The Cinnamon Faith Action Audit (CFAA) seeks to measure the collective social impact of local churches and faith-based organisations in a geographic region. 

The CFAA for Illawarra was designed to include the two Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Wollongong and Shellharbour. 

Before commencing the formal audit, Cinnamon Network Australia and our local partner, Together for the Illawarra, engaged in significant outreach and relationship building to develop a comprehensive database of the faith-based organisations operating in Wollongong and Shellharbour. The final list totalled 190 and included churches, places of worship, agencies, and other entities funded or operated by faith groups (e.g. Salvation Army stores, Christian schools). 

All 190 organisations were invited to take part in the CFAA by completing an online survey. The survey took approximately 15 minutes and was open for the entire month of October. Follow up messages, calls, and visits were made to ensure contacts had received the survey link and understood the purpose of the CFAA. In the case of Catholic parishes and entities, key members of the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong met personally with church/organisational leaders to conduct the survey and then submitted responses on their behalf. 

The survey asked respondents to outline their three largest forms of community service over the past 12 months, guided by a list of 15 areas of social need. In determining whether an activity should be classified as community service, respondents were given the following criteria: 

  • The activity/service is available to people of any faith or no faith (i.e. it is faith-based but not faith-biased); and 
  • The activity is best characterised as a form of service, rather than a religious activity; and 
  • The activity/service is primarily aimed at those experiencing vulnerability, isolation or injustice. 

As an example, the work of some Christian denominations in delivering Special Religious Education (SRE) in schools was not included in the results of the survey, however, efforts by Christian schools to provide special financial and/or pastoral support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds was included. 

Thereafter, respondents were asked to detail the beneficiaries for each form of community service, as well as the number of paid and volunteer hours required to deliver the activities. The weekly hours for both staff and volunteers were averaged over the year, then multiplied by $19.49 (the national minimum hourly wage as of 1 July 2019) to determine the value of social impact to the community. 

Where organisations delivered services in both Wollongong and Shellharbour, 75% of the beneficiaries and value was assigned to Wollongong and the remaining 25% to Shellharbour. This was guided by the difference in population as per the 2016 Census, with Wollongong being approximately three times the size of Shellharbour (203,630 vs. 68,460). 

It is worth noting that, while every effort was made to capture the social contributions of faith-based organisations in the region, there were many who were unable or chose not to participate. Moreover, the dollar value of the efforts is based on human capital only (i.e. hours worked or volunteered) and does not include the buildings, goods, and other resources required to deliver the activities/services. In other words, this report is an intentionally conservative, if highly impressive, snapshot of all that is being done to serve those in need across the Illawarra. 

RESPONDENTS:  101 total respondents  (53% of all faith-based organisations in the region) 

NEEDS:  Top 5 Social Needs being met in the region

        1. Ongoing material assistance 
        2. Visiting services 
        3. Counselling services 
        4. Family services 
        5. Emergency relief 

PEOPLE:  10,761  People served per week  |  141,676   People served per year 

VALUE:  226 590  Total paid hours per annum  |  271 625   Volunteer hours per annum  |  $ 19.49  Minimum wage per hour

TOTAL : AU$9,710,210 Social impact value to the Illawarra community .