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Measuring the effectiveness of whole-of-system response to prevent family violence

Social systems
Public Health header
Public Health header

Preventing family violence – one of society’s most complex social issues.

There is a degree of uncertainty about the effectiveness of the Government’s investment in responses to family violence, not least due to the quality of evidence about ‘what works, what doesn’t, and why’, but also given there is no one unique, uncontested measure of effectiveness (the ‘measurement problem’).

Superu is a government agency that focuses on what works to improve the lives of families, children and whānau. They commissioned ESR to to develop and test a proof of concept systems approach to measure the effectiveness of the ‘whole-of-system’ response to prevent family violence – one of society’s complex social issues.

Determining how the performance of the ‘whole of system’ is conceptualised and measured is a critical prerequisite to further development and on-going investment. Recognising the inability of traditional outcomes frameworks to take into account multiple and competing goals, ESR's social systems team adopted a systems approach to make explicit the ways in which different purposes, perspectives and boundaries impact on the effectiveness of the ‘whole system’.

ESR's researchers worked in partnership with the University of Canterbury’s family violence experts and scoped a systems-based methodology to measure the effectiveness of a ‘whole of system’ response to family violence. A proof of concept for a measurement methodology that combines System Dynamics, Balanced Scorecard and Sense-making methodologies was provided to Superu. This will enable the client to test the proposed measurement methodology in practice as well as enable them to gauge to what extent systems thinking provides insights into the measurement of the family violence sector effectiveness.