Welcome to the AES Blog
by Jade Maloney
Over the last couple of months, evaluators around the world have been grappling with the question of whether and how we evaluate in the COVID-19 context. What can and should be done now, and what should wait? How can we be most useful?
For a recent online session with AES members, which Keren Winterford, Greg Masters and I hosted on behalf of the NSW Committee, I rounded up a range of reflections on these questions to prompt discussion.
Photo by John Barkiple on Unsplash 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...
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
by AES Relationships Committee
The global scale and speed of disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in our lifetimes. The pathway to recovery and management of COVID-19 is expected to be complex and challenging, with significant long-term implications for individuals, organisations, governments and the country.
The coordinated national response in Australia has so far been successful because the best available data and evidence has significantly influenced decision-making. The evidence-informed approach that has served us well to-date remains equally critical going forward.