Home' Future Building: The Australian Infrastructure Review : Volume 5 Number 1 Contents futurebuilding 105
Volume 5 Number 1
Prices and people – panel discussion
An issue that we can’t ignore is the number of
homeless people across Australia. On any given
night, we have 100,000 homeless people.
In Victoria, between 2006 and 2011, the
homeless population grew by 20 per cent, and it is
currently at 22,000. Australia’s unemployment rate is
around six per cent; youth unemployment has just
dipped below 14 per cent. There are 220,000 people
on the queue for public housing across Australia, so
we have a chronic shortage of social and affordable
housing across the nation.
BL: Michael, your views?
Michael Traill AM (MT): At Social Ventures
Australia (SVA), we sometimes get described as a
group of reformed investment bankers and strategy
consultants. I was a proud part of Macquarie Bank
for 15 years, where I was involved in setting up the
bank’s private equity business in the late 1980s.
At SVA, we have a national team of 60 people,
and our goal is to try to provide, in sensible and
sensitive ways, business and private equity disciplines
to address some of the country’s entrenched
problems of social disadvantage, and we think that
capital access is a critical part of that. In fact, Mission
Australia has been a partner in one of the most
interesting initiatives over the past five years, where
we put together a syndicate that raised $165 million,
comprising a capital cocktail from government,
from private investors, and from a conventional
commercial lender, to acquire the failed assets of
the ABC Learning childcare centres (now known as
Goodstart Early Learning). Now, that organisation
is an $800-million social enterprise, which is really
trying to address one of the pivot-point issues around
early learning and care.
We have to think differently about capital access
for issues of entrenched social disadvantage. While
it’s early days, social benefit bonds are a small-scale
example of what can be achieved. They have financial
parameters that would appeal to the infrastructure
sector – returns of eight to 12 per cent – and if we do
that intelligently and in partnership, we can actually
move the dial in terms of the funding that is available.
BL: And Ian, your opening views?
Ian Holland (IH): UnitingCare Australia represents
the UnitingCare network of service providers. We
are one of the largest employers in this country with
39,000 employees, supported by 28,000 volunteers,
and that network is delivering services in aged
care, residential home and other disability services,
early childhood education and care, families-at-risk
diversion programs, emergency relief, counselling,
and a few other things. About the only area in which
we are not a big player is housing.
We are a very large enterprise that is engaging
with a very large number of people. It is an enterprise
in which social capital is our primary investment. We
have a large workforce and we are highly engaged
with families and individuals around community
engagement and participation.
We also have an interest in other dimensions
of capital, and two aspects that interest us at the
moment are the transition in the aged care system
that is being driven by recent Commonwealth
reforms, and the future demand for care and how
we, as one of the country’s largest aged care service
providers, are going to meet that future challenge.
We are interested and involved in innovation in
investment for social good, including the projects
that Michael has referred to. One of our service
deliverers was involved in the first social benefit
bond operation in New South Wales, which recently
reached its first anniversary and the first time that
benefits were measured, which were thankfully
Traill AM, Social
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