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Education services

Side by Side – Social Impact Bond

Gippsland region Northern region Western region

School children holding hands playing outside

The Side by Side program aims to improve school attendance, engagement and learning outcomes for some of Victoria’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged children. Side by Side is Australia’s first primary school based Social Impact Bond (SIB), and is delivered by Berry Street in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA).

Many young Victorian children are falling behind in their education, which can lead to barriers with education, employment and income in the future. Side by Side, an intensive 12-month program, supports a targeted group of Victorian primary school students (Years 1 to 4) to:

  • improve their attendance
  • help them re-engage in school
  • close gaps in their learning.

The program has a focus on working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

How it works

Side by Side is based on 2 programs:

  1. VACCA's Koorie Kids Stay @ School, which provides intensive student and family support to help vulnerable Aboriginal students engage with school.
  2. The Berry Street Education Model (BSEM), which provides strategies for teaching and learning that enable teachers to better engage and support vulnerable students.

Side by Side uses evidence-based approaches to work with students, families and schools, providing:

  • one-on-one student and family support
  • literacy tutoring at the school
  • training for the whole school that is both trauma-aware and culturally grounded to improve school culture and inclusiveness.

Each student and family receives 12 months of intensive support to help them progress.

Side by Side launched in 2021 and is now located in three regions across Victoria: Northern Melbourne, Inner Gippsland and Western Melbourne, working with 9 Victorian schools and supporting 300 children and their families. This innovative program integrates family and education support work with whole-school transformation through a culturally-responsive, trauma-informed strengths-based approach co-delivered with our VACCA partners.

The strong partnership between VACCA and Berry Street brings commitment and expertise to this ambitious project.

Outcomes for students

When children aren’t attending or engaging in school, they have a greater chance of falling behind and dropping out. This is why the program has a strong focus on early intervention to improve attendance.

Side by Side works with students, teachers and families to improve students’:

  • attendance
  • wellbeing
  • academic outcomes.

About Social Impact Bonds and Side by Side funding

Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) are a funding mechanism where social service providers are in outcomes-based contracts with government. SIBs address areas of pressing social need by combining outcome-based payments and financial investments.

Berry Street and VACCA will deliver the Side by Side SIB through funding from the Victorian Government’s Partnerships Addressing Disadvantage initiative.

The Side by Side program is supported by the Department of Treasury of Finance, Department of Education and Training, and investors who are managed by Social Ventures Australia.

To learn more about Social Impact Bonds and how they’re structured, go to Social Ventures Australia: Side by Side SIB

Contact us

For more information about the Side by Side program, please contact Claire Alleway, Side by Side Program Manager, at