Jacqui Stewart, Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University; Melissa McSeveny and Emma Neill, CatholicCare Sydney


Co-funded by Stakeholder Engaged Scholarship Unit (SESU), Australian Catholic University (ACU), and CatholicCare Sydney


We are conducting an evaluation of the HOPE program at CatholicCare Sydney to determine if it meets its intended outcomes, as aligned to NSW State Government and the Australian Government priorities. We are seeking to understand from mothers in the program what difference the program has made for them.

Project details

CatholicCare Sydney offers the HOPE program to young mothers who are pregnant or have children aged under five, and who are at risk of homelessness, mental health, or domestic and family violence. The program aims to:

  • keep families together and avoid intervention by the justice system
  • improve child developmental outcomes and help parents develop their parenting skills
  • break the cycle of generational disadvantage and heal from trauma
  • maximise all opportunities for the families' futures including pursuing education.

Our evaluation will assess what benefits HOPE program participants received from the program, which of the HOPE activities or resources led to those benefits, and what their needs are as young parents or soon-to-be young parents. We will conduct 1-1 interviews and a survey to hear from program participants.

We will also learn from staff about how the program operates, what client needs they’ve observed and their suggestions for the program moving forward. We will talk to management and practitioners via focus groups.

By comparing the experiences of participants and practitioners with the intended program outcomes, we will have a better understanding of whether there are other forms of social exclusion the clients face (beyond the reasons for which they were referred to the program).

Some of the short-term gains CatholicCare Sydney expects from the program are increased knowledge of positive parenting strategies and skills, and of local and appropriate services and supports. They also expect that they will have increased understanding of child development and their children’s needs and increased confidence in parenting, plus improved living skills and financial management literacy.

ACU will deliver a report on the evaluation of the HOPE program to CatholicCare Sydney mid-2024.

Projected community impact

We expect that CatholicCare will be able to use the evaluation to demonstrate positive outcomes for HOPE program participants, adjust the program where appropriate, and attract funding to grow the program.

In the long-term, the HOPE program has the potential to help participants maintain sustained safe, stable housing; keep children safely with their families; help children stay safe and healthy; and have an increased sense of self-determination and empowerment.

Contact Jacqui Stewart for further information

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