Valuing Our Green Spaces
A Social Return on Investment (SROI) evaluation of parks and sportsgrounds in City of Parramatta
City of Parramatta provides around 350 beautiful and diverse parks and sportsgrounds for residents, visitors and workers to enjoy. With the population expected to reach nearly 400,000 people by 2036, there will be increased pressure on existing parks, sportsgrounds and other open spaces in City of Parramatta.
In late 2018, City of Parramatta Council, in partnership with Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD), commissioned a social return on investment (SROI) evaluation to assess the social and economic value created by the parks and sportsgrounds owned and maintained by Council.
An SROI is an evaluation process of understanding, measuring and reporting on the social, environmental and economic value that is being created by an activity, organisation or program. The calculation compares the amount of investment required to deliver the activities with the value of the outcomes experienced by all stakeholders.
The value created by City of Parramatta’s parks and sportsgrounds was determined based on site evaluations of two sportsgrounds (Max Ruddock Reserve and Robin Thomas Reserve) and three parks (Jubilee Park, West Epping Park and Ray Park). The findings of these site-based SROI evaluations were then used to scale the results across all 33 sportsgrounds and 124 local and district parks in City of Parramatta.
As part of the data collection phase of the SROI evaluation, Council staff and WSLHD staff conducted 12 in-depth interviews with key stakeholders, including representatives of clubs using the parks or sportsgrounds, local schools using sportsgrounds and local businesses. Community members were also engaged, with 824 surveys completed in person and through City of Parramatta’s ‘Our City Your Say’ panel. The findings of these site-based SROI evaluations were then used to scale the results across all 33 sportsgrounds and 124 local and district parks in City of Parramatta.
The evaluation found that for every dollar invested in parks and sportsgrounds, $10 of social value is experienced by parks and sportsground users and other stakeholders over a year.
For sportsgrounds alone, for every dollar invested, $38 of social value is experienced by sportsground users and other stakeholders over a year.
For parks alone, for every dollar invested, $7 of social value is experienced by parks users and other stakeholders over a year.
The SROI found that visitors to parks and sportsgrounds experience nine outcomes that were realised, monetised and included in the SROI model:
- Enhanced social connections, community pride and belonging
- Improved emotional wellbeing
- Improved physical development (children)
- Improved physical development
- Improved liveability
- Improved physical health (children)
- Improved emotional and cognitive development (children)
- Improved personal development
- Improved family relationships
The findings from this evaluation are significant because, to our knowledge, it is the first SROI of its kind to be conducted in Australia.
This SROI evaluation tells a unique story about the social impact and value of City of Parramatta’s parks and sportsgrounds, and helps us understand why preserving these valuable local assets is so important for the community.
The findings from this project will provide an evidence base for decision makers to advocate for increased investment in green open places and to ensure that adequate and higher quality green open spaces are provided for the community.
For more information on this project, please contact Council’s Customer Contact Centre on 9806 5050.