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David Cappo

“David Cappo is a unique force – a word I use advisedly. Absolutely committed to transforming the lives of people without money or power, and absolutely determined to overcome barriers of every kind.  He’s the sort of person every government needs to protect against inertia and complacency.  Yet his kind is very, very rare”. 

December 2011 Geoff Mulgan CBE Chief Executive NESTA  UK Former CEO Young Foundation London UK Former Head of Policy Prime Minister’s Office UK


‘David Cappo is an innovator in social and public policy with an ability to develop new ways to break down the silo structure of government. His integrative approach significantly reduced the number of rough sleepers in South Australia. He was the first to bring ‘Common Ground’ and ‘Street to Home’ to Australia from NYC. Both innovations are helping to bring down homelessness and are now embedded throughout Australia. David Cappo is currently a senior advisor to Community Solutions in the US’.

Rosanne Haggerty Founder of Common Ground US. and Australia President of Community Solutions US. October 2013

David Cappo has worked as a leader in social policy reform and in innovative goverance, in Australia.

He is a consultant on social policy reform and new models of governance, in the US and in the UK.

He was Chair of South Australia’s innovative Social Inclusion initiative (2002-2011) and was the Commissioner for Social Inclusion in South Australia.

He has been a key adviser to the Federal Government on social policy and mental health reform and was Deputy Chair of the Federal Social Inclusion Board established by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

In 2012 David Cappo was appointed a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Social and Policy Studies at Flinders University.

In South Australia his key achievements include:

  • Reduced ‘rough sleeping’ in inner city Adelaide by 50%
  • Raised school retention rates to 84 % in 2010, up from 67 per cent a decade earlier.
  • Oversaw the transformation of the mental health system to a community based, stepped system of care
  • Produced socially innovative responses to the problem of youth offending
  • Designed a blueprint for of the reform of the disability system

As an independent advisor to the Executive Committee of State Cabinet of South Australia, he worked at the highest levels of government to assist in the implementation of the South Australian Strategic Plan in relation to social targets and outcomes, and in monitoring senior management performance.

He also developed a new governance model that crossed boundaries between government departments to break down barriers, 'join up' services, and deliver better social outcomes, an approach supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Social Determinants of Health Report (2008).

In November 2012 David Cappo addressed the Symposium on Mental Health and Social Inclusion, held in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Carter Center. This symposium is Chaired by Mrs Rossyln Carter, former First Lady of the United States.  At this symposium David Cappo addressed the strategies used in the social inclusion plans in South Australia to reform the mental health system and to tackle homelessness with 'joined up' policies across a wide range of government departments, agencies and community groups.



David Cappo was born and educated in South Australia. From 1972, he worked as a community welfare officer and later senior community welfare officer in the City of Elizabeth. He worked with juvenile offenders, neglected and abused children and families in crisis. He is a qualified social worker, and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Work from the South Australian Institute of Technology (now the University of South Australia).

David Cappo is an ordained Catholic Priest. He was given the title of Monsignor in 2002 by Pope John Paul 11.

David Cappo is a key resource in intergrating services within government and with the community sector, innovative governance, and the necessary leadership skills to more effectively deliver social outcomes.