Effectiveness of Place-Based Transition Packages – Preliminary Framework
Defining the lens; unpacking key concepts
As part of the Effectiveness of place based transitions packages project, the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) asked researchers at the University of South Australia to help better understand ways to approach and evaluate this particular type of government intervention.
Place-based transition packages are a common policy response and are used when governments step in to help regions manage major economic changes including the closure of a large employer.
We wanted to know exactly what a ‘place-based transition package’ (PBTP) is and how we can understand whether their implementation has been effective.
What do we mean by place-based? What’s the scope of a transition package? What are the indicators that it has brought about economic growth or diversification that it was designed to bring about?
A distinguished research team including Professor Andrew Beer (University of South Australia), Professor Al Rainnie (University of South Australia) and Associate Professor Mike Rafferty (from RMIT) have developed a framework that helps to answer these key questions.
Transition packages can take a variety of forms and they can respond to sudden or planned closures of large businesses, sector downturns or locally felt impacts of regulatory changes. They are intended to help a place or a sector move from one state of affairs to another, even if the change is unwelcome or unexpected.
According to the Framework, it is essential that transition packages emphasise facilitating and targeting assistance for individuals that are affected by the change and that they consider the region’s adjustment not only in the short term, but over a longer time frame too. These characteristics of transition packages apply no matter the original impetus for the intervention. Importantly, transition packages do not address systemic welfare issues. These interventions do not necessarily involve trade unions but may do so, depending on the circumstance.
The Framework sets out the characteristics of a transition package that is ‘place-based’ as opposed to one that is implemented for an entire sector, state, or section of the workforce. Crucially, a PBTP will focus on a distinct place. This means that even though a ‘place’ might cover a large or small spatial area, its residents will feel a particular sense of belonging and inclusion. PBTPs will also engage with local institutions and focus on governance structures that mobilise and empower local communities.
The Framework also outlines other features that are worthy of inclusion which include:
- Listening to communities perspectives
- Developing an outcomes focussed measurement framework
- Funding for community and service users and
- Funding for community capacity building.
Unfortunately, there is currently no single measure of effectiveness that can be applied to transition packages in Australia. Measures will depend on the scope and shape of the intervention and will be informed by its aims and strategic purpose.
The evaluation of transition packages has historically been weighted toward its ‘process’ where questions about the administration of the PBTP determine its ‘success’. However this approach does not tend to track the kinds of tools that are used, such as grants to local businesses, retraining programs or investment in innovation. Instead, evaluations have tended to track the way that funding is allocated but offer little insight into the more complex and multi-faceted outcomes that the PBTP itself was to bring about, some of which might manifest several years into the future. This Framework is a way of helping us to understand this complexity.
The Framework also helps us to understand that progress in regions is best thought of not only in economic terms but in a richer and more complex way that looks at a variety of other aspects such as health, education and social capital.
It’s also an important first step in building the evidence base around government interventions in regions that are undergoing structural adjustment and economic change. This evidence base has been conspicuously absent, which impedes evidence-based policy efforts, however well-intentioned they may be.
To read the full report please click here.
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