Kathleen Ridgwell: Measuring the impact

Photo of a group of people sitting in front of a drawing a chalk rainbow. They are smiling at the camera with their arms up in the air.
Kathleen Ridgwell is driven by a passion for community - for making communities safer, happier, healthier and more vibrant places to live. Working in a senior role for the City of Subiaco’s community development team, she is focused on strategy, planning and policy improvement, as well as overseeing their partnerships and grants program

“We aim to provide a holistic approach to improving people’s wellbeing in our community,” Kathleen explains.

“First and foremost, we want to address inequality, support the inclusion of people with disability, people experiencing homelessness and marginalised cultural groups, strengthen community networks and advocate for social justice and human rights.”

With an ambition and eagerness to ensure the City’s work is meeting what it set out to do, Kathleen enrolled in the Centre for Social Impact UWA’s Outcomes Measurement Workshop in late 2020.

“It’s vital for us to be able to measure the difference we make in the community and to really understand the impact we're having through our services, and through the delivery of various initiatives and projects.”

“Being able to measure social outcomes, the changes we're creating to levels of physical and mental health, the difference we're making to whether or not people are feeling included and connected in the community; at the end of the day, this is why we do our jobs.”

During the short course, Kathleen found that learning about the logic model (which is central to the course) was particularly useful and applicable to her role:

“The logic model has helped me to really understand how important it is to ascertain what the community needs before working out what deliverables we require to address the need. We aim to deliver services which make a difference and are an effective use of resources, and we want to make sure that we're being accountable and transparent to the community.”

CSI UWA’s Outcomes Measurement Workshop runs over two days at various times during the year, and while the workshop is usually face-to-face during 2020 it was adapted for online delivery.

“One of the benefits of online delivery is our ability to reach students around Australia,” says Professor Paul Flatau, Director at CSI UWA and one of the course facilitators.

“This allows students to interact with many different types of people in various roles, which is very effective” says Paul.

“Along with that interaction we also explore a range of concrete strategies for measuring outcomes and practical tools that students can immediately apply in their workplaces.”

Kathleen gained a lot from her experience in the workshop, including knowledge and resources about modelling tools, frameworks and processes, but - unsurprisingly for someone so passionate about building connection - it was the opportunity to network and learn about others who are working towards similar goals, that she found most valuable.

“I think the biggest thing that stuck with me was that there are a lot of people out there who are passionate about the same thing; measuring outcomes,” says Kathleen.

“Coming from a local government background, it was useful for me to see what people in the private sector are doing, as well as people from not-for-profit organisations and other tiers of government. Gaining a better understanding of different perspectives, challenges and opportunities was invaluable.”