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SHS Evaluation and Unit Costing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Why is DCJ undertaking this work?

2. Can you explain the linkage of the Evaluation and the Unit Costing work

3. What is Unit Costing?

4. Is the intention to move to fund SHS by unit cost?

5. Who can I talk to at DCJ to assist with the Unit Costing Survey?

6. Do I have to participate in the SHS Unit Costing Survey?

7. If I cannot meet the Unit Costing Survey deadline can I have an extension?

8. Should volunteers be included in the Unit Costing – are they costed?

9. Services apply economies of scale to maximise outcomes of support. This means programs are funded from multiple funding sources (e.g. diverse contracts and philanthropic funds). How should services account for this in the surveys?

10. Will DCJ make assessments of the industrial category and level staff are paid at?

11. In some contracts, properties are listed as co-contributions, the commercial value of which is quite significant. How would these co-contributions be measured in the Unit Costing exercises?

12. How is time spent ensuring compliance and managing risk costed in this process?

13. Will the unit costing look at the number of people who are unable to receive a service?

14. Will the length of support time provided to clients be considered in terms of overall cost?

15. How are increased efforts e.g. emergencies like flood responses costed through the surveys?

16. How is training and implementation of trauma informed frameworks e.g. paid lived expert panels etc captured in the surveys?

17. What happens if my service does not use the Client Information Management System (CIMS)?

18. The survey form advised that the service would receive a PDF of the information once it had been submitted but this did not occur. How can I get a record of what I submitted?

19. Will there be a process for the sector to review how the department has used the information collected in the surveys before the unit costings are finalised?


1. Why is DCJ undertaking this work?

DCJ has a longstanding commitment to deliver an evaluation of client and system-level outcomes and the costs and benefits associated with the SHS program.  The evaluation will help build the evidence base for both the government and the SHS sector to inform future decisions about the program.


2. Can you explain the linkage of the Evaluation and the Unit Costing work

DCJ has engaged Ernst and Young (EY) to undertake the evaluation of the SHS Program.  EY will engage with a range of stakeholders, including through a short survey, in-depth interviews, focus groups and individual or small group interviews across the sector. The evaluation will take 12 months (final report expected October 2023).

FACSIAR (DCJ’s Insights Analysis and Research Branch) will undertake the Unit Costing for the SHS program. FACSIAR commenced surveying the sector in January 2023 and collecting data across the sector. The unit costing is expected to be finalised in late 2023. Both the Unit Costing and the Evaluation will inform the approach for the SHS program from July 2024.


3. What is Unit Costing?

The SHS Unit Costing project aims to determine the cost of providing high level key services in the SHS space.

Unit Costing will be used primarily to understand the cost of providing different services to various cohorts and clients within SHS.  It will also inform decisions of the Department moving forward.  DCJ asks SHS agencies to provide current and accurate information via the surveys.

The key Unit Cost areas being surveyed are in relation to: Large Refuges, Small to Medium Size refuges, Transitional Accommodation, Non-Accommodation Case Management and drop-in centres which can provide many of the services under the SHS program and which may be captured in CIMS.


4. Is the intention to move to fund SHS by unit cost?

No. The unit costing information will be used for a range of purposes, including in assessing the costs and benefits of the SHS program in the economic component of the SHS evaluation.


5. Who can I talk to at DCJ to assist with the Unit Costing Survey?

Please contact the FACSIAR via email at SHSUnitCosting@facs.nsw.gov.au.


6. Do I have to participate in the SHS Unit Costing Survey?

No. This is a voluntary process but broad sector involvement is encouraged to improve accuracy of the findings drawn from the process. We would strongly encourage all agencies to participate.


7. If I cannot meet the Unit Costing Survey deadline can I have an extension?

All services who requested an extension in January were provided an extension to March. The survey period has now closed and FACSIAR are analysing the data.


8. Should volunteers be included in the Unit Costing – are they costed?

Yes. The survey asked for information on volunteers.


9. Services apply economies of scale to maximise outcomes of support. This means programs are funded from multiple funding sources (e.g. diverse contracts and philanthropic funds). How should services account for this in the surveys?

The objective is to accurately identify the cost of providing a service rather than the means by which it is funded. If the SHS provider contributes their own funds or philanthropic funds to the  delivery of the SHS service, these costs should be included in the survey, with comments on what the funds are used for to assist DCJ to identify this.

If you have provided your survey responses without this information, you can let the FACSIAR team know at the email address above.


10. Will DCJ make assessments of the industrial category and level staff are paid at?

No. DCJ are asking you to provide this information.


11. In some contracts, properties are listed as co-contributions, the commercial value of which is quite significant. How would these co-contributions be measured in the Unit Costing exercises?

The surveys ask if an organisation owns the property they are working from and DCJ have details of where a NSW government property is issued as part of a service agreement with the organisation.

DCJ recognise the cost of the property as part of the overall cost either via depreciation or rent as well as associated maintenance, rates etc.  If you operate from a privately owned property, office or dwelling please advise separately the costs of maintaining that property.

If you have provided your survey responses without this information or are unable to separate out this information for properties used to deliver SHS, you can let the FACSIAR team know at the email address above or when completing your survey.


12. How is time spent ensuring compliance and managing risk costed in this process?

Report the details for the person and their salary / SCHADS classification.  If the work is performed by a senior manager (on site or head office) you can add that person to a line in the survey and say what percent of their time they spent on that work.


13. Will the unit costing look at the number of people who are unable to receive a service?

No. The objective is to understand the unit costs of current service delivery levels.


14. Will the length of support time provided to clients be considered in terms of overall cost?

Yes. DCJ can extract this information from CIMS or other data collection system. The survey asks how much time is spent and from this DCJ will calculate an average.


15. How are increased efforts e.g. emergencies like flood responses costed through the surveys?

If you do extra work– record it. If you spend extra money enter in CIMS, other data collection system or record it in your survey reply – DCJ can obtain brokerage information from CIMS.

If someone is on a fixed salary and they do extra time that week due to an emergency add the extra time as a new role in the spreadsheet in order to record the time.

Most services will not be engaged in emergency responses during the survey period. This means that responses to large scale events such as floods and bushfires would not be fully captured in the unit costing. This is the standard treatment we have for all unit costs.


16. How is training and implementation of trauma informed frameworks e.g. paid lived expert panels etc captured in the surveys?

Time spent on training can be allocated to the work a person performs in a day. The cost of courses can be provided in consolidated financials. Business overheads are a legitimate cost and routinely included in unit costing.

DCJ is provided with regular data from providers who do not use CIMS.  This data will be incorporated into the unit costing and evaluation.


17. What happens if my service does not use the Client Information Management System (CIMS)?

DCJ is provided with regular data from providers who do not use CIMS.  This data will be incorporated into the unit costing and evaluation.


18. The survey form advised that the service would receive a PDF of the information once it had been submitted but this did not occur. How can I get a record of what I submitted?

Please contact the FACSIAR via email at SHSUnitCosting@facs.nsw.gov.au. The department will be able to send you an excel file containing the information received from you.


19. Will there be a process for the sector to review how the department has used the information collected in the surveys before the unit costings are finalised?

FACSIAR continue to host sector webinars to explain how the information collected has been used to develop the unit costings before these are finalised. The next webinar is being held 3 May and will be communicated through the SHS program team and via the peaks Homelessness NSW, Yfoundations and Domestic Violence NSW to members.

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Last updated: 19 Sep 2023