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How we measure and demonstrate performance

In 2018/19, AIFS undertook a mid-point review of our Strategic Directions. The review resulted in:

  • an explicit articulation or 'theory' of our impact pathway; that is, mapping how what we do and produce leads to positive outcomes for children and families (impact), and connected to this
  • a revised performance framework that better demonstrates the outcomes and impacts we achieve.

The revised framework considers not only quantifiable activities and outputs but also:

  • what outcomes these activities and outputs have resulted in
  • how these have benefited our key stakeholders
  • the impact these benefits generate for children and families.

This is the first year of reporting against this revised framework and represents a significant development in our commitment to continuous improvement in performance measurement. We describe our theory of change and performance framework below.

AIFS’ impact pathway

Performance measurement needs to tell a meaningful story about whether – and how well – an organisation is achieving its intended outcomes and impact. This requires having not only clear links between activities, outputs and outcomes but also an underlying theory or rationale about why and how activities and outputs lead to the desired outcomes.

As part of the Strategic Directions mid‑point review, and reflecting good practice in performance measurement, we developed our own theory of change. Based on our current state, we examined:

  • the pathways between our activities and positive outcomes for children, families and community
  • who we primarily create and communicate research for, and the benefits they receive
  • how beneficiaries use our work, and how we expect this use to foster positive outcomes for children and families
  • expected outcomes and impacts along this pathway.

Our current impact pathway is premised on the following links:

By conducting and communicating research, and bringing policy and practice actors together to engage with this knowledge, AIFS provides:

  • access to high quality, timely and relevant research, information and resources
  • deeper understanding into the trends, issues and challenges facing families
  • capacity building across policy and practice communities to strengthen research use and evaluation practice.

Policy makers use our research and resources to enact systemic change through policy development and implementation. Service providers use our research to develop their workforce, deliver direct action, and enhance their programs and practices for children and families.

Consequently, as a result of accessing and using research and building evaluation capability, governments and services are more able to design policies, legislation, programs and practices that meet the needs of families.

The resulting theory of change is shown in Figure 3.2.

Figure 3.2: AIFS’ Theory of Change  who benefits from our work? Purpose: why we exist Goals: our long-term aims Pillars: what we do Strategic initiatives