we do. We’ve had a positive experience working with DSS and their Try, Test and Learn Fund,’ says Bernadette.

DSS note that Bernie and the team are very good communicators. They have a very strong board, and governance structure that has been developed over time. Their stakeholder engagement is also very strong.

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