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AES Blog

Welcome to the AES Blog

Australasia has some excellent evaluators. More than that, we have an evaluation community full of ideas and a willingness to share. The AES has long provided a place for us to come together, at regional events and the annual conference, to develop our community together. Now we’re taking it online! The new AES blog will be a space for AES members – both new and experienced – to share their perspectives, reflecting on their theory...

If you have an idea, please contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please also view our blog guidelines.


The AES Fellows: More than the sum of their individual contributions

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by Anthea Rutter

Over the past two years I have written a monthly blog on our AES Fellows, including Jenny Neale who we sadly lost in 2019.

Looking at the demographics we are a good mix of men and women (with nine male and 11 female Fellows) and cover most states in Australia. However, there are still some gaps in our representation – with no current Fellows from Queensland and the Northern Territory and no Indigenous Fellows.

The process of becoming a Fellow in the AES is very thorough. Apart from needing to be nominated by two people, prospective Fellows have to demonstrate knowledge and experience in a number of areas, including practical evaluation, teaching as well as holding office in the AES. For myself, I regard being a Fellow as an honour as well as a responsibility.

As a group the Fellows, have amassed an abundance of skills and expertise. I felt it was a real privilege to interview them to understand their hopes and their disappointments, as well as their career highlights. This final piece on our Fellows sums up their insights and my own. As professionals in their field, they have honed their craft and have given back to their profession in spades

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Systems Thinking in the Sunshine State

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by AES QLD Committee Members Evaluators in the AES network are increasingly being challenged to apply evaluative thinking, methods and tools to innovative, emergent, place-based or otherwise complex initiatives. These initiatives often seek to achieve improvements not only in individuals and institutions, but in the systems that hold 'wicked' societal problems in place. The desired systems-level outcomes are often difficult to define, predict and measure and can change and evolve as the implementing organisations learn which strategies are most effective in...
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Alan Woodward: Applying knowledge to improve service delivery and community outcomes

by Anthea Rutter

Alan has worked in evaluation for a number of years. He works in mental health and suicide prevention as a policy adviser, program developer and researcher/evaluator. He has held senior executive positions at Lifeline Australia, including the establishment of the Lifeline Research Foundation. He is a part-time Commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission.

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The animal farm and a postal worker: A fable about evaluators and evaluation champions

by Alison Rogers

Once upon a time there was a diverse range of animals working hard to run a productive farm. Among the committed and dedicated team there were five dogs. In addition to retrieving, herding, and sniffing for wild produce, their role was to guard the premises. The dogs were friendly to the milkmaid and grocer, but for some reason, they growled and barked at the postal worker.

One day, when the postal worker was due to deliver mail, four of the dogs were distracted by a commotion on the other side of the farm. No one was watching the mailbox except for the dog known as Champ. He stayed by the gate, as he was meant to do. He observed the postal worker walk closer, and when she made no attempt to enter the premises, he stayed quietly vigilant and let her get on with her job. Champ even started wagging his tail.

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AES FestEVAL - Celebrating and Challenging Evaluation!

by Jade Maloney and Lia Oliver

This has been a challenging year, with Covid-19 impacting our home, social and working lives. In a recent survey run by the AES, three-quarters of respondents said their work has been impacted at least moderately – by changing scope and timelines and, in some cases, cancelled contracts. And that’s before we get to the impact Covid-19 has had on our connections and wellbeing.

The Australian Evaluation Society’s (AES) FestEVAL provided opportunity to take time out, celebrate evaluation and connect. It began with four provocations for evaluation in our times, designed to seed conversations that would continue throughout the week.

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Colin Sharp: A long association with the AES

by Anthea Rutter Colin has held a number of roles within the field of evaluation for over 37 years. He has managed evaluations across the Commonwealth Government and has been a private consultant as well as an educator in evaluation. He has worked with a dozen universities, including long associations with the Flinders...
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Rick Cummings: Looking back on a career well spent from anthropologist to evaluator

September 2020by Anthea Rutter Rick has been in the field of evaluation for over 40 years. He has been President of the AES and conference convenor. These days, he balances work as Emeritus Professor at Murdoch University, running a small consultancy, providing training in evaluation, chairing AES Fellows and participa...
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Evaluating programs in new normal times: Lessons from Constable Care, Western Australia

by Kwadwo Adusei-Asante

COVID-19 has changed our way of life, including how we evaluate programs. The pandemic has rendered conventional evaluation approaches difficult to execute, and programs have faced new delivery challenges. These are challenging times for organisations that are required to deliver programs and measure agreed outcomes for their funders.

This blog draws on my experience with Constable Care Child Safety Foundation in WA. During these uncertain times, we have been forced to think outside the box and adopt new ways of doing evaluation. Our focus has been on capturing evaluation data when ‘what works’ is preferred over ‘the ideal’.

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Regional evaluators: why evaluation can’t do without them

by Renée Madsen

Regionally-based evaluators – those living and working outside major cities – are a vital part of the evaluation ecosystem.  They bring the benefits of evaluation to areas where essential services can be thinly spread and under pressure to deliver the best possible results with limited resources. Regionally-based evaluators ensure that evaluation is accessible to those who would not otherwise be able to engage with evaluation expertise, and we represent the profession in areas it would not otherwise reach.

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Sue Funnell: an Australian trail blazer in evaluation methods

by Anthea Rutter

Sue Funnell was one of the early trail blazers in evaluation methods. By her estimate, Sue has been in the profession for over 43 years. Over this time, she has held a number of roles in evaluation, including as the director of her own consulting company. She was a founding member of the AES, had two terms as President, was chair of the Awards Committee, and a presenter and trainer.

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