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Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) Evaluation and Unit Costing

As you are aware, the NSW government announced its intention to progressively commission homelessness services for outcomes in November 2015, with the intention of embedding outcomes and quality into future contracting requirements.

The past two years have been unprecedented with natural disasters (floods, fires and pandemic) and we recognise the significant pressure this has placed on Specialist Homelessness Services. In response to this, we had delayed the commencement of some initiatives – including the Evaluation and SHS unit costings.

Existing SHS contracts were extended from July 2021 to June 2024, with one of the objectives of the recommissioning approach (as identified in the SHS service specifications) being to ensure greater transparency around service performance and value for money with a focus on outcomes and strategic direction.

In working towards this objective, DCJ has contracted Ernst and Young (EY) to undertake the evaluation of the SHS program. This evaluation will take up to 12 months, and will help inform the approach for contracts commencing from July 2024.

Key evaluation outcomes are listed below:

  • Evidence and data-based findings that demonstrate the broad value of the SHS program (wellbeing outcomes, impacts for clients and economic value)
  • Findings to inform the approach for the SHS program from July 2024
  • Findings to support DCJ to address emerging and local needs
  • Identified opportunities to increase Aboriginal Market involvement in SHS.

EY will engage with a wide array of stakeholders during the data collection phase. Engagement will include:

  • a short survey of SHS providers to capture a broad range of service provider perspectives
  • in-depth interviews with SHS clients and people with lived experiences of homelessness to understand their experience of the program – EY will work with the Homelessness Peaks to coordinate their approach and ensure broad representation of clients with a lived experience.
  • focus groups with a representative sample of SHS funded service providers, from both metro and regional DCJ Districts. EY and DCJ will call for nominations for this process.
  • Individual or small group interviews with representatives from DCJ Housing, Aboriginal Housing and not-for-profit community housing providers.

Stakeholder consultation activities will take place between mid-October 2022 and end of January 2023. EY and DCJ have noted the Christmas period and will work around dates and people’s availability.

Another key piece of work that links to the evaluation is the FACSIAR (DCJ’s Insights Analysis and Research Branch) Unit Costing work. This is an important piece to consider the cost of delivery of SHS services. This work will link into the evaluation and will also inform the approach for the SHS program from July 2024.

DCJ Districts have identified services across metro, rural and regional areas willing to participate in the first phase of the unit costing work. This involves FACISAR spending time with services to understand the broad scope of service delivery to different target groups with the purpose of this phase for FACSIAR to become more familiar with the way that SHS services undertake their work, build their own knowledge of the program and how it operates on a day to day basis.

The second phase of this work will be broader and involve a much wider group of services in completing surveys over a period of time about their work. DCJ will call for SHS service participation in this piece of work as well, and will keep you informed as it progresses.

Information about the Evaluation and the Unit Costing work will be published on the DCJ website shortly and will be updated as the work progresses.

For more information please contact Specialist Homelessness Services at

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Last updated: 23 Oct 2019