Population accountability is about improving the quality of life for a whole population that is defined by geography and/or characteristics e.g. 'All Queensland children' or 'Families with children from birth to 8 years of age in Cairns'.
Population result/outcome: a condition of wellbeing for families, children and communities in a geographical area e.g. all Queensland children are happy, healthy and successful.
Note: The terms 'result' or 'outcome' are interchangeable.
Population indicator: is a measure of how well we are achieving our desired Population Result e.g. 'levels of vulnerability of children measured through the Australian Early Childhood Development Census (AEDC)' could be used as one measure to indicate whether we are achieving our condition of wellbeing for children to be happy, healthy and successful.
No single agency or organisation can achieve a condition of wellbeing for a whole population on their own. It takes the unique contributions of a range of community partners who have a part to play in moving their community closer to achieving a result like 'children are happy, healthy and successful'. This may include government agencies, community support, schools, parents, early childhood development services and businesses.
From talk to action
The following set of questions provides a guide for establishing a population accountability scenario.
Seven population accountability questions:
- What are the quality of life conditions we want for the children and families who live in our community? (Population, purpose and results)
- What would these conditions look like if we could see them? (Experience)
- How can we measure these conditions? (Population indicators)
- How are we doing on the most important of these measures? (Headline measures – baseline data and story)
- Who are the partners that have a role to play in doing better? (Partners)
- What works to do better including no-cost and low-cost ideas? (Research/evidence)
- What do we propose to do? (Action plan)
The answers to these questions can be represented in a one page summary. Mark Friedman's book Trying Hard Is Not Good Enough provides a template for this summary on page 46.