Review of SNAP Program shows positive results
A DSS review of the Support Network for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Parents Program showed how the program had helped communities. The review also made recommendations to further improve the program.
The first step taken in the SNAP role is to make the people aware that I am here to assist them in whatever way they want – not to charge in and impose myself and the program upon them ...
Accessing government payments remained an issue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into the 1990s.
The Department of Social Security (DSS) created the Support Network for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Parents (SNAP) Program to help. In 1995, DSS evaluated SNAP and wrote this report.
About the program
The program was part of the government’s broader plan to eliminate child poverty in Australia.
SNAP Officers helped Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families access all the payments they were entitled to. There were originally 14 SNAP Officers when the program started in 1990. This increased to 23 positions by 1993.
SNAP Officers worked across large areas to reach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This included regional and remote areas where DSS often didn’t have offices.
As well as helping with DSS payments, officers helped families access family and child-related services from other agencies and community. SNAP Officers also helped families access community resources to meet the health needs of their children.
Some of the goals of the program were promoted in a video showing SNAP officer Paul Brandy visiting a family in their home.
Review of the program
This review of SNAP, captured in an 80-page report, showed encouraging results.
To prepare the report, DSS interviewed over 90 people and groups across the country. They spoke to 11 SNAP Officers and other staff as well as customers. Data was gathered by staff from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services Section of DSS.
The report found that SNAP’s work helped meet a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families’ needs.
Recommendations from the review
Although acknowledging the positive results of SNAP, the report included recommendations to improve the program.
It advised local managers give more support to SNAP Officers in planning, reporting and building relationships.
The report also urged DSS to focus on local development, seed funding, community development and expanding the program to other areas.
The report called for SNAP’s aims to include clearer ways of measuring success, improving training and promoting the program.
Significance of the report
More than just delivering payments, the report authors stated that ‘the social security system has social justice responsibilities to its customers’. DSS’s commitment to improving the SNAP Program shows a commitment to the government’s broader social justice strategy.
Around the same time, the government was delivering other outreach programs to support parents, like the Jobs, Education and Training Program.
The full report is held in the Department of Social Services Library.
Department of Social Security (April 1995) Report of an evaluation of the Department of Social Security's Support Network for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Parents (SNAP) Program, Family Programs and Services Division, Department of Social Security, Australian Government.