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A Benefit-Cost Analysis of BackTrack, a Multi-Component, Community-Based Intervention for High-Risk Young People in a Rural Australian Setting

Author

Listed:
  • Simon Deeming

    (Health Research Economics, Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), Newcastle, NSW 2305, Australia
    Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW 2300, Australia)

  • Kim Edmunds

    (Health Research Economics, Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), Newcastle, NSW 2305, Australia
    Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW 2300, Australia)

  • Alice Knight

    (Sax Institute, Glebe, NSW 2037, Australia)

  • Andrew Searles

    (Health Research Economics, Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), Newcastle, NSW 2305, Australia
    Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW 2300, Australia)

  • Anthony P. Shakeshaft

    (National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), University of New South Wales, Syndey, NSW 2502, Australia)

  • Christopher M. Doran

    (Cluster for Resilience and Wellbeing, Appleton Institute, Central Queensland University, Brisbane, QLD 4000, Australia)

Abstract

BackTrack is a multi-component, community-based program designed to build capacity amongst high-risk young people. The aim of this study was to conduct a benefit-cost analysis of BackTrack, which was implemented in Armidale, a rural town in New South Wales, Australia. Costs and benefits were identified, measured and valued in 2016 Australian dollars. Costs were estimated from program financial and administrative records. Benefits were estimated using a pre-post design and conservative economic assumptions. Benefits included education attendance or completion; employment; engagement with health service providers; reduced homelessness; economic productivity; reduced vandalism to local infrastructure; reduced youth crime; reduced engagement with the justice system; and program income generated by participants. The counterfactual baseline was zero educational outcome, based on discussions with BackTrack staff and expert informants. We tested this assumption compared to the assumption that participants had a Year 8 education. There was evidence of significant quantifiable improvements in several outcomes: high school attendance or completion, vocational education attendance or completion, unskilled or vocationally qualified employment and economic productivity. Reduced homelessness, engagement with health services and acquisition of job readiness skills, as well as reduced local infrastructure vandalism and reduced crime were further quantifiable improvements. The net social benefit of BackTrack was estimated at $3,267,967 with a benefit-cost ratio of 2.03, meaning that every dollar invested in BackTrack would return $2.03 in benefits. BackTrack represents a viable funding option for a government interested in addressing the needs of high-risk young people.

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Deeming & Kim Edmunds & Alice Knight & Andrew Searles & Anthony P. Shakeshaft & Christopher M. Doran, 2022. "A Benefit-Cost Analysis of BackTrack, a Multi-Component, Community-Based Intervention for High-Risk Young People in a Rural Australian Setting," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(16), pages 1-12, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jijerp:v:19:y:2022:i:16:p:10273-:d:891518
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